Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Data matter

Data matter. So says Paul Brest, President of the Hewlett Foundation. Given my earlier posts on data, and the list of ideas that several groups have endorsed as ways to improve philanthropy, this paragraph from Brest's letter jumped out at me:
"In other development work, the Hewlett and Gates Foundations are collaborating to promote transparency by international donors. A new project encourages multilateral, national, and philanthropic donors—from the World Bank to China and the United States to the Hewlett Foundation—to post data about their grants to an online database. Though much of this information is published, each donor has its own format—sometimes fairly obscure—and it is difficult to track the resource flows into a particular country. The new system will organize the information to provide policymakers and nonprofit organizations timely and comprehensive access. Eventually, we hope this platform will encourage better use of data in donor decisions and recipient requests—which will enable countries to take greater ownership of their economic development processes. Only with knowledge of the money they have and sound predictions of the money they will receive in the future can governments design and implement long-term strategies for growth."
I would add to the last two sentences the hope that these data would also assist donors and nonprofits to better design and implement strategies.

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