We work on increasing public access to data about the nonprofit sector.

A lot of information about the Canadian nonprofit sector is already tracked and collected, but historically, has not been made publicly available. Our work at Powered by Data involves identifying key datasets about the sector, and supporting their release as open data. Here are some questions we've been working to help answer through open data. 

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Who makes up the nonprofit sector?

The T3010 tax filing dataset is the primary dataset containing comprehensive financial and activity information on Canadian charities. It therefore contains rich information on the various entities that comprise the nonprofit sector.  After Powered by Data and other organizations pushed for its open release, the data was made openly available by the CRA in 2013, and put Canada on the map as a global leader in the effort to build a more transparent and information-driven nonprofit sector.  This data has been used to get a better picture of the sector itself, for example by providing snapshots of Canadian philanthropic giving, or helping understand the Indigenous funding economy.

The work isn’t over. In 2016, we joined a group of 20 other organizations and individuals calling on the Government of Canada to commit to creating a public registry of the beneficial ownership of companies and trusts, and to make that registry available in open data format. This registry would also include nonprofit and social sector organizations.

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How is government supporting the nonprofit sector?

In 2016, Powered by Data requested that the Government of Canada implement a data standard for publishing information on federal funding to the nonprofit sector. Our proposal was successfully adopted as a commitment to increase transparency of grants and contributions funding in the 2016-2018 Open Government Action Plan.

This open data set will enable nonprofits to better understand, and plan around, the government’s distributions of funds.

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How can we better understand Canadian grantmaking?

There is valuable information contained in grants data. This is the data that tells us: who is funding what? 

Not only does it provide transparency on how money flows to diverse initiatives, it can also offer novel insights on relationships and networked connections between nonprofits and funders. Currently, funders track how they distribute their grants internally—but these data are rarely shared out to the public. 

However, grantmakers are beginning to join the open data movement in Canada, and Powered by Data is proud to be supporting this shift. In 2015, we worked with Ontario Trillium Foundation to become the first Canadian grantmaking foundation to release their grants data openly! Read more about it here.

Recently, we have also supported Tides Canada in sharing their grants data openly.  Are you a foundation interested in joining the movement and publishing your grants data? Get in touch at: