Volunteers at the heart of all we do at the Red Cross Red Crescent. Around the world many are engaged in mobile data programs or other technical workflows. We are reimagining volunteering and considering how we can build on our network strength to improve our collective data skills. There are multiple ways how volunteers are using data to make informed crisis response decisions and to find solutions that will alleviate human suffering.

Recently, staff and volunteers of the Portuguese Red Cross in Lisbon organized a workshop in Community Health and First Aid (eCBHFA), where new data collection, aggregation and analysis techniques where shared and trained. The workshop was facilitated by Nancy Claxton, Senior Officer in charge of the eCBHFA program at the IFRC. Special focus was given to the importance of community involvement at all stages and to quality assurance of data which, once analysed, needs to be circulated among community members.

The workshop, held from February 4 through 8 2019, consisted of both theory and practice. The participants had the opportunity to visit and assess the needs of a migrant community, using data collection tools such as household interviews, surveys and focus groups. After collecting the information, workshop participants identified high priority community needs and developed an action plan in cooperation with community members.

The workshop participants were encouraged to, once back at their local branches, replicate the received training to help other staff and volunteers acquire practical data skills needed for work at the community level. To further support this effort, the IFRC Data Literacy team is scheduled to develop a basic introductory data skills training sequence. The ultimate goal is to allow volunteers to more effectively identify and appropriately respond to vital information within the various programs they carry out at their National Societies and local branches.


Proposed topics of the Data for Volunteers training:

Topic 1. What Is data and why does it matter?

  • Types of data:
    • Qualitative- Quantitate
    • Primary – Secondary
  • Cycle of Data Management

Topic 2.  What tools can I use to collect data?

  • Traditional Methods-
    • Survey, focus groups,
  • Mobile data collections Tools
  • ODK, Magpi

Topic 3.  How can I collect and store data responsibly and ethically?

  • Ensuring data quality

Topic 4.  How can I efficiently aggregate and analyze data?

  • Tools for data analysis.
  • What makes a good data visualization?
  • How to tell a story with data?

Topic 5.  How can I use data to make informed decisions when responding to a crisis?

  • Preparing an evidence-based action plan.
  • Methods for reporting back to the community


If you are a Red Cross Red Crescent volunteer or work with volunteers, we’d love your help as we build. Developing this training program will include both online and face-to-face consultations and workshops in different regions. If you would like to get involved in the development of this training and contribute with ideas, exercises, and best practices, please send an email to data.literacy@ifrc.org