Stanford Center of Philanthropy and Civil Society: Digital Impact Grants
Digital Impact Grants are awarded for two types of projects: scholarly research and sector advancement. The aim is 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, and research that can inform policy regarding the public reporting of data from crowdfunding platforms. What is known about what is being funded on these platforms? What does research tell about the role that the platforms play in the broader ecosystem of philanthropy? What scholarly insights are there 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.
- 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 Advancement 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 (http://www.digitalimpact.io/): permission, privacy, openness, and pluralism. Some ways to address these issues include: reproducible consent practices, best practices for data sharing across organizations or sectors, transferable organizational governance practices, or software platforms or tools built to prioritize permission or individual identity/data 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 https://digitalimpact.io/ or github (https://github.com/)
The Digital Impact community identified six emerging thematic areas of interest. Research or sector advancement proposals that align with any of these six are of special interest.
- Institutional and process innovation: Emergence of trusted data intermediaries – opportunities to invent new institutions to manage and govern digital data for civil society purposes. Multiple types of intermediaries (repositories, process, analytic intermediaries) are included.
- New diverse, robust policy alliances: How to connect policy expertise across digital rights, intellectual property, and telecommunications to expertise in civil society, democratic process, civil liberties, and nonprofit law.
Advancing digital norms for civil society: How to expand the reach of rights-based, civil society-values regarding use of digital data and infrastructure, even to the point of influencing new digital norms.
- Networking networks: Multiple layers and silos of communities – digital rights, digital tech, community service organizations, policy, funding, alternative finance – present opportunities to expand alliances and engage global concerns.
- Collective civil society approaches to corporate allies: Opportunities to articulate civil society values and partner with corporate sector for support, scale and new defaults. Applies to existing dominant communications technologies and emergent ones.
- Funding strategies for alternative infrastructures: How to build, support, and sustain hardware and software that mimics civil society values.
Amount: A total of $200,000 is available for 5-10 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 advancement grants will be made to nonprofit 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. 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.
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