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Hack and Learn Summer 2023


The International Network for Data on Impact and Government Outcomes (INDIGO) is an emerging data collaborative interested in sharing data about the design, implementation and evaluation of outcome-based projects. INDIGO’s ambition is to support the creation and use of quality data by policymakers, NGOs, citizen advocates and anyone who is addressing or is interested in complex social problems. Learn more about INDIGO here.  

Government Outcomes Lab

INDIGO is a part of the Government Outcomes Lab at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. The Government Outcomes Lab represents a ground-breaking example of research-to-practice innovation. Our work demonstrates the power of an academic institution walking shoulder to shoulder with governments and related organisations to enhance policy and practice towards better outcomes for people. Explore the Government Outcomes Lab's events, news and tools here. 


Interested in using data to better understand outcomes-based projects? Want to meet and work with other people with the same interest? Our bi-annual Hack-and-Learn event was designed to give anyone interested in learning more about the use of data in the field of social outcomes a chance to connect with others and work on a real-life project. Harnessing skills and experiences from a diverse pool of actors, we provide a space for learning and community building around the use of data and an opportunity to solve problems, co-produce and make better sense of the use of data.  

The Hack-and-Learn is a two-week online event where participants had the chance to choose from a selection of data-related challenges set by our team at the Government Outcomes Lab and our partners. A letter of participation was provided to those participants who actively engage in one or more challenges.

While some data enthusiasts might enjoy doing the coding and data wrangling, others might prefer researching, writing and tackling policy issues around the project. Those interested in graphic design can also help out by creating stunning data visualisations.  


  • Kick-off session: 13 September 2023, 1.00 pm BST. Come join our Hack and Learn and pick a challenge to work with. You will meet your team and challenge leaders and start planning your contribution. No worries if you can't attend the session, we know it is a bit early for the participants in the Americas. We will record the session and then circulate it.
  • Hack hack hack: 13 September to 28 September 2023. We will have two weeks to work. As participants may come from very different parts of the world, we will use Slack channels to communicate with each other.
  • Show and Tell session: 28 September 2023, 1.00 pm BST. On this occasion, all teams will get together and show the outputs of their work. A group of discussants will provide feedback and there will be time for questions and answers from the other teams.
  • Social session: 28 September 2023, 2.00 pm BST. Come join us for a virtual drink and meet your fellow Hack-and-Learners. Everybody has to wear, use or bring something indigo to the call!

The challenges

  1. Show me the money! A data harvest of impact bond funding arrangements.
    Some of the trickiest variables to reliably gather and accurately record in INDIGO regard a project’s financial details. This challenge is an attempt to improve our knowledge on one such key variable – the type of capital used in impact bond projects. There are typically two funding streams: (1) the upfront capital used to fund the service; and (2) the payments made by the outcome payor to the investor, including any returns. We commonly use the language of ‘investment’ when discussing these structures. But in reality, are impact bonds actually arranged as an equity stake? As a debt? Might they better be understood as a series of grant funding exchanges? This challenge is an attempt to get under the shiny wrapper of impact bonds and find out what’s going on inside. We will collate the existing information we have on the type of capital used in the INDIGO projects, and then initiate a data harvest - contacting key stakeholders to ask them about the nature of the 'investment' arrangement in their project. Gathering this data will give us a better understanding of how the capital used in impact bonds is arranged, and will allow for critical reflection on the purpose, advantages, and disadvantages of using innovative funding approaches to fund public services.
  2. Show me the outcomes! Rethinking our data model to capture the evolution of projects over time. In this challenge, we will work to rethink the data model and design more complex data visualisations that can show how projects’ achievements compare not to one, but to several targets. This work opens further questions around the relational nature of these projects: How and why did projects renegotiate their targets? How and when do they change metrics, prices or other aspects of their programmes? And, most importantly, are these adjustments beneficial to the service users and their outcomes? During the Social Outcomes Conference 2023, we will release one version of the data visualisations on outcome achievements. The target for each outcome is set using data from a project’s preliminary best-case scenario forecast. However, comparing targets and achievements at this point might be tricky. As stated, the data released is only interim. Most of the Life Chances Fund projects are yet to finish, and none of them are expected to have achieved the overall target yet. Some of these projects have renegotiated their targets several times (both up and down). We will work together to tweak and improve our INDIGO data visualisations to make sure that they tell a more comprehensive story about the life of impact bond projects.

What we will co-produce 

The aim of Hack-and-Learn is not just to improve data in the field, but also to share learnings with others. At the end of the two weeks, we will host a Show and Tell session on 28 September 1.00pm BST for each team to share their reflections and outputs. Along with our partners, we will then collate these lessons learnt into a blog and discuss them at a Peer Learning session. Any participant who wants to share their story is welcome to contribute as co-author of the blog. The blog will be part of our Oxford Government Outcomes Blog.  

Any open-source visualisations created over the two weeks will be either published on the GO Lab website or the INDIGO GitHub account.

For past Hack-and-Learn events, we had teams visualising foreign philanthropy to India, mapping the network of organisations involved in impact bond projects and investigating whether impact investors were aligning their outcomes-based contracts with the UN SDGs. To learn more about what the teams got up to in past editions of the event, you can read our blog on Hack and Learn Spring 2022, our blog on Hack and Learn Summer 2022 or our most recent blog on Hack and Learn Spring 2023.

Want your work to be showcased online?

Inspired by the data visualisations developed during our last Hack-and-Learn, we integrate most of the outputs to our website, including our prototype Sankey diagram which examines the relation between social outcomes and SDGs, set up by Hack Team 4, or our new pipeline dataset, designed and brainstormed by Hack Team 12.

What GO Lab will do

  • Partner up with universities and research centres around the world to bring all kinds of experience and expertise to the table.
  • Devise a series of engaging challenges that allow participants to analyse and contribute to. 
  • Provide structured datasets, including our global dataset on impact bond projects around the world, an open-source code for the database and visualisations on the GO Lab website and INDIGO account on GitHub. 
  • Support you during your 2-week journey by answering any queries and providing technical assistance through Slack and email during office hours. 
  • Collate the lessons learned with our partners into a blog post which will be publish in our Oxford Government Outcomes Blog
  • Organise a fun social online event to celebrate the end of the Hack-and-Learn event.


The International Network for Data on Impact and Government Outcomes (INDIGO) is a community of peers with an interest in sharing data about the design, implementation and evaluation of cross-sector collaborations to address complex social problems. We are interested in fostering a culture of transparency, learning, and capacity development across public, private, and third sectors. In addition to publishing open data and open-source code, we want to explore and highlight opportunities to join-up various open data standards initiatives. (We are collaborating and borrowing wheels -- not reinventing the wheels.)  

Our bi-annual Hack-and-Learn event is designed to give anyone interested in learning more about the use of data in the field of social outcomes a chance to connect with others and work on a real-life project. For the seventh edition of our Hack and Learn, we will attempt at understanding the nature of funding provided to impact bond projects and work on rethinking the data model and designing more complex data visualisations that can show how projects' achievements compare not to one, but to several targets.

INDIGO Hack and Learn summer 2023 kick-off session

Listen to the recording of the session here.

For this edition of the event, our challenge leaders and their teams worked on four different ideas. Watch the recording to see their outputs and presentations. Our expert Elaine de Gruyter provided feedback for each team.

  1. Show me the money! A data harvest of impact bond funding arrangements (led by Harry and Jonathan)
  2. Show me the outcomes! Rethinking our data model to capture the evolution of projects over time (led by Juliana)
INDIGO Hack and Learn Spring 2023 kick-off session

Listen to the recording of the session here.

Interested? Have Feedback? 

We will provide updates, including a call for participants via the INDIGO email list along with our partners. We are also open to comments and suggestions on the above session sequencing and agendas. To join the email list or provide feedback, please email