AidData is a research lab at William & Mary. We equip policymakers and practitioners with better evidence to improve how sustainable development investments are targeted, monitored, and evaluated. We use rigorous methods, cutting-edge tools, and granular data to answer the question: who is doing what, where, for whom, and to what effect?
We live in an age of informational abundance. But decision-makers need help finding the signal in the noise — to target their resources where they can do the most good, to monitor progress over time, and to evaluate what works, what doesn't, and why.
By 2020, we want to see a group of leading international development organizations make better-informed decisions at multiple stages of their programming cycles by leveraging cutting-edge methods and tools and rigorous evidence.
To this end, we've decided to prioritize long-lasting, strategic partnerships with organizations that are willing to challenge the status quo and innovate at multiple stages of their programming cycles — during due diligence and program design, when interventions are being implemented and monitored, and when determinations of program effectiveness are made and fed forward into the next round of investment decisions.
Housed in William & Mary's Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations, AidData's work crosses sectors and disciplines, and serves the unique needs of both the policy and academic communities, as well as acting as a bridge between the two.
AidData's interdisciplinary team works together to seek entry points for research and analysis, using a wide range of novel methods, tools, and data sources to answer questions that cut across sectors, geographies, and disciplines.
Our insights help a diverse set of forward-leaning partners answer critical strategic and operational questions, fueling adaptive learning from initial program design to ex-post evaluation.
In partnership with strategic, long-term collaborators, we invest in public goods and ahead-of-the-market innovations that can fundamentally improve how policies and programs are designed, implemented, and evaluated.
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.