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Extending the 360Giving Data Standard – a shared approach to equity data

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Over the past year, we’ve been developing a shared taxonomy for equalities data to support funders to understand the equity of their grantmaking. Several funders have expressed an interest to record this data with their 360Giving grants data so we are now looking to add a DEI Data Extension to the 360Giving Data Standard. In this blog, we highlight the need for this work, the process so far and the next steps for 360Giving. 

The need

Over the past year, many funders have been reviewing their diversity, equity and inclusion practices, and several have expressed an interest in recording the equity of their grant distribution with their 360Giving grants data.

360Giving makes limited use of codelists in the main 360Giving Data Standard, however these are to describe currencies, countries and geography, rather than sectors, themes or communities. The Standard does accommodate user-defined fields, and flexibly includes the option for publishers to record their own categories, specific to their grantmaking. A small number of funders are recording information about the characteristics of projects the grants are supporting in this way.

Increasingly, funders want to be able to record and report on equity information in a standardised way. This will support strategic considerations and collaborations, and enable a collective effort across funders for the long term. 

In order to fully understand funding, and how equitable it is, we need to look at equity in a more cohesive and sophisticated way. For example, by looking beyond which organisations receive funding, and look at who they are led by. 

The DEI Data Group approach

In order to do this, it was necessary to develop a shared approach with shared vocabulary and terms, and a consistent way to apply this framework in order to produce comparable data. The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The National Lottery Community Fund funded 360Giving to support the development of this approach, working with the DEI Data Group of funders.

360Giving approached this work in a different way to our usual processes, given the sensitive nature of this data and considerations for making it open data. When we came to look at equalities information in the 360Giving Data Standard we explicitly explored power and inclusivity in the data processes. The focus was on communities and groups that funders wanted to prioritise because they experience structural inequality, rather than all areas of protected characteristics. 

The process was designed with inclusivity at the heart, and operated outside of our normal processes. The focus was on the data subjects (organisations being funded) and not the publishers of the data (funders). This included:

  • Recruiting a specialist consultant (The Social Investment Consultancy – TSIC) to lead the process independently to reduce our own power and bias in the process
  • Wide engagement with specialist infrastructure, representative groups and individuals, to look at how they defined their identities and the language they used. The grant support from our funders allowed us to pay people for their time and input to support more in-depth contributions.
  • Consultation in the way that data was going to be used and applied, including for example, definitions of “leadership” and what it meant to be “led by”
  • A consultation and agreement process among the representative groups, including exploration of intersectionality and data implications

Once there was a level of consensus from the “data subjects” the framework was shared with the DEI Data Group of funders who would be collecting and using the data. Using the language and definitions developed in the first consultation process, the funders developed the guidance needed to provide clarity on their own use.

This process also considered the technical application to the 360Giving Data Standard completely separately from this process of the vocabulary and the approach, to reduce the risk of the technology or data structures introducing bias into the process.

As you might imagine, this is a particularly complex area. While this might not be a perfect solution to suit all situations, we wanted to look at what an approach might look like focusing on an inclusive intersectional lens and what we can learn from it.

The DEI Data Group’s DEI Data Standard is available at www.funderscollaborativehub.org.uk/dei-data-standard

The next steps for 360Giving

On the 19th March 2021, the 360Giving Data Standard Stewardship Committee met to consider the technical developments needed to enable DEI Data Standard data to be shared alongside 360Giving data.

The committee agreed that the next steps towards implementation will be to develop a DEI Data Extension to the 360Giving Data Standard. This will involve adding codes, designing the JSON schema and spreadsheet templates to enable funders to include this information when they publish their 360Giving data if they want to. 

We will work with a number of funders who are piloting the DEI Data Standard in their grantmaking to support this in practice and refine our approach. We will also develop further guidance to support practical implementation. Longer term, we will look at how best to display this data in our tools and dashboards.

This is a new approach for 360Giving, and one that we are learning from to inform our future work and other potential extensions to the 360Giving Data Standard. We would work on these in partnership with other groups, looking at specific themes which we anticipate will grow the impact of the data use even further.

This inclusive data work is really important for 360Giving. It is aligned to our values, responds to publisher needs, and supports our vision of more informed and effective grantmaking. We appreciate that this isn’t a quick fix and it will be quite some time before the DEI Data Standard data is available on a scale by enough funders to use in any meaningful way, but it is an important investment in long-term change.

 

If you are interested in finding out more about the DEI Data Standard and how you might use it in your work, please visit: www.funderscollaborativehub.org.uk/dei-data-standard

If you want to be kept updated about the integration of the DEI Data Standard data into 360Giving data, please contact info@threesixtygiving.org