Creating an equitable data strategy to support non-profits

A new partnership aims to create an equitable data strategy, working to improve research, evidence, and data to help non-profit organizations operate more effectively. The partnership will identify supports and infrastructure needed to develop the sector’s capacity to manage, understand and use data. The strategic use of data and knowledge in, on, and by the sector will support better programs and services, public policy development, and better outcomes for communities across Ontario.

The non-profit sector has a wealth of knowledge derived from program evaluations, pilot tests, and more generally the practical knowledge that comes from combining formal training with years of experience in the field. Knowledge and data are essential to making informed decisions, especially in the non-profit sector where they impact people and communities. There have been knowledge and data communities of practice at the regional and subsector level, though there is a lack of broader infrastructure in the non-profit sector to support the sharing of knowledge between organizations and subsectors. 

Connected and organized knowledge bases would benefit non-profit organizations to better understand their impact and learn new ways to address challenges such as declining resources, shifting community needs, and increasing demand for programs and services. 

The Ontario Trillium Foundation, Ontario Nonprofit Network and Ajah have partnered to design and develop a Data, Evidence And Learning (DEAL) Strategy to ensure that Ontario’s non-profit sector’s data and knowledge are ethically used and appropriately leveraged to support learning and evidence-informed decision-making. 

The partnership aims to:

  • Engage stakeholders from a range of sectors including non-profit organizations, intermediaries, academia, funders/investors to advance sector-led and sector-wide knowledge infrastructure solutions. 
  • Help create an equitable data strategy that works for non-profit organizations across the sector. 
  • Increase awareness of an ethical and equity/rights-based approach to data collection, analysis, use & ownership. 
  • Prototype data infrastructure and increase awareness of where to find and access data by non-profits.


“The non-profit sector is at the forefront of addressing the most pressing social, environmental and cultural issues of our time and yet they have been doing this without the collective knowledge infrastructure we see in such areas as health and academia. This exciting work seeks to address this crucial gap in our ability to learn better, together.” Said Liz Forsberg, Lead, Partnership Investments – Impact, Ontario Trillium Foundation.


The Ontario Trillium Foundation's (OTF) Partnership Investments program connects the non-profit, public, and private sectors to build a stronger non-profit sector in Ontario. 

The program's mission is to mobilize relationships and resources in communities to build the capacity of the non-profit sector to innovate and deliver better outcomes for Ontarians.