20 March 2010

Sharing Ideas about Open Philanthropy

As regular readers of this blog will know, for the last five years or so I have been tracking the diffusion of the ideas behind open source into other spheres. I'm particularly interested to see what does and does not translate easily to other domains.

Here's another application: open philanthropy. Although something called the Open Philanthropy Exchange has been around for ten years, I think this is something different, not least because people's understanding of openness and sharing have moved on enormously in that time:

# Open sharing of ideas in philanthropy serves us all as we seek to solve shared problems.

# We need a Freedom of Foundation and Nonprofit Information Act. These organizations are tax-privileged data repositories. As such, their tax privileges should be linked to the degree they openly share and contribute the information, data, and knowledge that they produce for the public good.

# Openness extends to the interoperability of data - ours and others. Efforts to open government reporting, data sharing from municipalities and states, and open access to public records on donations, nonprofit filings, and public funding sources are all in the best interest of solving social problems.

# Experimenting with openness will show us what works. The Sunlight Foundation's recent "datajams" and Sunlight Live coverage of the health care reform discussions are a great working example of what information matters to whom, about what, and when.

# The ability and expectations of open-ness are changing. These new expectations will change what transparency really looks like and how it works (Here's one version - the Cycle of Transparency). Philanthropy can guide this or react to it, but it can not ignore it.

# Open matters to communities.

There's also this important point:

One of the things we've learned from the open source software movement is that codes of professional practice matter - the early licensing efforts to create code that developers could access, use, improve, and share again are critical to how software development happens. We need similar codes of professional conduct and practice in philanthropy.

It's a work in progress, and it will be fascinating to see how it developers. Good luck to all concerned.

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Lucy Bernholz said...

Thanks for picking up on the "manifesto" - glad to see folks such as yourself, who clearly understand open software, are following along. Glad I also didn't get something important about Open totally wrong - if I do, or did, please let me know.

Lucy Bernholz

Glyn Moody said...

@Lucy: thanks for the comment.

It's my belief that all the "opens" can learn from each other - both from their similarities and differences. So I'll certainly be following your work with great interest.

Good luck.