Putting philanthrophy on the map

December 14, 2016

One of the things I like most about Greater Washington’s funding community is the degree to which everyone is open to working collaboratively. Whenever I’m in touch with colleagues to better understand their funding strategies or to discuss ideas for new work, I’m always impressed by their willingness to share information and to consider working together in new ways.

That said, the years since the economic downturn have been challenging. The two largest funders in the region are no longer active in philanthropy, several more are spending down, and many others — including the Meyer Foundation — are operating with smaller staffs and grantmaking budgets that have still not returned to pre-recession levels. For me, and perhaps for others, the past few years have offered less time for gathering information and reaching out to colleagues.

Which is unfortunate, because in the current environment, working together on well-informed and thoughtful strategies to address our region’s challenges is more important than ever. And to do that, we need to use every tool at our disposal to understand who’s funding what in our region, where our work is aligned, and where there are significant gaps. As the Meyer Foundation has been going through a strategic planning process over the past few months, we’ve become painfully aware that comprehensive information about grantmaking in our region is neither as readily available nor as timely as we need it to be.

That’s why I was thrilled (I am being literal, not hyperbolic) last month when the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers announced a new partnership with the Foundation Center to create a new searchable mapping platform that will be available to help WRAG members better understand foundation and corporate giving in the region. I can’t wait for this tool to be available.

But there’s a catch. The map will only be accurate and useful if WRAG members share timely grants data with the Foundation Center in the format needed to produce the map (by becoming an eGrant reporter, for those of you who are Foundation Center insiders). Currently nine of WRAG’s members have committed to electronically report their grants data. For this tool to fulfill its promise, we need all members on the map. Fortunately, submitting your grants data is both quick and easy to do, and help is available if you need it.

From past experience, I know that when I reach out to funding colleagues for information and insights, you are always open and responsive. In that spirit of collaboration, I hope you will Get on the Map. We need this tool to better understand our own work, to work together more effectively, and to demonstrate our impact to our partners in business and government. We need to put philanthropy on the map, and we need the help of every WRAG member to do it.

WRAG members: Register for the next Get on the Map webinar on March 12 to learn how to electronically report your grants data to the Foundation Center, and to view a demo of the Foundation Maps platform. Can’t make the webinar? Here’s a recording of the last Get on the Map webinarQuestions? Contact Rebekah Seder, seder@washingtongrantmakers.org.