Participants in this new and free educational tool will learn about giving and then give. Watch the video (it’s fun and descriptive) and then learn more on the Learning by Giving website.
Learning by Giving Foundation offers first ever Massive Open Online Course (M.O.O.C.) in Philanthropy
by Rosien Herweijer
Funders struggle with endings more than with entries. Yet, we seem have a lot of tools to support decision-making on giving grants, starting programs, entering fields and countries; however, we lack resources for developing strategies to move on. Do we actually invest enough time and thought in exits?
Probably not. Funders can still improve their exit practices considerably. As a practitioner suggested: making a ‘good’ exit is not rocket science, but it can be complicated. In a GrantCraft webinar conducted last year, none of the participants actually felt the exit they had been involved with was well planned or executed, and nearly 60% said the exit may not have been a complete surprise but could have been managed better. To support funders in rethinking their exit practices, GrantCraft has launched a new guide on exit practices: Foundations Moving On: Ending programmes and funding relationships.
All funders somehow have to deal with exits. Venture philanthropist and limited-life or spend-out foundations tend to be very deliberate about exits, but other grantmaking or operating foundations also change strategic priorities, leave fields, or leave countries. And on a smaller scale, project funding ends automatically or – in rare cases – has to be withdrawn. You cannot wait for all the complicated questions to pop-up once an exit decision looms. And once you make and communicate a decision to exit, you need a lot of answers…
What should happen with the brand you developed when your pilot is being scaled-up by the government? Do you want researchers to be able to access your archives after you closed down your trusts? How can you best support soon-to-be-former grantees? Should you help them find a ‘replacement’ funder? How best to stay in touch? What happens with the URL? Who owns the infrastructure that was built? How much time do we give them? What if personnel has to be let go? How big should a reasonable endowment be?
To none of these questions does the new Grantcraft guide provides a blueprint-answer. Several funders shared how they answered them, but it is quite clear that there are no one-size-fits-all solution. The guide highlights helpful practices, but more importantly, I hope it triggers and feeds into internal discussions in foundations about how to improve exit practices. An interviewee observed that funders spend 90% of their time deciding which grantee or programme to support or not. She may have exaggerated, but it is true that beginnings come with positive emotions and we tend to dwell on those. Hopefully, this guide, together with your time, stimulates spending more time thinking through endings and making that a positive experience, too.
The new GrantCraft guide was launched today, 15 May, in Amsterdam at the annual ARIADNE Annual Policy Briefing hosted my Mama Cash, where a group of European funders invested in human rights and social justice reflected on the topic of planned and unplanned exits.
You can download the new guide for free. To download you only need to sign-in (or sign-up).
by Jen Bokoff
Anyone who takes an introductory computer programming course uses the phrase “Hello, World“ as basic output in their very first piece of code. In this, my first blog post in this exciting new chapter of my career and GrantCraft’s future, I also would like to say Hello, World. I’m learning very quickly that GrantCraft is a portal to a large, inspiring network of funders, activists, thinkers, advisors, and game-changers around the world. It’s a world with needs running the gamut – economic, health, water, equality, cultural, education – and an army of people who have accepted the challenge of doing their best to say hello to problems while armed with thoughtful solutions that leverage financial investment, research, advocacy, and time. It’s a world where everyone plays an important role, and where we move forward by harnessing the experience, ingenuity, and gumption of those around us.
GrantCraft currently shares a wealth of information collected from across the sector through guides and complementary materials. We can do better though. Rosien, Lisa, and now, I, have exciting ideas for capitalizing on our knowledge-sharing strengths and better engaging our most important constituency: you. We want to make it easier to have conversations around the stories shared in our guides. We want to more deeply involve you as a contributor to our field of knowledge through guest posts, virtual roundtables, and increased awareness of resources you find helpful. We want to build a connected community by making sure you know each other. We’re going to fortify our web platform and use other web 2.0 tools to supplement our current guide format, and we want to incorporate your feedback into developing these capabilities. Email me, tweet me, share resources with us. Tell me what works for you and what doesn’t; what could help you do what you do better; what you see in your most amazing GrantCraft dreams.
GrantCraft’s future is of particular excitement for me because of my path to get here. I’ve worked “in the trenches” at LIFT, an anti-poverty nonprofit; I’ve drilled into numbers and law at the Internal Revenue Service; I’ve taken unusual approaches to teaching classes I’ve developed on board game sociology, grantwriting, connecting, and email management; I’ve strategized around funding opportunities and complementary support for the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. To me, the most fun, challenging, and impactful pieces from each of these roles comes together in this “blue sky” GrantCraft arena, and I’m planning to run with it. Run with me?
I look forward to learning from you and working to support your great work.
By Rosien Herweijer
Foundations and philanthropist have never been big on measurement. Not surprisingly, among the philanthropists, the foundations that have their roots in financial markets (venture philanthropist) are more interested in measurement compared to their regular, traditional brothers. EVPA, the European Venture Philanthropy Association recently published A Practical Guide to Measuring and Managing Impact. For those of you unfamiliar with venture philanthropy please do not let the jargon scare you. Just think “funder” when they talk about “VPO/SI” and when the guide says “SPO” read “the organisation we fund”. Once you do that, you will find that this is great stuff for every funder.
In a practical and logical way the EVPA guide takes you step by step through the process of putting everything in place to get a perspective on the change you are making with your contribution. The guide – unsurprisingly – is heavy on the quantitative methodologies but it does not provide particularly revolutionary models or tools: it is practical and quite comprehensive. It is particularly rich and frank in it description of actual examples. At times it can be a bit detailed and technical but if you are planning on making a large investment or donation and want to be serious about measuring and managing impact, it is well worth the read. And it also gives those who are otherwise interested in the world of venture philanthropy some insider insights.
There are some downsides: I am not sure if the guide will convince those who do little measuring to actually start doing so. And some who work on complex societal problems or invest in unorthodox ways in emerging solutions to more difficult to measure causes, may also find the approach limited. That said, there are many positives: for example the guide recommends that when you measure impact the non-monetary support of the funder (VPO/SI) is included in the equation. And the guide provides ideas and options an no one-size-fits all solutions. Finally, what I really like very much like is the importance the EVPA Guide adheres to giving an early answer to the question: why do you want to measure? Because this answer – which too often remains implicit – has such a big influence on what is measured and how.
Besides why? there is another critical question: who measures? In the case of the EVPA guide it is the VPO/SI and particularly the SPO (remember, the one who has the money and the one who gets the money). The ultimate beneficiaries remain a distant ‘object’ or ‘customer’. The guide urges and suggests tools to ask them for feedback but they have a minor role in the overall process of managing and measuring impact. This while power in processes of measurement is often underestimated. Recently a group of evaluation practitioners from the work of development cooperation, reflected on the current discourse that stresses results based management, value for money and evidence under the title “The Politics of Evidence”. If you are interested, this is an impression of the meeting.
But even if you do not frame the issue in terms of power, roles are very important in measurement. Which makes who measure? an important question to address. Practical Action just published a book edited by Jeremy Holland entitled Who Counts? The power of participatory statistics. In participatory statistics beneficiaries and clients gather data about themselves, about their lives and their situation and they steer and own that data collection process. Holland has collected twelve case studies that show how beneficiaries themselves count, map, survey, and monitor impacts of interventions. The examples indicate that putting the (intended) beneficiaries in the drivers’ seat of data collection produces highly reliable data through rigorous processes. I particularly liked the example where villagers show a donor on their village social map that the way the donor has planned the water system only helps those who are well-off already. The map was made by them with support of outsiders but it was their map, it stayed in the village and served them in dialogues with other donors.
To draw on the power of participatory statistics you need facilitation skills to ensure people are really in the lead and the process is inclusive, and you need it methodological skills and knowledge. Participatory statistics and data gathering techniques are not new. But the approach seems to gain momentum. Organisations in the network of Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) a network of community-based organizations of the urban poor in 33 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America promote and support the use of these techniques. And while the tools may be necessarily basic in poverty stricken, rural areas in the South, social media platforms like Ushaidi will further the generation of participatory statistics globally.
The Overseas Development Institute organises a meeting in London to discuss Jeremy Holland’s book on 21 May, 12:30 BST which will be live streamed, check in due course their site
GrantCraft resources on evaluation: check our Evaluation Series
by Rosien Herweijer
The Association of German Foundations (Bundesverband Deutscher Stiftungen) has published a study exploring how German foundations deal with mistakes and failure in practical terms, about the culture among German foundations for addressing faults and errors and the particular challenges foundations face in this area. Entitled “Learning from mistakes – opportunities for foundations” ( Aus Fehlern lernen – Potenziale für die Stiftungsarbeit), the study is the first output of the Association’s “Foundation Panel” (StiftungsPanel) an initiative through which member organisations sign-up and commit to provide on a regular basis data in support of support research into the foundation sector. This particular study is based on 273 responses and 19 interviews with experts including board members, general managers, area managers and project team members.
Because the sample is based on self-selection it may be biased. Yet the findings are interesting. For example the study reveals that:
95% of contributors felt that they learn from mistakes – both mistakes that actually occurred and those that were averted were seen as learning opportunities;
larger foundations do more training, evaluation, documenting, and checking than smaller foundations - more than half of larger foundations (54.5 %) established an evaluation mechanism, compared to 35.3 % of smaller foundations;
operating foundations appear to be more self-critical than grant-making foundations - 49% of operating foundations compared to 73% of grant making foundations indicated that they rarely make mistakes.
The most widely used approaches to dealing with mistakes included: regular meetings; evaluation; feedback on performance; and regular training/professional development. In interviews practitioners indicate that it may not always be easy to talk about mistakes and failure and that having an open organisational culture and climate regarding learning is very important. GrantCraft published in 2011 some findings on learning practices in foundations and we blogged about funders and failure in the past asking whether it is safe to fail?
Back to Germany. Building on the findings of their study, the German Association of Foundations has developed recommendations for foundations for dealing with mistakes. Recommendations include:
Understanding the management of mistakes as a duty for foundation leaders/managers;
Enabling staff to talk about mistakes;
Reflecting collectively on strategies for dealing with mistakes;
Expanding the repertoire of measures for dealing with mistakes, including seeking independent know how;
Applying the Association’s principles of good foundation practice (in German only Grundsätze Guter Stiftungspraxis); and
Using platforms to facilitate open exchange with others.
Further information about the study can be found here (in German).
In Germany approximately 19,000 foundations operate. The Bundesverband Deutcher Stiftungen has 3800 members. If you manage a bit of German and are interested in the German foundation landscape: on the website of the German Association of Foundations you can search their database of foundations to find links to websites of foundations that are active in specific fields.
By Rosien Herweijer
Earlier this year, GrantCraft formed a partnership with leading philanthropy scholar-blogger-tweeter Lucy Bernholz to make Blueprint 2013, her annual industry forecast, available as a free benefit for registered GrantCraft users. Rosien Herweijer, GrantCraft Director at the European Foundation Centre, recently interviewed Luc Tayart de Borms for his take on Blueprint themes in a European context.
Luc Tayart de Borms serves as Managing Director of the King Baudouin Foundation in Belgium and as a member of the Governing Council and the Management Committee of the European Foundation Centre.
When asked about a Blueprint for Europe, Luc Tayart de Borms’ first reaction was, “that’s complicated!”
In the past, Tayart has mapped the different European philanthropy traditions. He finds Europe has a diverse and quite different “philanthropy eco-system” compared with the United States. He also feels very strongly that European foundations should not see US philanthropy as a benchmark or model that they should aspire to emulate. “That said, it is obviously interesting to see what is going on in the US, and I like Blueprint 2013 for its bold insights,” he added.
So what developments does he see in Europe? “Compared to Lucy’s definition, in Europe you would have to exclude political giving from your concept of the social economy. Considering the limited role private financial resources play in elections in most parts of Europe it does not really make sense to include this kind of giving when you assess what is going on in the social economy, ” argues Tayart. “Our political systems, cultures, and realities are different.”
But aside from the political giving aspect, most of the other components of the social economy as described in Blueprint 2013 are present in Europe and the developments that Lucy flags resonate, according to Tayart: “Using endowments for your mission, social investments, and, more generally, the use by foundations of a broader variety of financial tools; all of that is certainly happening. We also see more and more co-creation of ventures by different actors and the emergence of all kinds of hybrid organisations, which you can expect to become increasingly important over the next few years. We work with a lot of NGOs in Belgium, often we help them overhaul their business models. Compared to traditions of the past, there are no givens any longer in how they generate revenues or with whom they partner and currently many successful ventures involve very diverse actors; this trend will certainly go stronger.”
In his view foundations have an important role in fostering such hybrids and he cites the example of how the King Baudouin Foundation brokered between a national supermarket chain and a Belgian NGO working in international development. Regarding what he calls the bubble around social investing Tayart is more cautious: “Do not expect too much in terms of the volume or financial return on investment anytime soon.”
Has the economic crisis fundamentally changed the practices of foundations in Europe, and what trends does he predict for the coming years? Tayart observes two contradicting trends in response to the crisis: some foundations and philanthropists are becoming more inward looking, focusing on their immediate, geographic environment and addressing needs of those who are close by. At the same time, other foundations are reaching out, and collaborating and investing across borders. Which of these trends dominate the philanthropy landscape in Europe? “Hard to say, I see both. But retracting to your own territory and trying to solve the global crisis locally is no solution in the end,” he reflects.
A key message of Blueprint 2013 is that foundations will go big on data. In a previous article in Alliance magazine on “what can data do for philanthropy”, Tayart warned that there is danger of overpromising. “With King Baudouin Foundation we have invested in data, we brought GuideStar to Belgium for example. However, in our sector, generating quantitative, comparable data is complicated and expensive. So we may not see a massive investment in data collection in Europe just yet.” Also he feels that maybe more important than investing in numbers, foundations can easily be more proactive in listening closely to those who are stakeholders in issues they aspire to address.
But aren’t data also about transparency and needed for advocacy? “Just providing loads of information and data will not be enough for foundations in Europe to deal with the issues of legitimacy that they face,” argues Tayart. “The efforts of responsible foundations to be more open and transparent are important but I think that over the next few years scandals will hit the reputation of foundations in Europe harder and harder. This economic crisis hits poor people in Europe hard and our politicians want to show that it does not spare the rich.” He adds: “Taking on foundations and taxation incentives for philanthropy is an ideal way for politicians to show they are doing something, but in fact it is counterproductive.”
Tayart’s final observation is about developments in the legal context for foundations in Europe, in particular the European Foundation Statute: “We are fighting for it, but it is impossible to call. I can predict one thing however: we will either have European Foundation Statute in 2014 or we will NOT have one for the next ten years.”
By Lisa Philp
Lisa Philp is Vice President for Strategic Philanthropy at the Foundation Center. This post first appeared as a guest blog on nextgendonors.org.
When I first learned that the Johnson Center for Philanthropy and 21/64 were planning an ambitious study of next gen donors, I got very excited. So much has been written about the intergenerational transfer of wealth and the potential for philanthropy, yet we know so little about Gen X and Millennial philanthropists.
I have long been a fan of Foundation Review, and a case study I wrote based on my experience as a philanthropic advisor was edited by Michael Moody and published in 2011. Meanwhile, Sharna Goldseker and I had been discussing opportunities for collaboration between 21/64 and GrantCraft, one of the projects I oversee in my current role at the Foundation Center.
Michael, Sharna, and I recognized that the 30 in-depth interviews they conducted for this next gen research project would yield a treasure trove of qualitative data. A typical GrantCraft guide similarly begins with a set of open-ended interviews with funders reflecting on their day-to-day experiences to tease out lessons and spark discussion to help improve the practice of philanthropy.
Wanting to extend their important research with another layer of analysis, they graciously granted me access to their interviews, with the agreement that I would honor the confidentiality and keep identities anonymous. Michael, Sharna, and I compared notes on key findings and, not surprisingly, found many parallels. But because each of us brings varying strengths, experiences, and world views to the table, we also had different areas of emphasis and ways of synthesizing that benefit the larger conversation about next gen donors.
Next Gen Donors: Shaping the Future of Philanthropy, a GrantCraft companion piece to Next Gen Donors: Respecting Legacy, Revolutionizing Philanthropy reveals three themes that the 21/64-Johnson Center interviewees believe set their generations apart—areas that I’ve named a hunger for engagement, new ways of learning, and the importance of now. Taken together, these publications add to our collective knowledge about the fascinating world of family philanthropy and, notably, do so in a cost-effective way that yields additional layers of meaning from a common set of data.
I daresay that our three organizations have charted a new partnership model of data-sharing and complementary analysis that bodes well for future endeavors—among the Foundation Center, the Johnson Center, and 21/64—and for future collaboration for the social sector. Let us know what you think of our approach, and please share your ideas for extending this into additional partnerships.
By Jason Franklin
Jason Franklin serves as Executive Director of Bolder Giving, working to encourage donors to “Give More, Risk More, Inspire More.” He is also a Lecturer on Public Administration at New York University and a board member of the North Star Fund, Proteus Fund, and 21st Century School Fund.
I’ve been exploring the issues facing “next gen” donors for over a decade, ever since I began getting involved in philanthropy after discovering as a 22-year old graduate student that my family had a small foundation. That’s why I was so happy when Sharna Goldseker from 21/64 and Michael Moody from the Johnson Center approached me as they were beginning research for what has become the Next Gen Donors: Respecting Legacy, Revolutionizing Philanthropy study and the GrantCraft companion guide, Next Gen Donors: Shaping the Future of Philanthropy. It was my pleasure to be interviewed for the study as a next gen donor and to help them reach out to other young donors through Bolder Giving, the donor education nonprofit I lead.
Over the years, I’ve given dozens of talks and been part of many panels talking about next gen donors. But almost everything I’ve drawn on has been from my experience and others in the networks I’ve been a part of including Resource Generation, the Threshold Foundation, and the Council on Foundations. I couldn’t agree more with this new study’s observation about how “little previous research [is available] on the powerful but very private group of young people who stand to become the major donors of the future.” As I read this research study and GrantCraft guide, I found myself nodding regularly in agreement with their findings and also occasionally noticing points of departure from my experiences. With 310 survey respondents and 30 interviews, the study sample included participation by Gen Xers and Millennials more diverse than those in my personal circle.
One piece in particular that jumped out at me was the issue priorities of my peers. I was not surprised to see animal welfare, the environment, civil rights, and advocacy identified as “emergent issues” among my generation. But I admit to being a bit surprised—probably the result of hanging out in more political and change-focused groups—to see youth/family, education, and basic needs so highly rated as shared issues with our parents and grandparents. This was a valuable reminder personally that as a generation writ large we are perhaps not as different from our parents as I often think.
This research also confirmed my sense that arts and culture, religious, health, and “combination” organizations (such as United Ways and Jewish federations) need to pay special attention to engaging next gen donors now or face the prospect of an aging and shrinking donor base. While I expect that some of these issues may see more attention from my generation as we grow older and have more time for the arts, face more health issues ourselves, and refocus on religion as we start raising children, these are major shifts that nonprofit leaders should pay attention to now.
Another area that struck me was variation in how next gen donors give.
This study offers evidence that the messages of “philanthropic best practice” are spreading among Gen Xers and Millennials. Based on next gen donors’ self-reported “most important components” of philanthropic strategy, the elements at the top of the list “fit well with the model of ‘strategic philanthropy’ that has emerged in the field of giving and grantmaking over the last few decades.”
Strategic donors who do research, focus on impact, and share information need to be approached for support in different ways, and they expect different things as a result of their gifts. Just this morning I was talking with an executive director of an organization I support, and she stopped me at one point to say, “you’re so different from most of my major donors—you want to talk about impact, not acknowledgement.” I don’t think this is so much a flattering comment about my giving but a sign of a generational difference that I share with my peers. We now give and will continue to give in different ways, and we look for different things in the organizations we support.
There is much more to be gleaned from this important new research that has major implications for the future: how we add “ties” to the traditional litany of “time, talent, and treasure” contributions; how we are integrating the facets of our lives differently; how we use online sources of information and social media to inform our giving; and how our reliance on a single trusted advisor is declining. And there is so much that those of us who are young major donors can learn about ourselves by reflecting on what our peers shared. I can imagine many conversations among philanthropic leaders, wealth managers, philanthropy advisors, nonprofit executive directors, and fundraisers that will be sparked by this research. The GrantCraft companion piece includes starter questions for these audiences and others interested in the priorities, strategies, and activities of next gen donors.
Let the reflections and conversations begin!
By Richard Woo
The China Foundation Center in Beijing recently translated 31 GrantCraft publications into Chinese. These translations are the latest collaboration in an extensive partnership between the Foundation Center and the China Foundation Center. We’re pleased that Richard Woo, a thoughtful funder who has provided leadership to the field of philanthropy through Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, the Council on Foundations, and Philanthropy Northwest, has penned this guest blog commentary.
Richard Woo is the CEO of The Russell Family Foundation in Gig Harbor, Washington where he has just completed his 13th lucky year! The Foundation focuses on grassroots leadership, environmental sustainability, and global peace.
In anticipation of launching translated guides of GrantCraft in China, Lisa Philp at the Foundation Center invited my comments about this milestone of multi-lateral relations—a collaboration among the Foundation Center, the European Foundation Centre, and the China Foundation Center. Excited by the invitation, I soon realized it had been 20 years since I’d last made a grant in Asia. In the mid-1990s, serving as regional manager for corporate contributions for Levi Strauss & Co. in Asia Pacific, I practiced grantmaking in 12 countries including Hong Kong (later repatriated to the People’s Republic of China). It would be a stretch for me to credibly comment on the relevancy of GrantCraft in China when I myself might be irrelevant given my dated professional experience. To compensate, I asked Lisa to introduce me to a Chinese colleague with whom I could correspond and begin rebuilding my “philanthropic cultural literacy.” She introduced me to Tao Ze, Vice President of the China Foundation Center, and we became internet “pen pals” between Beijing, China and Gig Harbor, Washington.
By way of credentials, Tao Ze is impressive with degrees in electronics, business, and technology from respected universities in China and Sweden, as well as certificates in social entrepreneurship and philanthropy from Stanford and Harvard. More importantly, Tao is an impressive human being having committed his career to philanthropy after a life-changing experience volunteering in the favelas (shantytowns) of Brazil. Our correspondences bounced to and fro in a global Q & A session. We set about building a virtual bridge of professional curiosity, understanding, and respect.
What I admire most about Tao Ze is his plain speaking. He responded to my questions topic by topic:
• On his career choice: “Everyone must care about society otherwise you will never arrive at happiness.”
• On disparities in wealth, class, and neighborhoods in Brazil: “The government can never cut the connections between people by walls and distance.”
• On professional skills: “I don’t need to give up my professionalism but can make the most use of it to contribute to the world.”
No doubt, GrantCraft will bring value to Tao Ze and his colleagues as they explore the frontiers of philanthropy in China. More important still, “How will Tao Ze and others improvise and innovate on the GrantCraft platform in response to the “on-the-ground” conditions encountered?”
Whether here or there, GrantCraft has and always will be about the art of philanthropy—perfecting human-centered practice rather than technical solutions. I look forward to the day when GrantCraft China 2.0 returns to the U.S. and the West as an English edition translated from the original Mandarin and continues our journey of building a virtual bridge of professional curiosity, understanding, and respect.
By Mari Kuraishi
GrantCraft has formed a partnership with leading philanthropy scholar-blogger-tweeter Lucy Bernholz to make her annual industry forecast, Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2013, available at no charge as an exclusive benefit for registered users of GrantCraft. We are delighted to have Mari Kuraishi as GrantCraft’s inaugural guest blogger and one of several who will provide commentary on the Blueprint’s themes in an ongoing web dialogue this year with Lucy’s blog, Philanthropy 2173, and the Foundation Center’s PhilanTopic.
Mari Kuraishi is co-founder and president, GlobalGiving Foundation. GlobalGiving is a charity fundraising web site that gives social entrepreneurs and nonprofits from anywhere in the world a chance to raise the money that they need to improve their communities. Since 2002, GlobalGiving has raised $77,631,292 from 308,248 donors who have supported 7,178 projects.
This year’s Blueprint takes two important steps toward redefining the boundaries of the discourse on how we maximize the public good. First, Lucy creates an inclusive space — calling it the social economy, as a “way of thinking about all the tools we use to apply our private resources for public good.” This is an important point because several independent developments are taking place in the landscape to create one single mutually interactive space. Past editions of the Blueprint have forcefully argued that the emergence of social investing will upend the dynamics of capital access for enterprises engaged in the public good. The flows of money are smaller still than philanthropy (estimated at $54 billion in assets in 2010 report on impact investing, in contrast to the $300 billion a year for philanthropy), but it has already fundamentally shifted the perception that only nonprofit entities can focus on the public good.
Simultaneously, fiscal pressures have challenged the sanctity of the deductibility of donations. Even if the law is not changed in the current fiscal cliff discussions, I have no doubt it will come under scrutiny again precisely because the very concept of segmentation and differential treatment of capital flows for public good is likely to feel increasingly archaic.
Second, Lucy points to the importance of foundations “going big on data.” Big data was a business buzzword in 2012, and philanthropy and the nonprofit sector are playing catch up. But why is this big news? Foundations embracing big data will allow for better analysis of philanthropic flows and dynamics. But as much as this delights us geeks, the real significance of this shift lies in the fact that it allows for private data to be integrated with public data. It’s big because the commercial and public sectors have already taken huge steps to go big on data, and in the context of the newly defined social economy, the fact that foundations are now following suit can actually facilitate greater cohesion and integrity within the social sector.
Why do I say this? To argue by analogy, think of what happened in 2012 to campaign strategy, tactics, and science as a result of the single voter database that was created from the previously siloed voter databases belonging to the unions and the get-out-the-vote organizations of the world. It wasn’t just that the integrated data allowed for cleaner data and reduced duplication and hassle for both voters and campaigners. It was that with a common database, you could liberate people to take incredibly efficient, targeted, but decentralized action far more easily — right down to the casual supporter who had two hours of phone-banking time to contribute.
That’s why I think it’s so important that foundations and the nonprofit sector go big on data. Because they might just be bringing some of the last pieces of the puzzle to the game. What are some of the opportunities you can see in the integrated big data picture?
click to see full list: