Building a unified platform
Building a “unified platform” is a goal Candid has been working towards since Foundation Center and GuideStar joined forces in February 2019. One of our promises to you as we became Candid was to build a hub for the future of data, information, and knowledge for the social sector. We also committed to developing a new generation of tools designed to champion the causes, organizations, and knowledge that power civil society worldwide. By creating this unified platform, we are working to deliver on these promises.
What is a unified platform?
Candid’s “unified platform” is our vision for a single user destination that enables us to collect, analyze, and distribute data and insights from across our products, providing our users with a comprehensive view of the social sector. It aims to synthesize answers to your questions about the social sector, all in one place with personalized user experiences.
Historically, we have had several unique offerings that give users a snapshot of the social sector, but that information is trapped in silos. Folks visit Foundation Directory to search for grants data, GuideStar for nonprofit data, Issue Lab for research reports on best practices, Philanthropy News Digest for news, and so on. To increase capacity for insight, we need to cross-reference data and show connections across these categories.
The behind-the-scenes work to get there
Over the last year, much of the work that has gone into building the infrastructure for this unified platform has taken place behind-the-scenes across every department at Candid. It has required unifying processes and systems, creating wireframes, rebuilding databases, combining product features, and restructuring departments to better equip us to meet our goal.
A big milestone we reached in 2022 was the launch of the new Candid Data System (CDS), a culmination of nearly three years of work. It is a universal database that combines all data across Candid’s products and is the foundation of the unified platform. We have also been working to add more data to CDS. Candid will steadily add data on more than 5 million non-U.S. nonprofits in our Candid nonprofit profiles, starting 2023 through 2024, giving our users a fuller view of the social sector.
Data is central to all we do at Candid, but we also know that a good user experience in accessing this data is key. While we work to build out the backend systems that will power this unified platform, our data science team is conducting experiments and user testing to ensure user input is centered in our product development process. In essence, to achieve a great user experience, we seek to learn what kind of personalization and recommendations are most meaningful and how to serve that content to best meet needs.
What happens next?
This project is big, complex, and exciting. We have completed the work to unify both our data and backend systems and are now turning our attention to the user-facing elements of the integrated product. We are planning a phased release of new products and features in 2023, with initial releases to alpha testers who can help us make refinements before offering them more broadly. Users will see steady improvements and new tools as we work toward the ultimate goal of fully transitioning to the unified platform.
As we make progress it will be easier for users to find what they need, for our staff to maintain and improve current core offerings, and to incorporate new features, applications, and partners onto Candid’s platform. This, in turn, will help us deliver on the promise we made when we became Candid to provide the hub for social sector data and information.
This blog is reprinted from Candid’s 2023 Annual Report.
Kate, Digital Communications Manager, Candid says:
Hi Sarah, Thanks for commenting. Details are still in formation on the unified platform but we’ll be sure to keep you updated as they emerge. With regard to Foundation Directory, have you heard of our Go for the Gold promotion? Nonprofits with under $1M in expenses or revenue can get a free year of Foundation Directory when they claim their profile and earn a Gold Seal.
Sarah H says:
My question has to do with cost. Guidestar always offered 990s and good, basic data without charge. FDO has become quite expensive for me. When the silos are united, how much data is going to be available at no cost to users?
Kay Walvoord says:
I would be happy to be a data guinea pig if needed.