With the opening of our Education and Skills grants round this week, OCF is continuing to adopt a more intelligent and granular approach to grant-making. The round’s priorities are informed by needs and trends data provided by OCSI’s Local Insight tool.
Local Insight is a community mapping and reporting tool that makes use of open data to help councils and community organisations make informed funding and policy decisions. It brings in up-to-date data drawn from the Census, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Education, deprivation indices and other sources, amounting to around 900 lines of data. OCF is one of the first community foundations to adopt the tool, which allows us to map needs data and identify which geographical areas in Oxfordshire would benefit the most from our funding.
OCF’s use of Local Insight follows the publication of our 2016 needs analysis report Oxfordshire Uncovered. In developing this report we used extensive secondary research to pull together some surprising information about the county, in particular highlighting pockets of deprivation that can sometimes be masked by the area’s overall wealth and prosperity.
Before using Local Insight, finding and using place-based data was a time-consuming and arduous task. Being a small team, we did not have the capacity to run regular updates and wanted a solution that could support strategic funding and collaboration. OCF’s Community Impact Analyst Simon Barnard comments: “A lot of the community foundations have carried out these reports. Most are either paying somebody else to do it, or are spending a lot of time doing it themselves.”
He adds: “It’s fine to take some time and spend some money on these big reports. But you can’t do that every year. Local Insight has a big place in being able to create interim reports, which can be made in a matter of days – or hours even – in order to inform grant making and build our strategic plans up.”
This is what Simon has done for our next round of Delivering Impact grant funding, which focuses on education and skills. The resulting Needs Analysis Report is published on the relevant grants page so that applicants to the round can use it to clarify how well their project or core work meets OCF’s priorities, and be equipped with data to support their application to OCF or other funders.
OCF’s panel of independent volunteers will also use the report to objectively assess the grant applications and prioritise those that should receive funding. In this way we can be confident as an organisation that our donors’ funds are being used to address those social problems that are most pressing in the local community.
Further reports will be published as applicable to future grants rounds and campaigns.