Content at Giving Compass
There is a vast amount of knowledge and content in the philanthropy and social sectors, but it’s often fragmented across different organizations and not adequately organized or indexed by major search engines. By creating a vertically focused online platform and using machine learning, artificial intelligence, and matching technologies, we want to offer a 360-degree view of any topic in the context of Impact-driven Philanthropy.
We define Impact-driven Philanthropy (IDP) as the practice of strategically using our time, talents, and resources to make meaningful, measurable change. All of our content curation is guided by these practices and principles.
How do we select content for Giving Compass?
Automated system searching for content related to the topics that donors care about according to our research as well as content that meets certain parameters we have defined.
The search parameters are broad and inclusive of topics highlighted by major community foundations, NGOs, and academia.
These algorithms have initially been trained by people who have many decades of experience in philanthropy and donor support. Each piece that is pulled into the system is then vetted in several ways.
Is it aligned with the core principles of Impact-Driven Philanthropy? These principles were developed in partnership with a collaborative of experts and donors who share a common vision for strengthening supports for individual donors, and we encourage you to read them.
Next, we ask whether it answers one or more of the five questions donors seek to answer according to research done by Stanford’s Effective Philanthropy Lab:
- What should I focus on?
- What giving vehicle should I use?
- How do I develop a giving strategy?
- How do I implement my strategy?
- Where can I learn with others?
We aggregate this data using the same principles described in the Articles and Learning Resources section.
Nonprofit organization data is coming to Giving Compass via an integration with Charity Navigator. If an organization has been profiled in Charity Navigator, that organization’s information will appear on Giving Compass. Organizations that have been tagged with red flags or fraud alerts are omitted by Giving Compass.
When users clicks on an organization profile, they can note if they have given to this particular organization, and if so, whether they would give again. Over time, this will allow “peer curation” by donors who are using the platform. Only registered users can submit this information.
How do we curate issue funds?
We set out to build a data set of issue funds that:
- Represents the full breadth and depth of work happening in the sector from grassroots organizing for systems change, to efforts to scale proven models
- Addresses the issues donors care most about: Education, Environment + Animals, Arts, Human Services, and Health
- Can appeal to people across the political spectrum (every donor could find something that aligns with their interests)
- Offers geographic diversity
To develop a starting list, we drew upon other’s research, in particular intermediaries that had been identified in the Philanthropist Resource Directory (Stanford PACS) and through the Bridgespan Group’s Four Pathways to Greater Giving report. We also polled our networks of current partners, leading nonprofit organizations, funders, and philanthropic consultants to listen and learn about other funds that are making an impact in a variety of fields and that are transparent about their efforts. Finally, we did some research online to flesh out the list.
With a long list of potential funds, we moved into the diligence phase, assessing information that was publicly available on the internet.
We first gauge if funds meet all of the following required criteria:
- Fund or sponsoring entity is financially sound, assessed by reviewing the most recently available 990 reports. Standard reports include two years of financials; if there appeared to be a noticeable trend over those two years, we sought out additional past 990s.
- Fund is open to new donors and welcomes contributions from individuals
- Fund does not have any apparent negative track record, assessed by brief internet searches for concerning news reports as well as a review of current funders, partners, and board members.
We then assessed if funds were transparent about specific components of their work. We included in our data set funds that shared information publicly about at least three of the following:
- Tracking and reporting – can we learn from public sources how the fund reports back to its donors, and/or is there an example on the fund website of this reporting?
- Clear outcomes and goals – is there information available about the goals of the fund or its grantmaking? For example, has the fund developed and shared a strategic plan?
- Evaluation and evidence – does the fund share if and how it evaluates its grantees and uses the evidence from evaluation to inform its grant-making practices?
- Grantee selection process – is there information available about and clarity on the criteria used to select grantees, the process involved, and outcomes shared?
- Who makes decisions – does the fund share who makes decisions and how the decision makers are informed?
How do we vet these funds?
When the coronavirus pandemic struck, Giving Compass moved quickly to aggregate and elevate rapid response and relief funds that were emerging for donors. Our goal is to build a directory of funds that:
- Represent the full breadth and depth of work happening in the sector, from grassroots organizing for systems change to efforts to scale proven models
- Include geographic diversity and breadth
Because of the urgency of this situation, we relaxed some of our standard due diligence criteria. The funds featured on Giving Compass are:
- Open to contributions from individual donors
- Hosted at an organization that serves as an intermediary and regrants to other organizations
- Hosted at organizations in good financial standing with at least two years’ track record. If younger than two years old, additional diligence has been done on leadership and board.
Giving Compass cares deeply about equity and is working to elevate funds that prioritize social justice and populations least well-served by systems in this pandemic.
Because of the number of users and the potential volume of donations, and because of the mission and target audience for our platform, we are not including funds hosted at crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe. We also are directing donors who want to support funds launched by individual nonprofits (to support their own work) to Charity Navigator, which has recommended organizations.
The funds featured on Giving Compass allow donors to give to many organizations with a single contribution and provide peace of mind that someone else is selecting the right organizations.