AidData was founded when three organizations—William & Mary, Development Gateway, and Brigham Young University—grew frustrated with the informational status quo and came together together to provide the global development community with more granular and comprehensive data on foreign assistance projects worldwide.
A small core team of approximately eight staff initially focused their efforts on generating and publishing more sectorally and spatially precise data on bilateral and multilateral aid projects.
But AidData's activities and ambitions expanded and evolved over time. As it put more and better data into the public domain, demand for practical applications of the data sharply increased. AidData responded to this demand by refocusing its efforts on demonstrating the art of the possible with better data on development investments and outcomes.
AidData also began to place more emphasis on partnering with international development organizations to accelerate the use of its data by policymakers and practitioners. Between 2004 and 2016, AidData worked with more than 40 bilateral, multilateral, and foundation partners. Its global reach also expanded through in-country partnerships with more than 90 civil society organizations, line ministries, think tanks and universities in 21 different countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
By 2016, AidData had more than quadrupled in size and established itself as an independent research lab at William & Mary, with Development Gateway and Brigham Young University remaining engaged as strategic partners.