Our international tour on data and philanthropy with #GivingTuesday

In 2013, we launched Powered by Data with the aim of increasing the availability and impact of data for Canada’s social sector.  A key piece of this work has involved using an open government approach to increase access to data about Canadian charities and grants.

We recently had the opportunity to share—and receive feedback on—this approach with sector leaders in several countries, through a series of regional data workshops led by #GivingTuesday. #GivingTuesday is an annual digital fundraiser and social movement for promoting charitable giving. In addition to the movement itself, #GivingTuesday has created a collaborative data-sharing initiative, which explores how data can be used to better understand philanthropy, measure impact, and build a culture of giving.

Workshops in Latin America, Asia and Europe

Over the last few months our director, Michael Lenczner, joined the team behind #GivingTuesday to discuss data with philanthropic leaders of various regional #GivingTuesday chapters. Regional and country-specific workshops were held in the Dominican Republic, Thailand, India, Spain, and Russia, and involved surveying the regional data landscape, discussing regional research priorities, as well as identifying country-specific challenges, stakeholders, and allies.

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At these meetings, we presented our approach for leveraging open government policies to increase access to data for the nonprofit sector. For example, we shared how the CRA’s T3010 tax filing open dataset has been leveraged to understand the charitable landscape, as well as our work in shaping the federal government’s commitment to increasing transparency of grants and contributions funding through their action plan on Open Government. During these workshops, we discussed how similar approaches in different regional contexts could help philanthropic and civil society leaders better understand the charitable sector, and leverage these data as a tool for increasing a region’s culture of giving.  

What we learned

These workshops exposed us to the diversity of the nonprofit sector across regional contexts: the realities faced by nonprofits in Canada are, understandably, going to be different than those faced in Russia, or the Dominican Republic. These differences, along with variations in how countries approach open government, will inevitably shape how strategies are created for leveraging open government to increase access to philanthropic data.

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Despite these differences, the feedback we’ve received from these discussions over the past months suggest that there is promise in applying our approach across regional contexts. We’re looking forward to continue working with the #GivingTuesday movement, and supporting the development of their data strategies in any way we can.

Lorraine Chuen