Lifting the lid on London - Blog by Rachel Rank, 360 Giving

London is at the heart of an open data boom. The capital’s safety, economy, transport, housing, health, diversity and the behaviour of its residents and visitors is now digestible as percentages and London’s many facets can be represented in graphs, pie charts, heat maps and other exciting visualisations showing trends and patterns.
We know, just by a quick click through the GLA’s London Data Store, that London’s crime rate is up by 7.6%, recycling is down by 2.6% and childhood obesity is up 0.5% (to a staggering 38.6%) compared to last month. 
Meanwhile, Trust for London’s Poverty Profile, that reports on 100 indicators, revealing patterns in poverty and inequality, shows Hackney has the highest infant mortality rate at 5.4 per 1,000 live births; that 39% of Londoners cannot afford a basic decent standard of living, and Enfield had London’s highest eviction rate in 2015/16 at 34 evictions per 1,000 renting households.
The richness of London’s data will make the work 360Giving is doing in helping grant makers release their funding data in an open way, even more valuable.
360Giving was founded in 2015 by a group of like-minded tech and philanthropic organisations frustrated by the lack of timely information about the sector. 
Seeded with money from Nesta, Indigo Trust and the Big Lottery and with support in kind from Nominet, a standardised approach to sharing funding data openly – called the 360Giving Standard – was created. 
Fran Perrin, founder of the Indigo Trust, says of her inspiration to establish 360Giving: “When I started out, 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. It felt like the sector was funding in the dark.”
In just two years, 70 funding organisations are now helping to shed light on funding, sharing their data in the open, comparable format we have developed representing over £17bn of grants made to all corners of the UK. 
The organisations include central government departments and lottery funders, charitable trusts, community foundations, corporate and family funders and local authorities, and so we know that any kind of funder can release their data in this way and help to build the bigger picture of grant making.
Several funders that focus on London are among those who have joined what we call the #greatergrantsdata movement, including City Bridge Trust, London Councils, Clothworkers Foundation, Barnet and Southwark local authorities as well as major UK funders such as Big Lottery, Sport England, Comic Relief, BBC Children in Need, Esmee, Tudor and Henry Smith.
Funders who are sharing their data see the potential it will deliver for their organisations but also for the sector.
Katherine Pitt, Commissioning Officer at Southwark Council that has released data on more than £4.5m worth of grants, says: “We want to be as open and transparent as possible about the grants we give to our local voluntary and community sector. We hope that other grant givers in Southwark will do likewise, so the picture will be complete.”
Barnet Council started by publishing around £200k worth of grants. Jon Hill, Transparency & Open Data Officer at the council, says: “London Borough of Barnet wants to be at the forefront of local government open data and transparency. Engaging with third party organisations and developers who want to work with our data is an integral part of sustaining this. We are very grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with 360Giving in order to add value to our data and contribute to creating a valuable tool for more effective grantmaking.”
Already the data is proving useful. We launched GrantNav in September 2016, meaning that it is now possible to get open, comparable data about funders all in one place. The platform saves days of trawling websites and scraping data to find out who else funds what you fund.  In just three clicks it is possible to get information on funding to a place or cause. 
London is the ‘top’ search region in GrantNav, returning over 31,000 grants from 59 different funders covering the period between 1997-2017, representing more than £5bn worth of funding. This is any funding that’s been provided that has the word “London” in it. When we refine the search to recipients based in London, the figure drops to 29,000 grants. We can hone in further and look at recipients in each borough. All this in just three clicks. 
The search comes with a health warning though - the ‘head office effect’ means that funding looks to be going to London because that is where many charity headquarters are based. As more London-focused funders publish, a clearer picture will emerge and we can start to look more meaningfully at beneficiaries vs head offices working country-wide. 
Imagine the potential if all grants were being shared by London Funders? And how much more insightful grant making could be if that data could be overlaid with the myriad data sets that now exist in London. 
As London’s new Chief Digital Officer Theo Blackwell, says in his blog on his first hundred days in post, London’s businesses, scale-ups and public services see the  importance of the city collaborating and mobilising its strengths in innovation to be ‘greater than the sum of its parts’.
The grant making sector should not be left behind. We need to lay the foundation of data driven innovation by gathering data all in one place. 
If you are interested in enriching our understanding of London grant making by sharing your data we can provide pro bono support and take the pain out of publishing. 
Contact me or email to find out how we can help you lift the lid on London and improve the efficacy of charitable funding in the capital.
Rachel Rank is CEO of 360Giving. Email her at Follow them on twitter: @360Giving