Enabling More Effective Giving by UK Foundations

DFID Aid tracker

Last week, on 20th June 2013, The Indigo Trust hosted a working lunch which brought together data experts and civil society representatives to explore the how we could encourage UK Foundations to publish their data in an open format in order to make grant giving more effective.

We believe that being transparent in itself is the right thing to do, but the reasons for encouraging openness go far beyond this.  In summary, openness makes grant making better.  We believe that opening up grant data will enable more effective collaboration amongst funders and between civil society and funders, allow for more effective strategic planning which will ensure that money gets to where it’s needed the most, enable grant-makers to assess their impact and demonstrate this to the public and enable analysis of interventions across a whole sector such as health or higher education.

A great example of how open data can lead to better understanding of a sector is demonstrated here, where Water, Sanitation and Hygiene funders released their data to enable more effective collaboration and programmatic design across the sector globally.  DFID’s development tracker is another excellent example of the power of open data and enables users to trace aid flows globally.

It’s exciting to see a movement towards such openness globally, with interventions such as the Open Government Partnership.  The UK has also taken a lead in this movement, with DFID publishing all its data to an IATI standard and being ranked first in terms of Aid transparency by Publish What You Fund. The UK has also taken a lead in developing the G8 Open Data Charter.  Now it’s time for Foundations to play their part.

We have set ourselves an ambition to ensure that within 5 years, 80% of grants made by UK charities, foundations & other grant makers are reported as open data to agreed standards and 50% by number/volume.

This should enable grant-makers in the UK to have a clear understanding of who has funded what, where and for how much, enable more strategic philanthropy and collaboration and improve transparency for the public and authorities.

Watch this space for further details on how we intend to move forward with this programme.

The following people attended the working lunch and we’d like to thank them for their crucial insights and contributions:

Simon Marshall Big Lottery Funding

Cathy Pharoah Cass Business School

Owen Barder Centre for Global Development

Beth Breeze Centre for Philanthropy – Kent University

Adam Pickering Charities Aid Foundation

Joni Hillman Development Initiatives

Mary Glanville Institute for Philanthropy

Carol Mack Association of Charitable Foundations

Tom Steinberg mySociety

David Kane NCVO

Charlotte Ravenscroft NCVO – National Council for Voluntary

Dan Corry New Philanthropy Capital

Ed Anderton Nominet Trust

Martin Tisne Omidyar Network

Chris Taggart Open Corporates

Nigel Shadbolt Open Data Institute

Richard Stirling Open Data Institute

Rufus Pollock Open Knowledge Foundation

Tim Davies Practical Participation

Mark Brough Publish What You Fund

David Hall-Matthews Publish What You Fund

Dorothea Hodge Aequitas Consulting


Fran Perrin Founder and Director, Indigo Trust

William Perrin Trustee, Indigo Trust

Loren Treisman Executive, Indigo Trust

Richard Crellin Researcher, Indigo Trust/SFCT

If you’re a Foundation, open data expert or civil society group and you’re interested in getting involved in this initiative, please don’t hesitate to contact us.