Get on the Map, Grantmakers: The Foundation Center Makes Grantmaking Data More Accessible - Generocity Philly


Mar. 5, 2015 12:01 pm

Get on the Map, Grantmakers: The Foundation Center Makes Grantmaking Data More Accessible

A national alliance aims to bring big data to regional grantmaking.

A new campaign initiated by the Foundation Center, an organization that provides comprehensive resources about philanthropy, is seeking to create richer, more accessible data about national grantmaking.

Launched in the fall, the campaign, called “Get on the Map,” is a partnership between the Foundation Center and the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, 34 philanthropic organizations across the country that make up the largest network in American philanthropy.

The partnership is a barter: in exchange for the data shared by each association’s grantmaking members, the Foundation Center delivers data-rich, interactive Foundation Maps that reflect the philanthropic contributions and trends of the respective region.

Twenty regional associations are participating in the first year of the partnership. Among them is Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia, which is now in the process of notifying its members about the opportunity, said Amy Seasholtz, director of communications at Philanthropy Network.

Once data is reported, a beta map will be available over the summer.  The final version will be delivered in the fall. The submission deadline is May 1.

In the first year, Philanthropy Network aims to get half of its members to participate, Seasholtz said.

Along with real-time data, grants of any size can be reported, a practice that is more inclusive of grantmakers that award modest-sized grants.

“The power really is in the data and the potential to reveal things that we haven’t been able to see before,” Seasholtz said.

How “Get on the Map” was created

Managed by the Foundation Center, the “Get on the Map” campaign was first piloted in Oregon in 2013 to much success, said C. Davis Parchment, the Foundation Center’s manager of electronic reporting.

Though the Foundation Center has had an electronic reporting program since 1996, and funder participation has grown steadily, Parchment knew it could be more robust.

“Everybody sort of got it at a 30,000-foot level, but it wasn’t really translating to grantmakers going home and sharing information,” she said.

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Parchment and her Foundation Center colleagues started thinking about how they could “incentivize participation where everyone’s self-interest would be peaked and everyone would win,” she said.

The answer was a strategic alliance with the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers to improve the effectiveness of philanthropic giving through data. “Get on the Map” is an outcome of the alliance.

“There’s a tremendous amount of responsibility that foundations feel to leverage finite resources for maximum impact,” Parchment added. “As that crystallizes, so too does the need for more information.”

Although all funders are encouraged to report information to the Foundation Center, only grantmakers associated with the alliance will gain access to a custom regional map.

Electronic reporting for the “Get on the Map” campaign is relatively easy for grantmakers to do. There are only five required data fields, including the amount of the grant and the name and address of the recipient. Most of the popular grants management software platforms, such as Cybergrants, Foundant and MicroEdge, offer an export function that will send the information directly to the Foundation Center. A simple reporting template is also available for funders that don’t use grants software.

The Foundation Center’s aim for 2015 is to collect as much accurate data as possible. In the future, the goal is to use that information to inform regional grantmaking.

“This isn’t data for data’s sake,” Parchment said.“This is data for the sake of doing our jobs better.”

Image via Mo Manklang


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