Challenge Fund – seven weeks in

Seven weeks ago we announced our Quest for Questions as part of our new Challenge Fund project. We have been pleased to discover that there are so many aspects of grantmaking that open data can help understand and advance. Thanks to your engagement, we now have over 20 questions to choose from and we hope you’ll keep them coming. With such a good selection of questions, we can already tell that choosing the ones we want to answer will be a daunting task.

So far, the issues you would like us to explore focus on three main themes: geographical location of grants; types and diversity of organisations that receive grants; and the scope of grantmaking activity.

Geographical mapping of grantmaking has always been a popular topic, and its something we’ve been asked about since the day we launched 360Giving. Some questions focus on identifying the gaps in funding at local authority level, or designing an interactive map that uses 360Giving data to determine what areas receive place-based support. Answering these questions could enable grantmakers to target geographical areas more strategically, working in places with persistently low levels of funding. One question asks whether a decrease in grant funding in a certain area might be an indicator of the health of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in that area in general. Perhaps the mapping of grants could provide new insights when trying to diagnose challenges in a specific place?

There have been a few questions regarding the types of organisations that receive grants – for instance, whether the money goes to universities, faith groups, community interest companies or capital projects rather than charities in general. One of the questions suggests we investigate the link between the volume and distribution of smaller grants and the level of community activity in a place in order to determine where support is needed the most. Funding trends are mentioned in quite a few of the questions, including a request to explore the correlation between funding certain issues with public cuts in services. Discovering the most and the least funded causes would enable grantmakers to make more targeted investments.

Other questions focus on issues including funder collaboration networks; the amount of funding going directly to the implementing organisation rather than through intermediaries; the success rate of applications; and the number of funders providing non-financial support in addition to grants. We were also pleased to see questions about funders themselves, such as how many of them publish the data and insight-rich information contained in their grantee reports and what are the stories behind those numbers. Do they contain insights that might be useful for others working in the same field?

360Giving Forum, you can submit your questions under the Quest For Questions category

Our Quest for Questions is proving to be an interesting exercise and has sparked lots of ideas for how 360Giving data could be deployed. We look forward to receiving more questions – our quest runs until the end of January. We invite everyone working in the charitable funding sector – whether you are a grantmaker, grant seeker, researcher or technical expert – to share your questions with us on our forum or tweet it to @360Giving.

Tell us about the why, what, where, when and how of the challenges you face and that data would help solve. What do we need to know so we can help support and enhance the sector?