About the Data
SDGfunders.org offers the most comprehensive representation available of foundation giving and official development assistance (ODA) aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Foundation Center developed algorithms for identifying foundation grants and ODA that were consistent with the seventeen SDGs. Therefore, the representations included throughout this website should not be interpreted as indicating that foundations and other donors intentionally aligned their giving with the SDGs, although that may be the case for some funders. In addition, the representations related to the SDGs are of the years of 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and partially of 2015, 2016 and 2017 as data collection for these 3 years are still ongoing, even though the SDGs came into effect in 2015. The objective of this analysis is to demonstrate how funding trends and distributions would have looked like for those years if the SDGs had existed at that point in time.
Figures identifying funding related to specific SDGs reflect the full value of all relevant grants. For example, a grant providing support to reduce child mortality by enhancing women’s reproductive health and rights would be counted in totals for SDGs 3, and 5. As a result, a tally of funding across the SDGs for any given year will far exceed the overall total for SDG-related funding reported for that year. Nonetheless, given the sometimes limited information provided in foundation grant records, figures may still underrepresent funding aligned with specific SDGs.
In February 2018 Foundation Center’s grants database contained more than 8.6 million grant records worth more than $400 billion. The vast majority of grants in the database – about 97% – represent grantmaking of U.S.-based foundations, but increasingly the database includes grantmaking of foundations based outside the United States.
Foundation Center collects grants data through three primary mechanisms:
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax form 990. All US foundations are required to submit this form, which contains information about each grant awarded by the foundation. The majority of the data in Foundation Center’s database are derived from these records.
- Grants reported directly to Foundation Center through the eReporting program. Foundations enrolled in this program share data about their grantmaking directly with Foundation Center.
- Publicly available sources. Foundation Center also collects publicly available information about grantmaking, including from open databases and news sources.
All the data are processed and indexed according to the facets and codes in the Philanthropy Classification System (PCS), which include geographic location or area served by organizations and programs, support strategies, subjects, populations served, organization type, and transaction type. Starting in 2015, all the grants in the database are coded through an automated process with select review by data experts. This process is trained for accuracy with a supervised machine learning model that draws on Foundation Center’s 60 years of experience in manually indexing information about grantmaking. Each grant in the database is assigned all relevant codes, which means one grant can be counted towards support for multiple subjects, populations, or strategies. This simultaneous coding allows for exploration of how funding for subjects, geographies, populations, and strategies intersect.
ODA data are widely used to measure international aid flows and come from the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Foundation Center accessed these data from http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=crs1.
Lists of top foundation funders presented throughout SDGfunders.org include all grants awarded by these foundations consistent with the development goals and/or specified region/country. Included in these totals are grants made between foundations, primarily to support regranting initiatives. However, to avoid over-representing giving, aggregate giving totals exclude all grants made by foundations in the data set to other foundations also included in the set.
Finally, SDGfunders.org identifies the regional- and country-level focus of grants based on location information provided in the grant descriptions. Lacking this information, the regional and/or country focus will reflect the geographic location of the recipient organization. For the purposes of this analysis, only foundation giving and ODA focused on activities and/or organizations located in developing countries are included in this data presented.