How do I pay for a data help desk?
Even if organizations want to establish a help desk, financing the service can be a challenge. NNIP partners handle funding in different ways. Of the partners that run help desks, 71 percent report that general support pays for their help desks. Fewer than four NNIP partners have specific funds for this purpose. One partner uses volunteer staff to answer questions. A couple of partners noted that the partner networks for various funded projects are so wide, that almost all the requests for data can in some way be related to a project.
Twenty-six organizations charge in some way for their assistance to help cover the costs. Of the organizations that have explicit time limits on requests, nearly 80 percent charge for any time spent on a request beyond the time limit. Two-thirds charge on a case-by-case basis, and the other third charge by the hour. Partners must balance the benefits of fee-for-service models with their mission to assist low-income communities and the positive public relations received by offering assistance free of charge.