Increasing A Community’s Knowledge of Local Nonprofits: A New Model From Brevard County

In this new age of technology and tools, where can people go to learn about their community’s nonprofit sector to help make informed decisions about community needs and charitable giving?

A new model from Brevard County offers one answer. Through a partnership with the Urban Institute’s National Center on Charitable Statistics (NCCS), the Community Foundation for Brevard, an FPN member, has created Connect Brevard, a web-based tool built on a platform developed by NCCS. Launched in September 2011, Connect Brevard provides a comprehensive picture of Brevard County’s residents, social services and most pressing needs all in one place. The site offers all the publicly available information on every tax-exempt organization in Brevard County from IRS tax filings and census bureau data, which can be supplemented with information from local organizations. NCCS’s Community Platform software is being marketed and developed in more than 10 states and counties nationwide, but with the help of the foundation’s advisory teams of local leaders, Brevard County was the first in the nation to launch the site.

In a recent FPN webinar, Sandi Scannelli, President/CEO of the Community Foundation for Brevard and Tom Pollak, NCCS Program Director at the Urban Institute, gave an overview of Connect Brevard and the Community Platform software. According to Scannelli, in the short time that Connect Brevard has been in operation, the county has learned a great deal about itself. For example, the Brevard County discovered that its volunteers give many more hours per volunteer than the national average (No. 8 in the country), and that arts groups in the county were particularly hard hit by the economic downturn. Continue reading