Something worth blogging about: Open Philanthropy UK

One of the paradoxes of engaging in social media is that the busier you are doing things that are actually worth blogging or tweeting about, the less time you have to blog and tweet.

These past 4 months I have been immersed in rich data on rich givers – writing up a year of in-depth study of UK philanthropists for a new book Richer Lives: why rich people give, co-authored with the wonderful Theresa Lloyd, which thankfully – after many many late nights of writing and re-writing – was sent off to the printers last week and will be published on the 30th September.

I’ll write more about the findings once I don’t risk spoiling the media embargo, and once I’ve got off my chest all the things I’ve wanted to write about but have been too busy to breathe never mind blog.

The first ‘something worth blogging about’ is a new effort to encourage more open data on philanthropic activity. The Indigo Trust  is helping to promote an important initiative to encourage UK donors to be more transparent in their grant making. As a researcher, I’m obviously all for people sharing the detail of how much they give and to what causes, but there is a much more important agenda at stake here than making the lives of researchers that bit easier. Opacity favours none and causes concern to many – we all know there is a climate of suspicion about philanthropy and philanthropists in the UK, so why not dispel some misconceptions about the shady goings-on of rich givers and cast a light on what they actually do, rather than what the cynics think they do?

In a note of the first meeting to discuss this initiative, Indigo explain the benefits better than I can:

We believe that being transparent in itself is the right thing to do, but the reasons for encouraging openness go far beyond this.  In summary, openness makes grant making better.  We believe that opening up grant data will enable more effective collaboration amongst funders and between civil society and funders, allow for more effective strategic planning which will ensure that money gets to where it’s needed the most, enable grant-makers to assess their impact and demonstrate this to the public and enable analysis of interventions across a whole sector such as health or higher education.

If you want to keep up with developments then check out the Open Philanthropy UK blog  – and if you’re a philanthropist keen to emerge from the shadows and shine a spotlight on your giving decisions, then do get in touch!

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