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 In DataBlog, Projects

Quality data that’s free for all seems too good to be true. There must be a hitch, right? While it’s not all easy-peasy, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions that can make Open Data seem closed to nonprofits. Time to bust ‘em and get the doors open:

Myth #1 – “Open Data is hard to find, and even harder to access.”
Reality: Nonprofits just need to know where and how to look. There is a lot of data already out there that can be used.

Myth #2 – “Open Data works on a huge scale – only larger nonprofits should bother.”
Reality: Open Data can be scaled to work wonders for all sizes of organization. It’s all free to use, but you don’t need to use it all.

Myth #3 – “Even if you find it and could use it, you’d need special software and special technical expertise.”
Reality: Many programs that nonprofits already use every day can process the Open Data you need.

Myth #4 – “Even if you find it and could use it and have the software…Open Data is only really interesting in maps!”
Reality: Maps are cool, there’s no denying it. But mapping is just one of many uses Open Data can have.

In the coming weeks I’ll dispel these myths for good, by providing tips and resources to get you acquainted with Open Data. Why get excited? Mission, money, learning, and partnership.

Using Open Data can be a cheap way to add good data to grant applications, which can mean more funding more often. And in evaluating programs, it’s a more effective, less expensive way to make informed decisions about how to operate to best achieve your organization’s goals.

Last but not least, Open Data can help build partnerships with groups you want to work with, as in these slides from Toronto’s 2013 Open Data event. I also love this presentation, on several nonprofits collaborating with Open Data on the services, programs and challenges facing Toronto Youth: both instructive and inspiring.

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