Research & Development

Our unique mix of social sector and grantmaking experts, experienced developers, and data specialists mean the Innovation Lab team is able to work on revolutionary initiatives designed to change the social sector for good.


CLASSIE is a landmark initiative that enables systematic classification of social sector initiatives and entities – a social change dictionary.

The taxonomy draws from the US Foundation Center’s well-respected Philanthropy Classification System, as well as a deep well of knowledge contributed by a team of more than 50 subject matter experts across Australia and New Zealand.

CLASSIE (Classification of Social Sector Initiatives and Entities) is used to create consistency across Our Community platforms and beyond – without consistency, global insights are very difficult to extract.

Developing a common language helps us join the dots and derive insights that cut across a range of government, business and community activities.

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 →

White paper: Ethical Considerations in Multilabel Text Classifications

Social sector data repository (SmartyFile)

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.

SmartyFile 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.

SmartyFile 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)

The Outcomes Engine is a tool that is built into SmartyGrants that is designed to help grantmakers make better, more outcomes-driven decisions about who to fund, and track progress towards their goals.

The Outcomes Engine allows grantmakers to define a system-wide outcomes framework, specify which goals and metrics apply to each program ot round, and collect data from grant applicants and recipients in line with their frameworks.

The Outcomes Engine consists of four major components:

  1. Outcomes Framework
    The grantmaker fills in our Outcomes Framework Template, comprising Domains, Outcomes and (if relevant) Metrics, and uploads it into the system. Multiple frameworks can be uploaded if required.
  2. Outcomes Configuration Settings
    The grantmaker can choose which Domains, Outcomes and Metrics will apply to particular Programs and Rounds. They can also choose which population groups/beneficiaries will apply to different Programs and Rounds.
  3. Outcomes Standard Questions/Sections
    The grantmaker gets access to a suite of standard outcomes-focused questions/sections to place on their forms. These questions/sections have been tested with grantmakers, evaluation experts and grantees. Outcomes data flows into the system via these fields when published on forms and filled in by grantees. Each section comes with template explanatory text, and each question can be edited (or omitted) to suit the grantmaker’s own appetites and capacities, and those of their grantees. Data from one form flows through to the next, allowing grantees to build up a picture of their progress over time.
  4. Reporting Tools
    Outcomes-focused reports are generated drawing on data from the Outcomes Framework, Configuration Settings and Standard Questions/Sections. Reports showcase outcomes and metrics-related data that apply to a particular grant. This data can also be aggregated to create a round or program-wide view. They can also be filtered by Domain, Outcome or Date.

Importantly, we want to showcase what is learned via the Outcomes Engine 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.

SmartyGrants Maps

Available exclusively to SmartyGrants users, SmartyGrants Maps helps grantmakers visualise and make sense of their grants data, and facilitate better-informed decision-making.

SmartyGrants Maps helps unlock powerful insights about funding patterns, including the ability to:

  • Visualise grants in the context of a range of geographic boundaries
  • Take a bird's eye view of grants across a wide region or zoom in on a particular point with pin-point accuracy
  • Generate insights about over/under-funded regions or areas that are over/under-represented in application stats
  • View heat maps that reveal contextual insights about data

Learn more about Maps →

Gender lens

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

In our first initiative we worked with the Australian Women Donors Network to create greater gender awareness in the awarding of grants. Gender-wise grantmaking occurs when grantees are encouraged to consider the social disadvantage women and girls face when designing and delivering grants-funded projects and programs, and where grantmakers themselves consider gender when setting and reviewing funding priorities. This work included research into ways in which organisations can apply a gender lens to their work.

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.

More about our gender-lens work →