Today's New York Times features the annual giving section. The front page of the section (in the old paper version)* includes articles by David Cay Johnston, Joe Nocera and Stephanie Strom. Johnston and Nocera are two of my favorite current and former columnists. Strom takes on the unenviable task of trying to nail down the economy's impact on giving. Her story leads with quotes from yours truly.
Now you've all heard me say this before but it bears repeating - philanthropy will not cut it as a market, marketplace, industry, what-have-you as long as reporters like Strom, experts like those cited from IUPUI and analysts/pundits like me have to guess/estimate/postulate/suppose about real-time data on capital flow in the sector. Sure, we'll all get data from GivingUSA and The Foundation Center next June and then again in June 2010 that will actually tell us what is or is not happening now. Not good enough - we need to be able to track giving flow.
So how can we do this? Here are some ideas:
- APIs across online giving platforms that would feed a common source of transactional data;
- A single online giving platform that chose to be the resource for the sector;
- a fivethirtyeight.com that would aggregate and regress surveys and giving platform data;
- Grantsfire or another common RSS feeds of foundation giving;
- Community foundation and other community philanthropy data feeds;
- A creative collective approach to data and trend indicators that would tell us something when we need to know it
*I just got a Kindle and it changing how I read, where I read, when I read, and what I do with all the stuff I read. Here's what I need - a way to connect my Kindle highlights/notes to my twitter feed - stay tuned.