Good Data Grants

Posted by Markets for Good on August 15, 2016


Markets for Good improves the data infrastructure for social good. We share ideas and support innovation to advance the safe, ethical, and effective use of digital data in, about, and for a higher impact social sector. We accomplish this in three ways:

  • An online community: We facilitate the online exchange of expert and practical data-related knowledge through a robust online community at, on LinkedIn, and on Twitter.
  • Events: We host in-person events that foster knowledge sharing and ideation for the community, as well as cross-sector information sharing between public and private sector partners, and research on emerging issues.
  • Grants: We foster research and innovation on the role of digital data and infrastructure to improve decision-making in philanthropy (particularly individual giving) and in the social sector writ large.

Markets for Good is hosted by the Digital Civil Society Lab at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS).


Markets for Good is launching two new grant programs focused on the role of digital data and infrastructure to improve decision-making in philanthropy (particularly individual giving) and in the social sector writ large. Grants will be awarded for two types of projects: scholarly research and practical innovations. We aim to support research, prototypes, and shared learning that can help donors and social sector organizations use digital data safely, ethically, and effectively to improve their work.

This is the first year of this program, and we intend to run at least two more cycles of grants in future years. We are committed to supporting cohorts of grantees and connecting them to the broader Markets for Good and Digital Civil Society Lab communities. We also hope that the availability of these funds will help spark other funding in this area and inform the field of new ideas and efforts focused on using digital data well. Toward that end, all applicants, regardless of whether they are selected for a grant or not, will have the opportunity to opt in to share their contact information and ideas as part of a “map” of the field, which we will build on over time and make publicly available for anyone’s use.

Research grants might include topics like the following (please note: this is only a partial list of ideas to prime your thinking):

  • Evaluate the potential applications/benefits of data standards within a specific segment (e.g. homelessness, legal services, community health, etc.) of social sector work
  • What is the current practice for sharing data from crowdfunding platforms, what do they report and when, and what accountability practices/data access policies would best serve the public interest?
  • What legal and technical strategies exist for making algorithmically-informed decisions accountable to the public or beyond the walls of individual institutions? What examples exist of good practice and what are the benefits/limitations to these practices?
  • Conduct a market landscape of data collection tools that are privacy preserving and assess the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
  • Research and design practices for algorithmic transparency or community-based governance and oversight of data assets

Potential topics for innovation grants include (please note: this is only a partial list of ideas to prime your thinking):

  • Development and/or field testing of tools that teach others in civil society to better use data or that create and implement shared data standards
  • Conduct experiments on donors’ use of digital data as a decision factor in their giving
  • Prototype a weighted index that draws together multiple types of private resources being used for public benefit, including impact investing, charitable giving, political contributions, and consumer spending
  • Prototype an evaluation using propensity testing and a data repository and share cautions, successes, and lessons learned
  • Develop an industry-informed standard for public reporting of data from crowdfunding platforms
  • Develop a shared repository and system for committing/forking civil society data governance policies (e.g. using or github)
  • Create, prototype, and report on resources to improve digital data literacy among nonprofits and donors

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