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Launched! A new landscape tool to help the sector find out who is doing what

We’re excited to present a new tool that we have built with support from Community Foundations Canada and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. We presented the tool during a session at the CKX summit yesterday, and now we are releasing it as a free publicly available resource.

The tool is for everyone who needs to find out who is doing what in their geographic or issue area. We’ve collected data from multiple funders on the projects they are supporting, and presented it in a interface that can be searched by keyword, city, province and other criteria. Do you want to know what youth projects are happening in your region? Or find out who is focused on capacity? You can use the tool to answer those questions.

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We wanted to give the sector access to information they could use for landscape mapping, and we expect it to help increase collaboration by helping organizations find similar projects, as well as help reduce duplication of effort in the sector.

We also wanted to show funders the importance and value of their grantmaking data — this information is manually gathered from multiple sources, and it only becomes truly useful when it can be gathered and presented together. If funders can share their grant-making data in a standard way, then tools like this can be easily built and the sector as a whole benefits.

We hope to continue to add data sources to the tool and adding new features it, so keep checking in and using it.

You can see the tool here:

landscape.ajah.ca

We are excited to talk about different applications for this data, so don’t hesitate to touch if you have any questions or suggestions.

Come say hello: Ajah at CKX

We are excited to be attending the CKX Summit in Toronto this week. The three-day event will host a variety of speakers that will tackle four main themes;

  • how nonprofits can use research to make informed decisions
  • how we can turn data into knowledge for change
  • how we can use stories to communicate our impact
  • and how we know if we are making a difference.

Most of the work fits within our PoweredbyData initiative. Our nonprofit arm that wants to increase the quality and quantity of data in the non-profit sector.

Before the event starts, guests will have the chance to meet the Ontario Nonprofit Data Strategy Working Group with PoweredbyData and the Ontario Nonprofit Network, where we will continue to develop a data strategy for the province.

On Thursday, Michael will be joined by Jake Hirsch-Allen from Functional Imperative and Gena Rotstein from Dexterity Ventures Inc to discuss open philanthropy in a session called Can Open Data Unlock Fort Philanthropy? A Case Study in Three Parts:

You’ve probably heard about Open Data and Open Government. But have you ever considered the radical idea of Open Philanthropy? What would happen if you applied the principles of open data to philanthropic institutions such as foundations, funders and grant-makers?

In this session you’ll be introduced to three open data initiatives that are doing just that.

During this session, we will be launching a new public tool (codename: Scryer), which repurposes funder data to help nonprofits gain insight.

Later on, Michael will be hosting a participant “jam” session entitled Building a Data Strategy for Ontario’s Nonprofits: again with Heather Laird from the Ontario Nonprofit Network and Jamie Van Ymeren from Mowat NFP

What’s a data strategy? And why do we need one for the nonprofit sector in Ontario?

This workshop is a chance to discuss the data nonprofits use, what we need access to, and the core elements of a strategy that is being developed by dozens of organizations across Ontario. After a history of who’s in the picture now and where the work is heading, this session will provide participants with starting points to put data to work for their organizations, and a chance to share perspectives on next steps in this strategic work to support Ontario’s nonprofit sector.

There are a ton of other exciting discussions at the summit that we are excited to attend. We hope to see you there!

If you cannot make it to the event, follow the event at #CKX

Ajah’s non-profit initiative PoweredbyData named one of top innovations in global philanthropy

We are very proud that are non-profit initiative PoweredbyData> has been named as one of the top ten innovations in global philanthropy by NPC in the UK. You can read more about in the NPC press release, as well as access the report. It’s exciting to see our work being recognized, and we even more excited to keep working on our projects.

A new report from think tank NPC recommends 10 philanthropic innovations from around the globe. ‘New and improved’ philanthropy could be introduced to the UK to drive up investment in social causes and make better use of money already invested.

Published today (8 October) 10 innovations in global philanthropy examines top philanthropic trends from across the world, and highlights new ideas and initiatives from across Europe, Australasia and the Americas. Each is recommended for adoption or expansion in the UK, to help philanthropists and foundations keep pace with demand for their funds.

In addition, we have been trying to get Canada’s leadership in this area recognized, and we are glad to see it included in the report:

The UK and Canada are leading the way in open data. The Canada Revenue Agency collects and publishes detailed financial, HR, and activity-level information about Canadian charities annually, and makes it available in machine-readable and manipulable format. This makes it easier for companies like Ajah—experts in open and ‘big’ data—to integrate it with other data streams to share information on the non-profit sector.

That CRA data was one of the datasets that we lobbied to have released, and it’s a key block of the non profit open data stack. Stay tuned for more information on that.

You can read the rest of the press release on the NPC site.
You can read the full report here.

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“We’re number one!” — Getting the word out about Canada’s great non-profit data

It’s a little-known fact that Canada is the leader in the quantity and quality of the data about its non-profit sector. We’re trying to change that. A blog entry we wrote for the federal government open data website just made it online.

In English: Canada – a World Leader in Non-profit Data

En français: Le Canada : chef de file mondial en gestion des données sur le secteur sans but lucratif

We are very happy to have the opportunity to help to get the word out about this tremendous advantage we have compared to other countries. Onwards and upwards!

These developments have made Canada the clear leader in the quantity and quality of information available about its non-profit sector. Considering the size and importance of the non-profit sector, and growing recognition of the importance of using data to drive innovation questions, this is a tremendous accomplishment. It presents Canadians with substantial opportunities.

[snip]

As Canadians, we need to capitalize on the lead we have in this area. We should be developing our expertise in using data domestically to build a smarter social sector and we should export that expertise internationally—as policy-makers, as researchers, as civil society organizations, and as businesses.

Ajah’s PoweredbyData at Transparency Camp and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Our non-profit arm, PoweredbyData, recently took a trip to the US to host a discussion at Transparency Camp in Washington, DC, and attend a workshop hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the members of the Markets for Good community.

You can read more about the two events and what PoweredbyData presented over at the initiative’s website: poweredbydata.org

By |June 18th, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments|

Evolution and stewardship of Canada’s non-profit data – the T3010 Users Research Day

[This article is cross-posted on Ajah’s principal blog and PoweredbyData.]

You already know that we get pretty excited about non-profit data. The motherload of Canadian non-profit data is the T3010 form, the tax form that all charities have to fill in and is subsequently made available by the Canada Revenue Agency. It contains some great financial, HR data, and governance data as well as some other information about the charity’s activities. That’s why we are founding members of the T3010 group, initiated by Peter Elson and Francois Brouard from Mount Royal University and Carleton University, respectively.

The T3010 DATA USERS RESEARCH GROUP is a group of interested individuals who want to share information about the T3010 data. It is operated on a voluntary basis. Since 2011, members of the T3010 Data Users Research Group have regular discussion by teleconference on different issues and interests associated with the use of T3010 data. The interests of the members of the T3010 data users group are wide ranging in terms of applicability, but are also focused on a) having access to a common data set that would provide a basis for comparative research; b) identifying the incidence of errors and oversights which could be addressed, etiher by CRA or researchers; c) identifying gaps in T3010 data which prevents research from taking place; and d) engaging in mutual and collaborative research.

On May 26th, there was a meeting between the group and the Charities Directorate of the CRA at Carleton. It concerned the further evolution of the form, as well as some discussion of the Non-Profit Risk Identification project, currently being managed by the Treasury Department. We were very happy to sponsor the event. There was a healthy discussion on the type of data collected and the future of the form. Ajah’s main input was 1) that this data was very useful for operations of the non-profit sector, 2) that the principal use of this data in the future will be by applications, not people, and 3) that the availability of this data is unique in the world and that our friends to the south are especially jealous, as they fight for access to their 990 form data.

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Ajah Launches Non-Profit Initiative, PoweredbyData

Montreal, April 8, 2014 – Ajah announced today the launch of a non-profit initiative called PoweredbyData. With the goal of improving the functioning of the philanthropic funders and nonprofits by increasing the availability of useful data, the initiative is led and advised by experts in the domains of open data, standards development, and grant-making from across Canada, the USA, and the UK. This initiative responds to the need for better information in the non-profit sector.

Hilary Pearson, President of Philanthropic Foundations Canada (PFC), explains “Canadian foundations are looking for initiatives with impact, non-profits face the challenge of communicating their work more effectively, and governments are seeking evidence of effectiveness on the ground in order to support innovation in service delivery. The foundation sector is looking forward to the contribution of PoweredbyData to our understanding of philanthropic data, including better measures of impact.”

PoweredbyData will work predominantly with funders and government regulators to increase the supply of standard, interoperable, and open data about the sector and its impacts. “In creating our commercial services, we developed an expertise in transforming previously unused public data into innovative and useful tools for funders and fundraisers. Now, we’re looking forward to applying that expertise to the rest of the sector in areas with the potential for tremendous social impact, but no commercial opportunities, such as developing new standards and educating stakeholders to publish open data” explains Michael Lenczner, CEO of Ajah.

Recognized philanthropy and data expert, as well as author of the influential annual forecast Blueprint, Lucy Bernholz, adds, “In the United States, we are working to get access to the data that is currently available in Canada, and other countries are even farther behind. More and better data is essential to improve the functioning of the non-profit sector and I’m excited for PoweredbyData to bring those practices to the rest of the world.”

About Ajah
Launched in 2010, Ajah is a Montreal-based company providing leading edge online services to the non-profit sector. Their flagship product, Fundtracker, transforms open and public data into actionable intelligence for fundraisers.


For more information please visit poweredbydata.org or contact:
Michael Lenczner
info@poweredbydata.org
@pwrd_by_data

By |April 15th, 2014|About Ajah|0 Comments|

Opportunity watch: Economic Development funding

Welcome to another edition of Ajah’s opportunity watch. This week we are looking at a few funders who promote economic development – specifically two government programs and a credit union to see how they can encourage economic opportunities in the communities they serve.

In Quebec the government put in place the ClimatSol program. Projects admissible for this program are meant to not only stimulate the economy but also to ameliorate the environment and reduce carbon gas emissions. Both organizations and individuals can apply for funding to the provincial government who has set 60 million dollars aside until March 2015. This program not only seeks to create jobs but the jobs created will help foster sustainable practices.

In Newfoundland and Labrador you can find the Cultural Economic Development Program which helps professional arts organizations stimulate sustainable economic development of the Province’s cultural resources. The program helps promote self-sustaining art activities, mainly in the cultural tourism industry and by doing so provides financial assistance to individual artists. The deadline for sector-based organizations is coming up on April 18, although small performance series can apply year round.

Finally, Affinity Credit Union, which has has over 40 branches in Saskatchewab, sponsors community groups, charities and organizations that require funding for various events, projects, and programs. Their aim is to contribute to community sustainability and stronger local economies by supporting initiatives that promote self-reliant approaches to community economic development. They fund a variety of projects including those related to health, social services, education, the arts and the environment.  The deadline for Community Development Funding is September 30, while sponsorships are available year round.

That is it for this week. We can help you find many more funders in your region with Fundtracker Pro if you need funding for economic development projects. To find out more you can contact us for a demo.

Opportunity Watch: Aboriginal and Metis funding

Ajah’s opportunity watch is taking a quick look at funders that support Aboriginal and Metis peoples around the country this week. All of these founders emphasise the importance of preserving and transmitting the culture and knowledge of native peoples.

In the east we have the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Program supported by the government of Newfoundland and Labrador.  This government program invites both cultural organizations and professionals to apply for funding and the deadline is approaching fast, on April 15. The advisory committee is made up of various native community representatives including Innu, Inuit, Mi’kmaq and Metis.

In Saskatchewan we found two programs offered by the SaskCulture, a non-profit, community based organization. The first is The Aboriginal Arts & Culture Leadership Grant  and it supports arts and cultural leaders within the Aboriginal communities.  The grant is available for First Nations bands or for schools that have a cultural mandate. The deadline to apply is April 15 as well.

As for the Metis communities in Saskatchewan, we found the Métis Cultural DevelopmentFund another program of SaskCulture. This fund encourages sharing, learning and celebrating the Metis culture of community groups in the province. It provides support to cultural organizations in areas not typically funded by conventional systems mainly looking to benefit children through skill development and mentorship. The next semi-annual deadline to apply is April 30!

That’s it for this week folks! There are many more governmental programs and organizations to be found on Fundtracker.  Don’t hesitate to contact us.

Ajah is hiring a Head of Sales

For the last four years, our team has been developing and providing the non-profit sector with better tools to understand the fundraising landscape in Canada. While the founding team has strong engineering and product management skills and a deep understanding of the problems faced by the non-profit sector, we always knew we were missing expertise in sales and marketing. That was fine initially, because we wanted to build a winning product before investing heavily in sales.

Given that we have had three consecutive years of triple digit revenue growth, that our customers love us, and that we keep winning business away from the competition, we feel that Fundtracker is now clearly recognized as the best prospect research tool in Canada. We now want to focus on getting our product into as many hands as possible.

We are hiring a Head of Sales to join the management team for the next stage of Ajah’s growth. Check out the job description here and feel free to forward the link to anyone you think might be interested in this great opportunity.

By |February 5th, 2014|About Ajah|0 Comments|