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.