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In Search of Digital Civil Society Around the World

‘We need a global conversation about data, social change, and digital civil society’ states Lucy Bernholz in a fascinating new blogpost. Lucy documents her recent travels to Beijing, China, and São Paolo, Brazil – two thriving cities in countries with similar attitudes to data, yet stark contrasts in position and ability to collect it.

In Lucy’s blogpost, she not only shares some of her slides and her views but also makes the case for the very conversation this website is dedicated to: recording and utilising data in order to make better decisions. She even goes as far as to highlight our efforts, along with those of Feedback Labs, citing us as a place where ‘these conversations [about data] can be catalyzed and captured’.


‘The level of registration and oversight for NGOs in China creates a robust digital trail of information, allowing for much more robust data gathering on civil society than is possible in other parts of the world.’ This leads us neatly to São Paolo, the heart of Brazil’s ‘vibrant, messy and confusing social economy’, where ‘funders, nonprofit leaders, financiers, and scholars bemoan the lack of comparable data about the sector’. A fascinating comparison of two fast paced and rapidly progressing social economies.

Whilst talking in both countries she was able to highlight two very interesting Canadian companies in the data space as pioneers as standard bearers for data collection and effective use. Firstly, she references who use the digital data collected in Canada on foundations and non-profits to produce search tools. She then moves on to talk about PoweredByData, who help funders and government regulators around the world publish more and better data about the non-profit sector.


Lucy is a regular contributor to this site and influential thought leader in the philanthropic data space, which is why we take great pleasure in recommending that you read her personal blog, from which this article is sourced. You can also follow her on twitter for real time updates and insights.