Market Research (Over Lunch) (via Text) (from the Roof Top)

As with all good, open source ideas, it’s entirely possible someone is already making headway with it. Spent a couple days reaching out to colleagues working in philanthropic intermediaries finding out who’s working on open data solutions for grantmakers. Check it out:

Spent a lunch hour with Colin Lacon, CEO and President of Northern California Grantmakers telling him about Open hGrant’s goals. NCG has been shining a light on  philanthropic transparency through a couple of its grantmaker education strands, and points to signature efforts by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation and others to implement whole suites of transparency technologies. It was no surprise to see NorCal grantmakers listed in the founding group over at The Reporting Commitment, and it gave a little pause to see the initiative included 17 grantmakers in a field of more than 80,000 nationwide. What are grantmaker barriers to entry in the open data reporting field?

Not surprisingly, Colin didn’t think it was a matter of technology acumen or access, though he knew a simple tool could be vital. We discussed how transparency is first and foremost a philosophy, a way of seeing the work of philanthropy as a shared effort to transform communities. Open hGrant can be rightly seen as a tactic way down the line, a means to an end.

Connected with Val Rozansky, Director of Knowledge Services at the Forum of Regional Associations to find out if they had any open data tools irons in the fire. Val’s an architect of shared technology and taxonomy among regional associations –a beautiful combination of practical economies of scale and cooperative standards. Val’s big question was when Open hGrant would be ready for Drupal. Next on the list.

The March confab with Janet Camarena, Director of the Foundation Center‘s San Francisco office accurately pinpointed all of the issues we’re touching while developing the Open hGrant plug-in: do we need to emphasize hearts and minds or bits and bytes? How do we show the potential of big data initiatives when the data sampling is small? How do we attract philanthropic leadership, and technical expertise, into the same project?