Aid Data Hotline FAQ



  1. What is the Aid Data Hotline trying to achieve?.
  2. Who is behind this initiative?.
  3. How does it work?.
  4. How will you know if it is successful?


1.    What is the Aid Data Hotline trying to achieve?

  • What is the problem being addressed, and what are the objectives of the Aid Data Hotline?
  • How will the hotline lead to positive change?

AidInfoPlus is a nonprofit that aims to empower individuals with the information and data skills they need to raise accountability and efficiency in development and humanitarian aid.

It will launch the Aid Data Hotline, a free online helpdesk operated by a team of freelance experts, to assist users with questions related to searching development data. This demand-driven service, available in English and French, will address a variety of needs and adapt to all levels of technical skills and data literacy.

International aid has grown into a major knowledge industry, generating massive volumes of information and data. These are published on expanding websites, open databases, countless blogs and social media channels. With the rollout of the SDGs, calls for a ‘data revolution’ have been pushed to the top of the global agenda. Yet, very few people have the skills to efficiently search and process those data.

We hope to not only serve immediate information needs but to show our users how to search, verify, analyze, visualize and use aid data and information on their own, for their own practical daily needs. By answering real-life questions with replicable tutorials, we hope to build a growing repository of small training units.

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2.    Who is behind this initiative?

  • Who is spearheading this initiative and why are they best placed to do so?
  • Who is the target audience, and how are participants recruited?
  • Will you partner with other organizations/bodies?

This initiative is spearheaded by AidInfoPlus, a small NGO managed by an international board.

AidInfoPlus is led by Robert Bourgoing, an international development journalist, media trainer in Africa and former Head of Online Communications at the Global Fund. As a journalist reporting on aid and an insider of a major aid agency, Robert brings a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities of building capacity in this field.

AidInfoPlus aims to open a small secretariat in Geneva, the hub of international development, to coordinate the work of a network of search experts from donor and recipient countries.

A major effort will go into informing priority users about the availability of the Hotline, groups such as civil society coalitions, associations of journalists from developing countries, journalism training providers, academics and aid workers.

Partners will share announcements using their newsletters, websites and mailing lists. AI+ will feed conversations on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

We already have an extensive network of contacts with coalitions, media organizations and aid transparency initiatives supporting us, like the ICFJ, Internews, the Stop TB Partnership, GFAN, InterAction, Publish What You Fund, the IATI, Development Gateway, Development Initiatives and the School of Data.

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3.    How does it work?

  • What tool/s (tech or non-tech) will be used to reach your objectives, and why have you chosen these?
  • How will your chosen tools enable your initiative?
  • How will your initiative actually work?

AidDataHotline_DiagramAidInfoPlus users will need nothing more than an Internet connection and a valid email address.

A plugin will be designed for partners to embed a slimmed down version of the Hotline form on their websites, thus multiplying the entry points to the service. A mobile application (IOS and Android) will also be developed.

Those tools, in addition to the website, are the most widely available and simplest to use to reach out to a global and diverse audience.

Rather than trying to reach out to small pockets of individuals with traditional methods such as workshops, AidInfoPlus offers to complement existing training initiatives with a free demand-driven service that can be accessed by anyone, at anytime from anywhere.

Queries will be channelled through a simple online form on AI+ and multiple partners’ websites.

The experts will not only provide answers but create short illustrated tutorials, following step-by-step methodologies that users can replicate to search on their own: clarifying the initial question; choosing the proper resources and tools; drafting powerful queries; double-checking results; scraping, cleaning, verifying, comparing data; visualizing results, etc. Over time, these little units of training will grow into a searchable online reference to learn to search for aid information.

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4.    How will you know if it is successful?

  • What metrics/indicators will be used to evaluate success?
  • Why are these the most important metrics/indicators?
  • How will they be measured?

While the AI+ strategy is informed by extensive research and consultations, it steps into uncharted territory, attempting to reach out to a global and diverse audience with an innovative demand-driven approach to training. As a new and learning organization, it commits to incorporate the lessons it learns and to adapt its strategy on a yearly basis.

Impact will be measured qualitatively through periodic surveys sent to users of the site, asking how they used what they gathered from AI+, what results their related work produced. It will be evaluated quantitatively with users’ basic information (location, area of expertise, intended use of data), and by asking them to comment/rate the answers and tutorials, and by measuring traffic on the website and participation in social media.

Beyond empowering infomediaries with practical search skills and a method to fill their needs, the Aid Data Hotline will also serve as a feedback mechanism for aid data and information providers, highlighting the correlation between the demand for aid data and what the suppliers of data and tools actually offer. As an independent organization, AI+ will be free to recommend, rate and provide constructive criticism on their data and tools, helping to improve their services.

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