GivingTuesday Data Commons

What is the Data Commons?

  • The GivingTuesday Data Commons is a global initiative aiming to promote transparency, capacity-building, and new knowledge in the non-profit and philanthropy sector.
  • Relying on a forward-thinking community and a set of robust tools, it equips the sector to leverage valuable data for the benefit of all its members.
  • The Commons serves to reveal trends in donations and giving, conduct research into giving-related behaviours and triggers, and easily share results and findings among the community.
  • Like the GivingTuesday movement itself, the Data Commons uses a distributed, network model to support and enable other leaders. Different data chapters have been formed across the globe to address regional issues and support local development.
  • In addition to the local and regional chapters, the Data Commons also hosts working groups and research hubs focused on specific topics and areas - where collaborators with similar goals, needs, and interests can develop and work on shared research agendas.

Platform & Infrastructure

  • The Data Commons is powered by its secure, shared infrastructure created to help different organizations in the philanthropic sector to share data and collaborate on data projects - especially where sensitive data is being shared.
  • Built originally to drive the GivingTuesday US and the GivingTuesday Global Data Collaborative, it is now expanding to support academic initiatives, research projects, and GivingTuesday leaders in other countries in developing similar initiatives.
  • The platform is also designed to replicate its underlying infrastructure for any data-sharing initiative, and be adapted by its users and leaders for their own objectives.

Why is the Data Commons important?

  • Currently, the non-profit sector lacks the tools and infrastructure to support collaborative data efforts. Other sectors and industries have long-running initiatives for sharing information and data, and the tools and infrastructure to support that work.
  • As a result, the sector has been unable to realize the value of data pooling and data sharing.
  • The Data Commons provides a way for organizations to collaborate more effectively, discover insights, and share key information to advance the sector’s understanding - not only of philanthropic giving, but many other research areas.
  • While the infrastructure has been developed with the goal of gaining insight into philanthropy and giving, it can be used to analyze a wide range of issues.

Use Cases

  • Benchmarking and trend analysis: Users and other sector members can upload new data or harness existing data to better set goals and evaluate the success of their interventions
  • Streamlining collaborative research: The infrastructure provides a shared, secure workspace for users interested in similar questions and issues to easily plan, organize and conduct research activities.
  • Accessing and leveraging data and methodologies: Users can rely on our work and the work of others in order to discover and apply best practices and actionable insights.
  • Supporting new research initiatives: The infrastructure allows users and researchers to make valuable contributions to new and evolving research questions that affect the entire sector.
  • Joining or creating a “Research Hub”: Users can take advantage of existing open project spaces or propose new spaces, allowing collaborators with shared objectives to pool data, code, insights, knowledge, and more. As each data set is governed by different access permissions, you should contact Kelsey Kramer at [email protected] if you wish to join or create a new project space.

Data Commons Infrastructure Basics

  • The platform consists of a set of interfaces and mechanisms for uploading data directly to a secure server.
  • Once uploaded, trusted admins can anonymize and normalize the data, and then make the resulting assets available for analysis and use.
  • Once the data is prepared and available, other collaborators can access and use data analysis tools integrated into the platform to study and manipulate the data, allowing for the creation of new knowledge products and the generation of new insights.
  • The Data Commons gathers and stores both the data and the derived knowledge products, in the form of reports, dashboards, code repositories, links to other assets and resources - any format that can be shared.
  • This infrastructure can then be replicated for different groups of users and admins in other projects - which are kept separate and independent from the other projects and data.

Features & Benefits

  • Secure storage of sensitive data
  • Granular, customizable user access and permissions
  • Straightforward process for replicating infrastructure for different projects
  • Workflows for advanced analytics and power users on a per project basis
  • Asset metadata and organization features for describing and organizing uploaded materials
  • Workflows for in-platform data management and implementation of data governance.
  • Mechanisms for connecting trusted applications to aggregated, de-identified data sets.
  • Mapping to and integration with existing data standards, e.g. the Microsoft CDM for nonprofits and IATI (where applicable) with the ability to easily include others.