Ask Us

Free data helpdesk

Sometimes a simple answer is all that's needed to solve a quick question. If your request can be fulfilled in less than an hour, we will provide the service at no cost. This typically applies to requests for general advice, questions about specific datasets, and other small tasks.

For repeat requests or questions that require a larger work effort, we will consult with you about your needs and provide a cost estimate.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How does Purpose Analytics help non-profits to "put data to good use"?

This means different things to different organizations depending on how far along they are in their "data journey". For some, we help them to access data that was buried in their information systems; for others, we offer them new ways to look at and communicate their data; and for still others, we build data connectors so that they can integrate multiple data sources in real-time. In much of what we do, our work is not just about providing a deliverable, but about helping organizations to discover the operational value of their data. And, in almost all of our work, we save non-profits time on their current data tasks which frees them up to tackle new ones.

Why is Purpose Analytics "cultivating a community of practice"?

We believe the challenge facing the sector is more than just an issue of skills and resources. The ecosystem around data in the sector is under-developed: there are few skilled analysts with non-profit expertise, fewer organizations that have experience engaging them, and limited norms and conventions around how data is used in sector-specific contexts. A community of practice is a starting point for addressing these foundational needs and an investment in a future where analysts aspire to be part of a non-profit data community.

Is your Ask Us service really free?

Yes, though realistically, we can only offer small tasks and general advice in the space of an hour. We also reserve the right to adjust delivery times as our workload requires. We offer this service because our customers appreciate it when we can answer their quick questions and we thought this should be accessible to all of our friends in the sector. It also allows us to keep a pulse on non-profit data priorities so that we can serve the sector better. Go ahead: ask us!

This service is inspired by Data Driven Detroit's AskD3 community request system.

Our data is $#!%. How are we supposed to use it?

There is no faster way to improve your data quality than to put it into production. Using data on a regular basis quickly surfaces issues that would otherwise stay buried and unnoticed. Furthermore, imperfect data still has value and shouldn't be dismissed outright. We offer strategies to flag suspect data, determine what parts of your data are reliable, and put the usable data to work.

We collect a lot of personal information. How will you safeguard our data?

We are knowledgable about PIPEDA and PHIPA compliance requirements and use best practices when working with personal information. Many customers provide us with access to their IT environment so that we can operate on their data without it ever leaving their network. When this isn't feasible, we can provide advice on alternatives that will not compromise the security of your data. For many automation and tool development projects, we don't require access to your data at all.

Do you work with groups of non-profits?

Yes! One of our early motivations for starting Purpose Analytics was that we observed many non-profits tackling similar data challenges and we felt that it didn't make sense for each of them to invent their own solutions. We have since come to understand more of the complexities of taking a group approach to data issues, yet we still believe that there is a meaningful opportunity to develop solutions at a portfolio level (we're looking at you, funders!) in a way that benefits organizations individually and collectively.

How are you funded?

We are funded entirely through service fees which are, in turn, re-invested into sector-level activities.