September 30, 2014
Walter and Elise Haas Fund Releases Open Source Plug-In
to Boost Data Sharing by Philanthropies
San Francisco, CA – September 30, 2014. The Walter and Elise Haas Fund (W&EHF) makes sharing standardized grantmaking data through Foundation Center’s Reporting Commitment initiative something easily achievable by philanthropic organizations of any size through the release of the free Open hGrant for WordPress plug-in. Developed in partnership with Foundation Center and Mission Minded, the plug-in is a tool that facilitates data sharing, making data on grantmaking transparent so that philanthropies can more completely understand the philanthropic landscape and be more effective in their missions.
Like many foundations, W&EHF operated its own proprietary system for recording, tracking, and publishing grants to the web. Even when they wanted to go beyond their “Who Has Glass Pockets?” profile and share even more information, doing so proved costly and technically challenging.
Working together with Foundation Center and Mission Minded, W&EHF developed Open hGrant for WordPress, a tool that aids the wider philanthropic community in solving this common problem. The plug-in provides grantmakers with a way to publish giving data to their own websites and to simultaneously and automatically share that same data with Foundation Center. Open hGrant reports data using Foundation Center’s hGrant technical specification, which is readable by their suite of tools, including the Reporting Commitment. This functionality is available to any philanthropic organization, regardless of size, at no cost, creating opportunities to catalog, map, and analyze giving.
As W&EHF Executive Director Pam David notes, “Many of us talk about increasing transparency, but this is something more. This is about sharing practical tools with our peers so we can foster effective collaboration, strategic planning, and engagement across the philanthropic sector.”
With assets of approximately $230 million, W&EHF is among the smaller foundations to join the Reporting Commitment — yet small foundations collectively represent a mighty force in philanthropy. Foundation Center estimates foundations with less than $250 million in assets account for approximately two-thirds of America’s total foundation grant dollars. Their participation in open data initiatives is key to understanding the philanthropic landscape. “We know we can’t be effective unless we have great partners to align our funding with, to grant to, and to learn from.” says David. “By lowering the technical barrier to sharing grantmaking data in a consistent and easily-accessible manner we look forward to encouraging wider participation in open data initiatives, driving collaboration and real collective impact, and ultimately boosting our capacity to further our missions.”
Thanks to the new plug-in, W&EHF is now the 19th foundation to join the Reporting Commitment, a data-sharing initiative aimed at developing more timely, accurate, and transparent reporting on the flow of philanthropic dollars.
“The Walter & Elise Haas Fund’s decision to join the Reporting Commitment is both encouraging and exciting,” says Bradford K. Smith, president of Foundation Center. “The strength of the Reporting Commitment as a knowledge-sharing tool grows with each new participating foundation. What’s more, by making this plug-in technology available as an open source tool for any grantmaker, W&EHF is setting the stage for dramatic growth in our understanding of the philanthropic landscape.”
Grant information from participating foundations is reported at least quarterly by each foundation and is available on Foundation Center’s transparency-centered web site, Glasspockets.org. Data is recorded in a machine-readable open format and coded to an open geographic standard, developed by Foundation Center and known as GeoTree. Data is accessible via a grants list and an API. Additionally, an interactive map of the data available on Glasspockets.org allows anyone to see at a glance the reach and impact of America’s foundations.
Foundation Center has licensed this collection of data under Creative Commons, making it open and free to the social sector, researchers, developers, media, and the general public.
The Walter & Elise Haas Fund is a San Francisco-based foundation founded in 1952 by the descendants of Levi Strauss. The Fund’s mission is to help build a healthy, just, and vibrant society in which people feel connected to and responsible for their community.