From Zero to 360Giving: Getting Started

If you’re here it means you’ve been reading about 360Giving and have decided that it’s a good idea for you to release your grants information as Open Data. What you may not quite visualise, yet, is just what that actually looks like.

That’s where this guide comes in. This guide is designed to get you started on the practical aspects of publishing Open Data in 360Giving. Luckily, we’ve been working towards making publishing in 360Giving as straightforward for you as possible. What this looks like for your organisation day-to-day may require just a little thinking about.

At any point in this process please feel free to contact our free helpdesk on support@threesixtygiving.org with any queries (big or small).

Broadly speaking, there are three phases involved in publishing your data as Open Data with 360Giving

  • Plan: Where you’ll decide on the what and the how of your open data and consider things like Data Protection, as well as get set up to start on preparing your data.
  • Prepare: Where you’ll do some nitty-gritty work of retrieving your data and getting it into a 360Giving format. You’ll also check everything has worked by using our Data Quality Tool.
  • Publish: This last bit involves getting your data out into the open; uploading it and letting us know about it!

Ready?

Plan

What’s involved in this phase? By the end of this phase you will have produced (for yourself) a plan covering the scope of what you want to publish, which takes into considerationthings like Data Protection and licensing. You’ll do several passes at your data to determine what to include.

The plan is for you to use internally to help your team make sense of your commitment to publishing your grant data, and what steps you’re talking but feel free to share it with us if you have any questions or concerns. We’d love to hear from you!

What are my tasks? These tasks are designed to act as a rough checklist to get you started. They are by no means exhaustive and you may not need some of them (you may add steps).

  • Decide on the scope of your data for your release
  • Determine whether there are any issues involving Data Protection and Privacy, and your strategy to work around them
  • Get in touch to register your 360Giving Prefix

Deciding on the scope of your data

The 360Standard itself has got minimum requirements about each grant to ensure that data is useful. However you retain control over the scope of information that you want to share. You may want to only ublish information between a cetain time period (e.g. last financial year) or around a particular theme or grant strategy you have.

Your should write in your plan details of the scope of the data you want to publish. It’s always easiest to scale up, so don’t worry about releasing everything yet. Some good questions to ask yourself:

  • Are there pragmatic or policy implications that block any data from being released now? If so, which data or grant programmes are affected? Which are unaffected?
  • Is the way you’re operating now the same way as in the past? If not, you might want to focus on grants related toyour most recent strategy first.
  • How confident are you in your historical data? If you think there might be groups or inaccuracies going back, focus on data from a point you’re confident in.

Based on these questions, what is the scope of the data you want to share?

Next we have to think about Data Protection and Privacy. In general, if you already publish grant announcements or similar on your website, annual report, etc., then you probably already have sufficient processes in place to accommodate releasing data.

  • Do grantees agree to any privacy policy or Terms and Conditions when submitting grant applications? If so, do these cover releasing information?

The next question to consider is whether you hold data which may be personal information in your grants (specifically in the scope defined before). Broadly speaking, data or information about organisations and the grants they’ve received can be made public and published using 360Giving without you needing to worry. However, you may have made grants to named individuals or to organisations registered at a home address. You should therefore ask the following questions:

  • In the scope you defined previously, is there any information about grants made to named individuals?
  • Does this scope contain any information about grants to organisations registered at a residential address?
  • Do we have personal information about a “Contact Person” around organisations that may need to be anonymised?

By asking these questions now you are making it easier for you to publish later by preparing for any extra steps that it will take to get the data ready. Once you’ve identified personal information it’s good to idenfity the next steps you should take to get the data ready. There is an ICO anonymisation code of practice that offers useful advice e.g.

  • Replacing names with “Grant to Individual”
  • Reducing address information from a full address to a Postal Town or the first digits of a Postcode.
  • Abstracting the Contact Person names and emails away to be listed as the person’s role and a generic email address.

Based on these questions, what data in your scope needs to be tweaked to make it more suitable for publishing?

You should also be responsible with the data you release. Some grants might be made in sensitive contexts. For example the address of a women’s refuge.

  • Does any data in the scope contain sensitive information? If so what is your strategy for dealing with this?

You should be considering whether you should redact this information, or whether you should seek and manage consent around around a particular grant that you flag as sensitive. If you do decide that you want to seek consent then you should read our guide on seeking and managing consent.

Based on these questions is there any data you need to redact or seek consent to publish?

By now you’ll have a fairly good idea of the shaope of the data you want to release and there’s only one or two things left to do before you can start prepping for it

First we think that it’s good practice to notify grantees of your intention to publish open data sets. This lets youassuage fears of personal data being misused and gives you an opportunity to tell them the benefits of publishing it. You should think about telling your grantees the following:

  • What you’re sharing now, and what you’re seeking to share in the future (if you’re scaling up to releasing more data later). You should also indicate what this consists of i.e. the fields of data such as grant description, amount, dates, etc.
  • How you’re sharing the information and how it will be available e.g. “Through our website” or via GrantNav.
  • Why you’re sharing data this way.

What are you going to say in your email to grantees?

Finally, you’ll want to register your 360Giving Prefix with us. This allows your grants to be identified properly by including it when listing your grants. You can request your prefix by simply getting in touch and emailing support@360giving.org and letting us know the name of your organisation. We’ll message you back with your prefix.

Prepare

What’s involved in this phase? By the end of this phase you will have prepared your actual data itself, ready for publishing by preparing a file and then checking that the file contains properly formatted 360Giving data. What this looks like for your organisation will depend mostly on what sort of systems you currently keep your data in and how you want the rest of the 360Giving community to interact with the data.

What are my tasks?

  • Decide on a format and template to use, based on your needs
  • Prepare your data in this template through either exporting or compiling a file
  • Check that this file passes the tests in our data quality tool, so that it is compatible with 360Giving.

The most involved step in this process will be preparing your data in the template, but this is relatively straightforward when you understand what this looks like.

Choosing a format or template

There are two available formats for producing 360Giving data, a spreadsheet template and JSON. Most commonly, people choose to use the spreadsheet template because it is more straightforward and human-friendly for people who work in an organisation to compile and read. You might want to consider the spreadsheet format if:

  • You’re familiar with spreadsheets
  • Your organisation stores grants in a system or database which you know exports reports or spreadsheets
  • Are comfortable cutting / pasting data between spreadsheets, or writing in spreadsheets

The other option to consider is releasing in JSON format, following our 360Giving JSON Schemas. This format is intended to be more machine readable and developer-friendly format. You might want to consider using the JSON format if:

  • You’re familiar with JSON, databases, and (potentially) software or web development
  • You want to build your own interactive tools around the data and need a machine-readable format
  • You have a system or database which you know can be easily set up to export JSON

Whichever you choose, the 360Giving team is here to help out. So again, please get in touch if you need a hand in making the decision.

Preparing the data

The next step of this phase is to prepare the actual data file which contains the data you want to export. Generally, this can be achieved by taking information from your system and organising it into the 360Giving format you chose earlier. In a lot of cases, this is pretty straightforward to achieve automatically by generating reports from your system but can also be achieved manually if you already have spreadsheets that you want to cut and paste from. If you need support in getting your data out of your systems and into the 360Giving format please send an email to support@360giving.org letting us know what you’d like help with.

Are you a Community Foundation using Salesforce to manage your grants? If so, we have specific guidance on exporting information using the D2 Plugin to Salesforce which you should check out. There’s handy videos and tutorials to help you.

When preparing your 360Giving data it’s worth noting that some, but not all, fields are required. Obviously we feel that the more fields you can fill in the better; but as discussed above there are many reasons for not including some fields. Take a look at the reference to see which fields are required and which are not.

Remember when thinking about exporting data automatically or compiling the data to think about the scope and any privacy issues that we covered in the previous phase:

  • Based on what you might have decided to redact before, what filters can you set up to export only data you know that you can publish?
  • Based on the descriptions you give to things, do you need to tweak any entries to adjust for personal information and Data Protection?

Based on those questions, what extra tweaking are you going to do to make sure the data is ready to publish?

Checking the data

Now that you have a file or export ready to publish you should take steps to check the quality of the data. This is done by uploading the file to the 360Giving Data Quality Tool.

The Data Quality Tool will then provide you some feedback on your data in various ways:

  • Data Summary lets you sense-check that the data describes what you thought it would.
  • Converted to JSON lets you know whether the data could be successfully converted to the JSON format for use elsewhere and for checking quality.
  • Valid against Schema lets you know that you successfully produced valid 360Giving data, meaning that your data can be used by others.
  • Additional Checks is a section that seeks to make the data more useful and points out some things to you. The content of this section is just to allow you to sense-check that the data conforms to your expectations in more detailed ways. For example, the Data Quality Tool might flag that you’ve omitted some location information and explain why location data is useful; but you might have filtered it out deliberately.

If the Data Quality Tool picks up on something you need to fix, you can see a list of common mistakes that people make and the solutions to fix them. If you need a hand unpicking what to do or you have an issue not covered there, feel free to fire us off an email at support@360giving.org letting us know what you’d like help with.

Once you’ve run your data through the data quality tool and you’re happy with it. You’re ready to publish!

Publish

What’s involved in this phase? By the end of this phase youwill have taken the dataset that you curated and produced during the last phase and have published it on the web via your website. You will have also gotten in touch by email in order to send us the link to the file and, by doing so, linked your grants data to the 360Giving ecosystemand contributing to the open data around grantmaking.

What are my tasks?

  • Decide on a license for your data
  • Upload your data file on your website
  • Register the link to your file with 360Giving sowe can include it in our registry

Deciding on a license for your data

When producing open data it is very important to license it appropriately. Using an open license helps remove restrictions around letting others users and share the data and without one, data released is not technically open data.

There are several options suitable for publishing 360Giving data, but we recommend one that acknowledges you the publisher without restricting the use of the data itself. To that end our default recommendation is the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International, also known as the CC BY 4.0. Under this license anyone can adapt and use your data for any purpose, even commercially. The license does require them to acknowledge your role in producing the data, link to the license and stateany changes they made when using the data.

  • Does the CC BY 4.0* seem like an appropriate choice to you? If not, which alternatives are there?
  • Are you a UK public sector organisation? If so, you might want to use the Open Government License under the recommendation of the Re-USe of Public Sector Information Regulations Act 2015 (RPSI) rather than the CC BY 4.0.

Uploading your data

The next step to publishing your data is to upload it to your site. There are a few ways to do this, presuming you’ve got a file in either Excel, CSV, or JSON format.

If you’re developing an interactive API then the data will likely be coming directly from your database and you probably won’t need to upload anything. If you’re unsure of what your next steps are at this point please get in touch.
  • Do you use Wordpress to run your website? You can upload the file in the admin panel (/wp-admin) and using the media screen to upload the file. Wordpress will give you a link to the file.
  • Do you use Joomla to run your website? Similar to Wordpress, you can use your administrator dashboard (/administrator) and select Content and then select Media Manager to select your file. When you upload it, Joomla will give you a link to the file.

Once you’ve got the file on your website we consdier it best practive to put a link to the file on a public-facing spot on your website. This could be a dedicated page or it could be part of an existing page on your site where appropriate. Wherever you put it; you should also tell people what it means and also indicate the license your data is released under by signposting this. We find that a statement similar to the following is very useful:

[Organisation] is committed to transparency and we work with 360Giving to publish information about our grants.

Using the 360Giving data standard, our awarded grants since [Year] are available as [File Type] here.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. This means the data is freely accessible to anyone to be used and shared as they wish. The data must be attributed to [Organisation].

We believe that with better information, grantmakers can be more effective and strategic decision makers. 360Giving provides support for grantmakers to publish their grants data openly, to understand their data, and to use the data to create online tools that make grant making more effective. For more information, visit http://www.threesixtygiving.org/

Where are you going to put your 360Giving data on your site? On a new page or part of an existing page?

Register your open data with 360Giving

The final stage in releasing your 360Giving data is to register the data file with us so that we can do the work of retrieving it, converting it, and sharing it with others.

You’ll need the link to the data file from the previous step. When you have that email us with the link (if this is the first time you’re emailing us please also let us know who you are as well!). Once we’ve verified that your file can be retrieved at the link you’ve sent us, you’re all set. Thank you for publishing to 360Giving.

You may have some questions leaving this process; we are happy to support and answer your queries on our helpdesk at support@360giving.org.