Two of the biggest forces for sharing information in the non-profit sector, simply combined to create a new organization. It is aptly called Candid, a merger between the Foundation Center and GuideStar. For financiers and non-profit organizations that try to gain better insight into the opportunities within the sector, the Foundation Center collects information on more than 13 million scholarships that are offered by 155,000 subsidy providers. For non-profit organizations and potential donors who try to understand the efforts of other cause groups, GuideStar has built an open database of profiles for 2.7 million active organizations.

"The name Candid goes back to the roots of both organizations … and also speaks to our approach of [sharing] information, "says Bradford Smith, who will be president of Candid, after he previously held the position of chairman of the Foundation Center.All in all, the groups have a total of about 17 million users, although they still have to sort how much overlap Bill and Melinda Gates, Charles Stewart Mott, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, among other things, raised $ 27 million to support the merger.

[Image: courtesy Candid]By combining, the groups can join their databases and strive for more uniformity and context in the presentation of this information about non-profit organizations. "We just think so [the merger] enables network effects that can create a kind of integration of experiences in the industry that we have never seen before, "says Jacob Harold, who switches from GuideStar CEO to Executive Vice President of Candid." We could credibly create a common profile that was actually found on the internet and also used in communities, and that can lead to all kinds of efficiencies, but also new forms of learning about the field. "

The Foundation Center has a physical network of 400 libraries, community centers and community-based organizations that provide on-site access to its tools and good training on how a local non-profit organization can best use it. It has built an internal data science team that creates inventive ways to sort, classify and catalog business, such as what funding is available for different missions, which groups work in similar areas and how this all helps the United Nations move forward in sustainable development. Goals or where and how governments use foreign aid.

At the same time, GuideStar encourages non-profit organizations to voluntarily announce more about themselves for different levels of "stamps of transparency & # 39 ;. (More transparency was found to correlate with people's willingness to donate.) In recent years, a data distribution deal has also been created that allows other websites or platforms to use GuideStar data in their own charity programs & # 39; s. Major players such as Amazon, Facebook, Google and Fidelity Charitable participate.

Initially, Foundation Center hubs can encourage non-profit organizations to visit to share more about themselves through the GuideStar profile building system. The center's data science team will be able to gather new insights on what is shared, while GuideStar's distribution perspective helps everyone find paths to deeper transparency. (The group is still developing what the exact range will look like, but expect a more inclusive search, result-oriented impact analyzes and additional learning, fundraising and analytical tools.)

"Foundation Center has by far the best dataset of grants and information about foundations, GuideStar has the best dataset about non-profit organizations, but it's much deeper than that," says Harold. "It's really about bringing together perspectives and ways of thinking to make the world better – there are aspects of the billions economy for social change that are institutionally fragmented by being under two separate entities, and we're trying [that] together, so you get a 360-degree view of how people try to make the world better. "

The idea behind Candid is not new. Both operations first explored in 2012 when they commissioned independent research by a consultant into the effects of merging. At that time it did not work out, although the group recognized some obvious ways to work together, such as mediating a joint deal to convert sector data provided by the IRS into a more workable format.

They have since shared ideas about network and data security and worked together with a few other partners on an effort called BRIDGE, which has created a unique digital ID for all non-profit organizations around the world. "A sort of VIN number for nonprofits to enable the exchange of information between databases and make their identity unambiguous," says Smith.

In 2017, Smith and Harold examined how different their groups had evolved, and the fact that internet users value one-stop shops for content and decided to conduct a new audit. This showed that a merger was now meaningful. "It was clear to us that we need more coverage if we want to contribute to the platform economy and I think we can do that together," Smith adds. But all projects in this way gave everyone extra confidence: "One of the great things I have learned is the way you really learn whether you can join forces with another organization by working together on concrete projects, not by type of philosophizing about it. "

Candid will work with a budget of approximately $ 38 million with an estimated 60% to 65% of fee-based products and services such as subscription databases, database licenses and training costs for deeper dives. The remainder will mainly be covered by general support grants from foundations that have supported both groups in the past, and project-specific grants such as Ocean Wise, which shares the who, what and where of various efforts to protect the ocean and its inhabitants.

They are also candid about the challenges ahead. "We still have a lot to learn, but I believe we have the right principles and the right tools to do this," says Harold. "And now we will figure it out."