Gabi Fitz and Lisa Brooks in Philantopic: “One of the key roles the nonprofit sector plays in civil society is providing evidence about social problems and their solutions. Given recent changes to policies regarding the sharing of knowledge and evidence by federal agencies, that function is more critical than ever.
Nonprofits deliver more than direct services such as running food banks or providing shelter to people who are homeless. They also collect and share data, evidence, and lessons learned so as to help all of us understand complex and difficult problems.
Those efforts not only serve to illuminate and benchmark our most pressing social problems, they also inform the actions we take, whether at the individual, organizational, community, or policy level. Often, they provide the evidence in “evidence-based” decision making, not to mention the knowledge that social sector organizations and policy makers rely on when shaping their programs and services and individual citizens turn to inform their own engagement.
In January 2017, several U.S. government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture, were ordered by officials of the incoming Trump administration not to share anything that could be construed as controversial through official communication channels such as websites and social media channels. (See “Federal Agencies Told to Halt External Communications.”) Against that backdrop, the nonprofit sector’s interest in generating and sharing evidence has become more urgent than ever…..
Providing access to evidence and lessons learned is always important, but in light of recent events, we believe it’s more necessary than ever. That’s why we are asking for your help in providing — and preserving — access to this critical knowledge base.
Over the next few months, we will be updating and maintaining special collections of non-academic research on the following topics and need lead curators with issue expertise to lend us a hand. IssueLab special collections are an effort to contextualize important segments of the growing evidence base we curate, and are one of the ways we help visitors to the platform learn about nonprofit organizations and resources that may be useful to their work and knowledge-gathering efforts.
Possible special collection topics to be updated or curated: