Author ORCID Identifier

Robert L. Fischer

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Non-profit organizations strive to identify and build community in a variety of ways. A new development to assist non-profit organizations with this critical task is the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) that incorporate data assembled from area non-profit organizations. In this article, we investigate the reasons why non-profit organizations adopt these systems, their inclusion of various stakeholders in site launch, and the challenges for sustaining GIS use. Based on in-depth interviews conducted with sites that have adopted a prominent GIS application – the Urban Institute's Community Platform – we find that although non-profits may implement GIS with the expressed purpose of fostering collaboration and building community, realizing and sustaining these goals remain challenges. We discuss the implications of these findings and conclude with recommendations for non-profit and community leaders to assist non-profit organizations in making better use of GIS tools to involve and build their communities.


community data, GIS, nonprofits

Publication Title

Community Development Journal





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© Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal. 2016


This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Community Developmen Journal following peer review (Author Accepted Manuscript). The version of record Jeffrey L. Brudney, Allison Russell, Robert L. Fischer, Using data to build community: exploring one model of geographically specific data use in the non-profit sector, Community Development Journal, Volume 52, Issue 2, April 2017, Pages 354–371 is available online at: 10.1093/cdj/bsw008.


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