Grant-making data and small charities
It’s Small Charities Week - an opportunity to raise the profile of the vital work small charities do. Here Suraj Vadgama, creator of Beehive, explains how funders can help small charities without spending an extra penny simply by publishing their information on grant-making to the 360Giving Standard.
Small charities are the ‘Heineken’ of social action ‘reaching the parts that other charities cannot’. Yet despite the special part they play in the social action ecosystem - working close to causes, with intimate and often personal knowledge of the issues they target - we know smaller charities are particularly vulnerable to government funding cuts and less able to bid for contracts.
And a lack of organisational capacity and in-depth knowledge of fundraising means small charities are unlikely to know or be able to target the appropriate funders for their work.
When it comes to finding funding, small charities are on the back foot.
But in an age of open data, digital and algorithms we can help them do things differently.
Beehive is a ‘matchmaking’ digital platform that uses open data on grant making, such as the £8.5bn worth of grants published to the 360Giving Standard by more than 35 of the UK’s grantmakers.
Fundraisers can identify suitable funders and specific funds based on a short online questionnaire they submit, that presents back a clear list of top recommendations of funds for which the applicant is eligible and best suits their work.
Funding analysis to help small charities on Beehive powered by open data
Beehive is helping small charities save time, prevent waste (The Directory of Social Change estimates that ineligible applications made to the largest trusts in 2010 equated to seven years of wasted effort), and make better decisions with more knowledge of the options they have.
The beta of the Beehive flagship site launched in the summer of 2015 and it’s grown to help close to 12,000 charitable organisations to seek funding using data from more than 70 charitable funds.
Charities are signing up at a rate of 500 a month that shows the need for this kind of support.
One of the ‘home truths’ of a new report Listening for Change, that gives an unmediated voice to individuals working in social purpose organisations on key aspects of their relationships with their funders, is that grant making practice by charitable trusts and foundations ‘needs to strengthen charities’ core work rather than detract from it’.
The report published by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Blagrave Trust acknowledges the key role charitable foundations play in supporting social purpose organisations yet finds a strong sense from many working with and within the trust and foundation sector that there is a need to evolve approaches and models of working in order to achieve greater impact and to better support the sector as it navigates through increasingly uncertain times.
The authors conclude ‘supporting organisations to be as efficient and effective as possible, must surely be core to our business. The world is changing fast, but current systems and norms have not kept apace’.
By openly publishing details of their giving to the 360Giving Standard, as the likes of Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Blagrave Trust are doing, charitable funders can hugely benefit the charities they seek to support, and allow smaller charities to better target the funds they desperately need.
I’ve worked with this data for the past two and half years, and the pooling of information about charitable funding in a consistent way gives an unprecedented opportunity to contribute to a resource with societal value in its own right. Helping to build a uniform open record of philanthropy that guides charitable efforts and helps charities in their everyday work should be the duty of every conscientious funder keen to make a difference. If you’re a funder and agree, then I’d love to hear from you (email@example.com).
We are also developing Beehive for Funders this summer, and are looking for likeminded funders to help shape its design. Simply drop us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to find out more.