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Extending our strategy – and sharing what we’ve learnt


360Giving’s Trustee Board agreed a two-year extension to our 2022 strategy, committing to our current priorities until 2027. Here’s why.

We first launched our 2022-25 strategy, ‘Unleashing the Impact of Grants Data’, in March 2022. It was developed in 2021 informed by stakeholder and user research and analysis of the 360Giving performance and impact to date.

It was an ambitious strategy that set out four bold goals towards our vision of UK grantmaking becoming more informed, effective, and strategic. They are:

  • Goal 1: Increase relevant data available for informed decision-making
  • Goal 2: Improve the quality and depth of data for increased usefulness
  • Goal 3: Enhance data use for greater effectiveness
  • Goal 4: Lead and influence practice for impact

In November 2023 we undertook a mid-strategy review to take a step back, assess the changes to the landscape since we developed the strategy, evaluate our progress and confirm whether the strategy was still right. 360Giving’s Trustee Board agreed on a two-year extension to our strategy, committing to our current goals and priorities to the end of March 2027. By extending our strategy, we are making a longer-term commitment to support the transformational change in data culture and practice needed to improve grantmaking in the UK.

Our learning

In line with our values of being purposeful, open, collaborative and curious, and our aim of sharing learning, we want to work in the open and share our rationale for the extension and our learning from the last 18 months.

When we wrote our strategy, significant uncertainty about our future funding made planning resources difficult. We are very grateful to our key funders for renewing our grants: Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, National Lottery Community Fund, Indigo Trust, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Pears Foundation and Tudor Trust. We would not have been able to deliver our work without their support.

Despite the funding being secured, resourcing continued to be a challenge over the last 20 months and plans needed to be adjusted accordingly:

  • The original plans included recruiting a range of associate analysts to support the expansion of our data use and analysis work. In implementation, we found insufficient people with the charity and philanthropy analysis knowledge available when we needed it to support the delivery of our work. We recently brought the capacity in-house as part of the staff team and plan to expand this area of our work further in 2024.
  • Staff recruitment has been challenging, and there hasn’t been a time when we didn’t have at least one vacancy or person on probation, out of a team of 6-7 staff total. This reflects the niche nature of our organisation, the specialist roles we are recruiting for, and a challenging market for the sector overall. The limited staff capacity added pressure to staff in post and delayed implementation of some projects.
  • As well as a lack of internal capacity, we had challenges securing external agency support when needed. Just as we struggled with specialist recruitment, so did some of our suppliers. This was particularly a challenge when our Salesforce development agency stopped taking on support cases at short notice, leading to several projects needing to be put on hold until a replacement was recruited.

The capacity issues led to several projects being implemented later than planned and the changed phasing contributed to the decision to extend the strategy to allow more time to see the outcomes of this work. However, the impact of the projects that were implemented has been greater than anticipated.

The benefits of being outcomes focused

A key strength of the strategy design is that it is built on an outcomes framework and driven by our organisational values, which are thoroughly embedded in our culture, behaviours and practice. This has been really valuable and has given us the flexibility to respond to the external environment while remaining true to the goals, and provided a clear shared sense of our purpose and priorities to guide adaptation to our resource restrictions. And the fact that it was summarised on one page really enabled the strategy to come alive and be actively used and not just a document for the Board to look at and approve as a one-off.

A chart laying out 360Giving's 2022-25 strategy framework

Our evaluation indicated that the goals are still right, but as we have fallen behind in some of the delivery and phasing of planned implementation, we need longer to maximise the outcomes and impact. There are some minor areas where we need to make changes to the plans and deliver things in a different way to reflect changes in the market, but the outcomes remain right, albeit with changes to phasing and timing for the achievement of the targets.

Achievements so far

Highlights of achievements include:

  • Increase in the number of funders
  • Implementation of self-servicing options for publishing and updates to data, as well as new helpdesk and support mechanisms for funders
  • Significant enhancements to the 360Giving Data Standard in response to user needs – including DEI Data Standard extension, ability to anonymously publish data on grants to individuals with new categories, new regranting and location scope fields
  • Substantially increased users of the 360Giving tools, especially GrantNav
  • Development of widgets to enable publishers to embed their data in GrantNav or 360Insights into their websites
  • Expansion of our training and workshop programme with over 90% of participants reporting increased knowledge and confidence to take next steps
  • Increased analysis reports and substantially increased readership of the reports, most notably the Sector Infrastructure Funding report and UK Grantmaking 2021-22: Snapshot
  • Increased use of 360Giving data and analysis for decision-making including influencing grantmaking collaborations and policy decisions.

Next steps

In what has been a volatile period in the sector, challenges in staff and supplier capacity meant that some parts of our strategy have taken longer than planned – but their impact has been greater than anticipated.

We have excellent foundations to build on, and the extension to the strategy will provide more time to deliver our ambitious aims and work towards our vision of UK grantmaking becoming more informed, effective and strategic.

We are excited about our future plans and next steps. Read our blog on the UK Grantmaking Project for an indication of what’s to come.