New Project: Data Strategy For Funders

Project Purpose

Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) and Philanthropic Foundations Canada (PFC) have initiated a partnership to conduct research and create the space needed to convene key stakeholders, increase capacity, and discuss the technical work required to initiate a Data Strategy for the Philanthropic sector. Powered by Data (PBD) has been invited to collaborate in developing and executing the engagement strategy and synthesis of learnings.


Project Scope

This project aims to set the foundation for developing a funders’ data strategy in Canada. This partnership will specifically focus on engagement of funders and stakeholders to build commitment, identify opportunities, and prioritize first steps toward building a funders data strategy. The creation of a full data strategy is beyond scope at this preliminary stage. The focus at this stage is to develop shared interest and a roadmap to guide next steps.


Specifically, this partnership has the following objectives:

  1. Engage funders and key stakeholders to build interest in developing a funders’ data strategy
  2. Identify pain points related to data collection and use internally and through relationship between funders and grantees
  3. Assess current status, needs, and opportunities to enhance effective data collection, use and sharing among funders (and potentially others within the sector)
  4. Facilitate process to prioritize initial area of focus
  5. Collectively define set of concrete actions to build into stage one of a funders’ data strategy
  6. Develop a publicly available resource for funders that outlines key recommendations and roadmap for stage one implementation
  7. Engage funders in conversation to encourage uptake and implementation of policies and processes for stage one, and initiate plans for longer term strategy.



This partnership seeks to build from a series of reports published by Mowat NFP:  Committing to Action: Next Steps for Canada’s Evidence Ecosystem, Collaborating for Greater Impact: Building an Integrated Data System, and Measuring Outcomes in Practice: Fostering an enabling environment for measurement in Canada. Additionally, in 2018, PFC and PBD produced three issue briefs on data and why it matters to philanthropy. The briefs covered the topics: Understanding the philanthropic landscape, How grants can inform philanthropic decision-making, and Measuring Outcomes: An Introduction for Funders. The partnership outlined in this TOR draws on recommendations in these reports to take the next steps in advancing an evidence strategy for the non-profit sector, starting with a data strategy at the philanthropic sub-sector level.


Along with the evidence and recommendations above, developing a philanthropic Data Strategy, will need to build on existing initiatives aimed at strengthening sector-wide data access and capacity. For example, the Data Policy Coalition convened by Powered by Data, the Ontario Nonprofit Network’s ongoing interest in building a sector-wide data strategy, OTF’s leadership in open grants data, federal and provincial data strategies and open data policies, and exemplary initiatives pursuing open data standards in other domains, such as IATI, 360giving, and Fund for Shared Insight. The rising tide of conversations pertaining to data use within the social sector highlights an opportunity to build on this momentum to generate deeper collective interest, shared ownership, and a clear path forward to a collaborative data strategy. This will require extensive engagement of leaders within the sector as well as those impacted by the decisions made and data collected, used, and shared by funders.

For more information about this project, contact Ines Chaalala, Director of Learning and Partnerships, Philanthropic Foundations Canada

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