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The 360Giving forum – a place for discussion

It all began with the standard

When we started 360Giving, we put a lot of effort into designing a data standard that will help answer some of the big questions about grantmaking. The 360Giving Standard is open and so it belongs to everyone; but in order for people to use it, we knew it had to be easy to understand.

One of the challenges with data standards is making sure they remain relevant, so we wanted to encourage public discussion as the Standard evolves. We also wanted to make it easy for people to share their feedback on what it was like to publish, share and use 360Giving data.

The 360Giving forum

We have set up an online forum where people can ask questions, share learnings, provide feedback and work together. The forum is a designated space where you can discuss practical questions and publically log any emerging issues.

Users need to register to participate in the discussions; but anyone can access and read all the content without signing up. You can also track topics of interest and be notified about new discussions via email – and even reply by email and have your response automatically posted. You can also share your discussion threads and invite others to join the conversation.

How do I sign up?

It’s very easy. All you need to do is to click ‘Sign Up’ in the top right corner, fill in your name and email details, and you’re ready to go! The forum is free and open to everyone.

Categories

 

Join the conversation here to help us shape and enhance the grantmaking sector.

If you have any questions, post them under a corresponding theme or email us at: labs@threesixtygiving.org.

Posted in Blog

Questions you want open data to answer

Quest for Questions – summary

Our Quest for Questions Challenge, a call out to the sector to share the burning questions you want open data to answer ended on 31st January, giving us 67 questions. They provide a comprehensive overview of the sector’s information needs.

At the beginning of this journey, we expected to receive a few broad questions focussing on who gives, and where. However, the granularity and the total number of queries exceeded our expectations – we were pleased to discover that there are so many ways you think that open data can enhance grantmaking.

In order to analyse the questions more efficiently, we divided them into eight categories:

  • Grantmaking processes
  • Network effect
  • Sector mapping
  • Funding flows
  • Facts and stats
  • Sector health
  • Geography
  • Tech funding

Sector mapping emerged as the biggest category, dominated by queries regarding the type of organisations receiving funding and the theme of the grants. The discussions that some questions sparked on our forum indicate a lot of interest in finding ways to make the most out of the available data. We hope that our Quest for Questions has encouraged more people to use the existing 360Giving datasets and that it provides a broader context to their work.

However, many questions will remained unanswered. Some of them touched upon various processes and information that are not currently shared. The data is either not being collected, there is no standard to share it or there are ethical issues hindering its publication – such as in the case of unsuccessful applications, where not all funders feel comfortable releasing this data.

Our next step will be launching the second phase of our Challenge Fund, Digging the Data. A panel of experts will select the most feasible questions to be answered from the 67 received. We will then launch a data visualisation competition calling on data analysts to explore the chosen issues in detail and create visually stimulating solutions. One of the chosen questions will be explored in detail by our own data expert, working with a group of funders to produce a new process-driven solution.

A big thank you to all of you who responded to the first phase of our Challenge Fund by sending in a question. We look forward to working with you to solve the most burning ones. Find out more about the Digging the Data prize challenge by emailing our Labs Manager, Mor Rubinstein: mor@threesixtygiving.org

Posted in Blog, News & Updates

Data Science students take deep dive into 10 years of Big Lottery Funding

360Giving is pleased to work with the research organisations and people not familiar with UK funding to check the usability and robustness of the data.

Each year businesses, charities and local organisations are linked up with Data Science students from Lancaster University to give us a chance to work with large, complex data sets and solve real world issues. For this project with 360Giving, we were tasked with analysing all the grants made by the Big Lottery Fund between April 2007 and March 2016 shared using the 360Giving Open Data Format, to see if we could find emerging funding patterns or themes. We explored the data using three questions:

1. Do particular projects get more funding than others?

We quickly identified some interesting aspects of the data, including one donation which was vastly larger than all the others. When we delved a little deeper, we discovered that although it was recorded as one grant, the funding was split between many different sub-projects across the UK.

We also uncovered some trends in the data. For example, the Reaching Communities programme received the most funding for 7 years out of the 10 in the dataset, but the highest number of grants awarded each year is for the Awards for All programme. This is the result of the Awards for All programme having a lower upper threshold of £10,000 than the Reaching Communities programme which allocates much larger individual awards.

2. Does the amount of funding given vary over time?

There was a noticeable drop in the amount of funding awarded between 2007/08 and 2008/09, followed by a steady decline to a low at 2010/11. This corresponds very closely with the financial crisis, and a previous study carried out by the Charities Aid Foundation also found, the total amount of charitable giving declined during the recession.

Trends across the years

3. Does the amount of funding given vary geographically?

The geographical analysis shows the vast majority of funding going to London and other large cities. This might be because this is where the greatest number of people live and so there is the greatest charitable need; or it might be the ‘headquarter effect’ with most being located in big cities.

The project was a valuable chance to work with a large funding dataset covering a long time period. It allowed us to go beyond working with the small datasets created to serve a specific teaching purpose, and explore how data is collected, curated and analysed in practice.

Trends in geography

This blog was written by Frances Biggin from the MSc in Data Science at Lancaster University as an outcome of a group project to work on 360Giving data. The MSc is a one-year taught course with an emphasis on analysing real world ‘Big Data’ using statistical and computing techniques.

Posted in Blog, News & Updates

More data, more use, more answers

2017 ended on a high note for 360Giving with a UK first. Following the sharing of over £4 billion worth of grants data by two government departments – the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Transport – for the first time ever in the UK it’s possible to compare government grants with those made by local authorities and charitable trusts and foundations. You can do this in three clicks using our GrantNav platform.

When 360Giving was founded just over two years ago, I thought I would have to do a lot of arm-twisting to get people on board with sharing their data. But it’s been more of a hand-shaking exercise – the funders we have talked to understand the benefit of building the bigger picture of UK grantmaking.

We set ourselves the goal of opening up 80% of UK grants data by 2020. We called this a “moonshot” goal, because at the time it seemed rather ambitious and we weren’t confident that organisations would engage with us.

We were wrong. There are now over 60 funders sharing £17 billion worth of grants data in the open, comparable format we’ve developed. As you might expect the list includes large, well-known funders but also the full range of grantmakers including community foundations, local authorities, lottery funders and charitable trusts – demonstrating that any type of funder can share their data; and that lots of them want to.

But there are some challenges for 2018 if we want to reach our 2020 goal.

  1. More data: We would love more lottery funders to follow Big Lottery’s and Sport England’s lead by sharing their data. We will be reaching out to them over the comings onths to find out how we can help them open up their data and to talk through any practical issues or concerns they may have.

  2. More data use: We need to better understand the potential of the data and the different ways it can be used and improved. This means using the data more. Building on our pilot project in Manchester last year, we plan to run another two pilots in 2018, working with like-minded funders to help them identify and address shared issues. We’ve already started a project with the UK Community Foundations and look forward to working with other funder networks in the West Midlands, Scotland and the North East.

  3. More answers: We’re going to launch the second part of our Challenge Fund this year to see how open data can provide answers to the sectors’ burning issues. We’ve already received some great suggestions as part of our Quest for Questions challenge, when we invited you to tell us the questions you need answering. (You can contribute your questions until January 31st by clicking here.) We’ll be selecting three to focus on in 2018, looking at how open data can provide answers to them. If you’d like to work with us to help answer them then contact our Labs & Learning Manager, Mor Rubinstein: labs@threesixtygiving.org

 

Another big buzz in 2017 was seeing the hike in the number of people using the 360Giving dataset as it grew richer. This includes the number of people using the Beehive Giving platform that matches grantseekers with grant makers; funders using the data when reviewing their strategy; data analysts using it to look at funding to a particular place such as Bath, Birmingham or Manchester; and developers using it in visualisations. The series of data expeditions we ran in 2017 were fun and informative. From them we learned how you want to use the data and what we can and can’t do with it. We will be running more expeditions in 2018 so look out for them.

There is some way to go on our journey towards transparency and true understanding of how the UK funds the charitable sector and we need you on board to help us get there.

If you’re a funder and you haven’t shared your data yet, get in touch and find out how easy it is and how we can support you. And those of you already on board, come and join us at our regular Data Surgeries where you can share experiences and ideas with colleagues over tea and cake. The next one is on 12th January, so there is just time to sign up if you’re quick!

We’re proud of what we have achieved over the past two years and look forward to seeing how open data can help transform the sector in 2018 and beyond.

Posted in Blog

Challenge Fund – seven weeks in

Seven weeks ago we announced our Quest for Questions as part of our new Challenge Fund project. We have been pleased to discover that there are so many aspects of grantmaking that open data can help understand and advance. Thanks to your engagement, we now have over 20 questions to choose from and we hope you’ll keep them coming. With such a good selection of questions, we can already tell that choosing the ones we want to answer will be a daunting task.

So far, the issues you would like us to explore focus on three main themes: geographical location of grants; types and diversity of organisations that receive grants; and the scope of grantmaking activity.

Geographical mapping of grantmaking has always been a popular topic, and its something we’ve been asked about since the day we launched 360Giving. Some questions focus on identifying the gaps in funding at local authority level, or designing an interactive map that uses 360Giving data to determine what areas receive place-based support. Answering these questions could enable grantmakers to target geographical areas more strategically, working in places with persistently low levels of funding. One question asks whether a decrease in grant funding in a certain area might be an indicator of the health of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in that area in general. Perhaps the mapping of grants could provide new insights when trying to diagnose challenges in a specific place?

There have been a few questions regarding the types of organisations that receive grants – for instance, whether the money goes to universities, faith groups, community interest companies or capital projects rather than charities in general. One of the questions suggests we investigate the link between the volume and distribution of smaller grants and the level of community activity in a place in order to determine where support is needed the most. Funding trends are mentioned in quite a few of the questions, including a request to explore the correlation between funding certain issues with public cuts in services. Discovering the most and the least funded causes would enable grantmakers to make more targeted investments.

Other questions focus on issues including funder collaboration networks; the amount of funding going directly to the implementing organisation rather than through intermediaries; the success rate of applications; and the number of funders providing non-financial support in addition to grants. We were also pleased to see questions about funders themselves, such as how many of them publish the data and insight-rich information contained in their grantee reports and what are the stories behind those numbers. Do they contain insights that might be useful for others working in the same field?

360Giving Forum, you can submit your questions under the Quest For Questions category

Our Quest for Questions is proving to be an interesting exercise and has sparked lots of ideas for how 360Giving data could be deployed. We look forward to receiving more questions – our quest runs until the end of January. We invite everyone working in the charitable funding sector – whether you are a grantmaker, grant seeker, researcher or technical expert – to share your questions with us on our forum or tweet it to @360Giving.

Tell us about the why, what, where, when and how of the challenges you face and that data would help solve. What do we need to know so we can help support and enhance the sector?

Posted in Blog, News & Updates

#LocalCharitiesDay 2017 – A quick dive into local giving

Posted in Blog

Keeping it local – why I’m sponsoring a bicycle this Christmas

Today is local charities day, giving us a chance to acknowledge and celebrate all the important work that charities do in their communities throughout the UK.

Local charities by their nature tend to be small, and we know that small charities have had a tough time recently, with the government’s shift to issuing more contracts hitting small charities particularly hard, coupled with a decline in trust in charities in general. But it’s not all bad news. Recent analysis by NCVO found that one in four people are volunteering every month – many in their local community – and people continue to give generously to local causes.

So what does 360Giving data tell us about local charities? I found two interesting facts and a great example of collaboration for a local charity I care about.

Fact #1: Most of the biggest grantmakers are funding small, local charities

You might think that big funders like the Big Lottery, Children in Need, City Bridge Trust, Comic Relief, Esmée Fairbairn, Henry Smith and Lloyds Bank – who between them give away £805 million each year – would be doing this in nice big chunks. Well, you’d be wrong. They’re giving lots of grants of less than £10,000 to local charities throughout the UK, either directly or in the case of Comic Relief, via the network of 48 UK Community Foundations. These visualisations by our Labs and Learning Manager Mor Rubinstein, show how many grants seven community foundations have made to local charities in 2013-2016. With more community foundations due to share their data with us in 2018, we’ll be able to build a more comprehensive picture of funding to local charities throughout the UK. We also had a look at the work SCVO is doing in Scotland with local charities and the size of the organisations they’re supporting.

Fact #2: Most UK charities are small and working with their local community

We know from NCVO’s number crunching for its Civil Society Almanac that there are over 165,00 voluntary organisations in the UK and most of them are small. We wanted to see if these organisations are also captured in 360Giving data. The answer is yes! There are grants for over 100,00 different organisations included in the data, meaning we have information on the sector that reflects the sector. And because we have data on exactly who these organisations are (their registration number, location, etc.) it’s easy to look them up and find out more about what they’re working on, where and with which communities. Check out GrantNav, where you can search 360Giving data by themes and regions and see what funding is being provided to causes you care about.

And the bicycle? When doing this research, I looked up a local charity that I care about, called the Bike Project. They take second-hand bikes, fix them up and give them to refugees in London. When I searched our dataset, I found seven grants from six different funders totalling £266k. And because the grants have descriptions, I can see what they’re for and how they complement one another. Together, this data tells a nice story about a charity working with a specific community. This example highlights why open data is so useful. It took me less than one minute to find this information, it was interesting and its inspired me to support them. This year, my brother’s Christmas present is going to be a sponsored bike.

What questions do you have about funding to local charities? Join our Quest for Questions and tell us what you’d like to know – so that on local charities day in 2018 we’ll have even more interesting facts to share.

Happy #LocalCharitiesDay!


For information about volunteering in your community, visit the NCVO website: https://www.ncvo.org.uk/ncvo-volunteering

Looking for ways to donate to a local cause? Then check out Local Giving, The Big Give or find out what your local community foundation is doing in your area and how you can support them.

Posted in Blog

Let’s ask more of grantmaking and not settle for the status quo

This blog was originally published by Alliance Magazine on November 27, 2017.

Philanthropist Fran Perrin, founder and director of 360Giving, the charity opening up UK grantmaking data, explains why they are launching a Quest for Questions as part of a new Challenge Fund – an open call to the sector to share questions on how data can improve the impact of grantmaking.

Fran Perrin, founder of the Indigo Trust and 360Giving

Questions can change the world.

Space travel, stem cell engineering, the internet and all of man’s great scientific breakthroughs since the wheel started from challenging the status quo and asking ‘what if?’.

Questions are powerful catalysts of change.
When I first began grantmaking I had lots of questions about where I should start. I wanted to know how I could do as much good as possible with my money – who was already being funded?, and how much was going to which causes? – so I could target my money with maximum impact. I trawled the internet but the answers were not easily found. I realised the sector was funding in the dark. And I questioned why that information didn’t exist and ‘what if’ it did.

It was the inspiration to launch 360Giving, which has created a standard format for releasing data so funders can publish their grantmaking information in one place and in a way we can compare and share it. The aim is to transform the way we all fund by basing it on hard evidence, so it is more informed, strategic and ultimately impactful. Since the launch of 360Giving in 2015, more than 60 of the UK’s leading grantmakers are now sharing information on more than £10bn worth of funding. New platforms such as GrantNav and Beehive are being created so the data can be accessed easily by anyone. They can see who funds what they do and perhaps more importantly what isn’t being funded, and grantseekers can find out who is already funding organisations like them that makes it easier and quicker for them to find the funders who might support them. We are already starting to see where the funding cold spots are and if the money follows the areas of most need and where there are patterns and trends.

Change is happening

The data is saving organisations time and money. But the potential for what this data can do in conjunction with other datasets is huge. It has the ability to transform grantmaking and ramp up its value manifold. How do we get there? It’s time to ask more questions. Which is why we are launching the 360Giving Challenge Fund – Quest for Questions.

We are calling for questions that might help billions of pounds worth of grantmaking to work even harder. Tell us what you need to know so we can use data to provide the answers. We are inviting you all – grantmakers, seekers, researchers, technical experts – to share your questions with us.
From today until 31st January 2018, we want you to share with us what you need to know to help you do what you do better. We will then work in partnership with the sector to answer these questions using 360Giving data and the many other data sets that are now freely available.
We believe innovation and improvement comes from a place of curiosity and reflection. In order to make data useful for decision making and policy in the grantmaking sector, we need to reflect together and come up with questions. This is the first step in an exciting journey to turn data into insight and create a great knowledge base for the UK grantmaking community in years to come.

How can you participate? Good question!

Think of a question that you would like us to tackle around better grantmaking.
Post your question on our forum under the Quest for Questions category.
Or tweet it to @360Giving using the #Q4Qs.
Participate in person in our regular Data Surgeries – the next one is on 11th December.

Want to know more? Need help with coming up with a question? Visit the Challenge Fund webpage or tweet us @360Giving using #Q4Qs.

Posted in Blog, News & Updates

What we learned at Open Data Camp and Mozfest and why it is relevant for Grantmaking

October was a busy month for data and tech events for 360Giving! On the weekend of 21-22 October, I attended my first Open Data Camp in Belfast. The following week I attended Mozfest, the annual festival of Mozilla, the parent company of the browser Firefox. Taking place in London and bringing people from all over the world, Mozfest focused on the free internet. This is what I learned.

Credit: Giuseppe Sollazzo

 

Open Data Camp

For those of you who are not familiar with it, Open Data Camp UK is an event where open data practitioners meet to discuss, network and learn about open data in an unconference way. Yes, I said “un-conference”. What does that involve? It’s an interactive way to share learnings. Instead of panels and a fixed schedule, participants decide the agenda on the day and host their own sessions.

It was great to see the vibe and critical thinking of the UK community around open data. Furthermore, it was great to see the enthusiasm of the open data community in Northern Ireland and how so many people – from students to government employees and the charity sector – are there to promote and discuss open data. I’ve not seen much government participation in un-conferences before as they’re so informal, so I was pleased to see so many people from the Northern Ireland government organising it!

Key takeaways from Open Data Camp:

  1.    Data use is a hot topic – Using data is still not easy for a lot of people. There are barriers we need to tackle to help more people to actually use data and use it well. I was very excited to see some practical guidance like the ‘Getting More Value out of Open Data Publishing’ document that was created during the event, helping us to share knowledge and experiences of how to make sure that data that is published is actually used. If you want to learn more about data use and how we approach it here at 360Giving, check out my previous blog about it.
  2.   NICVA is doing some great work with data – Andrea Thornbury from NICVA (Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action) presented some of their work of Detail Data. It was inspiring to see how data can help charities to achieve better project planning and in some cases even funding.
  3.  It’s time to refresh some old open data definitions – If we want more people to use and publish open data, we need to re-write some of our data definitions in a relatable manner, so everyone can understand them. Some of these definitions, like machine readable format, are not even clear to the most savvy people in the open data community. The Open Data Handbook has some good definitions, but maybe we need a collective effort to refresh some of them?

 

Credit: Mozilla Festival

Mozfest

Mozfest is a festival that celebrates the freedom of the internet and brings together people from different communities to learn and collaborate about different topics like diversity, inclusivity and web literacy. Open data is one of many topics that was discussed as a catalyst for a better internet. While Mozfest is quite tech oriented, here are some takeaways that are relevant for the grantmaking community.

Key takeaways from Mozfest:

  1.    Teaching tech literacy through games: Games can be an easy and fun way to learn about data. I learned about BetaNYC’s open data card game that teaches about the open 311 standards (the standard the is used for a service call to the local council or FixMyStreet). I also learned how games can help to research Alzheimer’s. Maybe games can help us do better grantmaking?
  2.    Glossaries for better literacy: Brendan from 18F, the US equivalent of the UK Government Digital Service, showcased an FBI project around crime data. One of the tools they used to help people to understand the project was this glossary, which looks like it could be a good addition to our GrantNav platform.
  3.    Network cantered resources: This session focused on how to create better resources for knowledge sharing within a network of practice. This made me think about what’s needed for our community and how we can we create them together. If you have some ideas, please let me know!

If you want to discuss any of the points above further, please send me an email labs@threesixtygiving.org

 

Posted in Blog

Foundations’ most valuable assets include data

Professor Cathy Pharoah, CASS Business School

Philanthropic foundation spending reached almost £3 billion in 2015/16, its highest level ever according to the latest Foundation Giving Trends[1]. And with the value of foundation investments hitting a record £60 billion, public expectations of what foundations can do with their money are also running high. Private grant-making is equal to around 43% of the government funds channelled through civil society, and is attracting a wave of reviews of how foundations could make an even bigger difference by spending more, better or differently. Most of the debate, however, is occurring in a relative data vacuum. Competing ideas from all-comers on ideal giving strategies and subjects jostle for space in a growing free-for-all, while the rich information on spending which could inform debate remains fragmented, and inconsistently presented in individual annual reports. Initiatives like 360Giving are attempting to address this information gap by establishing a standard way of releasing data that allows grantmakers to share information about their funding in an open and comparable way. In turn, this has led to the creation of searchable platforms such as GrantNav and Beehive, making it easier for non-experts to also use the data

Grant-makers are facing unprecedented levels of need and demand, as government budgets suffer the cumulative effect of annual reductions, and average disposable household income sees its tightest squeeze for five years (Office for National Statistics, July 2017). This means that strategic thinking about the priorities which will ultimately determine foundations’ social impact is crucial. This year’s Foundation Giving Trends shows some ways in which foundations are addressing calls on resources. Many draw on total capital return from investments as well as annual incomes to fund spending. Some use finance in new ways to achieve certain social purposes, with at least 10% of the top philanthropic foundations making social investments. A new exploration of innovation and partnership in the report shows that collaborative approaches are becoming firmly embedded, and foundations of all sizes are working with multiple partners to ensure adequate budgets, drive new ways of working, and focus on impacts.

A good multi-sector example of this is the Arts Impact Fund, a £7 million collaboration including Arts Council England, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Nesta and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, with additional funding from Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. This is a much-needed addition for arts and culture, a field providing a good example of how collective foundation data can identify emerging gaps and inform decision-making. Examination of ‘spending out’ by foundations like Northern Rock, Monument, Paul Getty and Peter Moore which are (or have been) strong supporters of arts and culture indicates that, with government support also reducing, welcome increased spending on arts and culture by foundations like Sackler and Paul Hamlyn will not make up the shortfall. Moreover, long-term data in Foundation Giving Trends reveals that the increased grants spending in 2015/16 derived mainly from the market gains in existing investments, while income from major new gifts into foundations had modest growth. Today’s social needs cannot be met solely by switching existing foundation resources from one area to another, especially if asset growth slowed, and the strong message is that we need more new donors to create foundation endowments.

[1] http://www.acf.org.uk/policy-practice/research-publications/foundation-giving-trends-2017

Posted in Blog