Develop an open data standard for Grants & Contributions data | Développer une norme pour les données ouvertes des subventions et contributions


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Submitted By
Michael Lenczner
Votes: 137

(La version française suit)

The Government of Canada has an opportunity to use this OGP action plan to solve a concrete problem by developing and implementing a new Grants and Contributions (G&C) Data Standard to make improved G&C data available to citizens, the nonprofit sector, and public officials. Canada is already recognized internationally as a leader in the quality and availability of data about its nonprofit sector [1]. Improved G&Cs data will enable Canadians to better understand government spending to its nonprofit sector and to use that understanding to engage  in solution-finding in communities and to partner with government on social policy objectives.

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Submitted by Brianna Lees on May 15, 2016 - 1:44 PM

This will support the accessibility of data made available. Just because data is published does not mean it is usable. Good idea.

Submitted by Andi Argast on May 13, 2016 - 4:47 PM

As this excellent proposal makes clear, Canada has a prime opportunity to lead by example in creating a standard for Grants and Contributions (G&C) data. Drawing on my own experiences working in the nonprofit sector, I would argue that unless that G&C data is standardized, it will be difficult for social good organizations to make effective use of this data. The proposed G&C standard is an important step forward in ensuring that this open data set can be used to make the nonprofit sector more informed, agile, and transparent.

Submitted by Cathy Taylor, ONN on May 13, 2016 - 3:02 PM

We support this initiative. Information regarding federal government spending through grants and contributions is essential information that should be publicly accessible in an appropriate searchable web platform. We have identified four reasons why this information is critically important to the nonprofit sector. 1. This data will help nonprofit and charitable organizations avoid duplication and develop innovative partnerships by allowing them to see what projects and funding is currently being provided on issues that are of importance to Canadians, such as homelessness, international development support, investments in sport, etc. 2. The availability of this information will allow the nonprofit sector and our government counterparts to identify and address issues where there may be a gap in funding or program support, as well as identify trends and issues that are impacting Canadian communities. 3. Publicly available data about grants and contributions will be a stepping stone to further analysis that will help us all understand effective outcomes, what works, and provide information that can lead to significant partnerships to respond to emerging issues. 4. We have long recognized the lack of data available about the sector, including but not limited to grants and contributions, is putting our sector at risk in terms of our ability to innovate, evaluate, identify gaps and risks, and support our communities for the future. For more information:

Submitted by Ted Hildebrandt on May 13, 2016 - 1:43 PM

As someone who works with data in the nonprofit world, I agree with many of the comments already made on this submission. Having standardized data on this sector is critical in being able to carry out important analysis from the perspective of both grantor and grantee. In addition, by providing leadership in this direction, I believe it will encourage others in the field to adopt open standards that makes the sharing and analyzing of data much more robust.

Submitted by Cinthia Schuma… on May 12, 2016 - 8:54 PM

Here in the United States, the Aspen Institute’s Nonprofit Data Project has been stressing how important it is for government to provide a complete and accurate picture of federal funds – including grants and contracts- awarded to nonprofit organizations. Understanding the flow of grants and contracts to nonprofits will promote much better planning, collaboration and transparency.

Submitted by Geneviève Lajeunesse on May 11, 2016 - 4:48 PM

Voici une idée qui permettrait aux acteurs du secteur sans but lucratif de faire preuve de plus de transparence et de travailler en plus étroite collaboration avec la société civile et les bailleurs de fonds.

Submitted by Geoff Zakaib on May 10, 2016 - 11:07 PM

The development of a Grants and Contributions (G&C) Data Standard would be a very valuable contribution to Canadian society and the data would become an important information resource. This initiative is one important step towards the goal of being able to link and integrate data across the non-profit sector.

Submitted by WIlliam Perrin on May 10, 2016 - 5:26 PM

This is a simple yet hugely powerful proposal. Proper standardisation of data around grants would unlock huge benefits for grant makers and grantees - allowing for the first time a 360degree view of this substantial area of economic activity. Over in the UK we have a basic open standard, already proven that could be tailored to Canadian needs. And we shall shortly release a grant search tool for the UK based on the open data already being published to the standard. We know Michael's work and rate him highly. For more see

Submitted by Amanda Clarke on May 10, 2016 - 3:35 PM

This proposal makes a whole lot of sense when you consider that many of the Open Government commitments, and broader commitments pledged by the current government, will hinge on strong partnerships with outside actors, including those in the non-profit sector. This includes commitments to support experimentation, innovation, evidence-based decision making and improved digital services -- the non-profit sector has a role to play in all of these areas, so investing in the data infrastructure that supports the sector should be an early priority for the government.

Submitted by Lisa Wolff on May 09, 2016 - 3:42 PM

UNICEF is concerned with the proportion and direction of investment in children by governments and, given the increasing importance of private flows, a more robust understanding of how the sector is directing its investments would be extremely valuable data.

Submitted by Jason Garlough on May 05, 2016 - 6:05 PM

This is a great idea and would create an invaluable resource for both grantors and grantees.

Submitted by Lee Rose on May 05, 2016 - 2:35 PM

I echo the sentiments already expressed. While the ambition of sharing data and making it freely available for others to use is laudable, for the data to be truly useful and transformative - it needs to be presented and shared in a standardized manner. The Government has an opportunity to be a first-mover on this front and with the adoption of a common set of standards for data, other actors (including academic institutions and charitable organizations) will also be motivated to publish and share their own data sets according to a "universally" accepted standard.

Submitted by Mark Blumberg on May 05, 2016 - 1:24 AM

There is a lot of improvements that can be made to the G&C system in Canada which provides about 68% of the revenue of the registered charity sector. Having greater and better transparency with G&Cs as suggested in this proposal is one important step.

Submitted by Chris Cowperthwaite on May 04, 2016 - 4:03 PM

As an entrepreneur working in the philanthropic sector, I support this proposal to develop a Grants and Contributions (G&C) Data Standard. Canada has a vibrant and growing not-for-profit sector and we need to build on that competitive advantage and lead the way globally — publishing structured, standardized data as described above.

Submitted by Alanna Leffley on May 04, 2016 - 3:09 PM

I am very much in support of this initiative - implementing a new Grants and Contributions Data Standard to make better data available to citizens, the nonprofit sector and public officials. Such an initiative would create a lot of benefits for the social sector and help all sectors have a clearer understanding of how federal money is distributed across regions, departments, communities and recipient organizations. This could reduce duplication of efforts, encourage collaboration and allow government to be more accountable to taxpayers.

Submitted by Paloma Raggo on May 04, 2016 - 2:10 PM

As an academic in the sector, this is exactly the kind of data we would need. I do hope this proposal is taken seriously. Thank you

Submitted by Susan Philllips on May 04, 2016 - 2:02 PM

A wide range of other countries are looking to Canada for its leadership in open data for the nonprofit sector, and with this proposal the Government of Canada has an opportunity to further advance its leadership in this area. The creation of a standard for publication of G&C data would be enormously valuable to the research community, the nonprofit and charitable sector in it strategies for financial sustainability and improved services, and in meeting increased public expectations of transparency. I strongly support this proposal. Susan Phillips Professor and Program Director Graduate Program in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership School of Public Policy and Administration Carleton University

Submitted by Alex Draper on May 03, 2016 - 8:53 PM

This is an excellent idea! Not only is this information important for understanding the the Government of Canada's stewardship of resources, it is crucial to improving decision making across the philanthropic sector. Federal grants and contributions directly affect the front line programming that occurs in communities across the country and should be taken into account whenever other funding bodies and grant makers make their own granting decisions. Having clear and usable data of what programs are being funded, and what level of investment is being made in addressing social challenges will improve the subsequent decision making of local governments, private foundations, and community foundations. Once a useful standard for reporting this data is established, other funders will be able to improve their reporting and more robust sets of sector wide data will be possible. From a grant making perspective (I work for Edmonton Community Foundation), standardized and open data of grants and contributions will profoundly improve decision making across the philanthropic sector.

Submitted by KayLee Morissette on May 02, 2016 - 7:00 PM

I would like to add that this is a very important issue that needs to be addressed. I am glad it is being discussed!

Submitted by Bruce Lawson on May 02, 2016 - 4:10 PM

I want to add my voice to those already listed. Having data about the sector is vitally important in terms of understanding how the sector is funded, and where that funding is going.

Submitted by Anonymous on May 02, 2016 - 4:00 PM

In support of this proposal: All companies and nonprofits operating in Canada report to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) using business numbers or other identifiers. To assist in linking government disclosures to specific entities, the Government of Canada should publish the names, business numbers and other identifiers of all reporting entities. Currently, Canada only publishes the numbers and identifiers of federally incorporated entities [1]. A new dataset should include, at minimum, the names, numbers and identifiers of provincially incorporated entities that report to the CRA. Without this dataset, merging the information provided by different governments and other sources into a single database to perform analysis is prohibitively expensive. When numbers and identifiers can be used as unique keys, merging is quick and easy. Preparing and releasing this new dataset would lower the cost of using all disclosures relating to nonprofits, including grants and contributions disclosures, thus increasing the use of the disclosures and enabling positive impacts from that use. 1.

Submitted by Mark Blumberg on May 05, 2016 - 1:31 AM

James I would just point out that with respect to registered charities CRA does release the BN for everyone of them whether Federal or provincial corporations, trusts or unincorporated associations. There are 86,000 registered charities which is obviously only a tiny number compared to for profit businesses. CRA does not release any information on the 80-100,000 non-profits that are not registered charities. S. 241 of the ITA dealing with confidentiality needs to be revised.

Submitted by Marilyn Struthers on April 29, 2016 - 3:19 PM

I worked in the federal government on funding practice reform during the era of the Blue Ribbon Panel. We found that we could not access even the most basic calculations of how much the Government of Canada was investing in the charitable nonprofit sector.In other words, no one had access to the big view of how and how much the government was investing on behalf of Canadians in citizen led organizations. What a wonderful opportunity it would be to be able to see across the Gs&Cs programs of the federal government.Not only would we understand granting patterns and increase access to funding information, but it would also provide a valuable new data source in a a rapidly growing employment sector where we have a dearth of data.

Submitted by Frances Ravensbergen on April 28, 2016 - 11:06 AM

What a good idea! Note the need for involvement of the nfp Tim the design....