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VOL. 130 | NO. 229 | Tuesday, November 24, 2015

New Websites Dig Into Memphis Community, Nonprofit Data

By Madeline Faber

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Supporting Memphis just got much easier with two new websites recently launched by the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, WHEREweLIVEmidsouth.org and WHEREtoGIVEmidsouth.org.

The website pair intends to show potential donors real data about Memphis so they can better understand community needs and be connected to nonprofits.

“Nobody’s ever been connected like this before,” said Sutton Mora Hayes, vice president of the Community Foundation. “You can learn about a topic and then learn about agencies that are working in that area.”

With the WHEREweLIVEmidsouth dashboard, people can search for community indicators such as median household income, housing density and proximity to education centers, and see that data reflected across maps that are regional or hyperlocal.

WWL then prompts viewers to check out the local nonprofits that are doing work in those subject areas, whether it’s in community development, housing, transportation, environment, economy and jobs, education, community engagement, or health and safety.

“Anybody in the community can understand and access it,” Hayes said, adding that websites with similar data are usually text-oriented and difficult to understand.

Data for WWL will be drawn from public sources and organized by staff at the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability and the University of Memphis’ Center for Applied Earth Science and Engineering Research.

WHEREtoGIVEmidsouth will be the first nonprofit database of its kind in Memphis. Community Foundation president Bob Fockler hopes to array Memphis’ nearly 1,200 nonprofits across an equal playing field with indicators such as management structure, mission and areas served, programs and financial statements.

Right now, around 100 nonprofits are listed, and the list is expected to grow constantly. The Community Foundation has hired two new employees, director Mia Madison and profile coach Ainsley Willis, to manage WTG.

The two sites are the product of a $400,000 project funded by 17 partners – including local foundations, corporations and nonprofits. The last time all the private foundations played ball together was to raise matching funds in 2010 for a $90 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“But it wasn’t a collaborative program like this is,” Fockler said. “This is everybody’s system.”

After WTG gets up and running, the Community Foundation will require that groups seeking grants be registered on the site.

The nonprofit profiles will be the closest thing Memphis has to a uniform grant application.

“We will use it with every grant we give out in the future,” said Elizabeth Rouse, president and CEO of ArtsMemphis, one of the organizations that helped fund the websites. “It may take a while to get all our groups on board with all their info on there, but eventually ArtsMemphis will use this as part of our own application process.”

“For the nonprofits, it helps give us greater visibility, particularly if people aren’t aware of the work that we’re doing,” said Marti Tippens Murphy, the Memphis director of Facing History and Ourselves.

“I hope that not only Facing History will direct people there, but that it becomes something that’s really well-known in the community so that people start thinking of it as the go-to place.”

Farther down the line, the Community Foundation plans to add population data to WWL and analyze trends over time. It will also put Memphis on the national map as a hub for philanthropy and community development.

“We’ve had trouble attracting national funds to issues because we’ve been so fragmented,” Fockler said.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 19 170
BUILDING PERMITS 0 305 3,056
BANKRUPTCIES 20 118 736
BUSINESS LICENSES 27 53 329
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0