Journalism and Media Grantmaking: Five Things You Need to Know and Five Ways to Get Started

This booklet is a starter guide for foundations interested in exploring how to make impactful journalism and community-information grants. Foundations do not need to have a formal journalism program to make grants that support healthy news and information flows. Nor does a foundation need large dollar investments to get started. Even a small grant may help citizens in a given community or demographic gain access to credible information that will help them participate in civic life.

Authors

Jessica Clark, Sarah Lutman

Publishers

Media Impact Funders, Wyncote Foundation

Through IssueLab, the Foundation Center is working to more effectively gather, index, and share the collective intelligence of the social sector by providing free access to thousands of case studies, evaluations, white papers, and issue briefs.

Journalism and Media Grantmaking: Five Things You Need to Know and Five Ways to Get Started

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Blueprint 2018 – Predictions

Cover of Blueprint 2018

The year that’s passed turned out to be quite a ride for philanthropy both big and small. Billions in new philanthropic dollars from a handful of donors at one end of the spectrum, plus billions more in crowdfunding across the globe. Regulatory provocations on dark money and charity. Global migration and natural disasters provide ample opportunity for civil society and philanthropy to take action. What’s in store for the year ahead? Here are a few predictions for 2018 – the full list is available in Philanthropy and Digital Civil Society: Blueprint 2018.

Global

  • FinTech (financial technology) will be a shiny new interest area for philanthropy in 2018.
  • Voice-activated giving (“Alexa, donate $10 to the Community Disaster Fund”) will make headlines.
  • The European Union will become the global standard bearer for digital privacy policy. Nonprofits everywhere will examine their privacy practices to abide by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

United States

  • Transparency advocates will demand regulation of political advertising on the Web and social media networks. They won’t get it.
  • Tech companies will increase their philanthropy and political giving as their reputations suffer.
  • Team communications tools that are slowly replacing internal corporate e-mail will be hacked, drawing as much attention as e-mail dumps did in 2016.

2018 Wild Cards (Surprising, unlikely things that just might happen)

  • Britain won’t Brexit.
  • The rate of growth in global carbon production will slow significantly.
  • Countries will begin competing to take in and take care of millions of refugees. 

P.S. If you didn't catch Predict-a-Palooza on January 11, watch a recording of this virtual roundtable of experts, scholars, and practitioners as they identify key trends and share predictions for 2018, including insights from Blueprint!

Editor’s Note: We were delighted to partner with Lucy on publishing the Blueprint for the past several years, and are still avid followers of her predictions! Explore past editions on GrantCraft here.

About the author(s)

Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy

Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy is a data visualization platform for funders, nonprofits, journalists, and anyone interested in understanding philanthropy’s role in U.S. democracy. The data in its interactive maps and charts capture the myriad democracy-related activities that foundations have supported since 2011, enabling funders to be more strategic in their decision making, planning, and evaluation, and helping new and prospective funders in this area understand how they can contribute to democracy-related issues and make an impact.

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Using the Triangle Approach to Build a Vibrant Civil Society and Drive Meaningful Change

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) began its engagement in the Western Balkans in 2001, with the goal of supporting a successful transition for the countries of that region from the wars and conflict of the 1990s to open and democratic societies. During this period of significant investment by foreign donors, a nongovernmental organization infrastructure was built in each of the countries of the Western Balkans. After about a decade of investment, as it became clear that these organizations did not have the capacity or power to push for change as a united force on their own, the RBF undertook an assessment of its Pivotal Place: Western Balkans program. Through the assessment, we explored how the RBF could best continue to support building the capacity of civil society organizations and bring together organizations with different skillsets, knowledge, and abilities to face the challenges of European Union integration and internal reform.

In addition, as by this time most donors had pulled out of the Balkans, there was strong interest in maximizing the impact of funding that was left in the region. In collaboration with strategic partners, we developed a funding approach, which later became known as the triangle approach, that aimed to support the creation of a strong, knowledge-based, credible, accountable, and viable civil society that has the capacity to hold governments accountable, tackle criminalized power structures, and drive meaningful change in an inclusive and bottom-up way, especially in countries emerging from conflict. A powerful synergy-building and grantmaking strategy, the civil society triangle has three components: think tanks that generate research, policy analysis, and recommendations; grassroots organizations that empower and engage citizens in democratic processes; and independent media organizations that conduct in-depth, investigative journalism on governance and matters of public interest.

When these types of organizations collaborate toward shared goals, their work is mutually reinforcing. Grassroots organizations articulate the needs and requests of the people they work with, which can be translated into think tanks’ policy recommendations and can trigger media investigations, while education and advocacy campaigns implemented by grassroots organizations utilize the research and analysis of think tanks and investigations conducted by journalists. Each point of the triangle plays a distinct role that contributes to, and is informed by, the other components. By having regular meetings about ongoing issues and by dividing responsibilities for specific, identified problems, the triangle stays on top of issues and can be ready to act immediately, making it easier and less expensive to mobilize on different fronts. The triangle can act as a watchdog and trigger mechanism on a variety of issues, such as expenditure of economic development funds, failure to enforce environmental protection regulations, manipulation of privatization and procurement procedures, and government accountability and transparency.

In 2007, three civil society organizations in Kosovo—the GAP Institute for Advanced Studies, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), and the Forum for Civic Initiatives (FIQ)—combined their talents to conduct town hall debates in 26 of Kosovo’s municipalities, prior to the municipal elections that year. GAP provided analysis of the candidates’ budget proposals, while FIQ, a foundation, enlisted its network of grassroots NGOs to recruit stakeholders in each municipality to be panelists and attendees, and to identify an appropriate venue. BIRN televised the debates, and its founder, Jeta Xharra, served as the moderator. The purpose was to allow the electorate to evaluate the platforms of the candidates to inform their votes.

Prior to the next election, BIRN returned to each municipality to reconvene the town hall meetings, play back the recordings of the elected mayors’ promises, and afford citizens the opportunity to question the mayors about their performance. In the subsequent municipal elections, the town hall debates focused on how to address the issues of greatest concern in that community, as determined by polls conducted by GAP. This contributed to a 50 percent turnover. In a region where democracy was practiced more in rhetoric than in actual political process, the town hall meetings broke the cycle of empty monologues by politicians and brought citizens’ concerns and budget monitoring to the fore. For the first time, a standard was set that could be used as a reference point in future elections.

The triangle approach puts citizens at the center of building and advancing civil society, utilizing their power to advocate for and achieve a higher level of accountability and transparency, and widening the space for participation by making them owners of the process. In effect, the triangle ultimately leads to the formation of movements for change. It forms a solid basis for a strong civil society sector that is able to check unaccountable power and dismantle vested interests, while resisting retaliatory behavior, infiltration, or becoming instrumentalized by the government.

Implementing the triangle is a multi-pronged approach. To ensure that civil society is positioned as a conduit between people and decision makers, funders should:

  • fund organizations that are connected to constituents and that live their missions;
  • allow ideas to flow both ways between organizations and the donor community, allowing ownership to remain with groups;
  • create space for emerging ideas, new leaders and geographic, cultural, and gender diversity, and be driven by a commitment to the issue at hand;
  • minimize the need for self-promotion, be ready to take risks, and commit to the long term, while remaining flexible; and
  • encourage a proper legal framework at all phases, so that the triangle, and civil society more broadly, is able to grow and develop.

The RBF’s Pivotal Place: Western Balkans program is organized around the triangle approach, using it as a funding strategy in Montenegro, Serbia, and Kosovo, and as the infrastructure for regional collaboration. To ensure the long-term sustainability and independence of civil society in these areas, the RBF is also supporting the development of Civil Society Houses; shared spaces and resource centers for civil society organizations. In addition to providing a physical home for civil society organizations, Civil Society Houses will serve as centers for connection, collaboration, and coordination for civil society within each country and between countries, including other countries in the region. In addition, Civil Society Houses will create space for nurturing new ideas and encouraging new leaders to join the sector.

Further reading: The Civil Society Triangle by Haki Abazi in Combating Criminalized Power Structures: A Toolkit.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is a member of the Peace and Security Funders Group, which just released the 2017 Peace & Security Funding Index, in partnership with Foundation Center. Click here to explore the Index and see who is active in the peace and security funding field.

About the author(s)

Program Director
Western Balkans Program
Rockefeller Brothers Fund

New Ideas for Old Challenges: Shaking up the Nuclear Security Sector

Believe it or not, the world is still burdened by the existence of more than 15,000 nuclear weapons. That’s right, the immensely powerful and devastating weapons we think of as part of “Cold War history” are in fact a present-day danger. They do not discriminate, and their existence threatens literally everyone on the planet.

There are a considerable number of nongovernmental organizations that work to reduce the risks from these weapons. Using expert scientists, field organizers, policy advocacy, and media tactics, they seek to reduce the numbers and reliance on nuclear weapons. There is also a small community of foundations who fund these efforts; and this group has been more or less the same for over 30 years. This community of philanthropists and practitioners are highly knowledgeable and highly skilled, but they are working, by and large, on a 21st century challenge using 20th century tools and thinking. For example, most attention and efforts are aimed squarely at traditional institutions like Congress, the United Nations, and the treaties and laws that have governed the “nuclear game” for decades. While necessary, such approaches are not sufficient to fundamentally change the game. In fact, these same institutions and arrangements often help perpetuate nuclear weapons as much as they limit or constrain them. What is needed is a more “disruptive” approach.

Enter “N Square.” Meant to evoke the notion of a “public square” of discussion and debate around nuclear threats, N Square is designed to attract new ideas, people, and approaches that address this existential threat. Drawing from different sectors like media, technology, business, design, and art, N Square seeks to diversify the ways in which we think about nuclear threats, and the range of possible approaches to eliminating them. It is meant to bust open the conventional thinking about how to change nuclear policy, and allow anyone and everyone to participate in the effort.

N Square is a collaboration of four foundations – the Ploughshares Fund, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Skoll Global Threats Fund. These four funders recognized the need to “shake things up” with respect to how we approach nuclear threats, to attract new, effective approaches, and to introduce the existing nuclear security community to innovative tools and methods for enhancing their work. 

It is a decidedly “two-way street approach”. That is, N Square’s activities, investments and network building are designed to build effective bridges between the existing nuclear security community and other sectors and skill sets. For example, one collaboration that has blossomed through N Square’s “matchmaking” is a start-up company that is developing exciting new satellite sensing technology that could – potentially – allow detection of nuclear materials everywhere on Earth. N Square has fostered a partnership between this company and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey to develop tools that would apply to needs in detection and identification of such materials as a way to monitor global nuclear activities.

Halfway through its third year of a four-year trial, N Square has already engaged scores, if not hundreds, of people through networks like TED, PopTech, the Norman Lear Center at USC, Singularity University, and others. In the year ahead, these early network-building activities will – it is hoped – generate compelling new ideas, tools, and partnerships among people and institutions that would not otherwise have found each other before. Specific policy achievements are not the mandate of N Square, rather it is growing the ecosystem of brainpower and ideas brought to bear on nuclear risks. N Square will be a success if after its initial four-year test phase, it has resulted in a network of people and organizations that are actively engaged in working on solving nuclear security challenges that represent a variety of sectors, skill sets, and—most importantly—mindsets. N Square is also interested in growing the number and amount of philanthropic dollars devoted to solving this truly existential challenge. While N Square is an experiment, it is one with undeniable benefits to humanity should it bear even small fruit.

The Ploughshares Fund is a member of the Peace and Security Funders Group, which just released the 2017 Peace & Security Funding Index, in partnership with Foundation Center. Click here to explore the Index and see who is active in the peace and security funding field.

About the author(s)

Program Director
Ploughshares Fund

REALITY CHECK!

If I asked you to personify philanthropy, what would you say? (Ok, now I'm curious, tweet and tell!) 

At first glance, he might be fairly traditional and lethargic, with a love for the arts and cocktail parties, and a fisherman at heart. At second look, she might be an environmental activist, involved in her small-town community, and on the board of two health and empowerment-focused nonprofits. With still another look, philanthropy is the blur of a runner who refuses to quit. And, with another look, they transform again through an infinite kaleidoscope of “people we know.”

I'm not pitching a montage video, though there are some good ones out there. Foundation staff and trustees don't fit a singular mold, but they all wield a similar power, and that's the power to challenge the status quo. Through convening key actors, building capacity, publishing articles, meeting with government leaders, and, of course, grantmaking, philanthropy doesn't have to take “that's the way things are” for an answer. When a group of Rwandan women wanted to grow a beekeeping business (though it's a traditionally male activity), the African Women's Development Fund supported them. When marriage was defined in the U.S. as between a man and a woman, the Civil Marriage Collaborative raised a unified voice. When there was suspected imbalance in summer camp opportunities for youth in different geographies, the Jim Joseph Foundation stepped in with a program pilot. You hear these stories every day in our field, but we seldom pause to appreciate that the heartbeat of philanthropy personified is an insistence on questioning norms and pushing for change. Every action is in the name of upping our communities' game, of making the world a place where people can thrive.

On a very related and visible note, there have been a number of statements and a lot of discussion by field leaders about philanthropy's charge in a shifting U.S. government context. A new, up-and-coming leader recently questioned, “So what happens to current grantees when foundations decide to shift priorities? Do they just get left hanging, or do they shift too, or is everything still the same for them?” Good questions, and as we know, probably all of the above. As you ponder present or future shifts in your approach to challenging the status quo, take extra time to balance new thinking with learning from tried and true practice. I recently reread our guides from years ago on effective exits and funding advocacy, and they're just as useful as ever. Knowledge is an important power, too, and my personal plea is to always build strategic practice and thoughtful risks into every action. The best way to do that: sharing with and learning from colleagues that are challenging the status quo through the same heartbeat.

This letter originally appeared in yesterday's GrantCraft newsletter. To sign up for our newsletter and special alerts, register for free

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About the author(s)

Director of Stakeholder Engagement
Candid

Innovation at the Speed of Change: Exploring Knight’s Tech Innovation Portfolio

SAVE THE DATE: April 13, 1:30-3:00 p.m. EST.  Like this blog series?  Attend our Inside Innovation Funding event in person in San Francisco, or virtually via livestream in San Francisco.

It’s become a truism to say that the world is changing, and that the pace and scale of change is ever accelerating. “It’s not just technology that’s moving at an exponential pace, but change itself;” write Joi Ito and Jeff Howe in Whiplash.

Even the world of grantmaking, often criticized for its slow pace, is adapting to these rhythms. For example, last month, we at Knight Foundation helped launch a fund on ethics and artificial intelligence. The fund itself came together quickly over the course of a few weeks, and we plan to announce our first grants in the coming weeks, but more on that later. As I talk to people involved with the creation of the tools, a single note keeps coming up: the technology is developing faster than we had anticipated even a year ago.

The recent news of Libratus, an artificial intelligence created at Carnegie Mellon that defeated four champion humans in Texas Hold ‘Em poker, demonstrated that “the best AI’s ability to do strategic reasoning with imperfect information has now surpassed that of the best humans,” said Libratus’s co-creator Tuomas Sandholm. This feat of reasoning, coming on the heels of Google Deep Mind’s victory over the world’s preeminent Go player last year, came much earlier than most in the field had anticipated.

These developments are happening at a rate that outpaces our ability to process them, and yet it’s becoming the new normal. Millions of us are now living with smart personal assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home in our living rooms and Internet-connected televisions and thermostats. As a society, we’re still not sure just how to handle these devices, as the debate over how to use audio evidence collected by Amazon Echo during a 2015 murder and the hacking of unsecure home appliances to take down much of the Internet last fall demonstrated.

Our inability to appreciate the depth of the change even as we experience it reminds me of how the French military struggled to adjust to modern warfare at the outset of World War I. As described by Barbara W. Tuchman in her classic The Guns of August, French generals prepared for German tanks and aerial bombings by sharpening their swords and donning their traditional brightly colored uniforms adorned with plumage. Even after the battle was joined, and a decade after the emergence of modern warfare in the Russo-Japanese War, the French leaders stuck to their old tactics. Tuchman wrote, “The impetus of existing plans is always stronger than the impulse to change.”

Part of our mission at Knight Foundation is to ensure that the civic institutions upon which our democracy depends—libraries, museums, news organizations, cities—do not follow in the footsteps of those 1914 French commanders. How do new and old civic enterprises sustain themselves as traditional fundraising approaches like mass mailings hold less appeal for new donors? How do organizations adjust their cultures to attract and retain talent and audiences who bring with them different expectations and needs from their predecessors?

Given this new world of accelerating technological advancement, and the expectation that all of our work at Knight will be impacted by future advancements, our grantmaking will focus on the ways in which digital technologies could impact our fields. Knight has always been interested in technology’s potential for strengthening the ways in which Americans learn about and participate in community. In the ’80s, the Knight brothers’ company, Knight Ridder, invested in and experimented with early interactive tools such as Viewtron and Dialog Information Services. A decade ago, we built on this interest by creating the Knight News Challenge in an attempt to better understand the potential of the Internet for transforming journalism. This year, we’re focused on two topics:

  • We are co-founders of a fund on the ethical aspects of artificial intelligence. AI has shifted from a future prospect to a present reality, and has the potential to impact every aspect of society. That’s why we’ve helped to craft the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund to take an applied, multidisciplinary approach to AI, exploring its potential benefits and ill effects.
  • As part of the NetGain Partnership, a collaboration between five foundations to explore public interest issues around new technologies, we are exploring how connected devices (the Internet of Things) might impact cities. In the coming months, we’ll be making some grants designed to strengthen cities through technology.

The change we have been living through is only going to increase—adjusting our work incrementally isn’t going to cut it. To thrive, we as individuals and institutions need to develop our comfort with insecurity, with failing, with risk, and be ready to pursue routes we may not anticipate.

This post is part of the Funding Innovation series, produced by Foundation Center's Glasspockets and GrantCraft, and underwritten by the Vodafone Foundation. The series explores funding practices and trends at the intersection of problem-solving, technology, and design. Please contribute your comments on each post and share the series using #fundinginnovation. To view more posts in this series click here

About the author(s)

VP for Technology Innovation
Knight Foundation

Blueprint 2017 Worksheet 3: Digital Data and Strategic Planning

Digital Data and Strategic Planning—Help your organization consider whether you have the digital data you need to achieve your mission and integrate your digital resources into your overall strategic planning.

Worksheets: Data, Governance, and Your Organization

Many of the ideas in this Blueprint have been tested and refined in conversations and workshops around the world over the last few years. To help you carry the ideas into your organization, this next section includes three worksheets that you can use with your colleagues, boards of directors, or other groups. 

Each worksheet is intended to stand alone, but they also build on each other. They focus on the use and governance of digital data in your organization. You can find additional tools to address these issues at digitalIMPACT.io. Anyone can use these worksheets, from new staff to senior board members. You will be the best judge of how to use them at your organization. We’ve offered up directions on each sheet, but you should decide whether to use them independently or together, as part of a self-directed process or integrated into other planning efforts, led by you or with consultant help. Please use, modify, and improve these worksheets as you see fit. We welcome you to pay it forward by sharing your process and the worksheets you modify at digitalIMPACT.io

General Worksheet Instructions:

● Communicate with your colleagues what you’re doing and why. 

● Make it as easy as possible for your colleagues to participate. 

Try short and simple asks. Spread out the tasks from the worksheets to fit the schedule of your organization. 
Printed sheets may work best in some cases. For others an online spreadsheet that people can collaborate on might work better. Experiment!

● If you are engaged in strategic planning with a consultant or advisory group, fold the questions from these worksheets into that process. 

● Share what you learn and how you did it on digitalIMPACT.io.

About the author(s)

Blueprint 2017 Worksheet 2: Institutional Data Capacity

Institutional Data Capacity—Identify the skills and expertise you have/need to use and govern digital data safely, ethically, and effectively.

Worksheets: Data, Governance, and Your Organization

Many of the ideas in this Blueprint have been tested and refined in conversations and workshops around the world over the last few years. To help you carry the ideas into your organization, this next section includes three worksheets that you can use with your colleagues, boards of directors, or other groups. 

Each worksheet is intended to stand alone, but they also build on each other. They focus on the use and governance of digital data in your organization. You can find additional tools to address these issues at digitalIMPACT.io. Anyone can use these worksheets, from new staff to senior board members. You will be the best judge of how to use them at your organization. We’ve offered up directions on each sheet, but you should decide whether to use them independently or together, as part of a self-directed process or integrated into other planning efforts, led by you or with consultant help. Please use, modify, and improve these worksheets as you see fit. We welcome you to pay it forward by sharing your process and the worksheets you modify at digitalIMPACT.io. 

General Worksheet Instructions

● Communicate with your colleagues what you’re doing and why.

● Make it as easy as possible for your colleagues to participate.

  1. Try short and simple asks. Spread out the tasks from the worksheets to fit the schedule of your organization.
  2. Printed sheets may work best in some cases.

● For others an online spreadsheet that people can collaborate on might work better. Experiment!

● If you are engaged in strategic planning with a consultant or advisory group, fold the questions from these worksheets into that process.

● Share what you learn and how you did it on digitalIMPACT.io.

Categories

About the author(s)

Buzzword Watch 2017

Ah, the buzzword watch. What phrases and ideas will seep into our work lives in the coming year, corrupting our vocabulary and making jargon-haters cringe? All my usual caveats apply. Being a buzzword doesn’t make something good or bad or denote a fleeting or a lasting idea; they are just buzzwords (or are they)?

ECOSYSTEM

Foundations and nonprofits used to talk about issue areas, sectors, domains, or fields of interest. Now they talk about ecosystems. The intent is to capture the interdependent network of enterprises, laws, infrastructure, people, and tools that influence and shape each other. Think of the “mobile ecosystem” as the complete set of apps, devices, telecommunications infrastructure companies, software code, and legal requirements that determine how our cellular phones work.

RANSOMWARE

Software that encrypts all the files on a computer system, allowing the “data kidnapper” to hold it hostage until a ransom is paid. Ransomware attacks became almost common in 2016, and many of the victims were not-for-profit hospital systems and community clinics.

REFUGEE TECH

The number of refugees worldwide is at an all-time high. People fleeing war, repression, and the effects of global warming number in the tens of millions. Many of them are digitally dependent, with their mobile phones serving as metaphorical and literal lifelines. Refugee tech includes two broad categories of innovation: digital tools that won’t make people any more vulnerable to racism, xenophobia, or government oppression; and digital tools for wayfinding, job creation, skill building, and other key necessities for building a new life in a new place.

OVERTIME

The United States government changed its rules on overtime work in 2016. Nonprofit organizations— operating on lean budgets and often at the mercy of government contracting rules—once again found themselves squeezed between values (a decent living) and reality (no funds). Labor markets, shaped by demographic shifts, regulatory changes, on-demand work, and automated contracting, are changing rapidly. Civil society continues to be buffeted from all sides by fundamental changes in the ways we work.

X-IN-THE-LOOP

The rhetorical battle between autonomous machines and autonomous people meets at the point where system designers discuss putting “humans (or society)-in-the-loop.” It’s technical slang for requiring that at some point in a computational process—such as in self-driving cars, predictive algorithms, or even mobile phone–based mapping programs—a person (or society) takes charge. Some systems have many such points. And as computational processes and humans interact ever more frequently in ever more “real world” ways, the need to build societal norms into the loop—group values and group defaults— becomes ever greater. Think of it this way: We’ve put plenty of computational processes (“the loop”) into our daily lives, and this buzzword reminds us it’s well-nigh time to start designing our daily lives back into those processes.

HYBRID DONORS

Giving to charity isn’t the only way to use your private financial resources to influence public change. Increasingly individuals are “giving to politics,” especially in the U.S. As far as I can tell, David Callanan at Inside Philanthropy coined the term “hybrid donors” to name those who deliberately, and with some strategy in mind, give to both. Sometimes this hybridization is institutionalized, such as with the creation of large-scale LLCs that can make political contributions, charitable gifts, and impact investments. Sometimes it describes individual donors, who use the rules of both political giving and charitable giving to achieve their visions of public good.

DATA TRUSTS

How do you give away digital data? Data trusts are one solution, a new form of organization that focuses on governing the agreements between data providers and data users. There are examples built around aggregated public data being managed for use by program evaluators (Justice Data Lab at New Philanthropy Capital). ArtStor or JSTOR are examples of the digital management of copyrighted works. LearnSphere, a repository of student data and research methods at Carnegie Mellon, is an example focused on serving researchers. Look for both more examples and more refining of the rules in the year(s) to come.

PAY FOR PRIVACY

More and more software in more and more aspects of our lives means ever more ways to collect data on our individual behavior, store it somewhere, and seek ways to monetize it. As long as business models depend on the monetization of large quantities of individual data, there will be incentive for software to default to privacy invading. One option, for those with money, is to pay for a software version that spies less. This is already common: just think of every app that offers a free version with advertisements or a paid version without. The more pervasive this kind of software is, the more our “privacy inequality” will come to mirror income inequality.

DIRECT DONATIONS

In 2015, the online crowdfunding platform GoFundMe moved more than one billion U.S. dollars. Most of the money moves directly from donors to recipients, with little involvement in between by nonprofits. One large-scale example of this came after the mass shooting in an Orlando, Florida nightclub in June of 2016. Within weeks of the horrible event, more than $7 million had been raised and routed directly to families and individuals.44 Nonprofit organizations that have typically managed such campaigns or provided intermediary relief services need to better understand this phenomenon, its motivations, and its implications. The rest of us need to think about what types of transparency and fraud abatement measures we should expect of these crowdfunding platforms.

ALGORITHMIC BIAS

As they “train” software to learn patterns of behavior, scientists and designers often turn to existing data sets as raw material. If the existing data set is biased, the computer will learn— and likely reinforce at ever greater speed and scale—the original biases. Examples have been found in social media facial recognition software that don’t register black skin, hiring sites that discriminate against female-sounding names, and criminal justice algorithms trained on racially biased historical data about incarcerated populations. We don’t need software to help us discriminate faster and more broadly, yet that seems to be a lot of what we’re getting. Countering this trend requires a diversity of data and system designers and a refusal to accept “black box” decision making.

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by GrantCraft using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2017.