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

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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

Opening up Lloyds Bank Foundation – why we’ve published open grants data and what we plan to do next

Alex van VlietEarlier this month the Lloyds Bank Foundation published data from over 4,000 grants made between 2010 and 2015 in line with 360Giving’s open data standard. It’s available as a spreadsheet to download from our website. In doing so, we have joined a growing band of grantmakers in the UK who are opening up their datasets for others to use.

Historically, the Foundation published its grantmaking data every six months in PDF reports, split by government office region. Transparent, yes, but not reusable – or, I suspect, terribly useful to our grantees, applicants or other stakeholders across the sector. When I joined the Foundation last year as the organisation’s first Research and Data Analyst, using an external data standard seemed the natural approach to improving the transparency of our giving.

Although our recent strategy has seen us make fewer, larger grants, we still have active grants with almost 1,000 charities. Our hope is that by pooling grantmaking data from our organisation with that of other major grantmakers, we can begin to use the intelligence generated to make more intelligent decisions about who and how to fund. For example, 360Giving data could be used to identify ‘cold spots’ – areas of high deprivation where funders have made relatively few grants. Equally, it could facilitate the better sharing of information between funders on geographical areas or sectors where they have expertise.

360Giving is opening up grantmaking data at a time when grants have lost momentum as a funding approach across the sector. According to figures from the NCVO’s Civil Society Almanac, the proportion of government funding for charities given as a grant has fallen by over 60% since 2004. The dynamics of government funding have shifted radically towards competitive commissioning and contract models.

The Foundation is particularly concerned with how these changes have affected small and medium-sized charities – in our main funding programmes, we only fund charities with an income between £25,000 and £1m.

Evidence from a recent literature review by IPPR North suggests that the shift to contracts has failed to create a level playing field for small and medium-sized charities, exacerbating their vulnerability. Large organisations, including some large charities, are dominating the market for providing public services, to the detriment of small and medium-sized charities and the individuals they reach.

In response, the Lloyds Bank Foundation is proud to be a founding partner of Grants for Good, a new campaign calling for a halt to the dangerous decline in grant funding by public bodies to charities and community groups. Grants for Good is run by Directory for Social Change, Charity Finance Group, Children England, NAVCA and the Foundation. We want to use our networks to gather examples of effective grantmaking and build a case for commissioners to choose grants instead of contracts where a responsive local service is needed.

By opening up our grantmaking data through 360Giving, we hope that we can support a stronger evidence base for the value of grants. We also want to encourage other independent funders to publish their data, and to speak up for grants more widely.

As Paul Streets, our Chief Executive, said: “As an independent grantmaker we know that grants are a highly effective way of funding, allowing us to choose quality but supporting those we fund to run their services to best meet need. In contrast, contracts have high transaction costs and force organisations into prescriptive ways of delivering, often focused on meeting tick-box targets over real outcomes… We [want] to make the case to central and local government that good grantmaking does work and we need more not less of it.”

Posted in Blog

We’re hiring!

Could you be the person to ensure that grantmakers are at the forefront of the open data movement?

We are looking for an experienced, dynamic Partnerships and Engagement Manager to help take our work forward into its crucial next phase. If you recognise the importance of open data for more informed and strategic grantmaking and know how to get organisations to engage effectively, then visit our vacancies page to find out more about the role and how to apply.

Deadline for applications is 31st March.

Posted in News & Updates

Big Lottery Fund confirms support for 360Giving

 

As part of its commitment to modernising grant making, the Big Lottery Fund has provided 360Giving with a £50,000 development grant so it can take forward its ground-breaking work on open data in the grant making sector.

Currently every funder has a different approach to capturing and managing data about those they support, making it difficult to understand and demonstrate sector-wide spending and impact of charitable funds. The 360Giving open data standard lays the foundation for better understanding the behaviour and impact of the sector. It is the first step needed to create a new generation of useful apps to benefit grant makers and those they seek to help through funding.

Fran Perrin, Director of 360Giving said:

“We are delighted that the Big Lottery Fund is supporting our campaign to help people make better grants. BLF is supporting us financially and practically. This development funding allows us to create an independent not for profit, 360Giving Limited, to take forward the work. Our new Chief Executive, Rachel Rank, joined us this month and will be taking this work forward over the coming year. Indigo Trust and Nesta are also investing in 360Giving.

The BLF grant also allows us to start work on our ‘labs’ concept of incubating small projects that use 360Giving data. The first project to benefit will be Beehive, which helps charities make more efficient applications for funding.”

Joe Ferns, UK Knowledge and Portfolio Director at the Big Lottery Fund said:

“Making data open, accessible and meaningful is an important part of helping organisations understand the difference they make to people’s lives. We’re pleased to support the development of this project which has the potential to help funders better manage and share their information, so they can demonstrate their value and better serve people and communities.”

As well as financial support, BLF is also publishing its own grants data to the 360Giving standard. For a full list of publishers and to see their data, visit: http://www.threesixtygiving.org/get-involved/data/.

Posted in News & Updates Tagged with: ,

New Chief Executive: Rachel Rank

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Rachel Rank as Chief Executive of 360Giving.

Rachel joins us from Publish What You Fund where she has played a major role in advocating for open data standards in international development. She brings with her a deep knowledge of transparency issues and a track record of supporting donors to understand, publish and use open data.

Rachel was co-chair of BOND’s transparency working group and is the author of several publications on transparency, good governance and accountability. She has previously held positions with the Commonwealth Secretariat, the UK Department for International Development, the consulting company DAI, Transparency International and the Overseas Development Institute.

Rachel joins 360Giving in early November, having advised our work since its early days.

Posted in News & Updates

Setting solid foundations for social impact

Last week we had the pleasure of presenting on the 360Giving project for an Open Data Institute Friday Lunchtime Lecture. Alice Casey and Tim Davies shared a history of the project, and the vision of supporting funders to make better decisions and seek greater impact through open sharing of grantmaking data. You can find a recording of the talk via the ODI website, and find the slides below.

As we were presenting, an issue of the GovLab Digest dropped into our inbox, pointing to initial findings from a set of case studies on Open Data Impact. Interestingly, the findings link to a number of points we explored in the lecture. GovLab find that:

  • “Open data projects are most successful when they are built not from the efforts of single organizations or government agencies, but when they emerge from partnerships across sectors (and even borders)”.360Giving is a collaboration, bringing together donors from across the philanthropy sector, along with data users and technical partners to provide core support and build innovative tools. The new indepedent 360Giving non-profit is not intended to become a single organization ‘owning’ the project, but has instead been established to harness, catalyse and take forward the energy from the different partners in the project.
  • “Several of the projects we have seen have emerged on the back of what we might think of as an open data public infrastructure – i.e., the technical backend and organizational processes necessary to enable the regular release of potentially impactful data to the public.”.360Giving is more than a data standards. Through our partnership with Open Data Services Co-operative, 360Giving is building an open data infrastructure for philanthropic data, providing the support that funders need to get their data published, and the core tools to make that data easy to use.
  • “Clear open data policies, including well-defined performance metrics, are also essential; policymakers and political leaders have an important role in creating an enabling (yet flexible) legal environment that includes mechanisms for project assessments and accountability, as well as providing the type of high-level political buy-in that can empower practitioners to work with open data.”We’re working with leaders of trusts and foundations, rather than political leaders – but the point GovLab make is key: to suceed we need to secure leadership commitment to opening up – and then to translate that into practical action to open up data. We’re working hard on improving how we manage the process of holistic support for organisations to publish and use 360Giving data.We’re also working to create an environment in which 360Giving is the platform, but not the product. Through our emerging ‘Labs’ programme, we want others to have the confidence and catalytic support they need to build upon 360Giving data, and to create tools and services that support the sector.
  • “We have also seen that the most successful open data projects tend to be those that target a well-defined problem or issue. In other words, projects with maximum impact often meet a genuine citizen need.”360Giving is addressing clear needs of funders to understand better how to use their resources for social impact. This ultimately brings benefits to citizens.

It’s encouraging to see that 360Giving is heading down the right track in these areas. However, GovLab also higlight some of the challenges that projects face, and we’re working hard to avoid these – making sure we help funders to think early about privacy and security issues, and being responsive to feedback, ready to iterate and develop our plans based on regular reflection and learning.

As GovLab note, “Although open data projects are often “hackable” and cheap to get off the ground, the most successful do require investments – of time and money – after their launch”. We’re moving from the ‘hackable’ launch stage of 360Giving, to scale up over the coming year. We hope you will be coming on the journey with us.

Posted in Blog