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Digital Impact Grants

Deadline: June 12, 2017

Digital Impact Grants (formerly Good Data Grants) launched in 2016. Grants are awarded for two types of projects: scholarly research and sector advancement. Digital Impact Grants are intended to support research and innovations that have broad application for improving knowledge, practices, and outcomes across the social sector. Grants are not available for proprietary projects or initiatives that only benefit a single organization. Proposals should take a sector-wide approach in their design and focus. The project aims 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.

Research grants are for academic teams exploring questions of scholarly interest that have practical applications for the social sector, or scholarly review of existing practice. Sample topics for consideration include (these are suggestions only):

  • Investigations of charitable or public good activity on crowdfunding platforms. What do we know about what is being funded on these platforms? What can research show about human behavior on these platforms? On the role that the platforms play in the broader ecosystem of philanthropy? Or on regulatory practice regarding privacy, data sharing, reporting, and accountability practices?
  • Research on ethical and governance issues related to the use of algorithmic decision making tools in nonprofits or social sector contexts. Surveys or analyses of the state of the field, or comparative analysis of different methodologies are of interest.
  • Research on community-based governance and oversight of data assets. ​Surveys or analyses of the state of the field, or comparative analysis of different methodologies are of interest.
  • Research to inform policy regarding a standard for public reporting of data from crowdfunding platforms.
  • New applications of data science, or use of new data sets such as social media or payment processor data, to understand the relationships (complementary, substitutional, other) between individual political, charitable contributions. What can these data sets tell us about how we spend money in line with our values?

Sector grants are intended for nonprofits and partners to address sector-wide challenges in using digital data safely, ethically and effectively. Priority will be given to projects that align with the four principles for digital data use outlined on the Digital Impact Toolkit: consent, privacy, openness and pluralism. Some ways to address these issues include: reproducible consent practices, best practices for data sharing across organizations or sectors, new organizational governance practices or trainings, or software platforms or tools built to prioritize permission or ownership. A sample ideas for sector grants include (these are suggestions only):

  • Development and review of principles, practices, and processes for sharing data across nonprofits, government, and/or industry.
  • Digital fundraising or marketing practices that meet EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements and can be turned into specifications for use and adaptation by other organizations.
  • Organizational templates or processes for improving digital literacy and security.
  • Tools or templates for committing/forking civil society data governance policies (e.g. using digitalimpact.io or github).

Digital Impact is committed to supporting cohorts of grantees and connecting them to the broader Digital Impact and Digital Civil Society Lab communities. It is their 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 effectively and responsibly. 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 will build over time and be publicly available for anyone’s use.

Amount: $200,000 is available for 5-15 grants, the size of which will depend on the applicant pool and project scope.

Eligibility: Varies by type:

  • Research grants will be made to faculty or graduate students at universities in the United States and abroad. Priority will be given to research projects with either a demonstrated commitment to practical applications in the social sector or those that clearly articulate a plan to turn their research into practical knowledge. Applications may be from any disciplinary perspective or methodology, as well as bring together multiple disciplinary inquiries.
  • Sector grants will be made to non-profit organizations in the United States and abroad. U.S.-based organizations must have 501(c)(3) status. Organizations based outside of the U.S. must have equivalent exempt status. Please note that the grant excludes activities with countries against which the United States maintains a comprehensive embargo unless such activities are fully authorized by the U.S. government under applicable law and specifically approved by the Gates Foundation in its sole discretion.

Link: https://digitalimpact.org/2017-request-for-proposal/

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