Report uncovers hidden data on 13,000 grassroots organisations

Essential but often overlooked local charities received £80m in grants over three years

The report will help improve our understanding of the vital role played by small local groups
The report will help improve our understanding of the vital role played by small local groups

Around 10 per cent of grants by UK foundations are going to small, unregistered organisations, yet these crucial ‘below the radar’ organisations are often overlooked, according to a report by 360Giving.

The new research produced by 360Giving, which campaigns for open data on grantmaking, in partnership with the Local Trust and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, found at least 13,000 informal grassroots organisations have received £80m in funding between 2016 and 2019.

The report, entitled Below the radar: Exploring grants data for grassroots organisations, says this group of community organisations are “often overlooked, and yet play a crucial role in bringing people together in local communities, frequently providing activities and services that others don’t”.

It aims to explore how knowledge of these organisations can be increased in order to provide better insights into their role and contribution to society. 

These informal or ‘below the radar’ organisations are not registered with any regulator and often only show up in official records through the grants that they receive, the report says.

This data has then been collated by 360Giving to assess the overall number and impact of these groups.

Over the three-year period it found almost 13,000 organisations received at least one grant, and were awarded £80m in total. Although half of all the grants received by these organisations were less than £2,000.

The report states that the figure is likely to be much higher because the research only uses data from grant makers that contribute to the 360Giving dataset.

Tania Cohen, chief executive of 360Giving said: "This report shows how powerful 360Giving data can be by exploring a set of organisations that don't appear in any other datasets. 150 funders now publish data about the grants they make in the 360Giving Data Standard, providing an invaluable resource for decision makers."

The two biggest funders were the National Lottery Community Fund, followed by the Co-operative Group. More than half (53 per cent) of grants by the NLCF went to organisations in the 30 per cent most deprived areas, according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation.

Arts and culture, education and training, and green spaces were the top three funded types of ‘below the radar’ organisations, while the most common types of activity funded were events and building work.

Jeremy Yung, senior researcher at Local Trust, said he hoped the report will make a significant contribution in recognising and exploring the true value of these grassroots organisations, so they can continue to provide valuable support to their communities long into the future.

“These groups make a real difference to local people, but their work is rarely profiled or appreciated beyond the neighbourhoods in which they operate,” he added.

Véronique Jochum, head of research at NCVO, said: “Recent events have shown how important locally embedded, grassroots organisations that are often ‘below the radar’ are to communities and society more widely. This innovative research using the 360Giving dataset contributes to improving our understanding of their crucial role and gives us a new insight into their activities and how they are funded.”

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