More data, more use, more answers

2017 ended on a high note for 360Giving with a UK first. Following the sharing of over £4 billion worth of grants data by two government departments – the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Transport – for the first time ever in the UK it’s possible to compare government grants with those made by local authorities and charitable trusts and foundations. You can do this in three clicks using our GrantNav platform.

When 360Giving was founded just over two years ago, I thought I would have to do a lot of arm-twisting to get people on board with sharing their data. But it’s been more of a hand-shaking exercise – the funders we have talked to understand the benefit of building the bigger picture of UK grantmaking.

We set ourselves the goal of opening up 80% of UK grants data by 2020. We called this a “moonshot” goal, because at the time it seemed rather ambitious and we weren’t confident that organisations would engage with us.

We were wrong. There are now over 60 funders sharing £17 billion worth of grants data in the open, comparable format we’ve developed. As you might expect the list includes large, well-known funders but also the full range of grantmakers including community foundations, local authorities, lottery funders and charitable trusts – demonstrating that any type of funder can share their data; and that lots of them want to.

But there are some challenges for 2018 if we want to reach our 2020 goal.

  1. More data: We would love more lottery funders to follow Big Lottery’s and Sport England’s lead by sharing their data. We will be reaching out to them over the comings onths to find out how we can help them open up their data and to talk through any practical issues or concerns they may have.

  2. More data use: We need to better understand the potential of the data and the different ways it can be used and improved. This means using the data more. Building on our pilot project in Manchester last year, we plan to run another two pilots in 2018, working with like-minded funders to help them identify and address shared issues. We’ve already started a project with the UK Community Foundations and look forward to working with other funder networks in the West Midlands, Scotland and the North East.

  3. More answers: We’re going to launch the second part of our Challenge Fund this year to see how open data can provide answers to the sectors’ burning issues. We’ve already received some great suggestions as part of our Quest for Questions challenge, when we invited you to tell us the questions you need answering. (You can contribute your questions until January 31st by clicking here.) We’ll be selecting three to focus on in 2018, looking at how open data can provide answers to them. If you’d like to work with us to help answer them then contact our Labs & Learning Manager, Mor Rubinstein: labs@threesixtygiving.org

 

Another big buzz in 2017 was seeing the hike in the number of people using the 360Giving dataset as it grew richer. This includes the number of people using the Beehive Giving platform that matches grantseekers with grant makers; funders using the data when reviewing their strategy; data analysts using it to look at funding to a particular place such as Bath, Birmingham or Manchester; and developers using it in visualisations. The series of data expeditions we ran in 2017 were fun and informative. From them we learned how you want to use the data and what we can and can’t do with it. We will be running more expeditions in 2018 so look out for them.

There is some way to go on our journey towards transparency and true understanding of how the UK funds the charitable sector and we need you on board to help us get there.

If you’re a funder and you haven’t shared your data yet, get in touch and find out how easy it is and how we can support you. And those of you already on board, come and join us at our regular Data Surgeries where you can share experiences and ideas with colleagues over tea and cake. The next one is on 12th January, so there is just time to sign up if you’re quick!

We’re proud of what we have achieved over the past two years and look forward to seeing how open data can help transform the sector in 2018 and beyond.

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