Using IATI: A guide for NGOs

On this page you'll find answers to the most commonly asked questions by NGOs using the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) data standard.

Bond and our partners also provide a Helpdesk service for organisations publishing to IATI. If you can't find the solution to your question here, please contact the Helpdesk at [email protected].  We also provide peer support to Bond members through the Bond Transparency Group, and online and face to face training. 

Why do organisations use IATI? 

The top three reasons why organisations use the IATI open data standard to share data about their work are because their organisation is committed to transparency and accountability; because their funder has required it; because they are part of a consortium or network which has agreed to use the IATI data standard to share information between members.

Q: Does DFID require organisations with grants and/or contracts to publish to IATI?

Yes, most grants and all contracts from DFID now require organisations to publish to IATI, unless it has been specifically excluded. If you're not sure, check your contract or grant agreement, the guidance you have received from your fund manager or check directly with your DFID or fund manager contact.

DFID has defined the specific information that it would like organisations to publish. These fields are the minimum required to make the information useful and usuable for others.

Q: Do any other funders require organisations to publish to IATI?

Yes - currently the Netherlands, Belgian and Danish governments also require organisations receiving funding from them, to use IATI. For a complete list, see the IATI website.

Linking datasets together (traceability) 

Q: How do we connect our datasets to others who are working on the same programme?

The IATI data standard has a specific way of linking datasets from different activities or different organisations, using identifiers. There are two types of identifiers - organisation identifiers and activity identifiers. Including your funder's and delivery partner's identifiers in your data will link it to their dataset. This is good practice and something that DFID are also keen on, to show how programmes are delivered through a range of organisations.

Q: What is DFID's organisation identifier?

GB-GOV-1

Q: What is DFID's IATI activity identifier?

It will be different for each fund or contract. This information should be provided to you at the point where you receive the grant agreement or contract. Please contact your DFID liaison person to ask for the information if you don't have it. It will be in the format GB-1-2XXXXX-XXX or GB-GOV-1-3XXXXX-XXX. 

Q: Do we have to add DFID as a funding organisation?

For projects receiving DFID funding, yes you will need to add DFID both as a participating organisation (funder) and on incoming funds transactions as the provider organisation. DFID's organisation identifier is GB-GOV-1 and you will also need to add in the provider activity identifier to incoming funds transactions (see above).

Financial information

Q: Do we report income from DFID? If so, how do we know what identifier DFID will have used for our project so that the reporting can be linked?

Yes, you do report incoming funds from DFID. When you record an 'incoming funds' transaction, you will need to use a DFID provider activity ID. You should receive the information you need with your grant agreement or contract. 

Q: When we enter the budget for the activity should it be the full budget of the project (including match funding) or just the DFID funded portion?

The budget for the activity should be the full budget of the project to give a complete picture of the funding for the project. This will mean you will also need to add in the matched funding information as a commitment transaction and also as incoming funds transactions.

Good practice questions 

Q: Are we able to link to activity documents or webpages in the data?

Yes, linking to activity documents or webpages in your data is really important. These documents help to give contextual information to the data, which might otherwise be interpreted in a way you don't want. They also allow results to be easily included in the data. It is hard to produce a definitive list of useful documents, but the following can be used as a guide. Warning: any content that poses a risk to communities or staff, and any personal information should be redacted before the document is linked into the data.

  • concept note
  • project proposal
  • final logical framework
  • theory of change
  • finalised annual report
  • case studies
  • inception report
  • mid-term review
  • evaluation
  • project completion report

Partners

Q: How should we deal with partners, especially partners to whom we sub-grant DFID funds?

In order to see the links between the organisations delivering an activity, partners should be named in your data, and you should report on all disbursements to partners alongside your own organisation's expenditure related the activity. As IATI data is designed to show the links between organisations, you don't need to include your partners own expenditure in your data. That's your partner's responsibility. But by including your partner's  activity identifier in your data (in the participating organisation and disbursements fields) your data will be linked to their data when they publish it. 

Q: Do we, as the ‘reporting organisation’, also need to be listed as an ‘accountable’ organisation?

You will need to assign your organisation a role in the activity, within the data. Typically this will either be 'accountable' if the activity is being delivered by a partner organisation or your organisation is the lead in a consortium, or 'implementing' if your organisation is delivering the activity directly. 

Q: How do I change my IATI organisation identifier in the IATI registry?

Log in to the IATI registry as a user. From there go to 'my publishers' tab. Chose your organisations name (in blue). Click on the admin button (it looks like a spanner symbol). This will take you to the about page and from there you can change your organisation identifier. Remember to save it!

Q: Can we enter one figure for total disbursements for the quarter being reported?

Only if it is a disbursement to one implementing organisation. If you are disbursing to multiple partners, these will need to be reported separately.

Q: Can we enter one figure for total expenditure for the quarter being reported?

Yes, but where possible please try and aggregate the expenditure by workstream or activity (for example travel, M&E etc) rather than one big total, in order for it to make more sense to data users.

Q: 'Budget' – I don’t understand the options for ‘budget type’ - 'original' or ‘revised’ ? Is the latter chosen if the budget is revised during the course of DFID funding?

Yes – the original budget is basically the total funding you have set aside for the activity, and if this alters at all due to a change in the activity itself or due to funding measures it can then be amended and will be a revised budget. Remember to overwrite the original budget figure - don't add it as a new entry or your budget will look like the two entries added together.

Q: Financial transactions - do we create separate entries for commitment (total project budget) and for disbursement?

Yes – a commitment is effectively the amount of funding allocated to the project by each funder, and it's future-looking i.e. it covers the whole lifetime of the grant, contract or project. A disbursement is a transfer of funds to another organisation and is recorded in IATI once the funds have reached the other organisation's bank account.

Q: Do we only enter disbursement information once the disbursement has occurred, i.e. not enter information on planned disbursements in advance?

Disbursements will only be entered once they have occurred. However, there is scope to report forward planned disbursements under the financial information section (which also contains activity budgets).

Q: The 'value date' is the currency conversion date - what date should be used here?

The “value date” field is included to enable users of data to be able to do more accurate conversions, depending on the approximate date of the transaction. This is important, since publishers can use any currency they wish to report. You should enter the date the transaction was made on, if this is not known, an approximate date (e.g. the beginning/end of the quarter) would still be useful information.

Q: How do we treat or refer to DFID-funded 8% project expenditure on UK staff costs?

This can be set up as a separate activity for core costs or staff costs, and staff costs will be classed as an expenditure from this activity.

Q: Do we include our expenditure on additional UK costs?

Yes – again this would be useful – this can be aggregated as necessary though (e.g. by amount (up to 500 say) or by workstream / budget lines).

Q: Do we also need to be listed as a receiver organisation for expenditure transactions?

No – you include yourselves as the provider organisation for expenditure transactions and you don't need to add in a receiver organisation if the figure is aggregated.

Q: What does 'default flow type' mean?

If you're using this field you could use 'private grants'.

Q: What does 'default aid type' mean?

If you're using this field you should use the code 'C01'.

Q: What does 'default finance type' mean?

If you're using this field you should use the code '110'.

Q: What’s the 'transaction date'?

This will be the date on which money is received or sent out. If you are recording a disbursement or incoming funds or commitment transaction, use the actual date. If you are recording an aggregated expenditure over a quarter, use the date of the end of the quarter.

Exclusions

Q: Can I exclude some data?

Yes. If you have valid reasons for excluding data, such as security, then you can make exclusions. Information about data exclusions should be publicly available, for example on your organisation's website, or the organisation's page on the IATI Registry. You should also inform your funder and delivery partners. Ethical considerations about making data public should be part of the IATI publishing process.

Q: Is there any guidance on how to decide which data to include / exclude?

Yes. There is the Bond guidance for NGOs: developing an open information policy.

Q: Are there risks in putting information into the public domain that might usually be confidential to the organisation (budgets etc)?

There may be, which is why there is flexibility for excluding data. If there are concerns regarding information provided to DFID that might end up in the public domain, this will need to be flagged to DFID in order for them to apply their own exclusions. DFID will automatically publish all IATI data which includes a link to DFID (DFID organsiation identifier and/or activity identifier) on the Development Tracker website.

Q: Do we have to have a formal exclusion policy that we publish on our website or elsewhere?

Exclusion, or open information, policies are documents that outline to internal and external stakeholders the types of information that will and will not be published in the public domain. (See Bond Guidance for NGOs: Developing an Open Information Policy). For smaller organisations, an exclusion statement that also refers to their privacy policy is fine.

Results

Q: The results fields of the activity standard are new to us. Are there examples of organisations trying to use these fields?

Yes - for more information, join Bond's Transparency Group (for Bond members) or contact Bond's Transparency Manager