The Story of Ajah

Its origin is Sanskrit, and It means “goat.”

In case you were wondering what “Ajah” means. (I get that a lot.)

We hadn’t planned on naming our company “goat” --  we chose Ajah because it was bilingual, available, we were eager to get to work -- but it sort of works.

Goats are surprisingly intelligent, which isn’t a bad thing to be associated with. Goats live in complex social groups, which is a decent description of our office. Goats are notorious for blending fundraising expertise with a passion for data and new technologies.

Ok, I’m stretching -- that last one is really more about us than goats. In any case, seven years later we’ve come to love the name. But a more interesting story is why we founded Ajah in the first place.

A lot of it was frustration. I was a fundraiser myself, and after years in the nonprofit sector and couldn’t believe how hard it was to figure out how to get funding.

I thought it might be inexperience, but after spending time on the boards of several nonprofits, I realised it was a struggle shared by every organisation in Canada.

The sector was a full of secrecy, bureaucracy, and dead-ends. The landscape was too convoluted, and often what funders said about themselves (if they even had a public profile)  didn’t match what they actually did.

Some of the most important information -- about the funding organisations similar to yours are getting, and from whom -- was really tough to get. Without time for detective work, fundraisers had little hope of finding their best prospects.

I thought there might be a better way.

Aside from fundraising, I’d always been passionate about new technologies, and involved in the open data movement. I knew the right information was out there -- with Revenue Canada, in annual reports -- it’s just that no one was pulling it all together in any useful way.

Fundraisers needed a tool that would use all that data to let them more easily see who is funding organisations similar to theirs.

So some friends and I got to work, and Fundtracker was born.

We wanted to do more than help nonprofits find new funders; we wanted to demystify the funding landscape.

What I’m most proud of is that besides using data to help nonprofits land new funders, we also help them see their funding environment more clearly.

And that’s what Ajah really means. We believe in the power of new technologies and information sharing to transform Canada’s social impact sector. That belief is at the heart of everything we do.

Goats, not so much.


Michael Lenczner, Founder & CEO, Ajah

PS. If you’re interested in knowing more about Ajah and what we do, why not follow us on Twitter?

PPS. And if you’re as into open data as we are, you may also want to follow Powered by Data, a non-profit initiative we launched in 2014 to work with nonprofits, funders and governments to help them better use, share and learn from data.

PPPS: If you read this far because you were hoping for more about goats, then this is the feed you’ve been looking for. You’re welcome.