Research & Development


CLASSIE is a set of common terms that describe social sector initiatives and entities. When used collectively and systematically, the terms articulated and described in CLASSIE help grantmakers (and others) to make better sense of what's being funded and who's benefiting from that funding.

Learn more about CLASSIE →

Auto-classification (CLASSIEfier)

Our Community’s CLASSIEfier project involves applying data science to the task of auto-classifying written records (e.g. grant applications, appeal descriptions, mission statements). This allows us to classify past records instantly, reveal funding patterns and create benchmarking insights.

Read more about CLASSIEfier →

Social sector data repository (OurFile)

We want to make it easier for community groups to recruit, raise funds, fast-track grant applications and manage all of their information in one place.

OurFile centralises and systematises the storage and retrieval of reusable information about social sector organisations.

A central repository will be linked with Our Community’s numerous online systems (including SmartyGrants, GiveNow and the Join In, Join Up! directory), making uploading and updating of data into online appeals, grant applications and a range of other services and platforms instant and effortless.

OurFile also lays the groundwork for the creation of networking, benchmarking and governance/oversight tools that can help social sector organisations identify allies and collaborators, compare themselves with other organisations in their field or of their type, and super-charge their performance.

Working out what works (Outcomes Engine, Centre for What Works)

Millions of hours and billions of donors are flowing into the social sector each year – to what end? We want to know what changes are being created, as well as learning how we can replicate the good changes and avoid the bad ones.

We’re working on the creation of a universal Outcomes Classification (part of CLASSIE) that can be used to help us collect and categorise information about what changes are being sought, and how those initiatives are panning out.

In addition, we’re working on systems that can be embedded into our platforms (our ‘Outcomes Engine’) that will help generate better-designed, better-interrogated, better-understood social-change initiatives.

Importantly, we want to showcase what is learned along the way to anyone and everyone working towards the same aim. The Centre for What Works will reveal insights about what activities and outputs seem to lead to particular outcomes, while the Plans and Tools Bank will provide a knowledge base of templates and tools associated with interventions that work.

Our ‘What Works’ initiatives will help our partners close the design → deliver → evaluate → design loop.

Artificial intelligence

Machines can’t do everything, but they can do a lot of things.

It’s a brave new world, but we’re getting started. Our first major step into this arena is an investigation of how algorithms and artificial intelligence can be used to eliminate bias and speed up grant application assessments. We’re also looking for ways to assist grantwriters to draft and check their applications, to improve the quality of applications submitted. Next up is an online donations experience that’s tailor-made for the user.

In our artificial intelligence projects, we always aim to build explainable models. We avoid black-box algorithms (opaque systems of decision-making) as much as possible, focusing instead on methods that allow us to quantify the why in the prediction. Why did our method lead to this decision? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the algorithm? Are we propagating existing biases in the data, or eliminating them? How will our model behave in the future? We believe these questions are imperative, and more important than a 0.1% more accurate model.

Open data

We support transparency in the social sector, particularly when it comes to knowing and showing where the money is going, and the effect that money is having in creating social change.

There is an increasing level of interest in open datasets, as well as new regulations that seek to apply transparency to the work of government.

We want to help platform users open up their data and provide them with tools to navigate it. Work is under way to adopt an open data standard for grants information in SmartyGrants, and provide a one-click tool to allow willing grantmakers and users to export what they want, where they want.

Social lenses

We’re creating a range of tools to help grantmakers and grant recipients uncover and remove biases, creating fairer, more effective social change.

Awareness-raising is never enough for us. We want to create tools that will turn awareness into action. Three new Gender Lens standard fields were introduced to SmartyGrants in 2016. We’re monitoring the use of these fields as part of our efforts to ensure this important work can stick and spread.

Learn more about our Social Lens tools → (Help Hub login required)


The Our Community Innovation Lab team is working on a suite of tools that will help you visualise your data according to location, with a range of overlays available to provide additional context.

Learn more about Maps →