Sunday, April 25, 2010

Philanthropy DataJam!

"What would you do with philanthropic grants data if you could get it easily, mash it up with other sources, and build apps or other tools that could help you make sense of it?"

That is the question for this event at The New America Foundation on May 10, from 12:30 - 2:00 pm.

Open Data: Philanthropy’s Future Fuel For Change

We'll be joined by some of the foundations leaders already sharing their data, online giving platforms, members of the Obama Administration's Open Government initiative, experts from the Sunlight Foundation, The World Bank, open aid data advocates, software application makers, open technology advocates, and the media. I hope you will join us via videostream, Skype, and Twitter.

We will videostream the event.
We're working on a skype call in line.
Join in via Twitter at #GiveData.

I'm delighted to be hosting this event with The New America Foundation, The HAND Foundation and The Sunlight Foundation.


I write a lot about open data. I laugh at tweets that say "Open is the new black." Or "Transparency is the new black." I have been arguing for two decades now, in various forms and media, that foundations have a lot more than cash to give to the fields they are trying to change - they have data and information as well.

Simply put, foundations have a lot of information at their fingertips that is possibly of use to those they fund. (And those they don't). Their daily activity - grantmaking - generates a ton of data (more accurately, terabytes of data) that might be useful to policymakers, nonprofits, the media, activists, community members - if they could get hold of it, mash it together with government data or research data - and look for new patterns, new stories, or new solutions.

So, let me say how excited I was to hear that The World Bank has opened its data sets to the public. That TechSoup Global and Guidestar International are merging. And that GrantsFire has become a project of The Foundation Center. And that the Mott Foundation streams its grants information. And that the Ford Foundation's new website has a searchable database of all their grants (next step is to make this exportable, right?) And that some of the online giving marketplaces are interested in making their APIs public.*

These are all steps toward data sharing. The meeting on May 10 is another step in that direction.

*In English, a public API means opening up the software tools that allow others to access and use your data.

1 comment:

Mazarine said...

Dear Lucy,

I too have long been saying that greater transparency is going to make a world of difference for nonprofits that try to get funded, as well as for our government and foundation community. set the bar pretty high when they came out several years ago, with microloans and volunteers visiting the recipients of the loans, and customized donation thermometers for each loan. They didn't just build a transparency app. They built a giving community.

A nonprofit that is doing this exceptionally well is, the Indianapolis museum, which has real-time stats on everything from the number of memberships to how many kilowatt hours of electricity they use.

I applaud foundations that make their giving less opaque, and do hope that this will become the standard for the foundation community.