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The Kruger Report: 360Giving welcomes recommendations for more open grants data

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Today, Danny Kruger MP published ‘Levelling Up Our Communities’, his report on civil society and recovery after the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

Danny Kruger MP

Danny Kruger MP. Photo: David Woolfall. Licensed under CC BY 3.0

The report was published in response to the Prime Minister’s call for proposals to ‘sustain the community spirit’ of the nation that grew over lockdown. In Danny Kruger’s words, the report “sets out a vision for a more local, more human, less bureaucratic, less centralised society in which people are supported and empowered to play an active role in their neighbourhoods.”

The role of open grants data

One of the report’s key proposals is around data and digital innovation, recognising the dynamics that have emerged over the recent crisis and highlighting how important they are for our recovery and for the future. The report calls on the government to “get its own house in order” when it comes to data, and to facilitate better data sharing and use by civil society organisations – which will, in turn, enable better decision-making and collaboration. 

At 360Giving, we are pleased to see that the report also calls on the government to honour its commitment to publish its grants data openly in the 360Giving Data Standard by the end of the year. In doing so, the UK government would join over 150 UK funders who already publish their grants data openly in the Standard. Understanding the benefits of publishing grants data – both for themselves and for wider society – these funders have made amazing, collaborative efforts in publishing their grants data, and helping to create a fuller picture of grantmaking. Thanks to them, over £30bn of grants can now be accessed and compared across the UK. 

However, due to the government not yet having followed suit, our funding picture is not yet complete. As we have said before, grants from the government are a crucial part of the voluntary sector’s funding mix, but it’s very difficult to find out how much these grants are worth or where they go. 

We very much anticipate the government’s grants data finally being published in the 360Giving Data Standard, because the more complete the data, the more valuable it will be. 

Data and digital innovation: the bigger picture

When it comes to data and digital innovation for civil society, open grants data is part of a much wider picture.

It is important that we can also access data about civil society organisations and groups themselves, along with the services they deliver. And there is more to understand about government spending on civil society organisations, and the delivery of services in local communities. For example, there are calls for more open data about central and local government spending through contracts, from organisations such as the Open Contracting Partnership, and better and more accessible data about the location and nature of local services. 

We must also focus on how we collect and analyse data about the needs of society, so we can look at them in the context of current grants and contract spending, to make sure they go where they are needed most.

Building data infrastructure for civil society: skills and culture change

We must take a holistic view in building a robust data infrastructure for the voluntary sector. Data and technology are only part of this – we must also focus on skills and culture change. We need to encourage and empower people to use the data, build data literacy and grow a ‘data culture’ in organisations so that their decisions can be more informed. 

The report proposes a deal with ‘Big Tech’ to design new ‘digital infrastructure’ for communities. At 360Giving, we believe in designing with, not for. We would expect the communities in question to be meaningfully involved in such a design process. We believe that we must hold people – whether in government, ‘big tech’, or civil society – to account for data being used and shared ethically and equitably, so that its benefits can be shared fairly across society.

The need for openness and inclusivity

We hope that this report will enable greater awareness of the need for openness and inclusivity. At 360Giving, we champion open data for the public good. Along with enabling open data to be published, we are committed to providing free, open-source, tools to make it more accessible. 

We look forward to working with the government and sector partners to implement the proposals in the Kruger Report that relate to open grants data. Ultimately, this will be a critical step towards reaching our vision: for grantmaking in the UK to be more informed, effective and strategic.