VCSOpen – charities opening up their data

VCS Open data

Health warning

Please do not conclude anything at all about the voluntary sector from this data! It won’t tell you anything useful! Don’t be tempted… Right now it’s relying on data from 13 very different charities, which isn’t many. The point of this is to show how it’s fairly straightforward (2-3 hours work) to link up some simple data to other data-sets, and how, if you did have some more data, you could start to ask and answer interesting questions.

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What’s happening here?

This is a live demo, mashing-up data from various sources as a demonstration of the sorts of things that can be done when data is available in machine-readable forms.

The starting point is a very simple survey, using Google docs, asking for a charity number and the number of people or organisations the charity worked with in 2011.

In this page, we load up that data, then use the charity number to get other information (spending, what they do, and address, though there’s lots more) from the Charity Commission (via

Then from there we take the postcode and look up the Index of Multiple of Deprivation (IMD) rankings, and relate those rankings to the spending and beneficiary data we already have.

If you’d like to see the programming that makes it work, view the source of this page. It’s all javascript (nothing happens on our server).

Sources and credits

This data has come from various places, with some helpers along the way…

  • The charities themselves provided beneficiary data as part of the Open Data challenge at VCS Open – thanks to all that have taken the Open Data Challenge. The charities provided the registered charity number and number of beneficiaries. If you go and add your data now and come back here you’ll see your data included.
  • Charity Commission data has been lovingly scraped by and provided with an API to get the financial and address data for each charity.
  • Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) data is produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government. We’ve used the SPARQL endpoint at to get the data in a useable form – try this link to see it in action

For this demo we’ve also heavily used YQL (to process and wrap requests in a callback) and YUI (to do the javascript that requests and processes and displays the data).


You are welcome to any of the code you find in this hack (view source!)

Creative Commons Licence
VCS Open – data hack by Lamplight Database Systems is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.