filming on a mobile phone

Gotta catch it all! What data can do for funders

By Shona Curvers 28 July 2016

Pokémon Go has taken much of the world by storm, with some users so deeply absorbed in the virtual reality app they’ve ended up crashing their cars into trees.

But this isn’t the only reason the app has made the headlines, having been heavily criticised for seeking ‘full access’ to its users’ Google accounts (and therefore their personal data).

Pokémon Go’s developers have since countered these claims, and whilst much debate on the topic has ensued, one thing is for sure: data is valuable, important, sought-after, and is very much still the hot topic of the day.

Here at NPC, we’ve spent some time cutting through the hype and thinking about the uses of data in practice for the charity sector. We’ve explored how organisations can more effectively use data in their work, and we’ve looked at data as a piece of the broader digital transformation puzzle.

From this work, we know that data has huge potential to improve the efficiency and impact of charities, but how does this extend to funders?

UK funders are operating in a complex funding environment with changing trends in where money is coming from and where it’s going. Sharing and using data can help funders working in this environment to understand who’s doing what, and how they fit into the picture.

For example, if funders are transparent about what they’re funding, and publish their grants data on platforms like 360 Giving in line with the 360 data standard, other funders can avoid duplication and focus instead on cold spots where funding is less readily available.

Of course, this does not come without its challenges. The paradoxical ‘network effect’ dictates that the more people who share their data, the more useful the dataset becomes as a whole. Because we are not yet at critical mass, it is currently pretty difficult to demonstrate the value of using open data in grant-making and philanthropy. And this will continue until more people start using it. Combine this with the insufficient internal and external infrastructure, skills, capacity, and support, and data can be difficult territory for funders to navigate.

With all of this in mind, we thought it was the perfect time to explore what data can do for funders. How can the current challenges be overcome? And who in the funding world—at home and abroad—is leading the way in this field? The Indigo Trust is supporting NPC with this work which will be published later this year.

If you are a funder who has experience using data to inform your giving, we want to hear from you—get in touch via

Otherwise, keep your eyes peeled for the report. And if you’re playing Pokémon Go, keep your eyes on the road.