The Challenge of Data in the philanthropy and CSO Sector.

“Data” is used to refer to individual pieces of information. Considerations of the role of data in philanthropic decision-making is not necessarily Innovative, the advances in digital technology have significantly increased our ability to collect, store, and analyze data and thus increased the capacity of organizations to use dat. The broad framework of outcome-oriented or evidence-based philanthropy, which suggests that donors seek to achieve clearly defined goals and direct grants to support organizations that are using evidence to solve problems has been increasingly used across the sector over the past couple of decades. The Philanthropy Sector in East Africa, cannot be left behind in the this fast- paced lane of evidence-based interventions.

According Arif Ekram of Candid.org, the landscape of Data and its use in the Philanthropy and CSO sector in the region of East Africa is unfolding fast. The demand from the public has been to demonstrate impact of the work being done by the civil society and so that gives all reason to not only to engage but seek to do so in a meaningful way.

When data sets extend beyond a single data repository and are too large or complex to be processed by traditional database management and processing tools, it is referred to as big data by “impact,” we are referring to affecting root causes of social problems and sustained significant change. Finally, we will also refer to the “regional data ecosystem,” which provides the context for in a wider area like the East Africa region. Its instrumental to note that organizations in this region have embraced the culture of systematically capturing their data as they go about their activities in this sector.

Increasingly in the social sector, value and outcomes are created by transforming data into information and insights. Information and insights drive philanthropic strategy, which in turn creates impact in communities. The role of data in philanthropy is threefold: data for informing, data for social learning, and data for emergence. Within these three broad functions, we identify five touchpoints where data can deliver insights to philanthropic decision-making: need identification, fund programs, fund research, evaluation and learning, and measuring community impact.

The East African Data Portal was conceived to meet the demands of the Philanthropy and CSO sector in the region and run by the East Africa Philanthropy Network with technical support from Candid.org. Ekram from Candid emphasized the need for the Foundations, trusts as well other CSO organizations to utilize this opportunity to have their data analyzed. This will not only give them a head start in looking at their own reporting but also have an opportunity to gauge their standing with their peers and benefit from sharing the best practices in management within the region.

The EAPN and Candid partnership developed an online tool referred to as the ‘updater tool’ to consolidate data on local philanthropy in East Africa.
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