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Demographics via Candid: One year in 

In February 2023, we officially launched Demographics via Candid, an initiative that empowers nonprofits to share their demographic data one time, through the Candid profile, where it can be accessed and reused by funders and other stakeholders across the field. This reduces the burden on nonprofits asked to fill out demographic surveys in different ways and formats, while providing sector insights and creating visibility for funders looking to better understand their giving portfolios and identify potential gaps. Here we reflect on what we learned and set the stage for where we’re headed.

Celebrating progress 

To date, more than 137 partners have signed onto Demographics via Candid. And more than 66,000 nonprofits are contributing their demographic data via the Candid profile, which is double the amount since 2021. With this type of growth, we can safely say there is both appetite and enthusiasm to change the way we collect demographic data. Cheryl Dorsey, president of Echoing Green, underscored this at our launch event last year when she said, The seismic impact of data in moments of global racial reckoning underscores its value and illustrates how it can help all of us create a more equitable environment for all.”  

The collaboration we had with our partners and with nonprofits has been key to our success. For funders and nonprofits alike, we now offer robust tools and resources to make the process of collecting and accessing demographic data as simple as possible. This includes on-demand training, onboarding calls, and step-by-step instructions on how to participate.  

One major step was integrating this data seamlessly into our partners’ existing grantmaking workflows. This led to the creation of the free Demographics API and grants management system (GMS) integrations. We now have six GMS vendors partnering with us, representing over 50% of the market who provide access to demographic data natively with Candid’s APIs. In addition, we also provide demographic data for free through Candid nonprofit profiles, a Tableau dashboard, or a simple spreadsheet by request.  

We spoke with partners who benefited from the GMS integration to better understand their giving portfolio and their objectives related to equity. Mike Wright, chief technology officer at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, shared that “If we are to achieve diversity and equity in our grantmaking, one aspect of this is to gain an accurate understanding of who we support and to then be strategic to ensure that the grantmaking reflects the diversity we seek in our grantee community.”  

Enthusiasm is quick; implementation takes time

Momentum for this work continues to build, with most funders aligned with our vision. But the key challenges we encountered include working through internal bureaucracies, shifting systems, and varying competing priorities for the sector. Demographics via Candid asks funders to put the needs of the collective ahead of their own when it comes to demographic data. It’s where these needs diverge with other priorities that can be challenging.  

We also heard from partners that they continue to be concerned about privacy. Candid has fielded a research study to understand the nuanced needs of nonprofits in order to design a long-term solution. In the meantime, we encourage nonprofits to prioritize their safety and always select “decline to state” for questions they aren’t comfortable answering. 

Ultimately, all our partners share the belief that by standardizing demographic data collection through Candid nonprofit profiles, the granting process becomes quicker and easier for both funders and nonprofits.  

Time to scale 

This year, we will expand the campaign and hold ourselves accountable for measuring Demographics via Candid’s success from a nonprofit perspective. Essentially, are they feeling less of a burden? We are also working with our research partner, Viewpoint Consulting, to implement learnings from surveys, focus groups, and interviews about collecting demographic data in a way that is feasible for nonprofits. We picture Demographics via Candid as evergreen work that continues to impact the sector significantly in the long run, with all parties benefiting from the standardization of this data.  

Our goal is to have 80% of nonprofits (with budgets greater than $50,000) contribute their demographic data through Candid nonprofit profiles by 2030. We invite you to join us in making the granting process more equitable and efficient for all.  

Register here for Collective power: Using data in your equity journey on March 12, featuring keynote remarks from Dr. Akilah Watkins, president and CEO, Independent Sector. Panelists will share how the initiative has provided crucial data to drive grantmaking decisions and equity journeys. 


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