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New courses address barriers to demographic data collection 

A Black man looking at data on his laptop.

Now with over 100 partners, and nearly 60,000 organizations sharing data, the Demographics via Candid campaign is going strong. Its compelling aim promises to empower nonprofits to share vital information about their organizations, one time, on their Candid profile, where it can be accessed and re-used by all to reduce the inefficiency and reporting burdens faced when applying for funding.  

As the movement has grown, we’ve responded to nonprofit learning needs along the way. In the process, we have noticed there are some common concerns and barriers that tend to come up on the road to better demographic data. 

In this blog post, we aim to address these concerns by sharing helpful highlights from two new, free microlearning courses. You can take these short, bite-sized trainings to find answers and actionable approaches for addressing these common barriers: Why and how to collect demographic data for your organization, and Four free ways to access Candid’s demographic data

1. Requesting staff and board members to share information like ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation may feel uncomfortable and unsettling. 

Gathering demographic data can raise privacy concerns from those on the receiving end of these surveys, especially at smaller organizations. For these reasons, Candid’s demographic data survey provides respondents the opportunity to select “Decline to state” on any question. 

Respondents may also perceive certain demographic questions as covering sensitive ground. For this reason, it is helpful and reassuring for people to know how your organization will use their data. Communicating why collecting this data is important, how it will be shared, and that providing this information is voluntary can also help prevent any potential uneasiness.  

As Kelly Brown, principal of Viewpoint Consulting explains in the first of the new courses, “This data provides organizations with insight into who is and is not represented on their teams and leadership, so they can be more intentionally inclusive….And because a person’s identity can be complex and potentially dynamic, this understanding must come from asking and engaging, not guessing, assuming or assigning. While to some this may feel intrusive, to most, when done respectfully and appropriately, it is experienced as inclusive and affirming.”   

2. Asking nonprofits to create a survey and email language to collect demographic data places an extra burden on their already limited time and resources.   

As a nonprofit ourselves, we understand that staff are always hard-pressed for time. This is why we highlight the tools we’ve created to streamline this process in the new course on why and how to collect demographic data.  

For example, to make the process of collecting the data as easy as possible, the course provides information on Candid’s pre-built survey templates, which include a welcome message inviting staff and board to take the survey, survey questions, and ready-made forms. Similarly, to take the guesswork out of what to say in survey outreach, our sample email invitation language includes information about why demographic data matters and how respondents’ information will be used.  

3. Getting demographic data from Candid can help further my organization’s work, but I’m not sure what is available or how to access it. 

One of the big motivators that led us to create Demographics via Candid was to make this information publicly and freely available sector wide. Our goal is to make it easy for anyone to retrieve and reuse demographic data, relieving the burden on nonprofits asked to submit it in multiple ways, many times, to different funders. Our new course, Four free ways to access Candid’s demographic data, provides details on each access point. 

Candid profiles on GuideStar contain comprehensive information on nonprofits at scale, including data on their mission, financials, programs, people, and demographics. In addition to easily researching and finding this robust information in real time on Candid’s profiles, this new course details other ways to access nonprofits’ demographic data at no charge, including: 

  • A public, Tableau-powered Demographics via Candid Dashboard, which allows people to search with EINs to discover demographic data-driven insights on U.S. nonprofits and foundations. 
  • A free downloadable file that is ideal for researchers who may want to combine this data with other data sets and is available upon request. 
  • Access to Candid’s free Demographics API, which allows funders to easily integrate demographic data within their own grants management systems. 

These are just a few highlights from the newly launched microlearning courses, which are designed to be informative and brief, each taking only approximately 10 minutes to complete. We invite you to take a few minutes now to explore the courses and let us know what you think by answering the survey questions embedded at the end of each.  

You can get started here: Why and how to collect demographic data for your organization, and Four free ways to access Candid’s demographic data


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