3 things to notice from ‘Slice and Dice’ – a tool to explore GrantNav data visually

At the beginning of summer I produced a data visualisation to explore different themes in grant funding. Something that felt important to look more closely at – from our experience of developing Beehive and the digital support we provide at CAST – was ‘core funding’.

Through developing Beehive we learnt about the range of funding needs and priorities within the sector. And with the digital support we provide at CAST, we’ve found a lack of financial support available to social sector organisations looking to adopt digital approaches that often require less restrictive models of funding.

The visualisation itself uses data published in the 360Giving open data format via the GrantNav search engine. It presents this data in clusters of circles, where each individual circle represents a grant, with its size being relative to the amount awarded and the colour denoting a specific funder.

3 things stand out:

1. How different funders compare

Looking at 2013-18 Esmée Fairbairn Foundation appears to have given the most core funding. However, looking at the breakdown by year it becomes apparent the overall amount of core funding (at least from those funders publishing to 360Giving) has remained reasonably consistent.

2. Changing faces

What does appear to have changed, is which funders are providing core funding. Looking at 2017/18 in particular we start seeing lots of grants from Garfield Weston Foundation, as well as a number of small grants from a variety of community foundations – which is great to see!

3. What it doesn’t tell us

Lastly, it’s important to recognise the limitations of such a visualisation. Most obviously the sample is limited to data from the funders available via GrantNav, and specifically those who have used the keywords ‘core costs’ to describe a grant.

Also, the visualisation doesn’t tell us to what extent the sector is seeking core funding, it only shows who has been awarded core funding. It’s a subtle distinction, but given typical grant application success rates, and how funding guidelines can shape funding requests, it’s very possible that the demand and need for core funding is greater than the sample shows.

Looking to the future we’re planning to be able to answer questions like this through our work on Beehive by producing an open directory of funding requests for the sector to learn from – an example. As well as continuing to work with funders to develop support packages that are more appropriate for supporting a digitally enabled social sector.

Following this blog, Ben Cairns (Director at IVAR) shared his reflections on this analysis of core funding trends ‘Core funding is the answer – whatever the research question’.

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