During the virtual ERNOP Conference 2021, the award for the best conference paper went to Lucia Gomez Teijeiro and Giuseppe Ugazio their work on ‘Mapping the Swiss Philanthropy Sector Through Big Data’. Lucia Gomez Teijeiro and Giuseppe Ugazia both work at the University of Geneva and are connected to the Geneva Finance Research Institute and the Geneva Centre for Philanthropy. Lucia is also working at the Department of Basic Neurosciences at the University of Geneva.

Prof. John Mohan (University of Birmingham) stated on behalf of the award committee (Dr. Maria Gallo, Prof. Rene Bekkers, Prof John Mohan) that “the paper is more than a paper. It is a set of tools that others can be freely obtained, used and adapted by others to analyze the philanthropic sector in their country. Also the methodology can be potentially revolutionizing research on philanthropy as the paper presents a new and very fruitful way to produce and analyze data on philanthropic organizations. It is a very sophisticated way of conducting the classification exercise in a relatively economical manner, and we do need such exercises to make progress with work on organizations.”

In summarising their work, Lucia and Giuseppe state that “Switzerland occupies a leading position in the philanthropic ecosystem, counting over 13000 philanthropic organizations (POs). However, the absence of a digital, comprehensive, and publicly available data resource describing Switzerland POs and their activities, makes it challenging to comprehend the complexity of the sector. This lack of knowledge does not favor collaborations among POs which find it hard to coordinate their activities and in turn prevents the sector from achieving its maximum potential to generate a meaningful impact. In the paper, the winning authors propose to generate this required yet missing knowledge by using state-of-the-art Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning tools.

“This research – and wider use of its methodology – can increase the visibility of philanthropic motives and activities, promoting synergies between diverse actors sharing the goal of achieving the SDGs, and ultimately boosting the role of philanthropy in shaping a better future.”