Rapidly growing community needs and opportunities outpace the progress of programs and services, heightening the urgency to find ways to bring more people, money and other resources together in concert.  As such, Tides is launching predictive philanthropy, a process for driving collaborative, data-based funding decisions focused on the development of local leadership and assets.  Through this initiative, Tides seeks to connect efforts that have typically been slow to react and done in isolation and connect people through ongoing analysis and community input.

Across the United States, we are seeing more evidence of fast-changing communities:

– People of color – non-whites and Latinos – are now 43.9% of the population, with projections showing that, by 2042, we will be over 50%, a trend already seen in California and New Mexico.

– Immigrants and refugees are coming from a wider range of countries and are settling in to more areas in the U.S., especially rural areas and small towns.

– Single-industry towns and regions are increasingly affected by the movement of more plants and jobs abroad, the transition from traditional economies to new markets, and economic downturns that disproportionately strike certain industries.

Through predictive philanthropy, Tides proposes that funders, service providers, activists and community members come together to look at these types of community-based data to identify areas and regions of opportunity and develop responsive programs, services and business – all supported by a collective fund that leverages resources at the local and national levels.  In other words, use data to pro-actively guide our funding to support whole infrastructures as an ecosystem of partners.  It’s a big idea that’s really made of four basic steps:


(1)   Tides will develop an advisory committee to compile, analyze and track a set of leading indicators to

(2)   Identify geographic communities with emerging population needs and opportunities for potential investment, with priority on supporting communities that currently have less access to funding.

(3)   Invite funders to contribute to a collective action fund – $3-5M goal for year one to fund in at least 5 communities – and conduct an open RFP process to direct funding to existing local efforts, resources and leadership.

(4)   Make grants and investments to local nonprofits, businesses and collaboratives (like neighborhood associations and giving circles) at a 2:1 match.

Tides will partner with Rhiza on further developing out Upshot, their online data mapping and sharing platform, for predictive philanthropy.  Upshot enables users to share, map and chart geographically-based data sets, visually identify patterns and overlaps, and discuss ways to collaborate.  The map below demonstrates how we can start to analyze data and funding together.   The blue shading denotes a state’s rating on Opportunity Nation’s Opportunity Index on a scale of 0-100 (the higher the number, the more residents have access to resources) – the darker the shading, the lower the index and the less access there is to opportunities.  The green circles represent all of Tides domestic grants made in 2011 – the larger the circle, the larger the grant.

Map 1: State Opportunity and Funding

In another example, the following map compares foundations and their assets by geographic location and the degree of poverty in major cities.  Green circles represent foundation assets per capita in a city – the larger the dot, the more foundation dollars per person compared to other cities.  Yellow circles represent the percent of the city population that lives below the poverty line (currently defined as $22,350 for a family of four) – the larger the dot, the more people living below the line compared to other cities.  (Note: green and yellow circle sizes do not correlate to each other, so do not directly represent the scale of supply and demand.)

Map 2: City Poverty and Assets

As these maps demonstrate, there are powerful ways for us to look at public and private data to better understand gaps and overlaps, needs and opportunities, and there is a strong and important case for funding in a strategic and equitable way together in the long-term.

We will pilot predictive philanthropy this year, with the goal of providing the first cycle of funding to identified communities by the end of 2012.  To do so, Tides is looking for partners for collective data analysis and funding.  The more people we have, the more work we can do, and the more impact we can see in our communities.

For additional information and to make a commitment to predictive philanthropy, please contact Irene Kao, Tides Senior Strategic Advisor at [email protected].  Join us.