About AidData

Rigorous methods, cutting-edge tools, and granular data

Our Mission

AidData is a research lab at William & Mary's Global Research Institute. 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?

Our Vision

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.

Our Approach

Housed in William & Mary's Global Research Institute, AidData's work crosses sectors and disciplines, and serves the unique needs of both policy and academic communities, as well as acting between the two.

Interdisciplinary

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.

Insightful

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.

Innovative

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’s team of economists, political scientists, geographers, developers, program evaluators, policy analysts, and media and communications professionals has a track record of successfully managing more than 90 grants and contracts worth more than $50 million over the last 16 years.

Visit our Join the Team page for career and student opportunities with us!

Programs

We're catalyzing innovation in five program areas that inform and empower development organizations, decision-makers, and stakeholders.

Our Vision

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.

Our History

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 around 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 we 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 our 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 our data by policymakers and practitioners. Since 2004, AidData has worked with more than 40 bilateral, multilateral, and foundation partners. Our 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 became established as an independent research lab at William & Mary, with Development Gateway and Brigham Young University remaining engaged as strategic partners through the AidData Center for Development Policy.