Data Strategy and Capacity Building – Kenya

Philanthropy contributes immensely to the national development yet this is rarely recognized.

Philanthropy as a sector has contributed to the national development of Kenya for decades. Despite its significant participation in working towards achieving national development goals, philanthropy is rarely recognized for the role it plays. At the core of this issue is the lack of available information about Kenyan philanthropy and
its contribution to development. Simply put, if philanthropy itself is not tracking its own contribution to the development ecosystem, then no other sector can be expected to understand the role it plays nor the expertise that it possesses. Unfortunately, this often leads to the sector having less opportunity to share its experiences and lessons learned, and voice its concerns at the key discussions where important national development dialogues take place. As a result, other key development players are unable to leverage philanthropy’s expertise and vice-versa. This also means that it is harder for overall development aid planning to take place when there is not a holistic picture of funds being spent in the country.

This lack of data and information has primarily resulted from not having capacity to collect, analyze, aggregate, organize, and share philanthropic data and knowledge that can show the sector’s contributions. The DataStrategy and Capacity Building Program has been introduced in order to address this gap. The program is a joint effort led by Foundation Center (FC) and East Africa Philanthropy Network (EAPN–previously known as East Africa Association of Grantmakers), in partnership with Kenya Philanthropy Forum (KPF), the Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF),SDG Philanthropy Platform (SDGPP), and more than40 Kenyan philanthropic organizations. The program aims to strengthen the capacity of foundations and trusts to collect, analyze, and share reliable data to highlight the value of Kenyan philanthropy to national development outcomes, facilitate philanthropic collaboration, and inform grant-making and programmatic decisions. The program adheres to the guidelines offered in the Global PhilanthropyData Charter. It is important to note that the values and principles in the Charter translate to the essential elements of good philanthropy data practices and stress the value of collecting relevant and comparable data across different philanthropic contexts.

To that end, FC and EAPN, in partnership with other stakeholders, have carried out a series of workshops as part of the Data Strategy and Capacity BuildingProgram. In the first workshop, held on April 28, 2016, the participants established the principles for data management for philanthropy in Kenya. The participants also identified the key data and knowledge needs and challenges they face. The workshop also focused on some technological tools that could be leveraged to collect and share data and knowledge.Finally, the workshop focused on key data goals and identified priorities in order to address the challenges.

The second workshop, held July 4–5, 2016, built on the first one. The Global Philanthropy Data Charter and the application as well as relevance of the Charter within the Kenyan context were discussed at length.The participants then identified the prerequisites for successful implementation of data charter principles that included data capacity building, commitment to support the data process, collaboration around data among stakeholders, financial and technical investment, assurance of data security, appropriate data standards, and local ownership of data. They also worked together to develop action plans to address the needs and challenges they had identified in the first workshop. They created a value proposition for the data work in Kenya, identified competencies to be developed, identified the key stakeholders of which there is a need to collaborate with, and accomplished other important objectives. The participants also identified early wins and potential blockers to successfully achieving these goals and outcomes.Finally, the participants agreed on an action plan to move forward.

The third workshop of this series took place on April 6, 2017. It was held to move the program forward from knowledge sharing and strategy development to implementation. It sought to solidify agreements made during the first year of the program and was focused on the development of a prototype data portal for and about Kenyan philanthropy given this was a major goal identified by the group in the previous workshops. The partners agreed on what data they were comfortable and able to share, subsequently developing an outline for the structure of the data portal. Coming to an agreement on what information to share and how to structure it was crucial as it served as a framework for data collection, ensuring that the data would be contextually relevant and helpful to the user. Further, the partners continued to develop the strategy for implementation over the medium term and agreed on partner roles and next steps.