Over the past few months, we’ve been reevaluating how Purple Binder manages data about social services.

When Purple Binder first launched, we wanted to give everybody access to comprehensive, accurate information about community resources — for free. We envisioned that all of the information on the site would be crowdsourced from our users, like on Wikipedia.

In practice, this turned out not to work as well as we had hoped.  While quite a high percentage of users were contributing information (8% if you’re curious), it wasn’t enough to keep our data fresh. The past year especially has been a tumultuous time for social program in Chicago, and when we stopped to take stock of our data, we found that many programs had closed or moved, and not all of these changes had been reflected in our directory.

Going forward, we’re taking responsibility for updating our data. Instead of relying on user contributions, Purple Binder’s newly founded resource team of experienced social workers is working with providers and funders to keep our data up-to-date.

As part of this shift, we’re phasing out our free individual memberships. In order to support the work it takes to collect our data, we need to charge for access to our directory. Individual signups will no longer be available. Instead, organizations can purchase licenses for their staff.

(Through a partnership with the City of Chicago, information about social services that are funded by the City’s DFSS will remain free for all to access.)

Thank you to everybody who’s signed up with us since we launched in May 2012. We couldn’t have come this far without your participation.

To say thanks, we’re extending your individual accounts for four more months, and offering a discount to any organization who already has individual accounts with us. If you’d like to retain access to our full database, your organization can purchase a membership.

Organizations that are already customers of ours won’t see any change. Here’s what will happen for people who currently have individual accounts:

  • Your individual membership will last four more months. When those four months are up, you’ll only be able to access listings of services funded by DFSS.

  • If you’d like to retain access to our complete database, your organization can buy a membership. As a thank you for being a part of Purple Binder from the start, we are offering a 15% discount to organizations who sign up for continued access before February 15, 2014. Here’s the pricing before the discount.

In closing, we want to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has used Purple Binder in the past year. Building this directory has been a challenge. Knowing that it has made a difference in people’s lives and work has made it more than worthwhile, and inspired us to carry on.  If you have any questions about these changes, or just want to give us your feedback, contact us.

outreach@purplebinder.com or (312) 834-7877