Big data is becoming more accessible in the nonprofit sphere every day. In an article for Philanthropy News Digest, Joyce White, executive director of Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington wrote about the Foundation Center’s eReporting Program. Using the program, grantmakers can submit their individual reports to create a better overall picture of the work foundations are doing in the U.S.
According to the Foundation Center’s website, becoming an eReporter enables grantmakers to learn more about their own communities as well as those further away. From another perspective, the eReporting program enables small, relatively unknown foundations to better communicate their impact and connect with other like-minded organizations.
As White puts it, the insight from regional grantmakers is invaluable in building the data infrastructure to support the nonprofit sector. White also talked about her own experiences as a regional grantmaker in Oregon. To better connect with other foundations, GOSW launched a Donor Data Campaign. When members submit grantmaking data, Foundation Center creates an interactive map for the GOSW’s website that enables area grantmakers to gain greater insight into the area’s needs. For instance, they can determine which organization is funding water issues in a certain area or if other foundations are working on early childhood education. Perhaps most important, they can determine if any gaps in their funding need to be filled.
The initiative further highlights the need for foundations to have better technology. Without the right grant management or business intelligence platform, reporting can already be a difficult task for foundations. The Foundation Center’s eReporting project can accomplish great things down the line, but better tools may be necessary to maximize its potential.
Still, for GOSW, investing in the program has already paid off, according to White. The organization has already been able to obtain data from almost half of the giving in Oregon for 2012 and started mapping this information.