Buttle UK and publishing data on grants to individuals and families
Over the past 18 months, 360Giving has been working with the Association of Charitable Organisations and a steering group of funders to support publishing grants to individuals’ data using the 360Giving Data Standard, and sharing it in the 360Giving tools.
Buttle UK is a leading funder of grants to individuals and families, dedicated to helping children and young people in the UK who have experienced crisis, living in financial hardship and dealing with multiple challenging social issues.
Below, Jessie Adams (Impact and Evaluation Manager) shares the motivations for Buttle UK supporting the project and being one of the first funders to publish their data on grants to individuals.
Why it is important to share data
We believe that the act of putting data out into the world is one of the most powerful things that grantmakers can do. Those of us working in the funding sector are sitting on such a wealth of information about our grantees and the households, communities and world they exist in. Importantly, grantmaking organisations are very often acting right on the frontline; what we know and understand about our grantees is as up-to-the-minute as it can be. This relevancy gives credit to our work, and power to our data.
Sharing this data can help us find commonalities between those we help, weaving threads between need and support. It can be used to cast light on underrepresented communities, empowering their shared experiences. It has immense value to funders looking in from outside, wanting to better understand what they are investing in. It lends power to stakeholders and campaigners who use data to champion systemic change.
At Buttle UK, we know that our grants may help individuals, but our data unlocks the whole picture of the who, the what, the where, and the why, to help make change for everyone. What underpins all of this is the understanding that the more organisations are inspired to contribute, the greater our collective understanding. Collaboration between funders is key to maximising the impact of our work.
Why we got involved with 360Giving
Our work with 360Giving is a perfect example of where we have been able to realise this aim of using data to better understand the picture, and it is credit to them that it has been made possible to do so in a space where grantmakers to organisations have paved the way.
This year, the 360Giving Data Standard has expanded to make it possible for organisations to publish data on grants to individuals. This is such an opportunity for all of us to come together and get behind the open data movement.
We’ve been able to share our insights and vision with the team responsible for the project as it has developed, creating structures that reflect our organisations’ individuality while finding common descriptors to understand grantmaker similarities and the collective picture.
A motivator for us was the GrantNav and 360Insights tools, which provide aggregated data analysis and visualisations. These can have huge value in reporting for organisations without access to an advanced database. It’s also a reminder that, where data expertise or workload capacity is lower within your organisation, you can lean on those who generously lend their skills to bring that data to life.
In this way, data sharing can be such a powerful tool for internal organisational growth and strategic understanding. It’s a two-way street. It also allows us to see our funding in the context of other funders, supporting the wider environment for our work.
Publishing our data
From our perspective, it can take time to develop the confidence and excitement for the possibilities that data sharing presents – and the benefits are realised at a collective level. That’s why we do not undertake this journey alone.
360Giving is free to publishers of the data and the users of the data, with support provided by 360Giving throughout at no cost. At Buttle UK we used a mixture of the very thorough publisher guidance and check-ins with the 360Giving helpdesk team to get ourselves published. The publishing template does most of the hard work of cleaning and organising the data ready for publication, so don’t worry if you wouldn’t describe yourself as confident with data manipulation. We’ve learnt that it is okay to have questions – there is always someone helpful to answer them.
In all of Buttle UK’s strategic work on sharing data, a key factor has been in finding a way to do so that puts data safety and responsibility at its core. As a charity working predominantly with sensitive and protected characteristic data, we could not understand that risk more. That is why we only share data through collaborations with dedicated organisations that recognise this challenge and put it first and foremost. Through 360Giving, we are proud to say that our grantmaking data is now safely, anonymously, and publicly available.
Impact of sharing
Most of all, we feel that this is a really great example of cross-sector collaboration and the power of deeper understanding grown by data insights. We encourage other funders to join us in sharing your data and building this picture.
Ultimately, when we contribute our data into the world, we are taking an active role in driving more visibility and investment into our sector. We know our work as grantmakers is important, and we want others to know it too.