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Making G&Cs Data Better


We’ve written about the the federal government commitments in their Third Biennial Plan to the Open Government Partnership before. We’ve been focused on Commitment 11 in that plan —  which centers on increasing the consistency, standardization and searchability of the data on grants and contributions across the Federal government.  With this commitment, the Federal government is also decreasing the dollar amount for the reporting of Grants and Contributions (G&Cs) awards from the current rule of only reporting those over $25,000.

The Federal Government recently updated Canadians on their progress on Commitment 11 and carried out a consultation on The Guidelines on the Reporting of Grants and Contributions Awards that will help them implement that commitment.

We were happy to participate in the consultation, as we believe the implementation of Commitment 11 will lead to the improvement of available Federal G&Cs data.  This is important because G&Cs data enables a better understanding of the distribution of funds and resources to the nonprofit sector, as well as increases opportunities for collaboration. It also enables policymakers, researchers, media, and others to perform analyses on patterns of spending and to gain more insight into the important relationship between the federal government and the nonprofit sector.

As part of the consultation, the Federal government was primarily seeking feedback on the page entitled “Fields and Field Descriptions” but offered four pages for comment:

  • Guidelines (Procedures for departments to follow);

We generally think the government is doing great work on this commitment and that the Guidelines have been well developed. As a result, we only submitted a few minor comments as part of the consultation process:

  1. For Fields and Field Descriptions - Appendix B:

    1. We suggested that Department ID also be published. Considering that this comes from a controlled list, and considering that the names change with every government these days, we thought only having the text could be problematic.

  2. For Field Population Guidance:

    1. For the expected results field, we suggested a maximum character limit of 500 characters, at the very least.

    2. For the Federal riding field: we thought it was important to publish the Federal Electoral District Codes instead of names in order to make transposing data easier.

  3. For the Appendices:

    1. We recognized the three wave approach in Appendix H as practical and a good exercise in transparent communication.

Overall, we are looking forward to continue to support the work of the government on this commitment and its broader Third Biennial OGP plan. We are eager to see the final implementation of Commitment 11 and the increased availability of accurate and useful G & Cs data. 

Report back on the Data 4 Impact Workshop at CODS17

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Our Technical Director, Jesse Bourns, recently travelled to CODS17 in Edmonton. Prior to the conference, he co-presented the Data 4 Impact Workshop. The workshop was designed to raise awareness of the value of data sharing at the organizational and sector level and to provide frameworks that would be helpful to organizations in the development of plans to enable the effective use of data.

The objective of the workshop was to increase sector capacity by providing techniques and tools for participants to understand, collect and use data in their organizations. It covered different perspectives on open data, the data spectrum and data lifecycle but also included discussions and exercises on the topics discussed.  

A report back has been put together to share the knowledge, discussions and feedback from the workshop. You can read that here:


The presentation used in the workshop is available here and the results of the post-workshop survey are available here.

Giving beyond Tuesday: Online donation data sharing and collaboration

Do you wish your organization could access online donation data to better understand donor behaviour and drive your own online donations?

Woodrow Wilson, CEO & Founder of With Intent, is working on a project that is doing just that. Woodrow is a consultant with The Belfer Center for Innovation and Social Impact at 92Y, managing the #GivingTuesday Data Project supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Datakind.

Announcing the selection of Transform the Sector's Conference Fellows

Transform the Sector aims to convene a series of rich conversations that will help chart the course for the emergence of a data-informed social sector in Canada. To be successful, this event will need to assemble leaders from across diverse communities and disciplines.

This represents a challenge: generally speaking, participation in events of this kind is heavily skewed towards groups whose perspectives are already over-represented in public discourse. In partnership with the Carold Institute and Stanford’s Digital Civil Society Lab, we’re taking the following steps to include a broader range of voices in our conversations: