Saturday, October 03, 2009

Donors and do-ers

What do you think of this as a way of visualizing the landscape of capital providers and enterprises in the social sector? Is it helpful? Can you help me improve it? Thanks.


Unknown said...

In case you want to adjust your bubble sizes to actual percentages of NPO revenue.... all individual giving accounts for 10 %, 2% of which is foundation giving. Government grants are contracts are 36%, and the remaining 54% is from fees and sales (not represented in your graph, but i guess the donor here would be the public and service beneficiaries) this data is unfortunately pretty old, from Salamon's 1999 book. I'd be interested in seeing see more recent numbers....

Sidney Hargro said...

I'm not sure how you'd do it but it could be improved by showing overlapping relationships. For ex., foundations are involved in impact investments (assuming that you are calling PRIs impact investments). Also, individual giving now overlaps with foundation giving in the case of online philanthropy markets run by foundations, dafs, etc. That's my two pennies.


Adin said...

Interesting map Lucy. I wonder if there's a way to add volunteer contributions. It's probably too generic, but the most recent Volunteering in America report concluded that volunteerism generated $162M in contributions.

Robert said...

Hi Lucy

Interesting challenge you set for yourself, and I think there may be something fruitful ahead. I wish I had a good suggestion for you, but mostly I just have observations on the limitations of this diagram.

Have you read Tufte’s four books on the visual presentation of information? He maintains that in a good graphic, every visual element reveals some piece of information or insight.

As it stands, the diagram implies some sort of information that isn’t there, and other information isn’t indicated. I offer the following not as a bunch of nits, but to show the sort of things an information architect would consider. For instance:

• I assume the size of the circles is supposed to be proportionate to the dollars in each, but some seem off. Public agencies have got to be much larger than 501c3s. Public education, alone, is about the size of all 501c3s.
• The reader wants the relationship (proximity) between circles to indicate something, but it is mostly arbitrary. Corporate giving and foundation grants are shown to be far from the 501c3s they fund. Why are unincorporated networks where they are instead of nestled between individual giving and 501c3s? Why are social enterprises, which might be owned by nonprofits, nowhere near them?
• It is not explicit that two and a fraction of the three small circles near the button are for-profit.
• Why are impact investments near govt grants instead of individual giving?
• What does the outer circle represent, and what is represented by the space between the inner and outer circles? Why do public agencies break the circle?
• In the legend, why is the dark circle larger than the white one?
• What about 501c4 and others?
• No distinction is made between local, state and Federal agencies/govt contracts.

Keep going, and good luck!


Unknown said...

I dont personally find the graphic to be illuminating, though that might well be my limit! Circles within a single large circle implies a constraint that I don't think exist. And the circles/bubbles do not seem to represent flows or relationships. Many years ago, an ecologist named Odum used interesting diagrams to illustrate the flow of energy and entropy through an environmental system. Might be worth a look.

Tom Bailey said...

Lucy this is excellent, I like what Sydney said about the overlapping in these areas. In todays numbers what is current is changing with high unemployment there is a large pool of people that are unemployed that can use charitable work as something to do to beef up their resume while they collect unemployment.

The pool for labor is larger than ever. Getting them to see the what is in it for me is the challenge.

Best regards

Laura Deaton said...

I like the concept of mapping donors to do-ers a great deal! My challenge is that this doesn't show donor resource flow to the do-ers. If it did, then the government contracts circle would be overlapping with the 501c3 circle etc. That would be fascinating! To visually represent how many resources ($ and volunteer) flow to how many do-er sectors in a proportional way would be extremely valuable to all of us, I think!

Tammy Gordon said...

Is there a way to add non-financial contributions or actions people are taking on behalf of the organization? Like percentage of volunteers engaged?

Lucy Bernholz said...

Holy smokes folks! THANK YOU! Your suggestions tell me two things - one, there is a need for something like this and two, you folks are brilliant...I'll take another stab at improving this per everyone's insights and post a revised one ASAP. In meantime, if any of you who can actually draw circles want to try and build a better mousetrap and share it via this site, please have a go at it, email it to me ( and I'll get yours uploaded as well.

As for the data on size of these circles - that is the truly tough part. See my post below on Impact Investing Index, for example, to see how tough it is to estimate size of that market. That said, showing relative size, relationships and overlaps, ought to be possible....

You are the best - thanks each and every one of you (and anyone else who can still chip in) - for helping out with this.


Jason Franklin said...


Interesting universe graphic. I hope you repost again after you get comments, as I’d love to see what you end up with.

Some thoughts/question:
What is the “unincorporated space” inside the big circle but not in a small circle? Informal volunteer by individuals in their communities perhaps?
I could imagine a small circle linked to individual giving that is giving circles
Would love to see community foundation grants separated from independent/family foundations merely as an educational piece (and because I think the types of grants and engagement with grantees is often different from community foundations).
Where does straight up for-profit capital used by social enterprises show up?
What about 501(c)(4) and other political organizations?
Do you include associations, fraternities & sororities and other more specific types of social organizations that are in different subsections of the 501(c) section of the tax code?

Just some initial thoughts,

Jeff Mowatt said...

Yes, It's good though to many outside the US, the 501(c) structures won't be well know.

In the group B2Corps, L3C you might add P-CED which is based on a white paper for ethical capitalism and in operating in Eastern Europe since 1999.