Diving into the data: Join our Greater Manchester pilot

Julian Tait

Julian Tait: Project Lead, Greater Manchester Pilot

Understanding the local funding environment is a complex and often difficult task. A myriad of different organisations, from charitable trusts to housing associations provide funding to a given geographical area or theme. Because much of the data that shows where the funding is going is sitting in a closed spreadsheet or computer program – often labelled in an ad hoc way, it is almost impossible to work out how the funding sector as a whole is making an impact. This creates very real problems when strategic funding decisions need to be made, as there is no easy way to understand who is supporting what and where.

Over the past few months 360Giving has been developing a pilot programme to support grant giving organisations working in Greater Manchester. This started at the beginning of March and aims to address some of the challenges faced by funders who see the benefit of making grant data open in a standardised way.

A number of organisations working in Greater Manchester are already making their data available to the 360Giving Standard. From looking at data extracted through GrantNav we can see that 14 grantmakers have funded projects since 1998; and if we drill down we can see that certain boroughs have twice as many funders as others. This is probably down to a funder such as a CVS, local authority or housing association having a defined geographical area of coverage, but it might also mean that organisations in certain boroughs aren’t aware or don’t have the capacity to apply. It is only through aggregating and analysing the data that these insights can be found.

As part of the pilot we will be running a number of free workshops at the end of April and beginning of May. We would love to see you there. More information and workshop registration can be found here.

Posted in News & Updates

Putting local charities on the map

By Leigh Dodds, Mark Owen

Bath: Hacked is a volunteer-led open data project serving the community of Bath & North East Somerset. We run a data store to collect and share local data, and work with local organisations, including the council, to help explore the benefits of open data for our community. We host hackdays, run training sessions and try to build interesting and useful things using local open data.

A lot of the work we’ve done this year has involved making maps. Maps are great ways to visualise data. Taking data locked up in spreadsheets and putting it on an interactive map creates a whole new perspective.

To showcase some of our mapping work we’ve been running a “Data Advent” again this December. We’ve been sharing a new or interesting data-driven map every day.

We often find that to understand our local area we need data from multiple sources. No single organisation has a complete picture. GrantNav does an excellent job of bringing together information on grants that have been awarded around the country.

So we decided to explore whether we could map the data from GrantNav for Bath & North East Somerset.

BathHacked map

Map of grants awarded to Bath and North East Somerset

Downloading the CSV file from GrantNav showed that the data included the name of the ward in which the project was funded. This was fantastic as that meant that we could build a map showing the level of grant funding awarded within each of the wards in our area.

Our resident mapping expert, Mark Owen did the work to build the map. The first step was to combine the GrantNav data to an open dataset of our ward boundaries, using a desktop tool called QGIS. This gave us a geographic area for each grant and not just a ward name. We then used a tool called Carto to actually create the map. It’s free to use for open data and it can very quickly produce some great interactive maps.

To add a bit of flair, Mark also used some mapping wizardry to assign a geographic location for each project. The points are randomly assigned within a ward and so don’t reflect the actual locations of the projects or grantees. That information isn’t included in the raw data available via GrantNav, which makes sense for privacy reasons. But adding the points helped give a flavour of the number and type of projects running in each ward.

We’re really pleased with the final result.

It’s the first time a map of this type has been built for the local area and it gives a great overview of the range of great local charities and projects that have had funding. We look forward to updating this as new data from GrantNav becomes available.

Posted in Blog

Exploring the gold mine of funders’ data

Shona Curvers

Shona Curvers, Researcher, NPC

Conversations around data are gaining momentum in the charity sector. Open data in particular—freely used, modified, and shared by anyone—is generating a lot of hype, and for good reason. Seeking out and analysing open data from various sources – including government data – offers funders a number of practical benefits. It can improve our understanding of social need, which leads to more strategic decision-making. And funders who open up their own grants data are providing a valuable resource not only to other funders, but to charities and statutory organisations more broadly. These are some of the points that have been explored in NPC’s latest report produced with support from the Indigo Trust, Valuing Data: How to use it in your grant-making. The report explores, in plain English, the many benefits of the voluntary sector making better use of their own data, and open data.

A sensible first step for many funders is to think about the data they’ve already collected before looking to external data sources. Funders are often sitting on a gold mine of data, in the form of every grant application – successful and unsuccessful – containing unique insights into their funding practice.

The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, for example, improved the internal coding and tagging of their grants to categorise them more efficiently. They can now break down their grants according to keywords or beneficiary groups to gain a more granular understanding of where their money is going. By mapping this data against feedback from grantees, the Foundation can explore whether different approaches to funding work better with certain types of organisations, grants or activities.

And, as mentioned above, grants applications aren’t only a useful data source for funders themselves. Comic Relief has published their long list of applications for their Tech for Good funding programme. This will help to raise awareness around digital initiatives in the charity sector, and to potentially attract investment to some of the applicants who were unsuccessful. It will act as a valuable resource for funders who are interested in supporting digital projects, but lack the expertise to confidently assess grant applications. Comic Relief also hopes this move will encourage funder collaboration in the ‘tech for good’ space.

As more and more funders make their applications and grants data publicly available in this way, the data landscape becomes increasingly rich, creating new opportunities for analysis and improvement. Initiatives like 360Giving and their open data search platform GrantNav are playing a crucial role in encouraging this process.

There are of course barriers when it comes to working with data.

Leadership, for example, is a key concern; organisations need buy-in from senior management and the board in order for data to become embedded in the way they operate.
Not to mention, making good use of data demands a certain level of skills, knowledge and resources. But there are a range of external sources that funders can draw on to build their capacity in this area. DataKind UK, for example, offers a range of community events such as social mixers, to connect data scientists with social sector experts, or educational workshops. There are also plenty of publications that provide charities with basic, practical information on what open data is all about. Ultimately, up-front resource allocation will translate into worthwhile long-term benefits.

Conversations around data are gaining momentum, and starting by taking stock of where you currently stand will leave you well placed to benefit from the many opportunities data has to offer.

Posted in News & Updates

Philanthropists and Funders: Why spending out and closing down needn’t mean fading away

Edafe Onerhime, Open Data Services CooperativeFoundations, charities and trusts close. This is a reality for charitable organisations and philanthropists who’ve met their goals, merged or decided to spend out their funds for any number of reasons.

Take the Northern Rock Foundation. An independent grantmaking charity, it aimed to improve quality of life in the North East of England and Cumbria. And it did, awarding £225 million in 4,400 grants between 1998 and 2014. In it’s last year, the foundation awarded £10.3 million in the form of six large awards to improve the lives of children and young people and to support voluntary organisations.

On 25th April 2016, the foundation closed.

NCVO Almanac chart of merging and closing charities

Source: NCVO, Charity Commission

Like any number of large charities closing or merging, the Northern Rock Foundation had a dilemma: How could they keep the history of the good they’d done alive even after they were gone? They looked at preserving their history through their website (the story of Northern Rock Foundation) and donating their reports to the Tyne and Wear archives, keeping the information in the public domain.

Around that time, Fran Perrin of Indigo Trust was championing a way to use data about grantmaking to support decision-making and learning across the charitable giving sector. This lead to the establishment of 360Giving. The Northern Rock Foundation decided that publishing their grantmaking data to the 360Giving Standard would not just preserve their legacy, but it would keep the information alive and useful for charities, policy makers, researchers and anyone interested in charitable giving in the UK.

So, if your organisation is winding up, what do you need to consider if you want to preserve the organisation’s funding legacy? Here are three things to think about:

1. A commitment to preservation and transparency in your organisation.
360Giving may be about grantmaking data, but all projects involve and affect people, so buy-in is key to ensure your preservation project is supported and completed before winding up.

2. A good knowledge of your grantmaking data.
As your organisation is winding up, you won’t be available to answer questions about your funding. We recommend you publish good data that is useful to the charitable sector because it is usable, which means it will be used. The 360Giving team can work with you to explore what it means to publish to the 360Giving Standard and how to get there from where you are now. This means your legacy of funding will be accurate (as you control how it is presented) and can tell your story about your organisation’s funding.

3. A commitment to openness.
All data published to the 360Giving Standard is open data. That means before you wind up, you agree on an open data license. The license tells anyone wanting to use your data that 1) it is reusable, and 2) if they need to credit your organisation (or not) wherever it’s used.

360Giving primarily focuses on UK grantmaking, but any organisation can publish its grants data to the 360Giving Standard and anyone can access and use the data internationally – all they need is access to the internet. So you can get in touch with our support team no matter where in the world you are to get the ball rolling. We don’t charge a fee as all our support is funded through grants that we receive.

Perhaps you’d like to see some examples of how we preserved Northern Rock Foundation’s legacy in data? You can download the Northern Rock Foundation grantmaking file, view the Northern Rock Foundation license page or the Northern Rock Foundation publisher page on GrantNav.

Curious about the Standard? Take a look at these frequently asked questions.

Spending out and closing down happens, fading away doesn’t have to.

Posted in Blog

360Giving wins Women in Data Award

360Giving has won the Open Data Institute (ODI) Women in Data Award 2016. Fran Perrin, Alice Casey, Katherine Duerden, Anna de Pulford and Rachel Rank jointly won the award, presented by ODI President Sir Tim Berners-Lee for a female individual or group making waves in the world of open data.

This is the third year the ODI has run the Open Data Awards, which celebrate innovation and excellence in open data across the world. The Women in Data award was presented for the first time in 2016, in recognition of the ODI’s commitment to championing gender diversity in the industry. When announcing 360Giving as the winner, Sir Tim Berners-Lee emphasised his personal support for this new award, noting the need for more women in the tech industry.

Fran Perrin, accepting the award said:

“We are so honoured to win this award for Women in Data. I’m privileged to work with this amazing team including Alice Casey, Anna de Pulford, Rachel Rank and Katherine Duerden.

I would also like to thank three awesome women in data; Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of the Big Lottery Fund; Caroline Mason, Chief Executive of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation; and Helen Goulden at Nesta. They understood that 360Giving is using open data to transform the charity sector for more informed, strategic grants to help more charities and people. Their leadership on opening up their grants to the 360Giving Open Data Standard is helping us to really make change happen.

This was genuinely a team effort so I would also like to thank the men involved; Tim Davies, Steven Flower, Ben Webb and Will Perrin.”

Other nominees for the award were Louise Corti, for her work at the UK Data Service; and Serah Njambi at Open Knowledge International. The full list of award winners is available at: http://theodi.org/news/open-data-awards-2016-open-innovators-from-around-the-world.

Photo credit Edafe Onerhime

Women in Data award winners with Jeni Tennison, CEO of ODI and Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Photo courtesy of Edafe Onerhime

 

Posted in News & Updates

The need for good data, not just more data

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for 360Giving, with three different but complementary events emphasising the need for good quality funding data.

Firstly, there was the launch of the excellent Giving Trends report, co-written by ACF and CASS. As a newbie to the world of philanthropy, Giving Trends is my go-to report for learning about who’s funding what and how much they’re giving. It’s great to see this kind of thorough research coming out of the sector, although the report’s lead author highlighted the need for transparency and the difficulties of getting the information required to conduct her analysis – something that we hope will become easier as more organisations publish to the 360Giving Standard.

This year’s report is slightly different as it brings together research data on the top independent, family and corporate foundations. This was the right decision, as together, these 300 organisations represent 90% of all giving by value of the 10,000+ independent foundations in the UK. The main takeaway for me: Foundation spending continues to grow, reaching a record £2.7bn and matching government grants to the voluntary sector. This is despite an overall fall in income, showing ongoing commitment to charitable giving in times of austerity. But wouldn’t it be great if we could see these government and charitable grants side by side? Which brings me neatly to the second event – the launch of GrantNav.

GrantNav launch event 30 September 2016

GrantNav launch event

GrantNav launch event 30 September 2016

Photographs by Mike Massaro

 

 

 

 

 

 

We  launched GrantNav at the end last month. It was our first big public event and we were delighted by the number of people who came and told us what they liked about GrantNav; what else they’d like to be able to do with it; and that they were going to publish their data to the 360Giving Standard so they could be included too.

It’s hard to believe, but until we launched GrantNav, it wasn’t possible to get open, comparable information on UK grantmaking. Huge thanks to the 27 organisations that published their data in advance of the launch – there would be no point building platforms like this if we didn’t have data to go into it, so all credit to them for leading the way. We look forward to more organisations joining them in the coming months so watch this space. And in the meantime, have a play and tell us what you think: grantnav@threesixtygiving.org

And the third event? That was the 2016 International Open Data Conference. For all you open data advocates out there, Madrid was the place to be. We shared ideas on how to join up open data standards; launched a new project looking at how to accurately identify organisations; and we talked about the dangers of over-claiming on open data (it’s not going to end poverty apparently). But we also saw great examples of real-life problems open data has helped to fix. This has inspired us to start looking at how we use the grants data being made available. So, if you’re a grantmaker working in Scotland or Manchester, come and speak with us as we’d love to know what issues you’re struggling with and to test out how 360 data might help with the solution.

Posted in Blog

New joint initiative launched to build the next key piece of open data infrastructure

A group of leading open data standards bodies have announced an exciting new collaboration to tackle a shared problem: how to accurately identify organisations.

The identify-org initiative was launched on Friday 7th October at the International Open Data Conference (IODC) in Madrid. It brings together key organisations driving standards for open data across a range of sectors including contracting, extractives, international aid, agriculture and philanthropy. A challenge shared by all these initiatives is how to accurately and consistently identify an organisation. Whether it’s a charity in the UK, a company in Malaysia, or a government department in Canada, the ability to describe these different entities in a consistent way is key to opening and linking up data about their activities, ensuring it is accessible and useful.

The initiative will establish an open interface so that anyone can find known organisation registries; it will also embark on a research process to highlight others. Acting together, the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), Open Contracting Partnership, 360Giving, Joined Up Data Standards (JUDS) and the Initiative for Open Ag Funding will build a key piece of open data infrastructure to enable the free exchange of information on entities, regardless of sector or jurisdiction.

To do this, the project partners have agreed to support efforts to gather and share information on different registers of organisations across the world, backed-up by a common methodology to describe these in open data. In turn, this will provide a foundation for the open data community to both share and use identifiers about organisations, using this common protocol.

The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) kick-started this work in 2012. IATI has agreed to share its initial efforts with identify-org, enabling others to build upon the ‘list of lists’ of registries of organisations.

By working together, the project partners are pooling their knowledge of the different organisation registers that are currently available so it can be used by different standards bodies in a consistent way.

//END

Notes for Editors:

Contact name: Rachel Rank
Title: CEO, 360Giving
Contact: +44 (0)7983 409 406 / rachel.rank@threesixtygiving.org

  1. For more details about Identify-org visit: https://identify-org.net/
  2. For more details about the eight project partners, visit: https://identify-org.net/supporters/

 

Posted in News & Updates

New free online tool allows easy access to over 180,000 UK grants in one place

Finding detailed information about UK grantmaking – who is funding, what, where and how much – has become much easier today with the launch of a new online search tool, called GrantNav. Free to use, the platform lets users search, explore and download grants data from some of the UK’s largest charitable funders. By making a wealth of grant information available in one place GrantNav will save time and money, allowing funders to be more informed, and those seeking funding to make more targeted applications.

All grants included in the online platform are published to the 360Giving Standard – a shared format that makes the data available in an open and comparable way. To date, over £8 billion of grants have been shared by a range of UK grantmakers including the Big Lottery Fund, BBC Children in Need, City Bridge Trust, Comic Relief, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Gatsby, Lloyds Bank Foundation, Paul Hamlyn and the Wolfson Foundation. The 360Giving Data Standard is also used by local and government grantmakers, including early adopters Oxfordshire Community Foundation, Macc and Trafford Council. Information from all of these funders can be found on GrantNav. As each new organisation opens up its data the information will become available to search and download via GrantNav; building a more complete picture of grantmaking in the UK.

Fran Perrin, Founder and Chair of 360Giving said:
“In a time of austerity and increased financial pressure on charities, it is imperative that the funds available are deployed as effectively as possible. 360Giving was founded to give greater visibility to where and how funders spend their money, making it easier to identify shared opportunities and challenges, and work together. Today with the launch of GrantNav we have made an important step towards realising our vision for UK grantmaking to be more informed, effective and strategic. We are excited to see the initiative develop as more organisations publish their grants openly to the 360Giving Standard.”

Caroline Mason, Chief Executive of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation said:
“We are proud to support the development of the GrantNav search tool and open up our data so it can be shared and compared more easily. This new tool makes it possible, for the first time, to explore our grants in context with other grantmakers and to build a fuller understanding of the UK funding ecology and where our funds can make the most impact.”

Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive of Nesta said:
“We’re very excited to see the progress 360Giving has made since Nesta incubated it in 2014. GrantNav opens up thousands of grants worth billions, and makes grant-giving more accountable and easier to interrogate and analyse – another great example of the power of open data standards.”


Notes for Editors:

Contact name: Rachel Rank
Title: CEO, 360Giving
Contact: +44 (0)7983 409 406 / rachel.rank@threesixtygiving.org

  1. For more details about GrantNav visit: http://grantnav.threesixtygiving.org.
  2. About GrantNav: The search tool is easy and free to use, allowing searches of all grants published to the 360Giving standard and filtering by location, recipient, award amount or funding organisation. All information is fully downloadable in spreadsheet format. The development of GrantNav was supported by funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Indigo Trust and Nesta.
  3. For more details on 360Giving visit: www.threesixtygiving.org. Follow @360Giving for updates on new publishers and developments.
  4. About 360Giving: 360Giving helps funders make better decisions by publishing grant data in a way that can easily be compared, contrasted and analysed by all. The 360Giving approach puts grants data in a standard spreadsheet form and then publishes it openly where others can find it. This ‘open data’ approach enables large scale analysis of grants or just a simple search without having to trawl through dozens of annual reports and laboriously type up findings. It’s easier for grantmakers to find out who is funding whom and for people who want to apply for grants or know what funding is being provided to a certain region, sector or community.
  5. The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities throughout the UK both now and in the future. It does this by funding the charitable work of organisations with the ideas and ability to achieve positive change.
    The Foundation is one of the largest independent grantmakers in the UK. It makes grants of £30-£35 million annually towards a wide range of work within the arts, children and young people, the environment, social change and food. It also commits up to £35 million in social investments in organisations that aim to deliver both a financial return and a social benefit: www.esmeefairbairn.org.uk
  6. Nesta is an innovation foundation with a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life. It is dedicated to supporting ideas that can help improve all our lives, with activities ranging from early stage investment to in-depth research and practical programmes: www.nesta.org.uk

360Giving GrantNav Press release 29.09.2016

Posted in News & Updates

360Giving campaign for open data in grantmaking receives support from three leading UK grantmakers

360Giving’s campaign to open up UK grants data and make grantmaking more informed and effective has received a huge boost with a £745,000 award from the Big Lottery Fund. The major grant will enable 360Giving to pursue its ‘moonshot’ ambition for 80% of UK grants to be made openly available by 2020. It will also develop the tools to make it easy for people to access the data and support its use for greater learning and collaboration.

360Giving is focusing on three goals: to support more grantmakers to publish their grants data in an open, accessible and standardised way; to build an evidence base about how open grants data can be used for better decision-making and learning; and to develop tools that help people to understand and use the data. GrantNav, the first platform to bring together the data published using the 360Giving standard, making it easy to view and explore, will be launched in autumn 2016.

Fran Perrin, Founder and Director of 360Giving said: “This fantastic support from the Big Lottery Fund gives us the opportunity to lead a step-change in the way grants data is used to inform decision-making. We are delighted to receive such significant financial investment from the Fund, along with practical action through the open publication of their grants data.”

The Big Lottery Fund also publishes all its grants made since 2004 in-line with the open data standard developed by 360Giving, and it’s now being joined by two other leading UK grantmakers: BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief. Publishing their grants to the 360Giving standard for the first time, Children in Need have opened up more than 1,600 grants worth over £94 million, while in mid-August Comic Relief will publish over £140 million grants. All these grants will be comparable with the other 20 organisations already publishing to the 360Giving standard.

Joe Ferns, UK Knowledge and Portfolio Director at the Big Lottery Fund said: “We are pleased to be supporting 360Giving to encourage more open data in grantmaking. This is an important step in fostering greater collaboration across the sector and complements the Big Lottery Fund’s commitment to transparency.”

360Giving was set up to enhance charitable grantmaking by encouraging the sharing of open, standardised and comparable data on what is being funded, where and for what purpose. In a time of austerity and increased financial pressure on charities, it is imperative that the funds available are deployed as effectively as possible. It is currently not possible to find a complete dataset on all charitable grants provided in the UK, which means that grantmakers have little visibility of how other funders spend their money and with what impact. This limits their ability to identify shared opportunities and challenges, and work together. By committing to transparency through publishing open grants data, grantmakers increase public confidence and accountability in the use of their charitable funds.

Judith McNeill, Director of Grants at Comic Relief said: “Comic Relief sees leveraging the power of digital as a key tool to help deliver social change across our grantmaking. As a funder that supports data-driven approaches we are pleased to publish our grants using the 360Giving standard so it can be compared and analysed alongside other funders and enable more informed decision-making.”

Sheila Jane Malley, Director of Grants & Policy at BBC Children in Need said: “BBC Children in Need wants to achieve the greatest possible impact for children through its grantmaking, and we are pleased to be openly publishing our grants data so it can be compared with other funders from across the UK. This is a positive step to enable greater learning and collaboration across the sector.”

Follow @360giving for updates on new publishers and developments.

Notes to editors

  1. About the grant: The Big Lottery Fund grant will help 360Giving to increase the amount of grants data published by funders, foundations and trusts as standardised open data. The project will embark on a number of activities which can be separated into three areas: outreach & engagement; publication; and tech development.
  2. The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. We put people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects.
    We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Every year we invest over £650 million and award around 12,000 grants across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
    Since June 2004 we have awarded over £9 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people. Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £34 billion has been raised and more than 450,000 grants awarded.
  3. About 360Giving: The organisation website and publisher list can be found at www.threesixtygiving.org. Several high profile and influential national organisations are actively using the 360Giving format to open their data, including the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Gatsby, the Lloyds Bank Foundation, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Wolfson Foundation. The 360Giving data standard is also in use at the local level by early adopters such as Oxfordshire Community Foundation and Trafford Council.
  4. 360Giving helps funders make better decisions by publishing grant data in a way that can easily be compared, contrasted and analysed by all. The 360Giving approach puts grants data in a standard spreadsheet form and then publishes it openly where others can find it. This ‘open data’ approach enables large scale analysis of grants or just a simple search without having to trawl through dozens of annual reports and laboriously type up findings. It’s easier for grantmakers to find out who is funding whom and for people who want to apply for grants.
  5. About Comic Relief: Comic Relief is a UK charity, which aims to create a just world, free from poverty. Since 1985, Comic Relief has raised over £1billion. That money has helped, and is helping, people living incredibly tough lives, both at home in the UK and across the world. For information about Comic Relief and the work it carries out, please visit www.comicrelief.com.
    Comic Relief, registered charity 326568 (England/Wales); SC039730 (Scotland).
  6. BBC Children in Need’s vision is that every child in the UK has a safe, happy and secure childhood and the chance to reach their potential. We will realise this vision by supporting, promoting and publicising work that addresses the challenges that children and young people face and work that builds their skills and resilience.
    The Charity is currently supporting 2,400 projects in communities across the UK that are helping children facing a range of disadvantages for example, poverty and deprivation; children who have been the victims of abuse or neglect or disabled young people.

360Giving Press release 28.07.2016

Posted in News & Updates Tagged with: , , ,

Visualising media grants

Katherine Duerden photoThe Foundation Center and Media Impact Funders have launched a new tool for visualising media grants: http://maps.foundationcenter.org/?acct=media. It plots foundations and grantees onto a global map, and enables reporting on the flow of funds to support a wide range of media and technology initiatives.

The tool features data on grants dating back to 2009 and includes extensive detail about all aspects of the funding. Alongside the locations of funder, recipient and the type of media initiative being supported, it’s possible to filter by beneficiary group, type of funder and recipient organisation and whether the grant was given for capacity or network building, research or advocacy, or ongoing costs, etc. Even if you don’t have a special interest in civil society media initiatives, it is easy to use the interface to start drilling down into the detail and see the potential of the tool, and how grants data can provide real insights into a subject area, region or funder network. The connections between funders and recipient organisations are particularly well visualised through its ‘constellations’ feature which cleverly show the areas of overlap between funders, making it easy to see complex interconnections.

The focus is inevitably on funding from US foundations as the data draws on the US-based Foundation Center database of grants reported directly by foundations or collected from their websites and other public sources. This dataset has been built over decades and has involved scraping from PDFs – a process that requires painstaking manual cleaning and coding. Not all the information is for US funders though, with details of foundations around the world, including 37 UK foundations, some of whom are publishing to the open data standard developed by 360Giving. As more UK grantmakers publish their grants to the 360Giving standard, it will become even easier to develop tools to make sense of the “who, where, what and why” of the funding ecology.

We know that making it easy to access and explore grants data is key to unlocking the usefulness of the information and the Media Mapping tool is a great example of what’s possible. That is why alongside supporting grantmakers to publish their grants information in an open, comparable format, we’re also developing GrantNav, an online platform that enables users to see a more comprehensive picture of UK grantmaking, with the ability to search by sector, funder or region. GrantNav is currently in development and undergoing extensive user testing to ensure it will be useful to a wide audience.

Because 360Giving data is published under an open license, there is potential for anyone to access and use it for their own purposes, so we hope to see more searchable platforms, maps and visualisations developed as the dataset improves.

A key part of GrantNav’s development has been gathering user feedback, to make sure it’s as useful as possible. Based on this feedback, we’ve recently added a ‘download data’ option to the latest version, as this was highlighted as a key requirement. The Foundation Maps for Media Funding tool has its own export function, although we found it fiddly to use, sometimes needing several downloads to build a useful report – our only criticism of this otherwise impressive and useful tool. We hope the Foundation Center will continue to develop its visualisations of grants data, and look forward to seeing UK grants published to the 360Giving standard appearing in such tools in future.

Posted in Blog