Checklist and Template

These two tools provide a simple checklist to cover off each of the key steps in building a good Purpose Statement, and a template for writing your own.

Purpose statement checklist

Use this checklist to make sure that a written purpose statement covers off everything it needs to. 

Completing the checklist

Use this checklist in any part of your process or work that makes sense and is helpful for you.

  • Tick Yes If this is covered off - great!
  • Tick N/A If something doesn’t apply – for example there may be no data matching involved.
  • Tick No If the Purpose Statement hasn’t covered this off. Either you need to add something to the purpose statement or there is an issue that still needs to be addressed and worked through. This should happen before going ahead with any collection or use of people’s information.

Does the Purpose Statement explain…

  • What data or information is necessary for the purpose?
    • What data or information will be collected or used?
    • What parts of it will or can identify people, and what parts can’t or won’t?
    • Who is this data or information from, or about?This is the characteristics, groupings, populations, or communities that the data or information comes from. For example; service users enrolled in programme X, who access services from agency Y, people aged under 25 etc.
    • Any data or information matching (linking) that will happen at any stage.
  • What the purpose is for collecting or using it…
    • What the actions, tasks, decisions, activities or processes are that the data or information will be used for.
    • What this data or information won’t be used for.
  • Why this purpose matters or what the outcomes are meant to be from from using the data or information in this way or for this action/task etc.?
  • Who will see the data or information…
    • In the organisation that collects it.
    • In any other organisation that might access it or use it for this purpose.
    • Who won’t see it, and what it won’t be used for? This describes the limits, or constraints, that are fair and reasonable to tell someone about, given the reason, or purpose, for collection or use.
  • What laws allow this collection or use?
  • What choices will service users have about the collection/use of their data or information for this purpose?

Have you...

  • Made sure that the purpose statement is free from jargon, written clearly, and is easy to understand?
  • Included other people in review steps, to look at the draft purpose statement and check that it is easy to understand and tells them what they need to know?
  • Made a plan to translate the purpose statement, or present it in different ways, if that makes sense for those who need to know about it?
  • Made a plan to share the purpose statement with those who need it: those who provide information or data, collect it from service users, or who may need to explain this to them.


Template / Purpose Statement builder

Use these key elements to capture your intentions when collecting or using information from, or about, people who use the services we deliver or fund. It might be a new project, reviewing an existing process or practice, or some other activity.

What: A summary of what data or information is needed. Will it be anonymous, will it or could it identify the service user or other people, or not? Who will it be collected from? Will any data or information be matched or linked? If so, with what other information?

Why: Outline why data or information is needed? What processes/activities/decisions will it be used in?

How: How will using it that way help service users or people in similar situations to them? What is the goal or outcome of using their data or information this way? Describe who will have access to the information in any form. Be as specific as possible by naming organisations and the kinds of roles/jobs of the people who will have access. Be clear about what won’t happen, and who won’t see it.

Choice: What choices will people have about the following things. If they won’t have a choice say that.

  1. What data or information they have to provide.
  2. Who will access or see their data or information (even if it doesn’t identify them).
  3. How their data or information might be used (even if it doesn’t identify them).

Law: Note any applicable laws/regulations/contracts/agreements/guidelines etc that are relevant to the collection or use of this information, for this reason, in this way. 

Transparency: How will the information captured here reach services users? Think about who might need to explain these ideas to them, and how that could work best for them.