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Three ways to use publicly available data to raise funds

Free data sets are available all over the place. Census data, and data on registered companies and non-profit organisations can usually be found with very little effort on state websites. This data is a very good way to build your fundraising campaign. Here are the 3 ways to use data to raise funds:

1. Use data to find gaps and opportunities

Your project serves a social need. Look for the missing data sets that talk to the need your project works to satisfy. Often, there is some publicly available data but it's not amalgamated analysed, or part of an existing advocacy campaign. This is a sure-fire indication that the work your project is doing serves an unmet need.

Focus on gathering and analysing the data that already exists. Be sure to highlight what seems to be missing or the areas where information is unreliable or patchy. Turn this data failure into a feature of your fundraising campaign.

2. Share the data with others who may also have an interest.

By sharing your data (and the problems you have with it), you are able to open conversations and forge alliances that often lead to funding collaborations. Your willingness to share the data and your engagement with others around the data creates a collaborative basis for funding.

Funders love to solve problems. Highlighting the research and the lack of information creates a tangible problem. Funders get a real sense of potential progress in solving the problem by increasing our information about the problem.

3. Present your project as a form of action research.

When you take data and formulate your project around it, you are best served to do it by proving a hypothesis.

So, for example, a project promoting and building public toilets may find it effective in raising funds, when they find data that indicates a good effect that public lavatories have on public health or the use of the public realm. Such a project may find that there is a lack of data on this and then use this lack of data to suggest that building and maintaining public toilets will lead to improved public health or improved use of the public realm.

Take the time to build a small research team to support your fundraising campaign. Encourage them to use free publicly available data to help you build a compelling case for support.

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