The COVID-19 pandemic sidelined more than a few well-thought-out grantmaking plans. All year, grantmakers have been forced to pivot to tackle urgent health and safety concerns while also assessing their own diversity, equity and inclusion practices and funding for systemic social justice problems. Couple that with the sharp rise in climate-related disasters we’re experiencing across the world, and it’s starting to look like the only thing we can expect is the unexpected.
Last month we shared our evolving vision for Fluxx: A philanthropy platform enabling funding and impact for organizations who fund change, and those who carry it out on the ground. Today we’re proud to take a step closer towards that vision through a collaboration with Microsoft’s Tech for Social Impact initiative.
Each year we look forward to the annual TAG conference – it truly is the top event to explore philanthropic trends and technology. Previous years have focused on data and the impact of giving. This year, the theme is technology innovation – a perfect theme for us! We are excited to have two speaking sessions where we’ll share our vision for connecting givers and doers, the innovations we built, and what we have planned for the future. And, of course we’ll be giving product peeks and sponsoring a happy hour!
As a program manager and subject expert, you’ve always believed in the importance of capturing information and stories that articulate the impact of your work. Until recently, however, you may not have had the time, resources, or expertise to take your data practices to the next level.
Chances are, if you began your career as a grants manager 10 or 15 years ago, you didn’t consider yourself a tech pro, or a data wizard. You probably used a computer every day. And you became adept at office applications like Excel and Word. But still, there probably was a whole lot of paper in your life.
How times have changed.
As a grants manager, you’ve always understood the importance of data, even if you don’t always consider yourself a tech guru. As the quarterback of the grantmaking process, you regularly collect critical pieces of information and synthesize it for future use. You’ve always known you needed data. But until recently, deep dives into the world of data were rarely expected from you due to a perceived lack of expertise, time, or mandate from leadership.
Americans gave nearly $400 billion to charitable organizations and individuals last year – to make education work better for our children, put food on the tables of our most vulnerable, and to create safer and healthier neighborhoods and communities for everyone, to name only a few of the causes supported by philanthropic giving in 2016.
As we finish up yet another informative and exciting GMN ... err … PEAK Grantmaking conference in Hollywood and head back to our day jobs, I’m left reflecting on my experiences talking to and learning from a crowd of really smart people, committed to solving some really important issues in society.
David Goodman participated on the Vendor Plenary Panel at the 2016 Technology Affinity Group (TAG) annual conference, where he first discussed his views on data, evaluation, and the sometimes over-emphasis on "impact" in philanthropy.
While my background is in research and evaluation, I’ve spent a great deal of time working with foundations and nonprofits to build their capacity to understand and use research and evaluation. I’m very excited to be able to bring my experience to the philanthropic sector at a time when there is a growing realization that it can benefit from the expertise of researchers and evaluators from other fields or disciplines.
This is a good thing. It gets me out of bed in the morning.
Yet, as much as I am excited about the emphasis on data, measurement, and impact, there is also a part of me that wants to pause – just for a moment – to talk about the disproportionate emphasis on “impact” alone.
There’s no denying it. The way we work has fundamentally changed. Our cloud-based, bring-your-own-device, collaborative workspaces – virtual and brick-and-mortar – bear very little resemblance to the foundations of even a decade ago. The technology that makes all this possible is also generating new ways for grantmakers to do their work — specifically, the ability to access and leverage data like never before.
To make the most out of this new work environment, foundations are opting into a culture of data-sharing and transparency.