When a crisis occurs—whether it’s the war in Ukraine or the COVID-19 pandemic—people seek up-to-date information. They want to understand, for example, how the crisis is evolving or how many people are affected. In the social sector, the questions that often emerge are: Which organizations are addressing the crisis? Who is funding them, and what activities do donors support? As the largest source of data on philanthropic and nonprofit organizations, Candid fields many of these questions.

With breaking news, it takes time for the full picture to emerge. Weeks and months can go by before we understand what’s really happened or why. Candid faces similar challenges in answering questions about the philanthropic response to current events—but with an even more significant time lag. It takes more than two years to collect comprehensive data about US foundations’ giving. (See Candid’s 2021 blog assessing delays in data collection from US foundations.) In the midst of a crisis, waiting two years is simply not an option. To help the sector understand the emerging funding picture, Candid prioritizes collecting current, “real-time” data. This data is patchy, incomplete, and messy, but it’s often the best that’s available in the moment.

Here we share Candid’s processes, the data’s uses and limitations, and a call to action.

Candid shares real-time data to provide those who want to help with the information they need to make better decisions. For grant seekers, the data shows who’s providing funds to address a crisis. Funders can learn how much their colleagues are giving and what they support, find opportunities for collaboration, and identify gaps.

Unsurprisingly, the unique circumstances and methodology of this collection result in a unique dataset. Below, we outline some of the most important things to know about this data—especially for journalists, researchers, and others seeking to leverage real-time data to identify funding trends.

Read the full article about collecting data by Grace Sato and Laia Griñó at PEAK Grantmaking.