Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The challenge of making lists. And an invitation.

Here's one problem with lists - we expect them to be comprehensive. Yesterday I banged out a post about data providers/organizers/analysts - those individuals and entities seeking to address the need for comparable, independent, credible, meaningful data about nonprofits and philanthropic investments. Well, I forgot a few. So here are some more:

And here is the list from July 14: (http://snipurl.com/2z3ur) or scroll down two posts....

Of course, existing data providers such as Guidestar, Center for Effective Philanthropy, Charity Navigator, GiveWell, Charity Scorecard, the IRS, Attorneys General, Better Business Bureau, etc. form a core component of this expanding marketplace of data.
And here is the invitation - a new colleague of mine, Steve Goldberg, and I want to build out this list as comprehensively as possible and then see if the minds behind these efforts will join us in thinking about what this all means, where it all may be going, what else might be needed. How can you get involved:
  1. Comment on this blog list and add the missing organizations or efforts
  2. Email me (lucy@blueprintrd.com) and let me know if you want to be added to an email group -the first step in organizing conversation.


Anonymous said...

Put me up -- I'm in.

Lucy Bernholz said...

Oops - I also forgot FasterCures. Add them to the list


Pete said...

Thanks for this post and invitation. I'd like to join the list. I'd also like to make a pitch for services that address place and context. More and better comparative data about nonprofits is certainly important, but in order to help donors make the best use of that data, we’ll also need more and better information about the environment, the community context, in which they do their work.

For instance, HealthyCity.org has developed innovative methods for mapping the service areas and branch locations of grantees and graphically displaying the relative size of grants, all on top of a set of over 60 demographic and health indicators and the locations of resources such as schools, parks, fire and police stations and other nonprofit organizations, for funders like The California Endowment, First 5 Los Angeles, and a coalition of 22 private and public funders supporting early childhood programs. This approach offers benefits not just for planning, but also for accountability and philanthropic equity issues (as I’ve written for NCRP and SSIR).(Full disclosure: I am a co-founder and member of the governing partnership of HealthyCity.org.)

Thanks also for raising the issue of ownership of data. To take this approach to scale, for example, we’d need to make the grants data already disclosed by foundations more accessible to advocates, and supplement that with data about the geographic and demographic reach of those grant funds. This would mean bringing the grants databases out from behind the firewalls of services like Guidestar, the Foundation Center or Foundation Search, or paying the costs of providing free public access to that data. This daunting prospect is only one example of the difficulty of gaining access to ostensibly public data. (If anyone is interested, by the way, I'd be happy to share more information about the philanthropic mapping work we do, but it's not available through our public site, to follow the funders' wishes.)

Interoperability between all these sorts of systems also would be key (as I think you’ve emphasized before when talking about open source philanthropy).

Lucy Bernholz said...


Thanks for joining us - and for bringing HealthyCity.org to my attention - this is very important work, and place/context are absolutely critical factors. I was not aware of the HealthyCity effort - and I know there are many many other such worthwhile efforts out there that we want to know about -

Thanks for joining up and for sending info on this - exactly what I was hoping would happen - we'll all learn more just by gathering info on all the great efforts underway


Anonymous said...

Can't help but think of the synergy between what you're proposing here and what's going on in the Social Actions Lab -- building out applications for the Social Actions open API: http://socialactions.wikispaces.com. Your proposal here and what we're building approach the same goal from two directions: building a comprehensive resource pool with layers of data from which to assess what's going on and what's needed in the field.

FYI an open conversation in the Social Actions Google group, re: tackling meta-level data during the search interface build-out, is taking place at http://tinyurl.com/5c8v4m.

Anonymous said...

Here's a simple list of all the nonprofits in the U.S., by Zipcode:

And here's something: