Working together with data has built trust between grantmakers, London Funders says

11 May 2021 News

Better data sharing during the pandemic has built trust between funders, meaning they are able to make grants to charities without doubling up on due diligence, London Funders said yesterday. 

Geraldine Blake and Grace Perry from London Funders were sharing their experience using data to help with the London Community Response collaboration at the Data4Good Festival this week.

Some 67 funders collaborated by pooling funds, sharing intelligence and aligning funding through a portal that had originally been set up as part of the response to the Grenfell Tower fire. 

Over 10,000 applications were received through the London Community Response and £57.5m was distributed. 

Charities in London only needed to fill out one application form, funders could then use a portal to decide which charities to support, and let other funders know that they had done so. 

Blake, who is director of collaboration, said London Funders had been on a “huge learning journey” when it came to using data. The charity is now committed to making it part of its normal activity. 

Through five “waves” of funding London Funders adapted how it gathered and presented intelligence and information to help set priorities and make better decisions.

London Funders also brought in equity partners from the second round of funding.

Perry, projects, operations and data manager, said: “They really helped us identify the correct questions to ask, the correct definitions of terms, the thresholds and help shape priorities, and really raise the issues on the agenda as well.” 

Data also helped them identify “emerging topics such as mental health”, she said. 

“Once or twice we extended the wave slightly because we could see how many applications were in the systems,” Perry added.  

Changing attitudes 

Blake and Perry also said that funders attitudes to each other, and potential grantees, had changed during the pandemic. 

Funders have been “in a situation where you're making faster decisions, and you're allowing yourself to take a few more risks,” Blake said, which may be a lasting change now they can see “those risks have paid off”. 

Perry added that there is “less fear around it now they've already done it”. 

Funders also became comfortable sharing the due diligence they had done on potential grantees with each other. 

Blake said: “There was an acceptance that well if you've already done your due diligence on that organisation that means we don't have to redo it. So funders trusting each other funders, getting to know each other in a much deeper way.” 

By working much more closely together, the “level of trust in each other's decision making went up”, she added. 

She predicts that collaboration and demand for the data that supports this will continue beyond the pandemic. 

“That sense in which, funders are able to act together as a community. I think bodes really well for the future,” she said.  “And the sense in which funders [have an] expectation that there will be data available for them like that to help them make those decisions.”

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