Posiba – Big Data for Greater Social Impact in Giving

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Posiba_logoThe landscape of charitable giving is about to receive a makeover with the launch of Posiba.  Poised to revolutionize the way giving improves the world by bringing people and information together for greater impact, Posiba is a big data and analytics information service supporting foundations, governments, charities and donors using the power of aggregated information.

Foundations, philanthropists and nonprofit leaders are seeking to improve individual lives and societies, yet most are still seeking ways to measure their influence. Many recognize they need intelligent information to drive more positive impact and are ready to adopt solutions that are easily deployed and affordable,” according to Posiba’s CEO, Elizabeth Dreicer.

Seeing the crucial need to bring affordable tools, information and analytics to the social sector, Posiba was created as a joint effort between Posiba CEO, Elizabeth Dreicer, and then COO of The California Endowment, B. Kathlyn Mead. Mead is now CEO of The San Diego Foundation. Through their experiences serving on nonprofit and foundation boards, the two were driven to better understand the influence of charitable giving. In order to understand this, they needed better information—data and analysis. Not seeing these capabilities in the market, the two set out to explore what was possible.


“Posiba enables any size foundation, nonprofit or government organization to be empowered with information in a way that is actionable and focused on impact,” said Dreicer.  Historically, data on a charity’s impact has been difficult to gather and analyze.  Now, Posiba does the legwork by creating a hub of information in their community so organizations no longer have to collect information from scratch.

Posiba—stands for it’s possible—to know, do and accomplish more in this important sector. According to Mead, “When we make data informed decisions we can better contribute to improving quality of life and social justice.”

While the private sector has been quick to understand and capitalize on the value of data analytics and visualization, nonprofits (including endowments and foundations) have not likely due to resource limitations,” said Mead. “However we knew if we could harness the right data and present it in an accessible way, the results could be game changing.”

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, in the U.S. alone, public charities hold over $3.0 trillion in assets, with annual donor contributions and grant-making of approximately $350 billion.

Posiba was created to advance the charitable sector through democratization of knowledge. We believe that with feedback, powered by metrics and shared knowledge, organizations can become instrumented for learning and this will drive positive impact in their funding choices and program development,” According to Dreicer.

State of the art data analytics

The vast majority of data relating to social programs such as obesity, violence, teen pregnancy, and vaccination rates are available on the Internet (big data).  The data can be scraped, analyzed with modern techniques (analytics) and used to figure out who’s funding what, where, for whom, and to what end. Posiba works by aggregating and fusing public and private data along with crowd intelligence to support the needed insight.  Posiba is also training its system through broad surveillance techniques (literature, internet-sphere data, etc.) and natural language processing to capture and  understand the many interventions taking place in the sector and how those actions are perceived to be working by experts, practitioners and, eventually, recipients.

These aggregated data are then made available at scale on an affordable basis to system participants both on the funding and requesting sides.  According to Dreicer, “Combining the necessary information together enables a more holistic view of the ecosystem environment (funders and indicators) and how this is changing over time. This knowledge enables all to quickly move to the understanding that is required to move with greater velocity”.

“Interestingly, individuals are the biggest contributors to charity and give about $220 billion in the U.S. alone—behind governments yet outpacing foundations 5 to 1. Indeed, their support is also more stable and less subject to the ebb and flow of government and foundation policy shifts. So, getting information about individual support to funders of all types and governments, as well as supporting individual donors with information about impact is extraordinarily important.” In fact, according to Dreicer, “We have been challenged by one of our investors to capture and support individual donors more effectively.”  Posiba expects to make an exciting announcement on that front very soon.

Knowledge is power

Mead brought Posiba to The California Endowment and helped field the early Posiba platform in a real world setting. According to Mead, “Prior to this point, while there were goals, it was difficult for trustees and staff to understand the collective funding impact toward these goals.  It is rare that only one funder is supporting an initiative, organization or place.” Posiba was incubated at Kuity, an advanced analytics software company, and spun out earlier this year. Since then, it has been working with beta customers—foundations, nonprofits, academic and government organizations—while aggregating and organizing content from public and other data sources.

It is far less expensive to subscribe to Posiba than to develop the same capability in-house.  “I can’t employ even one junior analyst, never mind buy the software tools, acquire the data and perform all the analytics for the price of Posiba,” said Mead.  “Even if I had capital without limits, I still wouldn’t have good insight into what my fellow funders have learned or see across the field. This is a field level information problem that requires a utility type solution. This is why I’ve participated in the development of Posiba and support their approach.”

Importantly, nonprofits can now see what is working and they can readily find who is funding their type of programs. Posiba is staking out the ground of better, cheaper, faster intelligence. It’s possible to know, learn and share better quality information, at an affordable cost to all and at a fast, more real time pace.

Larger nonprofit organizations and foundations can afford to hire staff and build out data analytics capabilities.  This is not true for smaller organizations, which make up the majority of the sector. Surprisingly, most foundations, as well as charities, are very small. In fact, according to the Internal Revenue Service and The Urban Institute, National Center for Charitable Statistics, two-thirds of foundations and over 90% of public charities in the US have less than a million in total assets.

Interestingly, the charitable sector doesn’t benefit from knowledge asymmetry.  The Gates Foundation benefits from knowing what the Ford Foundation has figured out and vice versa,” noted Dreicer.  “Even nonprofit charities that compete for contracts and grants from funders benefit by knowing what is working—or not.  Posiba will actually lift all boats as funders and donors can be more bold in their work when they know which investments work and this may actually grow the pool of monies flowing into charitable purposes.  Belief that nonprofits want to do the best and most they can with limited resources, and if they see their and others’ work more clearly, they will naturally adjust to doing more of what works. This is how Posiba changes the entire game.”

Funded by several high net-worth philanthropists with deep roots in some of the most successful tech companies in Silicon Valley coupled with a team of scientists—physicists, neuroscientists, mathematicians, statisticians along with web analytics pioneers, Posiba is well positioned to drive change.


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