Philanthropy is both a calling and profession

2016 is going to be a big year for philanthropy, for Foundation Center, and for GrantCraft. It will be a year in which the role of knowledge grows exponentially as grantmakers around the world gather critical information on their desktops, tablets, smartphones, and watches in order to spend their grant and program dollars wisely. Foundation Center, and particularly GrantCraft, will be there to help them do so.

Since Foundation Center's founding in 1956, demands for reliable information about what foundations do and how they do it have increased, as has the technology-driven expectation that data be available 24/7. This kind of information benefits everyone — social sector organizations seeking foundation support, the public in whose benefit foundations are legislated to serve, and foundations themselves — by enabling them to learn from each other, find partners, and scale their impact.

Foundation Center is keeping pace by transforming itself from a data publisher to a knowledge services organization. The "back end" of this transformation consists of a total revamp of Foundation Center's core technology, starting with a powerful new data warehouse to process information on millions of grants each year and machine-learning techniques to handle the volume. These new technology platforms make it possible to collect, share, map, and visualize information about philanthropy on virtually any subject, in any part of the world. The "front end" consists of a whole new generation of what we call Knowledge Services — semi-customized online solutions that help donors answer the two most basic questions that hold back our field: Who's funding what and where?, and How can I know what other foundations know? Stay tuned in 2016 for exciting new releases from Foundation Center focused on such topics as youth giving, the Sustainable Development Goals, grantmaking for peace and security, benchmarking tools for community foundations, and much more.

GrantCraft is Foundation Center's most important platform for speaking directly to and with you and thousands of other professionals that have made philanthropy their career. Think of it as your window into the vast array of knowledge that Foundation Center produces about the way our field works. Practical guides collect and share the experience of funders on everything from mastering the basic skill of how to say "no" to advanced strategic skills like funding advocacy and integrating population-specific lenses into portfolios. Its website allows searching by subject area, funding strategy, keyword, and type of content, including discussions, podcasts, and blogs. And you can curate your own personal GrantCraft dashboard as a "go to" place for the knowledge you need for your daily work.

For me, philanthropy is both a calling and profession. I am in it because of my heart and my values, but I know doing it well requires serious professional skill building. Through GrantCraft, Foundation Center is committed to making sure that as a professional community we learn from each other, have the knowledge we need at our fingertips, and, above all, that making the world a better place is a job that we all do to the absolute best of our ability.

This letter originally appeared in today's GrantCraft newsletter. To sign up for our newsletter and special alerts, register for free

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