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Globally Developed Data Charter for Philanthropy Launched by Foundation Center and WINGS

Thursday, October 26, 2017

New guidance for civil society actors to structure, capture, and share data about philanthropic investments was released today by the Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS) and Foundation Center. The Global Philanthropy Data Charter, originally launched in 2012, was re-imagined to more actionably encourage organizations across contexts to understand the value of data in their work, create and share data that is comparable across borders and systems, and collaborate in effective partnerships in an ever-changing world. These efforts start at a local level and increase the potential for new data collection, knowledge sharing, capacity development, and effective decision making and strategy development. Ultimately, local yet aligned action will tell a global story of philanthropy.

The Charter offers a vision for how data can be leveraged to strengthen mission-driven work at foundations and NGOs worldwide, such as informing initiative design, establishing strategic partnerships, promoting accountability, building trust, and showcasing philanthropy’s contributions to development. It also provides principles for data sharing and a guide for understanding the needs and motivations of various data stakeholders. The focal data is defined as information that answers driving questions about fundingwho is funding what and where?and knowledgehow can I know what other philanthropic actors know? Specifically, this includes data such as:

  • Basic organizational data—e.g. year founded, staff size, total assets, total expenditures
  • Amount of funding
  • Geographic area and population group(s) supported by funding
  • Strategic purpose—e.g. general operating, project, capital, technical assistance, advocacy
  • Outputs and outcomes brought about as a result of the support
  • What was learned about what does and doesn’t work


While this data may seem intuitive to collect, capacity and infrastructure challenges, disconnected work, lack of mandate to do so, and threats to the work itself by governments or others makes this data difficult to create, collect, organize, share, and use in meaningful ways. Lauren Bradford, Foundation Center’s director of global partnerships, shares: “We were very intentional about understanding the data challenges within local contexts and how those manifest at the national, regional, and global levels. It grounded the Charter. Global buy-in is hard to achieve, but because we invested time in listening and learning, we have it, which creates accountability and a collective plan for moving forward together.”  

The two-year process for revising the Charter was anchored in meetings of core stakeholders in both Cape Town and Amman, attended by 40+ practitioners from 20+ countries. This input, alongside learning from in-country data strategy and capacity building work led by Foundation Center, was developed into what is now the updated Charter. The Charter is already being implemented to guide deepened data work in countries such as South Africa, Pakistan, Kenya, and Jordan. In Kenya, the Charter has been used to help foundations collectively develop principles and values that underpin a local philanthropy data strategy. It will also guide the work of the newly-established data and technology WINGS affinity group, which interested organizations can learn more about by contacting WINGS.

Benjamin Bellegy, the executive director of WINGS, adds, “The interest in the Charter from our membership has been overwhelming, and it will serve as the backbone for a newly-established practice-sharing group on this topic. We are committed to advancing philanthropy data to advance values of transparency, accountability, inclusiveness, and improvement—values which are critical to unlocking smarter solutions.”

Read and share the Charter:

Read related case studies about the Charter’s implementation:


About Foundation Center
Established in 1956, Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. Foundation Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants — a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit Foundation Center's website each day and are served in its five regional hubs and its network of more than 400 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and around the world. For more information, please visit,
call (212) 620-4230, or tweet us at @fdncenter.

The Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS) is a network of about 100 philanthropy associations and support organizations in 40 countries around the world whose purpose is to strengthen, promote and provide leadership on the development of philanthropy and social investment. Together WINGS members and network participants represent over 100,000 philanthropic entities from all regions, mobilizing billions of dollars. For more information, please visit



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