With $452 million distributed in 2013, Bloomberg Philanthropies is among the largest foundations in the United States, but it distinguishes itself by acting as its namesake, Michael Bloomberg, does—with sophisticated, data-driven solutions for every step of the process, from identifying priorities to monitoring progress to scaling pragmatic solutions. As a result, the foundation has been extraordinarily effective.
Bloomberg data wonks have ranked the top 10 global causes of death. By focusing on tobacco control, they address 60% of deaths on the list. And by concentrating on the countries that together contained two-thirds of the world's smokers, Bloomberg positions itself for maximum impact.
The foundation also spurs others to innovate. Its inaugural Mayors Challenge last year challenged U.S. cities to come up with solutions that could be applied throughout the country or the world. Chicago, one of five winners, received $1 million to implement an open-source, real-time analytics platform. By looking for trends in the city's daily 7 million new data points, it acts as an early-warning system, enabling officials to be proactive about health care, weather, and traffic emergencies. This year, Bloomberg's ideas competition is for European cities.
In January, data pointed the foundation to a new area. Bloomberg committed $53 million over five years to take on overfishing in Brazil, the Philippines, and Chile. This is the largest philanthropic effort yet to reform the management of international fisheries. The goal is rejuvenating 7% of the world's fisheries and, more importantly, creating a model to protect the threatened global fish supply anywhere it's needed.
To learn more about how Bloomberg Philanthropies uses data to drive its local efforts, click here.
[Illustrations by Carolin Wanitzek]