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 In DataBlog, Projects

Smaller non-profits need not find Open Data overwhelming. ‘Open Data’ can seem to means ‘Big Data’: way out of the ballpark for small nonprofits. But that’s not so – Open Data can fit like a glove with non-profits of all sizes.

For example, a non-profit I’ve met with in Peel, Ontario teaches teen moms to read. This small organization’s great. The program’s solid. However, they don’t have dedicated researchers, so they lack some data on the problems and solutions they’ve found. These days, that can mean trouble getting certain grants. Small non-profit, big problem.

Open Data offers a solution to that big problem. For this organization, we needed to find data that showed potential funders where it made sense to expand new literacy programs. Where to begin? The Open Data stockpile at the Peel Community Data Centre. We looked up the location and services of Peel’s existing child care centres.

Best of all, we didn’t even need to map it. In many places, this kind of data is freely available in several formats, including readily usable format. We got this beautiful, free map of just what the Peel non-profit needed. Added to their program plan – and eventually, their grant application – it demonstrated how strategically they use statistics. That’s an Open Data success story (note: not a fairy tale!). Small orgs really can use a little bit of data to make a big impact where it counts.

Excited yet? Get ready: the same website covers expected child care needs, demographic data, housing data – you name it. (Don’t worry if you’re not in Peel – there are resources all over the world.) Check out how easily Open Data fits any size of plan, or any length of timeline. Next time I’ll write a bit about how to make it work with the tools you already have available.

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