Philanthropy In/Sight (USA)

Philanthropy InsightThe Foundation Center in the US has just launched a new interactive mapping tool that illustrates both US foundation grantmakers and their recipients worldwide. When I first saw Philanthropy In/Sight I thought it was genius – utilising Google maps to visualise grantmaking from America. So why do I feel short-changed?

Delving deeper I took the online tour, followed by a 1 day free trial, and I soon realised that this wasn’t a completely new product, but a derivation of another tried and trusted one – the foundation directory online. I had mixed feelings – it looks great and you feel some strange sense of never before discovered intelligence on US foundation giving but it’s really just a visualisation of the data that already exists within their excellent online directory. My eyes are happy but my brain is not.

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Looking at it from an American perspective I can see that the addition of US demographic data could help foundations looking for recipients but I’m not sure that’s enough to make it different. You can produce either a grantmaker map or a grant recipient map, that shows which foundations gave money to which countries (including by state in the US). The data goes back to 2003 and can be broken down by grant subject (i.e. environment, health etc.).

Looking at it from a non-US perspective, after the initial wow factor, I began wondering whether it was actually more limited than the online directory. For example, you can’t search by  individual country, you have to select world map and either click on each dot in that country or search through pages in the data view. If you want to export data in the data view (i.e. lists of organisations/recipients by country), for some reason you can only do it a page at a time into Excel or pdf. At its peak, that’s a whopping 1,578 pages to scroll through and download!

And so to the cost…..well its price starts at $1,495 for a single user for 1 year. That’s more than the equivalent cost of subscribing to the Foundation Directory Online’s most expensive ‘Professional’ service ($1,295) which now also includes the new mapping just without the US demographic data.

Clearly the new Insight product is aimed at US fundraisers and USNew Picture (2)philanthropists and so offers little extra for anyone else. Having said that, the use of interactive Google mapping does show a real foresight and proactive approach to digital resources, utilising the latest offerings from those Google bods.

I’m asking myself whether something like this could be utilised in othercountries or continents, which would be particularly useful in the emerging world of global fundraising. However, due to the paucity of quality information on trust and foundation giving elsewhere around the world, I think it will be some time before applications like this will be replicated.

Regardless of what I’ve said, I’m a big believer in self-discovery (the spiritual kind will have to wait) and so I recommend you try it out for yourself. You can obtain a 1 day free trial without having to talk to any humans simply by emailing insight@foundationcenter.org and asking for a free trial! Let us know what you think…

Categories: Trusts & Foundations Resources

Resource Type: Blog

Posted by Beccy Murrell

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