Much of the focus on the value of Open Data focuses on value to the government and for-profit sectors. Open Data can do wonders for increasing government transparency, allowing for a more informed and engaged electorate. It can also do wonders at stimulating economic development, through being a valuable input to start-up firms providing innovative market solutions. While these arguments are easily transferable to the non-profit sector (openness, transparency, and innovation aren’t constrained to specific sectors), the explicit value proposition for Open Data in a philanthropic setting needs more development. While I don’t have the answer here, I do want to highlight a few possibilities that should be included in a value proposition.
- Open Data facilitates Funder-Grantee-Sector learning.
Recent research by the Center for Evaluation Innovation finds the fewer than 3 in 10 foundations share learnings with their grantees and fewer than 2 in 10 share learnings with the broader public. There is so much potential in funders sharing their learnings in a more open manner. At Transform the Sector, a one day conference on data in the non-profit sector, I spoke about how Open Data can (and should) be used by funders to expand their value proposition beyond granting and into data and knowledge sharing as well. You can find a video of this talk on this Knowledge Centre today.
- Open Data increases the evidence-base available for strategic decision-making.
With more data, and more valuable data, funders and non-profits can make better decisions about where to fund, where to fundraise, and how to design programs. Two recent examples of this in action are Landscape, which is an online database of grant-making in Canada. Non-profits can access this data to find funders that align with their mission and outcomes.
In the United Kingdom, 360 Giving provides a similar platform for UK grant-making. In a recent blog post, the Lloyd Banks foundation talks about how they used this platform to identify where their funding overlaps with other funders, providing an opportunity to work collaboratively. They also found where their funding doesn’t overlap with other funders, and therefore their grant-making is more vital to non-profits. “Being aware of the way we fund in relation to others helps us navigate our future path”
What other value propositions can you think of?