Data for Communities – Digitization Grants for Nonprofit Organizations

October 15, 2013 by Jennifer Cobb

Last year, we hosted a Data for Communities Program that awarded digitization grants to a handful of worthy nonprofits.  The program was such a success, and so aligned with our mission to democratize access to data for everyone, that we have decided to re-launch Data for Communities as an on-going grant program that awards worthy organizations and projects up to 10,000 pages of digitization.  Organizations are encouraged to apply at any time, and we will respond to grant requests within 30 days.  Learn more here.

In the meantime, we would like to take a moment to highlight one of the winners of last year’s program, the city of Wilbraham, Massachusetts.   As Wilbrahamthe town approached its 250th anniversary, the town Planning Board asked an all-volunteer “Vision Task Force” to gather data to guide it in updating its half-century-old master plan.  To accomplish this goal, the Task Force invited citizens to complete a Survey Monkey questionnaire. As is true for many organizations serving diverse constituents, the Task Force members quickly realized that many of their target population would not complete the questionnaire online.  So they printed it up and distributed it by hand.

The Vision Task Force turned to Captricity because “Using Captricity will enable us to combine manually submitted survey results with electronically submitted survey results to get a more comprehensive picture of the town’s interests and needs and ideas.” As Task Force member Susan Burk explained, ”Given that we live in a time of economic constraints, it would be tempting for us to just think about what we can do with what we have. However, Wilbraham is a very creative town and manages to do some wonderful things despite constraints.  We expect that by looking at people’s hopes as expressed in the survey, we may generate enough enthusiasm and creative ideas that we will be able to realize some of our hopes, despite economic constraints.” Including the voices of those who would not or could not reply to the online survey ensures that they will have input from the entire population.

We are pleased to announce that the Captricity's Data For Communities grant to Wilbraham bore fruit.  Burk recently reported, “Being able to merge our online survey results with the handwritten survey results gave us a statistically significant response population (501 response out of 14K+ residents) which actually matched our town's age and gender distribution.”

You can check out the final report at , where you can click on the cover of the Wilbraham Looks Forward report.  Burk concluded, “These findings have opened up an opportunity for dialogue in town about where we are headed.  They will also serve as an important reference point for future planning, development, and preservation decisions.”

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