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Human Needs Index: A Real-Time Data Project on Poverty

MFG Archive

In our latest news roundup, we take a look at Kari Thierer's article for the Nonprofit Quarterly on the Human Needs Index.


Kari Thierer’s Nonprofit Quarterly article ‘Human Needs Index: Unusual Partnership Backs a Real-Time Data Project on Poverty‘ discusses how the Salvation Army and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University have partnered to help nonprofits get access to current, up-to-date data that supports their needs.


Together, they are working to create and expand the Human Needs Index, a ‘timely, multidimensional view of poverty-related need’.  Although the Salvation Army have been systematically collecting data for years, for the Human Needs Index researchers are focusing on seven areas in particular. These include: meals provided, groceries provided, housing assistance, clothing, furniture, medical support, and emergency assistance.


HNI resources are freely accessible, and are updated frequently – scores are predicted monthly, and finalised quarterly, almost in real-time. This is updated more often than other resources, like the U.S. Census Bureau, which was updated for 2014 only last month. The Lilly Family School have provided an extensive report of their findings, also available on the website.


Thierer highlights an important aspect – that the Human Needs Index measures need, and not the capacity to fill need. The hope for this index is that it will help the Salvation Army and other nonprofits provide more targeted support, through the movement of resources.


To find out more about the Human Needs Index, be sure to check out the original article on the Nonprofit Quarterly here.


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