September 22, 2019
Philanthropy Catalogue Launches Mass. Philanthropic Directory

February 8, 2011 — Watertown-based Catalogue for Philanthropy today announced it will launch the Massachusetts Philanthropic Directory, the nation's first complete, systematic, statewide directory of charities, an effort aimed at raising philanthropy “to a new level.”

The Massachusetts Philanthropic Directory (MPD) was developed over the past six years in collaboration with 15 community foundations across Massachusetts and leading private foundations, corporations, and individual donors.

George McCully, president of the Catalogue for Philanthropy, founded in 1996 to support and rationalize the field of philanthropy, said, "The Massachusetts Philanthropic Directory raises philanthropy in thought and practice to a new level and will produce a knowledge explosion about the status and history of philanthropy in all fields and regions."

The directory—available by clicking here—to launch on Wednesday, Feb. 9, will be free to all users. It also will be hosted on the websites of community foundations.

McCully said that the directory will enable all those involved in philanthropy—including donors, grant-makers, philanthropic advisors, charity leaders, strategic planners, journalists, scholars, students and people in need—to better understand the fiscal, geographic, historic, and demographic traits of groups of charities, assess gaps in philanthropic services, and enable comparisons of philanthropy across different fields and regions.

The MPD is the first complete presentation of institutionalized philanthropy by itself, distinct from the vast majority of nonprofit organizations, he noted.

While the Internal Revenue Service lists more than 38,500 nonprofits in Massachusetts, according to McCully, only about 4,000 (10%) of those are philanthropic in nature in that they are private initiatives for public good, focused on quality of life, and dependent on public fundraising.

A New Taxonomy of Philanthropy

In addition to providing access to a comprehensive database, the MPD offers a new systematic taxonomy of philanthropic fields, McCully said.

The MPD fits all charities into three fundamental and complementary fields—nature, culture, and people—which are subdivided into 200 specific subfields.

“For the first time, users may see philanthropy presented as a coherent whole and graphically as a traditional, taxonomic tree,” McCully noted.

Users can conduct powerful searches with the MPD by designating multiple ranges of interest—geographic location, revenue size, year of IRS authorization (indicating institutional maturity), and demographics served—to identify all charities meeting those criteria.

While existing search engines find individual charities, by name, location and keywords, the MPD is the first tool that enables systematic searches by complete groups, according to McCully.

McCully said, “A clear definition of philanthropy, together with a systematic taxonomy of its fields, are basic prerequisites for donor education, a strong culture of philanthropy, and mature philanthropic scholarship – based on systematic data collection and analysis.

“This is the first system that puts all small charities of broad potential interest visibly on a map of philanthropy as a whole, with direct links to their websites. They will never again be lost in the shuffle."

He said the MPD will be rolled out over the next year and invited users to help improve it as a common resource. After beta-testing is completed in Massachusetts, the Catalogue will extend the system to all other states.

“With this new technology,” he said, "we can see that the nonprofit sector and its philanthropic element are much more complex and varied than we have thought, and that philanthropy is on the verge of becoming systematic.”

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