Digital Skills and Organizational Capacity

A great deal of attention has been placed on nonprofits and their potential uses of digital technology. Foundations, too, are beginning to address their own capacity to use digital data and infrastructure well and to support nonprofits to use digital tools and data in smart, safe, and secure ways. Stanford’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS) and its new Digital Civil Society Lab will launch a Digital Data Governance Guide first developed at the Packard Foundation. This resource will be available in the coming year for use by foundations, organizations, networks, consultants, and philanthropic capacity building efforts.

Related to all of this is ongoing work to make nonprofits and foundations more transparent. Canada’s open data on nonprofit tax information enables an ecosystem that can repackage that information for grantseekers, feed it directly into grants management software, and readily mix it with other open government data on financial flows and investments. Canada’s commercial enterprises have the easiest raw material to work with and serve up robust data services via platforms such as and the PoweredbyData project. In China, the China Foundation Center uses government reporting data on nongovernmental organizations to publish a Transparency Index.

Efforts to open nonprofit data in the U.S. are moving forward, despite political and institutional barriers slowing down what is technologically possible. In the meantime, we see continued experimentation around information transparency. In the last year alone several independent efforts in the United States, including Inside Philanthropy, Philamplify, and Transparify (focused on think tanks) have entered the space opened by Glasspockets. A new effort called 360 Degree Giving is encouraging foundations in the United Kingdom to share more data on their activities. It’s being led by established trusts and is using shared interests and peer relationships to encourage participation. Although it’s starting small, the 360 Degree Giving effort latched on to an international transparency standard for data reporting and intends to take the information that becomes available and immediately make it interoperable with both international aid data and Canada’s open data effort.

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2015.