Data + the Greater Good Meetup: Candid

Posted December 10, 2019


The product of a recent merger between Foundation Center and GuideStar, Candid is using big data to establish more transparency in the nonprofit sector with the goal of providing the knowledge needed for people to make informed philanthropic decisions. This information will have a powerful impact on our ability to do good. Candid seeks to maintain their ethos of optimizing resources for the public good. They manage a database of 16 million grants totaling $3.9 trillion – generating networks of philanthropy to identify funding relationships, overlaps, and deficits.


Networks defined by grant-making relationships in Brazil; starting in year(s) 2006 – present.

Candid tracks the tax filings, an IRS 990 form, of over a million foundations and organizations to auto-classify and auto-geocode them into their taxonomy. These classifications create networks, which nonprofits can scan to better understand their funding landscape and identify the best potential foundation from which to request a grant. A nonprofit organization can sort the information to discover insights regarding which foundations are providing the most funding in their sector, other nonprofits they can partner with, and/or which regions need the most


Grant activities in Brazil; starting in year(s) 2006 to present.


Jake GarciaAt the head of this operation is Jake Garcia, Candid’s Vice President of Data & Technology. Jack’s department has made considerable advancements since the 1980s – a time when gathering data points meant traveling to D.C. to manually photograph the 990s to process the film. Since then, they’ve been working to develop auto-classification algorithms to fill their database at scale. Today, they can process hundreds of thousands of forms in less than a minute, at an 85% rate of precision.

But the world of philanthropy is complicated and the data is often scattered or ambiguous. If your organization files a 990, here are some ways you can help:

  • File your IRS 990 Forms electronically in a standardized format.
  • Report your data directly to Candid.
  • Use unique identifiers for all other organizations mentioned in your forms.
  • Provide highly detailed descriptions for your programs and grants.

Today, Candid’s greatest challenge is a steep drop-off in their data pipeline. As the IRS processes the 990 forms of every organization, Candid gains access to a large amount of data for the preceding years.  


How can they fill this gap?

Candid has ~75,000 nonprofits and ~1,500 foundations self-reporting their financial activity. Even so, that represents less than 1% of nonprofit organizations and foundations in the US alone.

They’ve found their solution in developing a news scraping system. By combing through the web, Jake and his team can source articles with information regarding recent, or future, grant activity. Then they use methods in machine learning to extract the important details to match the organization to one in their database, auto-classify the correct sector, auto-geocode the correct region, and make sure the grant activity isn’t counted multiple times, and more. This meticulous process scans through 300,000 to 400,000 articles a day to uncover activity they wouldn’t otherwise be able to capture and analyze.

All of this is done so Candid has one of the most accurate and extensive databases in the world. Instilling honesty and efficiency at a global scale, Candid is dedicated to empowering nonprofits and foundations with the tools to do their best work.

 If you’re interested in how Candid could benefit your organization, here’s how they can help:

  • Search for funders and millions of grants on their platform Foundation Directory Online, quick start here.
  • Inform your decisions with their research reports or use IssueLab to search for evidence, insights and knowledge from thousands of publications in the social sector.
  • Improve your nonprofit with expert training and special events through GrantSpace.
  • Improve your foundation with wisdom from a global community of funders through GrantCraft.
  • Stay up to date on relevant news, jobs, RFPs, and more with Philanthropy News Digest.


Graphs by:

foundation maps



Click to learn more about Candid or to join the Data + the Greater Good Meetup group.

Our “Data + the Greater Good” Meetup series has featured speakers from an array of nonprofit organizations, including The Met, The Whitney, New York Public Radio, ProPublica, Public Art Fund and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Read about their presentations on our blog.


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