The world of grant making is so opaque that this is like turning on a bright light in a dimly lit basement and is a quantum leap in the volume of available data. Suddenly grant makers can access a wealth of intelligence on which groups are being supported for what activities. For a grant maker it opens up opportunities to help organisations who you either didn’t know existed or didn’t know were active in your area of interest. I challenge any grant maker not to be fascinated to see which of their grantees are also being funded by BIG and for what. Such informational awareness suddenly starts to show the way towards truly 360 degree giving.
This move by BIG benefits the sector as a whole as researchers like Beth Breeze, Cathy Pharoah and the team at NCVO now have a huge new seam of raw material to mine for information and analysis of the whole grant making sector.
It also allows the brilliant internet community to start re-presenting the data online in all sorts of forms. Indigo has approached some developers to help them do some work with this data.
This release is great, but this is just one, albeit large grant maker. At Indigo we want to see hundreds of major grant makers publishing their grants online in a form that can be readily analysed (as ‘open data’) by others in the grant making world. Elsewhere in the world, we have recently seen the Gates Foundation announce that it will start publishing its grants as open data too.
We hope BIG’s leadership in the UK will encourage others to follow as Gates surely will internationally.
All credit goes to Simon Marshall at BIG under the leadership of Dawn Austwick the new Chief Executive who said that data about grant making is “a resource that should be available to others to enrich our thinking and understanding of what is working”.