October 11, 2012

15 Mega-Foundations Commit to Philanthropic Transparency

Foundation Center leads effort to open books on grant making

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has agreed to release its grant data. (Photo: AP) The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has agreed to release its grant data. (Photo: AP)

Fifteen of the largest U.S. foundations have joined Foundation Center in an effort to increase philanthropic transparency worldwide.

The foundations have formally agreed to release their grant information in a consistent, open and frequent manner in the belief that doing so is critical to effective collaboration, strategic decision-making and a more engaged philanthropy sector, the Foundation Center announced Tuesday.

Grant information, which will be reported at least quarterly by each foundation, will be available on the center’s Glasspockets.org website. Data from the participating foundations will be presented in a machine-readable open format and coded to an open geographic standard known as GeoTree.

An interactive map of the data—also available on Glasspockets.org—will allow viewers to see at a glance the national and global reach of America’s largest foundations.

The 15 foundations participating in the endeavor so far, in alphabetical order: Annenberg Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The California Endowment, Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Energy Foundation, The Getty Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, The David & Lucile Packard Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation.

“By making their grants information available in open format and in near-real time, these foundations are helping philanthropy join the era of Big Data,” Bradford Smith, president of the Foundation Center, said in the statement.

“This brings us one step closer to being able to see how foundation grants, government spending and private investments are coming together to address the issues of our time.”

The Foundation Center has licensed this collection of data under Creative Commons, making it open and free to the social sector, researchers, developers, the media and the general public.

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