Let’s ask more of grantmaking and not settle for the status quo

This blog was originally published by Alliance Magazine on November 27, 2017.

Philanthropist Fran Perrin, founder and director of 360Giving, the charity opening up UK grantmaking data, explains why they are launching a Quest for Questions as part of a new Challenge Fund – an open call to the sector to share questions on how data can improve the impact of grantmaking.

Fran Perrin, founder of the Indigo Trust and 360Giving

Questions can change the world.

Space travel, stem cell engineering, the internet and all of man’s great scientific breakthroughs since the wheel started from challenging the status quo and asking ‘what if?’.

Questions are powerful catalysts of change.
When I first began grantmaking I had lots of questions about where I should start. I wanted to know how I could do as much good as possible with my money – who was already being funded?, and how much was going to which causes? – so I could target my money with maximum impact. I trawled the internet but the answers were not easily found. I realised the sector was funding in the dark. And I questioned why that information didn’t exist and ‘what if’ it did.

It was the inspiration to launch 360Giving, which has created a standard format for releasing data so funders can publish their grantmaking information in one place and in a way we can compare and share it. The aim is to transform the way we all fund by basing it on hard evidence, so it is more informed, strategic and ultimately impactful. Since the launch of 360Giving in 2015, more than 60 of the UK’s leading grantmakers are now sharing information on more than £10bn worth of funding. New platforms such as GrantNav and Beehive are being created so the data can be accessed easily by anyone. They can see who funds what they do and perhaps more importantly what isn’t being funded, and grantseekers can find out who is already funding organisations like them that makes it easier and quicker for them to find the funders who might support them. We are already starting to see where the funding cold spots are and if the money follows the areas of most need and where there are patterns and trends.

Change is happening

The data is saving organisations time and money. But the potential for what this data can do in conjunction with other datasets is huge. It has the ability to transform grantmaking and ramp up its value manifold. How do we get there? It’s time to ask more questions. Which is why we are launching the 360Giving Challenge Fund – Quest for Questions.

We are calling for questions that might help billions of pounds worth of grantmaking to work even harder. Tell us what you need to know so we can use data to provide the answers. We are inviting you all – grantmakers, seekers, researchers, technical experts – to share your questions with us.
From today until 31st January 2018, we want you to share with us what you need to know to help you do what you do better. We will then work in partnership with the sector to answer these questions using 360Giving data and the many other data sets that are now freely available.
We believe innovation and improvement comes from a place of curiosity and reflection. In order to make data useful for decision making and policy in the grantmaking sector, we need to reflect together and come up with questions. This is the first step in an exciting journey to turn data into insight and create a great knowledge base for the UK grantmaking community in years to come.

How can you participate? Good question!

Think of a question that you would like us to tackle around better grantmaking.
Post your question on our forum under the Quest for Questions category.
Or tweet it to @360Giving using the #Q4Qs.
Participate in person in our regular Data Surgeries – the next one is on 11th December.

Want to know more? Need help with coming up with a question? Visit the Challenge Fund webpage or tweet us @360Giving using #Q4Qs.

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