Join the open grants movement

We help organisations publish open, standardised grants data, and empower people to use it to improve charitable giving

Following the money – Exploring regrants in the 360Giving Data Standard

By

In this blog, we’re exploring the concept of regranting, explaining what we have seen in the data, and outlining what we’re doing next to support the understanding of regranting in the 360Giving Data Standard.

Distributing grants on behalf of others

Alongside the grants made directly to organisations or individuals, funders may also give grants to another funder or partner for redistribution to the end recipients. Certain types of grantmakers specialise in distributing grants on behalf of others, adding value to the funding through their expertise – either in a place such as community foundations, or a sector or community, such as Rosa (the fund for Women and Girls) or LGBT+ Consortium.

During the pandemic, many funders responded by setting up pooled funds – such as the London Community Response, or giving to National Emergencies Trust which worked with a range of funders to ensure money was directed to where it was needed most. There were also a number of match-funding programmes involving multiple funders. 

Our research into UK Covid relief and recovery grants set out some of the complexity that can exist when re-granting is involved, as illustrated in the diagram below.

Regranting in 360Giving data – the issues

In the 360Giving Data Standard there are currently no structures to distinguish grants for re-granting, pooled funds and other arrangements that involve multiple funders working in partnership, from a regular grant given directly to the end recipient. 

This causes two main issues:

  1. The risk of double counting – If a grant of £1m is given to a funder based in an area to redistribute, and the regrants are also published, then it might appear that £2m has been awarded to this place.
  2. Skewing our understanding of grants and grant recipients – Funding that is to be redistributed would typically go to larger organisations, and those operating national programmes will likely have a London head office, but the grants which are distributed may be going to small grass-roots organisations working at local level. 

During the pandemic there were numerous examples of grant programmes operated by specialist organisations who aren’t mainly or usually funders, and so may not have the capacity to share data about these grants using the 360Giving Data Standard. This has a consequence that an important part of insight about the ultimate recipients is missing, also creates a misleading sense of the resources that such organisations have for their own uses.

What have we been doing to address the issues?

Both the initial grants awarded for onward distribution and the grants awarded to end recipients provide important information about the flows of funding. Our aim is not to exclude any type of grant from 360Giving data, but to make it possible to more accurately represent what funding is going into the sector. 

Our COVID-19 Grants Tracker, first launched in March 2020, was 360Giving’s first attempt to recognise regranting in one of our tools. This involved flagging any grants received by organisations known to be funders as potentially for re-distribution and providing a way to exclude these ‘grants to other grantmakers’ from the results.

A cumulative total of grants over time on the COVID-19 Grants Tracker.

For individual funder views, we added a flow-diagram to show when funders could be part of an onward distribution. 

A flow diagram which shows the grants given and received by different funders.

This was a useful trial and a step in the right direction, but this solution relied on data being added by 360Giving, automatically and manually, based on guidance from funders. A longer term solution should be based on data published by funders themselves, so that they are the authoritative source for information about their grantmaking.

Over the past few months we’ve been working towards proposing new structures in the 360Giving Data Standard which would allow funders to record regrants and the flows of funding between different grantmakers. 

What have we found out so far?

First, we carried out analysis of 360Giving data, to assess the scale of the issue and identify examples of regranting, which allowed us to develop a list of the main models of regranted funding and collaboration. 

Taking this insight from desk research, we carried out interviews with funders involved in a range of regranting and funder collaborations to find out how they operate and test the assumptions prompted by the data. These in-depth interviews explored how regranting programmes operate from the perspective of both ‘donor’ and regranting funders (with some funders involved in both sides of the regranting flow). 

We’ve also been finding out why funders chose to work in this way, and how they use data internally to track and monitor the impact of these funds, as well as their ideas for ways re-granting could be tackled in the 360Giving Data Standard.

We now have a better understanding of the range and types of regranting, funder collaborations and multi-partner programmes, and so our next step is to share our findings and get a wide range of funders to confirm we have captured the different models of operating. We want to make sure we haven’t missed any important considerations, and we also want to hear from users of the data on whether the proposals would meet their needs.

What next?

Once we’ve verified the classification, the structures added to the 360Giving Data Standard need to allow:

  • An original ‘donor’ funder to publish its awards as direct grants to intermediary funders (the recipients).
  • An regranting funder to publish the awards made with the funding to the ultimate recipient (a “regrant”).

It needs to support useful analysis of the grants, whether the ‘donor’ or ‘regranting’ funder is able to publish the grants data openly or not.

We are aiming for a simple solution that can be straightforward enough for funders of all shapes and sizes to use. This means we aren’t necessarily going to be able to deliver a solution for the flow of funding to be traced at a grant level in every case, as this would need a high degree of coordination between any funders sharing data – and won’t meet the needs of some of the models of collaborative working.

Watch this space for updates to the Standard so you can start using the new regranting mechanism when it’s available. 

And look out for our consultation on types of regranting soon, we’d love to hear from you!

Update (11/05): 360Giving’s consultation on regranting is now closed. Thanks to all who provided their feedback and insights.