Foundation Center: New taxonomy provides a common language for 21st century philanthropy

Foundation Center’s Philanthropy Classification System (PCS) is a universal taxonomy that describes funders, grantees, and the philanthropic transactions between those entities, allowing organizations everywhere to communicate in a consistent way — to each other and the world — about their work. It answers the questions: ‘Who? What? How? and Where?’ making it easier for NGOs and funders to find partners, and for researchers to analyse the work of the social sector. 

Built on the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities structure that Foundation Center helped to create 30 years ago, the newly-revised system reflects the activities of today’s global philanthropy community and provides a robust yet flexible structure consisting of subjects, population groups, transaction types, and approaches (support strategies). For example, the number of population types had nearly doubled in 30 years, allowing for more inclusive and nuanced descriptions that reflect the changing ways people identify themselves worldwide. As part of searchable platforms, such as our Foundation Maps and Foundation Directory Online, it gives researchers the ability to retrieve more comprehensive data and conduct deeper analyses.

Now available for use under a Creative Commons licence, the PCS gives funders a tool to align their information with the way others organize it and unleashes their ability to work far more efficiently with each other and with other sectors.

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