Open Data : From audience to participant.

360Giving is a non-profit data collaborative. Read more on our about page.

At 360Giving we help funding bodies and charities to publish and better understand the value of open data. Much of what we have been doing has therefore been around raising awareness of the project among different groups ; building an interest among the varied audiences for the idea.

360Giving has many angles which are exciting to different people for different reasons. Mostly it is about helping them do new things that have not been possible before. For example, last week, speaking to a group of regional foundations and trusts the conversation focused on their interest in collaborating on impact and evaluation; when speaking with charities earlier this month, they wanted to better understand how to improve funding applications and find collaborators on programme design, and later on today, I expect that Opentech 2015 attendees will have interest in the way the data itself is structured and converted.

It is a promising sign for our work at 360Giving that we are exciting and engaging a range of audiences because it means that the project sits at an intersection between overlapping areas of interest. This is usually a good sign that you are on to something new and useful! Realising the value of open data for the charity and voluntary sector is an emerging area, and one where we hope that a non-profit collaboration like 360Giving can make a real difference. This means bringing together the best open technology and ways of working; alongside funding bodies’ and charities’ desire to understand and make more of their own data for the people they wish to benefit.

The success of the work depends entirely upon  audiences and interested audiences becoming imaginative and enthusiastic participants. A number of those from the initial audience have over time become participants, whether publishing open data, developing tools for analysis of the data, or as users of the tools. We hope that many more will become collaborators in the future.

I have shared just a few of the questions that people have been asking us below to show the variety of interest:

  • How can foundations and trusts make better use of the data they already gather and require from their grantees?
  • In what ways can we more easily combine funding data with other data sources (such as indices of deprivation or local authority spending) to add context to decision making?
  • How can those seeking funds and developing new charitable and voluntary programmes use data tools to understand how to best shape their work with others?
  • How can we make it technically very easy for publishers to structure their data using simple spreadsheets, and for developers to easily get the JSON formats they require to make analysis tools?

These are just a few questions that we have seen coming up as themes of interest and we are at the beginning of a journey towards answering them. I expect there will be many more! We hope that we’ll be able to work with many of you reading this as participants and collaborators to develop answers and practical solutions together.

If you are interested in finding out more about 360Giving contact alice.casey [at] nesta.org.uk or say hello on twitter @cased.

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