Tracking UK covid-19 grants - what could our IATI community learn?

I wanted to share with the IATI community a project that uses data on financial flows in response to the covid-19 crisis, to provide a simple-yet-effective interface and call-to-action:

The 360Giving initiative - which encourages grantmakers and foundations to publish their grant portfolio with an open data standard - launched the Coronavirus response grants tracker a couple of weeks ago.

On a nightly basis, it checks across the (as of today, April 10th) 362,077 records from 122 publishers for mentions of various text strings that could describe the crisis. These could be in the title, description or even the name of the grant programme.

These are then detailed in a dedicated tracker that visualises the key stats, lists the grants, and provides links for more info:

360 have a similar operating model to IATI:

360 have long had a catchall interface for users to search across all grants and (when publishers use the same organisation reference) recipients. It’s very possible to search this for variations of covid-19, covid19, coronavirus etc.

But - the team a 360 chose to take advantage of their infrastructure and provide users with a direct and dedicated interface to this emerging corpus.

It’s growing fast - yesterday (April 9th) I noticed 91 grants. Today (April 10th) there are 180. Some 360 publishers are now switching their update frequency to daily - given that they can see an immediate and relevant outlet for their data.

There’s also a key and vital outcome.: as more organisation start to access and use this interface, more want to then participate and openly share their own data. Here we have the virtuous circle, @JohnAdams once mentioned at a TAG meeting (in 2015!)

So - what can we learn in the IATI community?

I can think of three things (which kind of interlink):

  • Show, then tell
    360 put something up quickly and efficiently. This is now the focus for conversation and action with existing and new users.
    - Use, then build
    360 used their existing infrastructure to quickly build this new addition. No changes to the standard, no hacks of existing tools.
    - Listen, then iterate
    It’s no coincidence that this tracker presents data simply and intuitively - 360 spend a great deal of time understanding who their users are, and what needs they have.

I know there’s the experience, knowledge, skill and ability in the IATI community to do similar. We’ve a fantastic conversation about how to use the standard, and a rapid response in terms of guidance.

Right now though, I’d really like to hear how we can do this, rather than how the world that IATI inhabits is too complicated…