Thursday, December 11, 2008

(Almost) real time grant data

My hat is off to the Foundation Center!*

- check out these maps of foundation giving and program related investments in response to recession - it isn't a $700 billion bailout, but there is activity to note, and the Foundation Center maps make it easy and useful! This is a big hurrah from me, about one of my longest standing complaints - philanthropy needs better data, better access to it, better use of it, better sharing of it...So these tools are a great addition to the industry - Jump in, check out the maps, make them better,

And - look - an RSS Feed too!

So the data are not really real-time (but that is a down-stream problem - foundations have to send their data to the Foundation Center first) but they are getting closer....I'm writing this on Dec 12 and a random click on grants within the maps found several from 2 weeks ago....way better than 2 years ago...And foundations can now feed data to Foundation Center electronically and Foundation Center feeds it to you...

Tags: , ,

This is a big deal, I'm writing this from Austria where taking your hat off is akin to freezing to death.


Anonymous said...

I don't get it - $79 million worth of grants? Is that all? Since when?

I'm thrilled the data is available, but deeply discouraged at the numbers.

Lucy Bernholz said...

The best answer to your questions would come from the FC themselves, but here's my take:

Because they are looking for grants related to the economic crisis I'm going to guess they started requesting data post- September 2008. I think they are using data from the 175+/- foundations that already submit electronically (a number expected to grow over time, but its new) They are only mapping data that foundations send to them, so this is a snapshot, not a comprehensive scan. But I suggest you check the Foundation Center site directly for more information.

Because we've always had such a long time lag to get any data, and because I think sample size trends are better than nothing, I'm still excited and hope that this kind of reporting, trending and mapping information will become more available. Thanks, Lucy

Jeff said...

Thanks for bringing our economic crisis map to the attention of your audience, Lucy. And, Sasha, thanks for your interest and question. This fall, we began collecting grants that were given in direct response to the unfolding economic crisis. The grants map is updated weekly as we receive new data, so the total number and amount of grants will continue to grow.

Many of these grants had been reported to the Center electronically, as Lucy mentioned, and have now been identified as crisis-related grants (there are 181 foundations who report their grants electronically to the Center). Others were found using a variety of research methods and sources. Our Philanthropy News Digest and editorial staff scour media outlets, spider the web, receive all feeds and other alerts coming directly from foundations, and reach out to foundations directly by phone and e-mail to encourage them to send us their grants data. We hope that as the word gets out, more and more foundations will do just that.

Anyone who has any information about grants or program-related investments made to respond to the crisis should send it to We pledge to get the data we receive into the maps as quickly as possible.

For more about this effort, see and

To learn about our electronic grant reporting initiative, see: and


Jeffrey Falkenstein
Sr. Director, Database Publishing
The Foundation Center