Who funds think tanks? An excellent tool to find out

2 December 2015
The Foundation Center offers an excellent resource to track funding for think tanks across the world: The Foundation Map provides really exiting insights into the funding of think tanks (and other organisations) across the world.

I came across an excellent tool for think tanks looking for potential funders -also, an excellent tool for researchers seeking to explore who funds think tanks today (I am thinking of Transparify). Think tanks (and other civil society organisations across the world) are always in the lookout for new funders. In the absence of a culture of transparency, then find that their competitors (or partners) have received new grants or contracts but they can’t find out much more about them or how to contact them.

I’ve been asked, many times, for help finding new funders for a think tank. But this is hard unless think tanks themselves are transparent. One way around it is for funders to be transparent. But even then tracking them down is a challenge.

The Foundation Center in the US has compiled information from their Foundations Directory, IRS reports and other sources to develop a Foundation Map. I signed-up to the free version to have a look at what it offers and, I must say, it’s rather impressive. I am sure they won’t mind me sharing some print-screens of their service. From what I’ve seen I can certainly recommend it.

A global funding map: the map begins with a global view of the world of foundation funding:

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You can then zoom into a country -let’s take Peru:

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And go deeper into the data -who are the foundations active in the country?

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Deeper still -who are they funding?

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Or, alternatively, who are the recipients?

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Deeper still -for each recipient, who are their funders? For instance the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos (this information -for most of the think tanks reviewed- is richer than what is provided in their own websites):

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You can even have a look at the issues being funded in each think tank:

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You can do some very useful things. For instance, you can map-out funding relationships connecting funders and organisations:

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You can also monitor funding patterns over time:

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And, finally, you can download the data:

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This, of course is not free and from what I am seeing I think I could certainly recommend the paid-for version. Now, if only this included data from governments, multilateral, individuals and corporations…