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IATI Question: What volume of resources are controlled by NGOs?

We are creating a collection of questions that potential users of IATI data want to answer. Collating these questions is designed to help inform improvements to the IATI standard, data and tools - as well as to provide a head-start to anyone working with similar questions.

The Question

Can IATI tell me the volume of resources controlled by NGOs? I'm interested in total expenditure & income as well as total receipts from official and foundation sources.

How can IATI help with this question now?

Right now IATI only includes a limited amount of data directly from NGOs. NGO publication into IATI is voluntary. You can find a list of current publishers on the IATI Registry.

Many of the NGOs publishing currently only publish a proportion of their funding in the IATI standard. Details of this are available from their publisher record on the registry (look for the Organisations / agencies covered details).

When NGOs who are publishing detailed information (for example, Oxfam) then is is possible to find details of their expenditure in all the countries they work in.

It is also possible to look inside the files published by official donors and foundations to locate payments they have made to a given NGO. This information maybe found in:

Getting hold of the data

This isn't as easy as it should be right now. You have a couple of options:

  1. Download CSV files direct from the registry for each organisation or country you might be interested in, and work with these in your preferred software. Note that this may raise segmentation issues.
  2. Use the IATI_explorer service which maintains a cache of data that can be queried with xPath. Note that no guarantee can be offered at present of the currency of the data in the IATI Explorer service.

If trying (2) then you can run the results through the CSV conversion tool.

An example queries against the IATIExplorer service:

(If the data back from these links looks garbled to you, then look for an XML viewer plugin for your chosen web browser).

What are the limitations of current IATI data?

  • Only a limited number of NGOs are publishing.
  • Organisational identifiers are not always included by official and foundation sources, making tracing payments to organisations challenging.

What other data sources might be available?

The UK Charities Commission have recently started asking Charities to report on the countries in which they spend money. This data is not yet a complete dataset, nor available as open data, but can be sourced by agreement with the Charity Commission.

The AidData platform may have backwards looking data of relevance to this question.

What issue does this question raise for the IATI standard, data and tools

  • The tools for accessing data from across multiple files are at present very complicated.
  • Organisation Identifiers are poorly used at present
  • Traceability features are not heavily used at present

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