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.
We scanned the landscape to identify sponsors who meet at least three of the five following criteria through publicly available information:
- Focus explicitly on equity, effectiveness, systems change and transparency. Explicitly address racial disparities in their giving strategy.
- Use a participatory grantmaking process and share the process transparently to the public
- Are BIPOC and/or LGBTQIA+ – led
- Detail components of systems change strategies in their materials (advocacy, organizing, policy change, voter engagement, public-private partnerships, sustained legislative accountability to communities)
- Center those who have been historically least-well served in their giving strategies (funding those furthest from opportunity first)
We then pulled the publicly available grants data from those who met the criteria above to aggregate in our dataset.
Sponsors – (c)(3) organizations:
A donor, family or community foundation, or philanthropic intermediary that provides grants to nonprofit organizations.
Sponsors – (c)(4) organizations:
A nonprofit organization or philanthropic intermediary that
- provides grants to nonprofit organizations, and/or
- partners with and advocates for organizations working on related issues
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 dataset 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?
Impact-driven Philanthropy Funds
Our Issue Funds are vetted for impact philanthropy and must meet all of the following criteria:
- Focused on explicit disparity [race, marginalized populations]
- Staff and board are reflective of intended beneficiaries
- Impact data is shared along the lines of explicit disparity
- Impact data is shared about overall numbers served
- Public/Private partnerships
- Civic engagement, education, mobilization
- Language on shifting systems
While we assess transparency, we do not use it to vet issue funds for our repository.
- Who is supported
- How decisions are made
- Who makes the decisions
How do we vet disaster funds?
During a crisis, Giving Compass moves quickly to aggregate and elevate rapid response and relief funds that are 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 these situations, we relax some of our standard due diligence criteria. The disaster 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.
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.