The following is a curated list of reports and initiatives that provide more context on priorities and approaches to funding digital equity.
CanadaHelps released “Are Canada’s Charities Ready for Digital Transformation?” based on a survey of 1,400 charities in Canada that provides baseline data on charities’ unreadiness for digital tools and the barriers they face in digital adoption. Highlighting the profound implications for the sustainability and impact of the sector, the report calls for urgent investment by funders and governments.
The Canadian Centre for Nonprofit Digital Resilience is working to achieve a digitally-enabled nonprofit sector, where Canada’s diverse nonprofits use data and tech to advance their mission and multiply their impact, and is convening working groups on relevant topics, including grantmaker practices.
CIRA’s “Unconnected: Funding Shortfalls, Policy Imbalances and How They Are Contributing to Canada’s Digital Underdevelopment”, released in 2020, presents the funding landscape for digital development projects and the systemic barriers preventing progress towards Canada’s digital development goals.
CIRA’s “Getting Connected: Funders and Digital Equity in Canada”, released in 2022, is based on in-depth interviews with leaders in Canada’s philanthropic community and finds that while funders haven’t historically prioritized bridging Canada’s digital divide, they now agree it’s a priority. The report lays out concrete recommendations to bring new funders into the fold and increase the resources available for digital development projects.
Community Foundations of Canada is the national leadership organization for Canada’s nearly 200 local community foundations and has programs that offer funding for digital solutions in small communities.
Connect Humanity Fund is a US-based non-profit organization that works with partner organizations around the world, mainly through grants and impact investments, to empower communities to build internet infrastructure, skills and digital equity.
European Artificial Intelligence Fund is a philanthropic initiative to shape the direction of Artificial Intelligence.
The Internet Society’s “2021 Indigenous Connectivity Summit Policy Recommendations” calls for bold action to reach digital equity. It makes recommendations for: (1) inclusivity, community consultation, and engagement; (2) spectrum rights and sovereignty; (3) engaging local capacity in Indigenous communities; (4) infrastructure and ownership; (5) beyond infrastructure: digital literacy, data sovereignty, and sustainability; (6) affordability; and (7) effective and accurate mapping. A PDF of the eight-page document is available here: bit.ly/3CK9B81
NetGain Partnership is a US-based digital funding partnership that brings together program staff and leaders from eight foundations. Media Democracy Fund is its strategic and operational partner. Each year, NetGain selects a theme, commits to learning about a complex topic at a systemic level, and supports, through direct and pooled giving, a range of activities and organizations aligned with the annual theme.
Observatoire québécois des inégalités published a report in 2019, called “Virage numérique : Portrait des opportunités et des enjeux pour les OSBL,” about challenges and opportunities of digital transformation of Quebec’s nonprofits. A PDF of the report is here: bit.ly/3CGPVlH
Ottawa Neighbourhood Equity Index is a tool to help identify disparities between neighbourhoods and tackle them in a systematic and organized way including disparities in digital access.
Philanthropic Foundations Canada is a network of grantmakers that aims to strengthen Canadian philanthropy, and has hosted events on digital equity. CIRA will attend PFC’s 2022 conference with an interest in convening an affinity group on digital equity.
Philanthropy Northwest is a network for philanthropists in seven US states that convenes peer network learning communities related to digital equity, such as convenings with the Tribal Broadband Learning Community.
Ryerson Leadership Lab’s “Towards a Digital Equity Policy for the City of Toronto” is a research report from 2022 that offers five policy recommendations to inform the City of Toronto’s digital equity policy and advance the right to internet access.
Statistics Canada’s “Canadian Internet Use Survey, 2020” offers data about gaps in internet use, online shopping, phone use, and cybersecurity issues in 2020, during the pandemic.
Technology Association of Grantmakers’ “How to Fund Nonprofit Tech: A Guide for Funders and Nonprofits” (2022) provides resources for funders and nonprofits who want to focus on digital development.
Here's a sampling of events and media coverage of digital equity:
Future of Good is Canada’s leading digital publication covering the world of social impact. CIRA and Future of Good have collaborated extensively on digital equity issues, through events and reporting, including:
The Digital Divide Has Reached Emergency Status
Fixing the Digital Disparity
Bridging the Digital Divide
Dismantling Digital Barriers Summit 2021
Philanthropic Foundations of Canada: How Can Philanthropy Close the Digital Divide in Canada and How Canada’s Digital Divide is Holding Back Philanthropy (bit.ly/3KykCeu)
The Toronto Star: Digital Development is the most important funding need you’ve never heard of
The Hamilton Spectator: It’s time to tackle digital inequity