Crowdsourcing the cuts website
Voluntary sector comes together to collect information about funding cuts
www.voluntarysectorcuts.org.uk is a collaborative project from NCVO, navca, ACEVO, WCVA, nicva, Volunteering England and many of the regional infrastructure organisations.
The project is seeking to capture the impact of the public sector cuts on the voluntary and community sector by allowing organisations themselves to report the cuts however big or small. This method of collecting information is often known as "crowdsourcing".
So far 393 cuts have been reported - from £200 to £12m - totalling £63,803,312.
The information is very much by the sector, for the sector and built in to the website is the functionality to extract the collated information for use in campaigns, talking to funders, featuring in reports etc.
The website is built using Wordpress and makes use of various free tools to collect the data, pull it together, store it and visualise it. David has written about these in more detail at http://voluntarysectorcuts.org.uk/2011/01/18/the-making-of-voluntarysectorcuts-org-uk/.
The existence of the site has been promoted by all of the partners in their newsletters, on their websites and via their Twitter feeds.
What have been the challenges?
- Keeping up interest - After the initial "ah that's cool" moment the struggle has been in getting visitors to return. The Google Analytics web statistics showed a huge spike in visitors after the site was mentioned in Polly Toynbee's Guardian column and they have never reached the same heady heights.
- Resource - The site came out of a response to the cuts in public sector funding so is being maintained by people alongside their normal everyday work. To make the project a truly representative view of the sector would need a dedicated resource.
- Free software - The site is currently put together using free software and services so is at risk if any of these sites close or change their offering. The next step would be a more reliable and secure website but this requires time and money.
What next for the website?
- Making the site more social - Adding functionality that allows people to comment on the cuts, fill in further details and giving a right to reply for funders.
- Making use of other data - It would be useful to put the cuts into context by combining it with data from councils and government departments on the cuts they're actually making.
You can find out more about the website and make use of the data at http://voluntarysectorcuts.org.uk/.
Advice and support
- Funding and finance
- Coping with cuts
- Addressing needs
- Managing change
- Planning for the future
- Involving people
- Public Service Delivery
- Governance and leadership
- Compact Advocacy programme
- Campaigning and influencing policy
- Collaborative working
- ICT (information and communication technology)
- Climate change
- People, HR and employment