Resource list: IATI Publishing

Resource list: IATI Publishing

The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), can seem a bit techy and daunting if you are new to the topic. For small organisations it can feel like a lot of work to publish your data in a different format to your annual accounts, and for large organisations it can be hard to merge the requirements to publish data to the international standard with your internal reporting systems. But one thing is for sure; some donors require you to publish to IATI as part of your contract and it can be an unofficial pre-requisite to you gaining more funds (it will certainly be part of your due diligence with a larger institutional donor).

We have collected together a reading list for you, to take you from beginner to pro publishing to IATI, helping you improve your organisational transparency and external communication. If you are new to the topic, start with the introduction section. If you are already publishing but are looking to reconsider which tools you use, then skip to the guidance section. If you are already an IATI pro, skip to the final section about further training and how to join peers via online communities of practice.

Section 1: Introduction to IATI

The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) is a global open data standard used by international development and humanitarian organisations. Currently over 1,000 different organisations publish to IATI with over 1,000,000 different projects uploaded. Some government donors such as the UK, Belgian, Danish and Dutch governments recommend (or require) grantees and service providers to publish their project or programme data to IATI.

Publishing data online using the global standard improves the transparency of development and humanitarian work. It makes the finances and results of activities accessible to local communities where the project is working, and to the wider public and press. For example, IATI published projects and programmes are visualised in charts and graphics by d-portal.

IATI data is also utilised by donor dashboards including the UK Government’s Development Tracker, the Dutch Government’s openaidNL, the Danish Government’s Danida OpenAid, the Swedish Government’s OpenAid, the USA Government Foreign Aid Explorer, and the European Commission’s EU Aid Explorer, making the results of interventions accessible to tax payers and avoiding duplication of funding. IATI data is also used by collaboration tools, such as NGO Explorer which aims to provide a searchable database of NGOs for researchers looking for new collaborators.

More background reading:

  • IATI’s about us section explains more about the standard, how it works, why you should use it and it also includes an introductory video
  • Publish What you Fund have a good definition of ‘What IATI is?' if this is the first time you have heard about the initiative
  • Bond has a comprehensive IATI overview which includes advice for civil society organisations starting to think about and publish to IATI
  • ALNAP have produced a background paper on IATI for humanitarian actors which details the Grand Bargain commitments to transparency and how IATI data relates to existing financial tracking systems

​​​​​​Section 2: IATI publishing guidance

There are lots of different ways that your organisation can publish to IATI, which will depend on your internal processes, organisational size, sensitivity of the data and the scale of your work. There will also be different guidelines for publishing data depending on who your donor is and you will need to check the data quality accordingly.

The first place to start is IATI’s  comprehensive set of three-part guidance and support documents. The guidance explores readying your organisation to publish, preparing the data, and finally publishing the data, which will be useful if you are responsible for co-ordinating the publishing process within your organisation. There are also IATI videos available covering a range of different topics and further guidance on publishing data about the Sustainable Development Goals and guidance on publishing data around COVID-19, including a webinar recording

Donor guidelines:

  • IATI summarise the donor guidance documents available including a list of contact details and support options
  • If you are funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), you can find the DFID IATI Guidelines from 2018 which include DFID’s transparency policy and a technical document detailing which fields need to be filled in on the UK Government website (this document is primarily aimed at a technical/IT audience)
  • If you have FCDO funds through the UK Aid Direct programme, the fund managers Mannion Daniels have prepared a short two-page document for grant holders about IATI, published in 2017
  • If you are funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs you can find the IATI publishing guidelines from 2015 in both English and French on the Dutch Government website, which include a Helpdesk email for further questions and clarification.

​​Publishing tools

There are a number of different ways you can publish your data to IATI either directly (known as natively in tech-speak), using third-party publishing tools, or building a bespoke application programming interface for your own internal systems. The IATI website has a brief overview of some tools and methods available to you and we have also compared the different publishing processes and validation tool options available to you, suggesting which might be better for different organisations based on the time, budget and tech systems available.

Publishing FAQs for NGOs

Bond’s IATI Guide for NGOs covers some useful FAQs including problems you might encounter publishing data and it outlines some good practice points. If you do opt to use Aidstream as a publishing tool, there is lots of guidance online about using it, including the Aidstream user guide (if you already have some technical knowledge) or Bond’s comprehensive guide to IATI publishing using Aidstream, which includes videos and screenshots to walk you through the process from setting up an account to solving common problems.

​​​​​​Section 3: Further resources

IATI training

Do you want to be an IATI champion within your organisation to advocate for improved transparency practices? Are you looking for resources that you can send to partners and collaborators to encourage them to publish to the data standard? There are a number of further training and materials available to you, including:

  • UNDP’s self-paced online training course ‘Introduction to IATI’ takes around 60 minutes to complete and ends with a ten-question assessment
  • Bond have previously run either a one day in-person course or a two-week self-paced IATI publishing training with Humentum covering the basic elements of publishing and the wider importance of transparency
  • Data4Development offer bespoke training about IATI for organisations, either online or in-person. The team is based in the Netherlands and is particularly experienced with Dutch NGOs required to publish through their government requirements

Online communities 

If you would like to join a discussion about publishing to IATI or even using IATI data, there are a number of opportunities including:

  • The IATI secretariat recently launched a new platform called IATI Connect which houses communities of practice containing guidance, peer advice and discussion spaces about publishing, data use and technical aspects of IATI.
  • Bond’s transparency working group for existing members of Bond convenes meetings with invited speakers.
  • Want to get in touch with the Alliance to talk about IATI in more detail? Email the Effectiveness & Learning team

Our members’ IATI profiles 

Many of our network members already publish their projects and programmes to IATI. You can view their profiles on d-portal to find out more about their funding sources, activities and results. Members publishing to IATI include: ActionAid, British Red Cross, CBM UK, Christian Aid, Christian Engineers in Development, Disasters Emergencies Committee, EMMS International, Feed the Minds, IOD PARC, Islamic Relief, Link Community Development International, LTS InternationalMary’s Meals, Mercy Corps, Opportunity International, Oxfam Scotland, Save the Children, SCIAF, Sense Scotland, Tearfund, The HALO Trust, The Open University, UNICEF, VSO International, WasteAidWater Witness International, and WaterAid.

p.s. this resource list aims to cover IATI publishing, and hasn’t dived into IATI data use in detail. Find out more about the donor dashboards and third-party data use portals that pull together all kinds of IATI data to make magic on the IATI website.   


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