VNA Becomes the First Small Foundation to Join the Reporting Commitment
Brings Greater Transparency to Grantmaking by Chicago-based Funders
Chicago, IL – January 23, 2013. The VNA Foundation of Chicago (VNA) has joined a new nationwide initiative to make grantmaking data from foundations around the country a widely accessible, strategic resource for use both within and beyond the philanthropic sector. VNA becomes the second Chicago-area foundation to join the Reporting Commitment, creating a larger window into the funding landscape and opening the door to greater knowledge sharing and collaboration in this region.
With assets of approximately $50 million, VNA is the first “small” foundation—and the first foundation not among the 15 founding organizations—to join the “Reporting Commitment.” Under the terms of the Commitment, participating foundations partner with the Foundation Center to release their grant information in a consistent, open, and frequent manner.
“By making grantmaking data available in a consistent, and easily-accessible manner almost immediately after grants are made, other foundations, government funders, nonprofits and others will all have a key new resource to more effectively address common issues facing our communities,” said VNA Executive Director Rob DiLeonardi. “Foundations keep excellent records of their work, but often lack an effective vehicle to widely share data. The Reporting Commitment provides that vehicle.”
Other participants include Chicago’s MacArthur Foundation as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The California Endowment, and 12 others whose coffers dwarf the $50 million held by VNA. DiLeonardi views involvement by foundations like VNA as invaluable, however, to the initiative’s success. “Although the Reporting Commitment’s founding participants were large foundations, as soon as I became aware of the initiative I knew there would be value in participation by foundations of VNA’s size,” DiLeonardi said. “Small foundations account for approximately half of America’s total foundation grant dollars, so their participation is key to success of the project. Together, we can use the Reporting Commitment to increase our own transparency and contribute to the knowledge resources that drive philanthropic impact.”
Grant information from participating foundations is reported at least quarterly by each foundation and is available on the Foundation Center’s transparency-centered web site, Glasspockets.org. Data is in a machine-readable open format and coded to an open geographic standard, developed by the Foundation Center known as GeoTree. An interactive map of the data—also available on Glasspockets.org—allows people to see at a glance the reach and impact of America’s foundations.
“VNA’s decision to join the Reporting Commitment is both encouraging and exciting,” said Bradford Smith, president of the Foundation Center. “The strength of the Reporting Commitment as a knowledge-sharing tool grows with each new participating foundation. What’s more, by making its grants information available in open format and in near-real time, VNA is setting an example for how even small foundations can join the era of Big Data.”
The participating foundations made this commitment to each other and the field based on the belief that accurate and accessible information is critical to effective collaboration, strategic decision making, and a more engaged philanthropy sector. Additional information and resources for foundations interested in participating are available on Glasspockets.org.
The Foundation Center has licensed this collection of data under Creative Commons, making it open and free to the social sector, researchers, developers, media, and the general public.