Graphic by Hunter Smith
To support the data needs of under-resourced organizations and communities, New Sun Rising (NSR) launched the Power in Numbers (PiN) initiative in 2019.
At 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 29, Power in Numbers 2.0 kicked off with a virtual event to introduce two new resources, the Vibrancy Portal 2.0 data platform and the Creative Advocacy Playbook. The event, led by NSR Executive Director Scott Wolovich, had participants from the United Kingdom, California, and New York, among other locations.
The Vibrancy Portal is a tool for nonprofit, social enterprise, and municipal leaders that aims to make data more actionable through greater access, insights, and integration. The new updates include a redesign of the user interface, more dynamic database structure, enhanced and expanded data sets, organizational ecosystem mapping, and the addition of Beaver County to the map.
“We know that for social innovation to grow, there needs to be investment in data and communications, and the ability to more effectively engage with the world around us,” Wolovich said. “Unfortunately, most small and community-led organizations lack this critical capacity.”
“Our own research showed that 80 percent of leaders placed high value on these things, but only 17 percent of them reported receiving related funding. This lack of investment really restricts their ability to compete for resources and grow their impact.”
The Portal serves to democratize data through two primary functions: a community data Explorer and organizational data Manager.
For the free and publicly available Explore website, NSR built upon work started with Carnegie Mellon University and participants in their own fellowship program to create a geo mapping application that is organized by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Although similar tools exist, most provide information at the county level and are not sensitive enough to show differing conditions between neighborhoods.
The Manager section of the website allows leaders to collect, analyze, and communicate data around 5 key areas: Issues, Capacity, Impact, Finances, and Reports. The site is password protected allowing teams to collaborate and encourage an actionable data model.
Lydia Moran of CONNECT, said they have been working with dozens of organizations over the last two years to create a multi-municipal climate action plan. During the Power in Numbers session, Moran also shared progress from the regional DISCOVER network. With so many different organizations involved across these efforts, a database like the Vibrancy Portal could make it easier to collect data and communicate regional impact.
“It’s really hard for us to talk about regional impact if we’re all measuring different things, and we’re not speaking the same language.” Moran said. “I’m very excited about this platform.”
The idea for the Creative Advocacy Playbook, which is being co-created with RiverWise, came from wanting to shift the paradigms and mindsets that hold existing systems in place and combat divisiveness while increasing engagement and awareness. The playbook will be publicly available and begin to support the launch of campaigns later this summer. While Wolovich admits there have been artists producing creative advocacy for years, “what makes this initiative unique is that it’s focused on building creative capital as an asset starting with the nonprofit and community itself.”
As far as the Vibrancy Portal goes, it is free, public, and ready to be explored.
“It’s a dynamic ongoing project, and we’ll continue to build it out as we’re able to attract more resources,” Wolovich said. “We do have gaps in the data that we know are important for communities that we are working with, and welcome the help to identify or even think about different ways to approach those gaps.”
Although the initiative is in its early stages, one thing that has been made clear is that institutionally collected data largely shapes the narrative around communities. Power in Numbers helps under-resourced leaders work beyond the limitations of traditional data to more fully reflect, resource, and inspire the life of their community.
Do you know an organization, issue, or community that would benefit from greater data utilization and creative advocacy? Email email@example.com to get involved.