GuideStar International's Blog

May 30, 2012

Transforming your charity by bringing your data to life

Filed under: CSO reporting — guidestarinternational @ 09:30
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TechSoup Global in association with the Guardian are hosting an exciting seminar titled “Transforming your charity by bringing your data to life” on Wednesday 13 June 2012 (8.45am-12.30pm). It will focus on the use of Data and Technology in the charity sector. The seminar will discuss the power of data and how it can be used to progress the objectives of charities and NGOs.

Speakers include: Dave Coplin, Director of Search, Bing, Karl Wilding of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and Nathaniel Manning, Director of Business Development and Strategy at Ushahidi

You can find the agenda here: Agenda: Transforming your charity by bringing your data to life

In essence, participants will be able to explore what relevant data they can share to benefit their organisation and the charitable sector. They will also hear from individuals who have successfully accessed and deployed technology and big datasets in their organisation. A more detailed agenda can be found here.

The event will be held at the Guardian’s London headquarters located at Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU in association with TechSoup Global

TechSoup Global is an international non-profit, founded in 1987 on the belief that both technology & data are powerful enablers for social change, driving the creation of innovative solutions and informed decision making.


This is an invitation only event.


The findings of the seminar will then feature as a one-page article in the newspaper and online on the Guardian Voluntary Sector Network.



April 30, 2012

Building Better Solutions Together, Faster

Filed under: ICT for Development — guidestarinternational @ 12:56
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You’ve probably heard about hackathons, but have you heard of the ‘Weekend Movement’? Glenn Fajardo at TechSoup Global talks about the Weekend movement that is gathering steam in Malaysia in a recent Stanford Social Innovation Review post. It is describes it as “a community of people that builds crafty projects and innovative solutions to real-world problems over weekends.” So you can imagine that though hacking is a part of it, this is much more that a data hackathon. There are Makeweekends  and Changeweekends too. It is another example of how communities, nonprofits, and the technical community can work together to solve pressing problems. You can read more it the post in the SSIR review here. Please feel free to comment!

March 5, 2012

Uncertain about how to report and share your nonprofit’s data?

Filed under: Uncategorized — guidestarinternational @ 16:29
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Join TechSoup’s webinar on March 8, at 11 a.m. Pacific time, Explore, Report, and Share Your Data Online, to find out the answers to your data sharing questions.

Register today as space is limited!

SAP and Business Objects BI OnDemand

During this free, one-hour webinar, we will be hearing from SAP’s Steve Williams and Saurabh Abhyankar about issues surrounding data and reporting. We will talk about possible solutions, culminating in a closer look at SAP’s product, Business Objects BI OnDemand.

What is Business Objects BI OnDemand? It is a cloud-based business intelligence application which supports multiple data formats to help you understand how your organization is performing.

Nonprofit Questions About Data Reporting

Want to hear concerns that real nonprofits have about implementing data reporting tools? In preparation for this webinar, we have reached out to organizations using BI OnDemand. These organizations have shared their concerns with us, and we will in turn be addressing them during the webinar.

If you have questions of your own, feel free to email those questions to or post them in the comments below. You will also have additional opportunities to ask questions during the webinar.

This free one-hour webinar is presented in cooperation with SAP, a donor partner of TechSoup Global, and is appropriate for technology decision makers in nonprofits.

We will be having a follow-up webinar on this topic specificially geared to our international audiences. That registration information will be available in April.

November 21, 2011

Just Do Data

Filed under: Uncategorized — guidestarinternational @ 09:47
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By Jessica Galeria

This was originally posted on the TechSoup Global blog

(Portland, OR) — “Data is the new oil.” In an otherwise humdrum Closing Keynote address by Nike’s VP of Sustainable Business and Innovation, Hannah Jones, this struck me as rather a provocative statement. She’s trying to incite a hotel lobby full of nonprofiters, philanthropists, MBA students, CSR practioners and other business-minded social entrepreneurs “to be disruptive, to innovate and to create a sustainable new world.”  She wants us to get smarter about how we work for social impact – with data.

Three very full days with 2,600 attendees and 395 speakers at the 2011 Net Impact  (NI) conference – against the über-eco backdrop of Portland, OR – and this is my main take-away:

Data is the sexiest new thing at the intersection of business and social impact.

OK, OK, I concede that data is neither new nor sexy. But it is being leveraged by the social sector in innovative and forward-thinking ways that are grabbing attention on a national scale. Here’s an NI-inspired look at three different objectives and examples of how do-gooders  “do data”:

1.      To efficiently deliver needed products and services

…for instance, in the chaotic aftermath of a natural disaster. Consider NetSquared Mashup Challenge winner Patrick Meir, Director of Crisis Mapping at Ushahidi, who crowdsourced and mapped needs in the critical hours and days after the devastating Haiti earthquake, using free and opensource software developed by his organization.

Or Mercy Corps, which is using a mobile app to get food to people in need in Haiti and Kenya through a mobile money (m-wallet) product. By giving recipients electronic food coupons instead of food, they also drive economic development among local food producers – and they pair the funds with financial literacy training. Phil Oldham, Country Director, is quick to emphasize the double bottom line: in addition to a critical social benefit, the tool streamlines distribution, saving the organization precious time and money.

2.  To crowdsource funding and social innovation

Crowdsourcing actually is kinda sexy – or at least it’s the much-touted “big thing” in technology for social good. To borrow a phrase from X-Prize, the goal is nothing less than “revolution through competition.” Ooh, la la.

Less sexily put, crowdsourcing is a distributed problem-solving and production model used to source both solutions to social problems and cash to underwrite promising projects.  Examples include Groupon and Facebook Causes  (respectively represented by Kyle Klatt, Manager of Development and Matt Mahan, COO at Net Impact), but also Kickstarter, The Hoop Fund, Global Giving, Citizen Effect, Kiva, our own NetSquared, and the exuberant onrushing player in the tech space, Campus Party, with their Hacking for Something Better (H4SB) initiative… I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

3.  To measure impact for smarter iterations and social enterprise field-building

You can’t manage what you don’t measure, cautions a well-worn business adage. Today, organizations have access to more data than ever, from program results and survey data to site traffic and donations. Yet these mountains of information are really only useful if they spark improvements that further the mission. A panel at Net Impact called “Data-Do-Gooders: Organizations Using Metrics to Rock their Missions” shared how to select the right data, how to share it (with the right people), and how to incorporate it into new and better iterations of the programs using  free tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights.

From a 30,000-foot view, data is also used in spades by social investors and philanthropists for proof-of-concept and to demonstrate social and financial ROI, which has positive spillover for thought leadership in the field. Social investing and social enterprise have rapidly gained traction in the investment landscape, largely because the data has been used to tell a compelling story (i.e. doing well by doing good). The need to facilitate due diligence and provide 501c3 equivalency data for international philanthropy came up repeatedly at NI – thank goodness for initiatives like Great Nonprofits, Charity Navigator, and TSG’s NGOsource and  Guide Star International programs.

Let us now turn our attention back to the green-catered, LEED-certified hotel lobby and Nike’s views on sustainability and innovation. Using a soccer analogy, as is fitting for an exec at the world’s leading sports apparel company, Ms. Jones recounted that Brazilian mega-star Pelé once famously said, “I don’t go where the ball is, I go where the ball is going.”

And I wonder:  is data the ball, or does data point up where the ball is going? Or both?

SAP InnoJam: Innovating for a World Population of 7 Billion

Filed under: Uncategorized — guidestarinternational @ 09:43
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By Bijan Yaminafshar

This was originally posted on the TechSoup Global blog.

Recently my colleagues at TechSoup Global and I attended a very interesting event at SAP Labs in Palo Alto, sponsored by SAP and UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund). On October 31 the world population reached 7 billion and UNFPA is leading a global initiative to build awareness around opportunities and challenges of a world of 7 billion people. This requires action insustainability, urbanization, access to health services, and youth education. SAP is the exclusive analytics partner for the campaign. SAP technology solutions help engage with population data to understand the challenges, interact with the data to see how choices impact our future, and explore data to help make better decisions. To get a flavor of this, take a look at the interactive population dashboardswhich were developed using SAP business analytics products. These dashboards will be used by the UN, local governments, economists and NGOs.

About 200 people attended this two-part event. The morning session was an executive roundtable on “Innovating for a World of 7 Billion.” (You can watch the recorded session here.) The panel included:

The afternoon session “SAP InnoJam: Actions to Innovatefor a World of 7 Billion” was a working session that was broken up into several groups. The specific challenge presented to participants was focused on youth empowerment in less-developed countries. The goal: develop solutions to help the youth generate economic benefits through access to education, healthy lifestyles, and employment. We split into 8 teams and developed solutions that were presented back to a panel of judges at the end of the day. Four proposals were selected to move forward for SAP supported Strategic Technical Skilled Volunteer project in 2012.

Before starting the working sessions we were introduced to the concept of Design Thinking, which was to be used in developing our solutions. This methodology for innovation combines creative and analytical approaches using the real world challenge of youth empowerment facing nonprofits, corporations,and government agencies alike. SAP is using these Design Thinking philosophies at their SAP TechEd events around the world.

It was a well-executed and worthwhile event. The morning panel discussion was very good in framing the problem, and I was especially impressed with Dr. Kavita Ramdas’ views (52 minutes in to this recorded session) on how technology is not necessarily a solution in itself, since it can be used for both good and bad. What role do you think technology can play in curbing population growth?

August 12, 2011

Find Out More About Data Privacy at NetTuesday in London

Filed under: Uncategorized — guidestarinternational @ 08:20
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Data Privacy is an issue that is of increasing importance not only to civil society organisations, but social change activists and the general public. Data is becoming more open and is being used for good in many ways. We are also using the Internet and our phones every day to talk to each other, mobilise and organise for social change and access public and commercial services. As a result more and more data about us is being accessed, stored and in some cases reused without our knowledge. Identity thefts and hacking has also become much more commonplace. However, many of us don’t know much about how we can better protect ourselves online or about the EU and UK laws pertaining to data privacy. This event will examine why it is important, discuss recent examples of data privacy violations, regulations you should be aware of, and most importantly ways that you can help to keep your personal data private. RSVP here.


Wendy M. Grossman has written about computers, freedom, and privacy for more than 20 years. She is a member of the advisory council of the Open Rights Group and the advisory board of Privacy International. Find out more about her on  You can also find her on Twitter @wendyg.

Javier Ruiz Diaz is a Campaigner with the  Open Rights Group.  He joined after working for Unite, organising migrant workers for the living wage campaign.  Involved at the inception of open access reporting website Indymedia UK in 1999, he has since been active as a journalist, campaigner and radio documentary producer, tirelessly promoting communication tools for social movements.  At the World Social Forum in Brazil he co-ordinated open hardware and software projects to provide instantaneous interpretation of the event to over a 100,000 participants.  His other interests include applying open source innovation models to the development of renewable energy technologies and open hardware in general.


Data privacy overview
•    What’s at stake? (why data privacy is important and how it interacts with open data)

What are the risks? Including some national and international examples
•    Data breaches
•    Social networks
•    Mobile devices
•    Future scenarios

Legal Obligations – What are the new laws and will they affect you?
•    EU Data Retention Act
•    EU Data Protection Directive
•    The UK Digital Economy Act

How to respond?
•    e.g. of best practice/guides e.g. See Access’s “ A Practical Guide to Protecting Your Identity and Security Online and When using Mobile Phones” and Tactical Tech’s “Security in a Box”.

  • Protecting Computers and Networks
  • Role of Encryption
  • Data Minimization


Drinks! Place to be confirmed!

January 11, 2011

The Latest GuideStar International Newsletter Now Online

Filed under: Access to information,Philanthropy — guidestarinternational @ 10:00
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Newsletter Editorial

In 2010, new data and information from all corners of the earth is being crowdsourced, mapped and linked. In a world of politically charged Wikileaks, proactive transparency is becoming the norm as data is increasingly made available by governments and by intergovernmental organisations like the UN, OECD and World Bank through databases like AidData, Aid Flows and UNdata.

However, there is a lot of data that is still held privately; much of it can be difficult to find, is unavailable in an Internet-friendly format and often not validated. Provision of vital technology and information, which can aid ‘The Networked Nonprofit’, may help us get access to the data and information needed not only to populate our databases but to find answers for society’s most pressing questions

We’re happy to report some important milestones on our way to this ambitious goal: We are pleased to announce that GuideStar India was launched and has been utilising a partnership model to build its database of CSOs from the ground up., the GuideStar initiative for Belgium, has also gone live.

This edition also contains news on GuideStar International, GuideStar Israel, GuideStar Korea and TechSoup Global as well as several articles and reports on issues of relevance to the civil society sector and our work.

Read the entire Newsletter (December 2010) and find out more about our work and related news!

November 25, 2010

Using technology to map data and information for development efforts

Filed under: Access to information,civil society,Data visualisation,ICT for Development — guidestarinternational @ 14:43
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by Keisha Taylor (GSI’s Communications Manager)

This post is cross-posted from the NetSquared Community blog– you can read the original post and any comments here

Maps have emerged as an important asset in publicly revealing data and information needed for development efforts at the community, national, regional and international level. They have become a useful way of providing and finding information on what exists and where.   Private companies like Google for instance have been collaborating with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to help unveil the power of statistics in the region. They have been working with UNECA to provide train the trainer events throughout the African continent, which can aid the development of collection and use of statistics using not only mobile applications but Google Map Maker, Google Earth Google Maps, Google fusion tables, and Public Data Explorer.  This is also proving useful for mapping of the vast African landscape is in the face of lack of street names and route numbers for instance. Local knowledge is key to this type of mapping for development effort.

Civil society organisations (CSOs) are also utilising maps to help aid development efforts. Global Map Aid is one nonprofit that provides specialist maps to help those that need information for aid and environmental relief efforts. InterAction is also developing a web-based mapping platform and database that will eventually map all of its members’ work worldwide. Haiti Aid Map is one example of their work in this area. There is also the Ushahadi, a crowdsourced mapping platform, which provides real time information needed to help with issues related to things like disasters, voting, xenophobic attacks and the environment to name a few.  Taking into consideration that geo-data is not free in some parts of the world Open Street Map is also another useful and free service which allows anyone with the necessary skills to utilise and edit information on their map, and in turn ‘the data and software is owned by the contributors’ and the general public. According to Steve Chilton, “The OpenStreet Map project is the leading global example of the effectiveness of crowdsourcing of geodata”.

Maps are also being used by governments, for example councils in the United Kingdom and in this new e-volution of government data, e-data is becoming more and more important. As Michael Batty, Bartlett Professor of Planning at UCL puts it “The advent of map services from Google Maps and Microsoft Bing Maps, as well as more specialist archives of photographic data constructed from the bottom-up systems such as Flickr, are forcing new kinds of applications in data processing that are no longer the prerogative of specialist users but are widely available to anyone who has access to the web”. Intergovernmental organisations have also started providing mapped data and information on their development finance projects. The World Bank for instance have launched a Data Visualiser, which maps a subset of the United Nation Statistical Division (UNSD) Commodity Trade (COMTRADE) database and the AidData mapping for results project has proved a useful and successful way of geo-referencing development work. Additionally, Aidflows launched in October is another tool developed collaboratively by the OECD and the World Bank (also working on to map the flow of the development aid they provide.

These are some of the mapping tools and projects currently available and as their availability increases hopefully so will the public’s ability to utilise them effectively. CSOs, governments, the private sector and technologists will no doubt increasingly utilise these types of mapping services to inform their work. Hopefully mapping for development and results continues to develop in a way which is useful not only to them, but also inclusive and useful to the ordinary citizen.

January 27, 2010

UK Government launches free data site

The UK Government has just launched a data site with the help of Tim Berners Lee (Listen to a him speak about this via podcast), which provides the public with a wealth of information and statistics sourced from government archives. The site, has 3 times the amount of data than that of the US site all of which is free to the public for reuse. You can also have a look at other public government data sites on the Guardian website.  Developers can submit apps or visualisations for consideration and the public can submit ideas for data analysis. There is an informative list of FAQs for those of you who would like to use the data or would like to become more involved in the initiative. As government and other data visualization enthusiasts (See the interesting Information is Beautiful site) provide and use such data in creative ways, we urge data on charities to also be considered an important source to build a better understanding of the role these organisations play in promoting better social outcomes and strong communities.

December 17, 2009

Exploring the Non Profit Landscape

Filed under: Access to information,Data visualisation,Philanthropy — guidestarinternational @ 09:56
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The internet, social media and geo-spatial mapping tools have been brought together to bring data on the nonprofit sector in California to life.  Non profit Mapping are using these tools in an interesting way to create useful knowledge on the nonprofits in the Bay area. They are trying to understand why the number of nonprofits are decreasing in the area but also aim to help funders, donors and philanthropists maximize their resources. This type of nonprofit mapping can prove useful in understanding the civil society sector in other regions of the world and merits exploring.

Blog at