For our pilot project, we wrote to 20 leading UK-based think tanks and campaigns from across the political spectrum with the following request:
We are inviting yours and other leading think tanks (and political campaigns with a strong public policy or research focus) to respond to the following questions:
Please state the end date of your last financial year, and for that year:
1) Supply your organisation's total income.
2) Supply the names of individuals and organisations that donated (or provided project funding or services worth) £5000 or more, and the amount they gave. If this information is already available online, please send a URL.*
3) Please add any additional comments (including, for example, plans to improve funding transparency in the future).
*In relation to question 2, if you are willing to provide a list of donors/funders above a higher threshold only, please do so and state the threshold. If you are willing to provide a list of organisational donors only, please do so and state that this is the case.
We will publish all responses online and award each organisation a transparency rating based on its response.
We then rated each organisation, using the following weighting:
- Declares total annual income: 5 points.
- Names each funder who gave £5,000 or more during the year:
Lists organisational or individual funders only: 15 points.
Lists organisational and individual funders: 25 points.
- Discloses amount given by each funder: 10 points if listed by exact amount; 5-8 points if listed by band (depending on width of band).
- Where organisations gave some but not all of the information requested in each category, points were awarded proportionately.
- Up to 5 discretionary points were awarded to organisations that did not meet all our criteria but had clear plans to improve funding transparency in the next financial year.
Grades were awarded as follows:
A = 35+ points; B = 25-34 points; C = 10-24 points; D = 1-9 points; E = 0 points.
As this is very much a pilot project, we will review methodology and scoring on a regular basis. We are also very keen to receive your feedback on how we run future studies, and which organisations we should include.