Mapping the Crowd
As "Crowdsourcing" becomes more and more a part of American vernacular, it seems that the world is becoming a place where large companies' development teams matter less than those they serve. Recently, we've seen the explosion of SMS cell phone technology, in addition to web-based polling, in the world of product development, and even in the philanthropic community (see Susan's post defining the new term Philanthrosourcing). Companies and even some non-profits are asking, rather than telling, their audiences and their target groups what they want developed, and what would help them most.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy turned me on to a newly-developing software program, PolicyMap, that seems to be a useful tool for any company or foundation looking to flex its Philanthrosourcing muscles. PolicyMap is a high-level program for creating maps, charts, and graphs based upon almost any kind of statistical data. In the donor circuit, it would be highly useful as a plotting device to map who is affected by a certain cause, what geographical areas should be focused on to advance that cause, and how effective various projects are being at promoting that cause.
PolicyMap comes loaded with various figures for free, and if you invest in the standard or premium packages, you are able to upload your own data and build detailed maps and models for any information of your choice. In order to see what the crowd wants or where we should be focusing our philanthropic efforts, we need the data to make sure we're being as effective as possible. This software, though a simple concept, could do a great deal in advancing the world of Philanthrosourcing.