Giving Compass' Take:

 Aurelia Kassatly provides an overview of the types of challenges that philanthropists and foundations face when trying to use and collect data. 

• How can smaller foundations address these challenges regarding data? 

• Read about how philanthropists can develop data strategies and acknowledging their digital footprint. 

Though evidence-based giving and data-driven philanthropy have become buzzwords in the sector, they have yet to be widely practised by private philanthropists and foundations. Data1 collected is often unhelpful, nor does it significantly influence a funder’s strategy. Many of the reasons for this could be addressed by philanthropy infrastructure organizations.

This article looks at why smaller grantmaking organizations have yet to fully embrace data-driven philanthropy, what the potential benefits of data are and how it should be used, and how philanthropy infrastructure organizations could help. Here are some of the challenges that foundations and philanthropists run into.

  • Capacity- The first is capacity. Many smaller foundations do not have the capacity to do extensive analysis of impact reports on different interventions, nor do they have the in-house expertise or funding to support charities in collecting monitoring and evaluation (M&E) data.
  • Motivation-The second is motivation. Many philanthropists and smaller private foundations are more inclined to fund causes or organizations that they feel a personal connection to, not because evidence suggests they are effective.
  • Complexity- The third is focus area. A common refrain is that problems that are complex, address the future, or involve multiple stakeholders are nearly impossible to collect accurate monitoring and evaluation data or prepare comprehensive impact assessments about.
  • Availability of high-quality data- Good quality data on successful interventions is still not widely published. Foundations rarely collect information about their constituents, or ultimate beneficiaries including their unmet needs, mechanisms for meeting those needs, or the work of similar organizations.
  • Ease of collection-Collecting data on social issues is difficult. When the outcomes that charities are trying to affect are so varied, room for standardization on metrics and on what data to collect is minimal.

Read the full article about data collection in philanthropy by Aurelia Kassatly at Alliance Magazine.