As a grantmaker, the whole idea of open data publishing might well be new to you.
There are a number of online resources that can help you to develop your knowledge.
Opening up grants data
Please find below responses to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the process of opening up grants data. If you have any further questions about our work then please get in touch.
1. How does 360Giving ensure that the information published is accurate?
360Giving provides a means for grantmakers to publish their data – it does not “own” the information or check its accuracy compared to the organisation’s internal information systems. This is the responsibility of individual publishers. 360Giving tools can be used to convert and validate the data to check that it confirms with the Standard. We also know that the process of publishing data helps grantmakers to improve accuracy – by looking closely at what information is currently collected; how it is presented; and what information is missing.
2. What does publishing open grants data involve and what skills are needed?
Publishing data to the 360Giving Standard is a straightforward process and doesn’t require prior experience or technical expertise. The first publication may take longer as publishers need to align the information they hold to the 360Giving templates, publish it on their own website, and then link it to the 360Giving Registry.
In the longer-term, this process can be automated, so information is produced directly out of organisations’ systems, rather than manually publishing it. Making it part of the routine workflow is the most sustainable way to publish data.
360Giving has developed materials to guide organisations through the process; free support is also available to those who want it. Understandably, the whole idea of publishing grant data openly may be daunting to some, and there are a number of online resources that can help publishers develop their knowledge. These include information that explains open data and guides on how to open up data.
Read our guide to open data licensing.
3. Does data have to be complete before it is published?
No, data doesn’t have to be complete before it’s published. 360Giving recommends that organisations start by publishing what they can and then build on these foundations, for example, publishing grants for certain years or sectors. Experience has shown that the publishing process helps to improve the quality of an organisation’s data, as it encourages a detailed look at what information is currently collected where; how it should be presented; and what information is missing.
Read our guidance about data quality.
4. Is there a risk that the government and other grantmakers will reduce their funding to certain charities or sectors if they can see who else is already funding them?
There is no evidence to suggest that other grantmakers or government would reduce funding with greater access to grant data. Funding information is already made available by charities as part of their reporting to the Charity Commission. 360Giving makes it easier to access and compare this information, which should make grantmaking more informed. Most grantmakers will understand that organisations seek and receive funding from several different sources and for a combination of core and project-based activities.
5. I’m concerned that the data isn’t mine to give away. Will my grantees be compromised in some way?
Data on awards to grantees belongs to the grantmaker, and is not being ‘given’ to 360Giving by publishing it openly. It is understandable that for some grantmakers, making data fully open and accessible is a big cultural shift. It is also understandable that information on certain grants may need to remain confidential due to the nature of the grantee, for example, the geographic location of some grantees might not be appropriate to publish. Also, any data which could identify specific individuals should not be openly published.
Read our guidance about data protection and informing grantees about publishing grants data openly.
Having up-to-date policies for data handling and data protection, which are understood and agreed by a grantmaker and its grantees, should ‘head-off’ any uncertainties around data ownership.
An openly available example of a data policy can be viewed here, written by some of the experts who helped create the 360Giving Standard. It can be used as the basis for any organisation’s data policy and adjusted to reflect specific circumstances and needs.
Find more information about data protection and open data.
6. Are there any networks which will allow me to discuss data publishing with other grantmakers?
This is an important factor for many grantmakers and 360Giving encourages the establishment of peer networks as more organisations publish their data. 360Giving will help facilitate these networks, with the aim of them meeting regularly to discuss the benefits and best practice of publishing and using data.
7. How does publishing grant data contribute to measuring the impact of grants?
360Giving allows the identification of financial inputs into the charitable sector. Whilst it does not record outcomes, it is an important first step in quantifying the value derived from grants.
For responses to frequently asked questions about 360Giving visit our FAQs.
Open data training
Several organisations offer training courses in understanding and using open data, including: