Philanthropedia Blog

Research Plans for 2010

February 24th, 2010 by Erinn Andrews Leave a reply »

We’re sorry it has been a few weeks since our last post, but we have been hard at work and are excited to share more about what we’ve been up to! Primarily, we have been spending our time on research in two main ways. First, over the last few months we’ve been writing a whitepaper. This whitepaper outlines in detail what problem we believe Philanthropedia is solving, detailed information about our results to date and the in-depth analysis we conducted, and the ways in which we plan to improve for our next rounds of research. Soon, we will be making this paper public, will summarize the main points and conclusions in a few accompanying blog posts, and will invite your feedback.

Second, over the last few weeks, we’ve been deciding which social causes to cover next. Our plan is to round out our national research by adding at least 4 more causes to those we already have (microfinance, education, and climate change). However, we also intend to continue our research at the local level, to build on our one local cause so far: homelessness in the Bay Area. So, we will add an additional 4 causes to the local Bay Area level.

What to research?

There are a number of things we take into consideration as we decide which social causes to look into. One major consideration is: are there donors who are interested in the topic we’re considering (i.e. is there already individual donor donation flow to nonprofits in this sector) or is there potential to have donor interest in the future. Another major consideration is: are there experts in the sector who have the depth and breadth of expertise necessary to evaluate and compare the nonprofits doing work in that space. These are the two most important criteria we consider as we decide which causes to study next.

Once we decide on a cause, we do research to understand the appropriate level of analysis. We try to strike a balance between being too broad and too narrow. We want to be broad so we can capture information about a variety of nonprofits, each potentially focused on different problems or implementing different approaches in their work. But we want to be narrow enough so experts understand what types of nonprofits to recommend and which ones to exclude from consideration.

Therefore, in order to learn more about each new research topic, I spoke with a number of experts to learn the nuances of their sector. Before going into the details of what I learned, I’d like to first say thank you to these experts. I had the privilege of speaking with over 50 foundation professionals, professors, nonprofit leaders, and many others (from six different social causes) who candidly and openly shared their perspective about their field. I am humbled by the amazing response and enthusiasm from these professionals, and grateful for the valuable time they spent answering my questions. It’s encouraging to see so many experts voluntarily participating in this work. In return, we hope that our research will help more donation dollars flow to some of the most high-impact nonprofits in their sector, helping these experts and their colleagues accomplish some of their own sector goals, as well.

In the coming blog posts, I will share what I learned from these discussions which helped us define the scope of our research. I’ll begin by exploring the local Bay Area research we plan to conduct first. In addition, we will also be sharing a number of other major announcements in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

1 comment

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