Themating funding spotlight: Data
Sector organisations are calling for greater data sharing to support the COVID response. NPC, 360Giving and NCVO are among 15 organisations that have called for a collective and coordinated data-gathering initiative to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on society and the service provision required to serve those needs.
The open letter states:
The COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting effects on the UK economy are already having huge negative impacts on our society. Everything from our financial resilience to physical and mental wellbeing is under threat; and people who are already vulnerable will be most impacted.
In order to respond properly, both now and in the longer term, we need to understand what the changes mean. In particular, we need to better understand:
- The current and emerging needs of individuals and communities during the crisis
- What services are being delivered to help meet those needs
- Whether those services are effective
- How the lockdown has financially impacted people and the organisations that serve them
The organisations are proposing a data collective of organisations with expertise in gathering and using data in the charity sector.
The group has identified seven areas of work they believe will support a coordinated response to the pandemic:
- A mapping of different data collection efforts across the sector
- Better signposting to them, with named people who can help with understanding the information being shared
- Joining up of complementary efforts to understand the needs of specific sectors and groups
- Start working together on new collaborative datasets about how the sector is responding to COVID-19
- Improved approaches to collecting and standardising data so it is more useful
- Improved approaches to surveying organisations and individuals
- Support for using and presenting data so non-experts can understand it
The organisations are not proposing a single approach to data gathering, as different data gathering exercises have specific goals, but rather that data are shared and made accessible so that others can use them.
The organisations involved in this initiative are 360Giving, British Red Cross, Catalyst, Centre for Youth Impact, Citizens Advice, DataKind UK, London Plus, NCVO, New Philanthropy Capital, Open Data Institute, OCSI, Pro Bono Economics, Pt2, SIB Group, Turn2us.
The initiative is aimed at identifying needs so that funding can be targeted where it is needed most. Considering how the sector is responding to need would also help overcome a second challenge, to determine how funding can best be aligned to meet the need, either collectively or through gap analysis.
For example, NPC’s interactive Covid-19 Dashboard pulls together 20 different data sets to provide regional summaries of the factors that make them vulnerable to the effects of the virus. For example, considering health, deprivation and minority ethnic population density across London the dashboard highlights particular vulnerabilities on a borough-by-borough basis.
Figure 1: NPC’s COVID Dashboard – London snapshot
Similar analysis can be conducted across the nine regions of England considering age factors, the impact of lone parent family status, or the demographics of users of services such as Turn2Us (advice) and ButtleUK (children and young people).
For funders who are considering how to allocate resources the dashboard provides a valuable source of insight on emerging needs geographically and across key themes.
As more data sources are added, NPC’s Covid-19 Dashboard will become an increasingly rich source of insight on local, regional and intersecting needs across England, and over time across the the four nations.
360Giving – Covid-19 Grants Tracker
Meanwhile, by encouraging funders to tag Covid-19-related grants to them when reporting, 360Giving has been able to monitor how grant funding has accelerated in response to the crisis has unfolded.
So far, 53 funders have reported giving totalling £73 million, with an acceleration in the funding taking place at the start of May as grant-makers sought to provide emergency funding to frontline organisations.
Figure 2: 360Giving Covid-19 Grants Tracker
Tracking grants over time helps to understand the phases of the giving response that is taking place to support non-profit organisations to manage through the Covid-19 pandemic.
As we enter the recovery and response phases it is likely that a sustained giving effort will be required to ensure critical service providers can continue to provide frontline support.
360Giving has also updated its “who funds who” chord diagram, showing which funders have recipients in common.
Published on 25th March, this visualisation shows the grants that 120 funders had made since January 2018 and, critically, where organisations were funding the same non-profit organisations.
Figure 3: 360Giving – Who Funds Who data visualisation (pre-Covid)
In essence, this gives us a snapshot of the giving landscape before the impact of Covid-19 on the non-profit sector, highlighting the important role of the major players in the landscape.
Understanding where alignment exists between funders can lead to a more coordinated, effective and streamlined response, as well as creating a platform for new funders to join – adding new chords to the safety net.
As we move forward from the emergency phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, data tools like these are likely to become a valuable resource to target responses and support greater collaboration between funders.
Data sharing that is open, practical, collaborative and conscientious is therefore a significant part of an effective response to the pandemic. The signatories to the letter call for those who have data resources to get in touch to explore what tools are needed, how organisations can work together and how to coordinate communications to ensure and effective joined-up response.