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Publishing with 360Giving: reflections from our Open Philanthropy programme

By Alfie Vaughan 3 January 2024 4 minute read

In this blog, Alfie Vaughan, in collaboration with 360Giving, offers their reflections on being a first-time 360Giving publisher, gives some advice to funders wanting to publish their grant data for the first time, and explains why NPC advocates for publishing open grant data. 

NPC recently delivered the pilot stage of the Open Philanthropy programme, taking an open approach to designing and delivering a funding cycle to support small charities tackling financial hardship. As part of this approach, we recently published our grant data using the 360Giving Data Standard. 360Giving are a charity helping organisations to publish open grant data in a standardised way and supporting them to improve their charitable giving, a mission we at NPC are keen to support. As such, we want to encourage other funders who are thinking about publishing their grant data to take that leap. 

Why should you publish? 

Data plays such a vital role in understanding the funding landscape, helping to shape our understanding of current and historic need and gaps. We at NPC have relied on such data to inform various projects, from our Local Needs Databank, to our recent Levelling Up report. Grant data on 360Giving’s GrantNav tool even informed our research on funding financial hardship for our Open Philanthropy programme, providing information on the types of organisations being funded (registered vs. unregistered, income level, etc.), and how much funding had already been given. And through publishing our grant data using the 360Giving Data Standard, our data is now in GrantNav (alongside other 360Giving tools), making the information about this funding area even richer. 

In a social sector with limited amounts of funding, understanding where there is need and where there are gaps in provision allows funders to better target their grant-making. 

However, better targeting requires more open and transparent data. Of the more than 12,000 funders in the UK, there are only 259 funders registered with 360Giving. Think of how much knowledge of the funding landscape is lost here. Think of how much better we could target funding with that knowledge. Think of how much could be done to tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing our society with more open and transparent data. 

Planning and preparing your data 

360Giving’s guidance for publishers is fully comprehensive, covering every stage from planning your data, publishing it on your website, and guidance on data protection. 

This comprehensiveness can be intimidating if you don’t know where to start. However, when you realise thatas a grant-makeryou already store all of the data on the grants that you’ve awarded, the process becomes a lot quicker. Look at what information you already have from your own grant-making system and note how your own field titles correspond to those of the 360Giving standard. You should also compare how you currently collate and store your data, and how that compares to file options that are supported by the 360Giving standard (in fact, spreadsheets are the most common file format that publishers use!) 

For example, with our data, beyond the core fields that all 360Giving publishers must include, we also stored data on beneficiary location, original funding amount applied for (where this differed from amount awarded), and whether applications were in response to an open call. Given how useful this data is in understanding the financial hardship landscape (where is funding for financial hardship going? How much greater is the need to the amount of funding available? What are the processes for funding applications?) it was important for us to publish this data to inform the future work of other funders in this space. 

Furthermore, if there are aspects of preparing your data that you find challengingwhether you’re beginning the process, or you think you’ve finished but 360Giving’s Data Quality tool identifies errorsthe 360Giving team offer free 30-minute 1:1s to support you at whatever stage you’re at. 

Final thoughts 

At NPC, we’re proud to be committed to openness and transparency as far as possible, and we’re equally proud to be encouraging more funders to publish their grant data with 360Giving. More open and transparent data means that funders can better understand the landscape in which their philanthropy is operating, and better target their funds where it is needed most. 

Inspired? Check out 360Giving’s guidance to get started and get in touch with the 360Giving Helpdesk for further support. Are there any barriers to publishing open data that we’ve missed? If you’d like to continue the discussion, please get in touch. 


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