With Philanthropy In/Sight, the Foundation Center has taken a giant step forward in building the platform for visualizing information about global philanthropy. In addition to information on nearly 94,000 U.S.-based grantmakers, this platform already includes foundations and grants in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and China. We have proven to ourselves and others that it is indeed possible to capture this data and display it in such a way that an interactive vision of philanthropy as a global movement begins to appear. We will now implement a strategy for doing this on a systematic basis through the work of data collection (directly and through partners), architecture (structuring it in a way that can be aggregated, compared, and researched), and access (maps, online tools, and other databases). Because of the differences in philanthropic cultures/practices around the globe, this will also entail building out the Foundation Center’s existing taxonomy, dealing with multiple languages and currencies, and with a host of other data and technology issues that will also improve the quality of our U.S. data. Moreover, the Foundation Center will need to ensure that it has a seat at the table in conversations with foreign aid donors, multilateral lenders, and government transparency advocates that are pushing to define future data standards with which, at a minimum, foundation data will need to be comparable. We know what this involves in terms of staff, IT capacity, web design, data visualization, and other resources to do it well, and feel strongly that the Foundation Center is the organization with the expertise, experience, and depth to take on a long-term challenge of this nature.
More, broader, and deeper data
- Collect data on philanthropy in Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East through partnerships with Worldwide Initiative for Grantmaker Support (WINGS), the China Foundation Center (CFC), the Mexican Center for Philanthropy (CEMEFI), et al.
- Collect data on new forms of philanthropy (e.g., mission-related investing, operating foundations, public charities, giving circles, and online giving platforms)
- Collect data on foundation strategies and outcomes
Better systems for collecting, classifying, and interpreting the data
- Work with the Council on Foundations, the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), and others to define appropriate data standards for the field
- Increase electronic reporting of grants/program data directly to the Foundation Center via commercial software and Grantsfire
- Improve the taxonomy (subjects, geography, population groups, type of support, and strategies)
- Partner with others in combining philanthropic data with international aid flows, governmental expenditures, and other forms of public benefit spending
On-demand access to FC data
- Constantly upgrade, re-design, and improve Philanthropy In/Sight, making it the platform to learn about who is giving and who is receiving donor resources worldwide
- Provide better and faster access to our data through RSS feeds, open data initiatives, application programming interfaces (APIs), etc.