Here’s some of the real-life questions that I have heard over the last three years of supporting (non-government) development organisations of all types on publishing IATI data. This is in the context of IATI as a mandatory part of receiving public funds from government donors.
I’m sharing these to help the IATI community understand the kind of questions publishers have and their support needs. If you’ve got the answers or additional questions you’ve heard, please add them in the comments below.
- How do we find out what we need to do?
- What does ‘publish’ mean?
- Why do we have to do it? What benefit does it have for us?
- Why isn’t the information on the IATI website easy to understand? Why is the language so technical?
- Is it just like a financial report? Why can’t we just publish our annual report?
- Is IATI a database?
- It's going to show the amount that we retain for core costs/profits. Is that right?
- Why can’t (the grant funder) they do it for us? They have all our information already.
- How do we find a human being to help us?
- Is there anyone local to us who can help?
- How can I get my manager to give me the resources (time, people) to do this task?
- Why doesn’t our [grant funder] contact know how to help us?
- How long is it going to take? We only have one full time staff member in our organisation.
- What do the fields mean? How do we find an explanation?
- How do we map the fields in our database to the IATI fields?
- Our information comes from two separate systems – how do we bring it together in one place?
- We don’t use the traditional service delivery model. How do we work with the data standard but still keep the data true to how we work?
- We’re a network – do we need to name every single partner in our data?
- We’ve been told we need to ask our partners to publish to IATI too but they are a hospital in Kathmandu – how are we going to get them to do that?
Tools and services:
- How do we find the tools to publish?
- What tool do we use if we have lots of projects?
- Are there any other tools we can use (in my language)?
- Why are all the tools and support online? What can I access that’s offline? I only have intermittent access to internet/power.
- Why is there just one tool? Why don’t I have a choice?
- Why can’t we just publish an Excel sheet?
- How do we get it into XML?
- Why isn't there something that just converts my excel sheet to the XML format that IATI needs, without being complicated?
- Why is the structure of the data so complicated, there's lots of sub-fields etc
- I just want it to be easy and quick to do – why isn’t it straight-forward?
About use of the data:
- Where is my data stored?
- Where can I see my data?
- Who’s even using the data?
- How are they going to use it in that [XML] format? Wouldn’t it be easier in Excel?
- Is our funder using the data?
- Where does it end up?
- Do people in my country use the data?
- How do we stop the wrong people using it?
- How do you stop double-counting?
- How do I use the data?
- Why is IATI important to the people [donors] that fund us?
- What’s an IATI standard?
- How am I supposed to explain IATI to the rest of my team?