(Nov. 7, 2019) In 2015, the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis unveiled a free, online community information system that has real-world implications for our region. For the first time, people had an intuitive and user-friendly way to look beyond their own perceptions—and misperceptions—about our community: links between public transit, affordable housing, household income, employment, educational attainment, and a host of other factors could be literally and vibrantly mapped. Visitors could then explore the nonprofits working in the impact areas and neighborhoods presented in the data maps. In its first four years, 360+ nonprofit organizations created profiles on the platform, and LIVEGIVEmidsouth drew 56,000+ profile views.
In November 2019, the Community Foundation unveils a completely refreshed and enhanced version of the LIVEGIVEmidsouth system. Developed by urban specialists at the Thriving Cities Group in Charlottesville, VA, the new website more seamlessly connects users exploring data about the Mid-South to the organizations addressing our community's needs.
LIVEGIVEmidsouth.org does a couple of things: (1) pulls from a wide variety of public data sets to generate maps that show public health, educational attainment, public safety, housing security, employment, and myriad other factors affect people across our metro area; and (2) delivers up-to-date information about nonprofits in the Mid-South that seek donations, volunteers, and other support to address these challenges.
Digitally-speaking, four years is practically a lifetime. In the time since the Community Foundation launched the system, Memphis has grown its reputation for being one of the sharpest and savviest cities in America for its use of data analytics to drive outcomes. In April 2019, the City of Memphis was one of seven municipal governments recognized by the Bloomberg Philanthropies as a “What Works City” for its productive and agile use of technology. In some respects, the Greater Memphis community is catching up to the innovative trends that the Community Foundation pioneered with LIVEGIVEmidsouth.
To remain at the vanguard of this important work, the Community Foundation has spent the last several months revamping and improving the sites. Building on its most useful features and dramatically expanding capacity behind-the-scenes, LIVEGIVEmidsouth seeks to be an even more useful, relevant, and relatable tool for a growing community of informed change-makers.
It is not enough to merely comprehend the challenges facing our community today, particularly when Memphis has been repeatedly praised as one of the most philanthropically-inclined cities in the country. Memphians want to do what they can to help their neighbors in need and drive positive change around the causes they care about.
“Visitors to the site will notice some elements of the interface that have changed that will make it even easier to use and quicker to get to the data that they want,” says Olivia Wilmot, director of community information. “Our nonprofit partners will be able to use the enhancements to the site to tell even better stories about what they’re doing, who they’re serving, and how they’re improving lives in our region.”
Creating a more informed and engaged philanthropic community is a key tenet of the Community Foundation of Memphis’s strategic plan. The improvements to LIVEGIVEmidsouth are the latest in a series of projects and resources that the Community Foundation has been unveiling in conjunction with its 50th anniversary, themed around the idea that Transformation Starts Here—and as these powerful digital tools demonstrate, it can start anywhere.
“We think the most exciting thing about about LIVEGIVE is that it is a process, not a project,” says Community Foundation president Bob Fockler. “It is meant to grow and evolve as our city grows and evolves. What the system looked like four years ago isn’t what it needs to look like today, or a few years from now or a few years after that. Memphis is moving, our challenges are changing, but what’s consistent is the intense interest by Memphians in helping each other and supporting causes.”