Thursday, September 10, 2009

Nonprofit Mapping is a GREAT new example of data as a platform for change.

Here's what the folks behind NonprofitMapping are trying to do:
" will transform previously inaccessible data sets into useful knowledge than can be made broadly available using the Web, geospatial mapping tools, and social media."
Another way to put this is (as was just tweeted by @SVTgroup) "one of the best ways to really do "venture philanthropy" is through sharing data... open philanthropy." I couldn't agree more. The building blocks of open philanthropy rely on data sharing. The article on technology and philanthropy I'm working on for Fall publication posits that data will be the platform for the social economy (philanthropy to impact investing) going forward.*

NonprofitMapping looks like a great effort. I just ran through the "team" page and realized I know some of these folks. Gotta go try to get on the phone with them and learn more about it. I'll be watching this. You should too.

*Now in draft form. Please make note in comments or email me [lucy (at) blueprintrd dot com], or tweet @p2173 if you'd like to be sent a copy when it is published from the Duke University Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society


Sara Olsen said...

Thanks for the shoutout, Lucy! We look forward to chatting with you.

Pete said...

I'd like to see your article as soon as it's available. looks very interesting (although I'd like to see more when I click through).

Readers interested in open data sharing, and particularly in using data about resources, like philanthropy or nonprofit and public services, to influence policy decisions may be interested in the Healthy City mapping project. It has served LA County for over 6 years, and this year is expanding to cover all of California, including the Bay Area. (I believe Healthy City and some of the team are talking about ways to work together). Here's a link to the development version of the Healthy City statewide site:

(Full disclosure: I am on the governing partnership for Healthy City and was one of its co-founders. In fact, the challenge of doing early maps of nonprofits in LA is one of the things that brought our partnership together.)

A key concern is visualizing the reach of philanthropy - what is the actual geography served by a grant, and who lives there, who is served? Point data and grant amounts don't tell you much. Healthy City has a fair amount of experience doing those kinds of visualizations, worth a look sometime. Then other key dimensions to visualize or show assess somehow are relative effectiveness and impact (and from whose perspective - funders, volunteers, constituents/clients, peers?)

For those interested more broadly in the use of maps to encourage equity, Opportunity Agenda just published a series of papers (Bill Pitkin from Hilton Foundation and I wrote one about web-based GIS tools). Near-final versions at


Pete Manzo

Lucy Bernholz said...

Pete and Sara
Thanks for commenting and leaving these resources. I've been searching through the Health City sites - absolutely fantastic information, easy to use, diverse data sets. Thrilled to hear this is going statewide. I'm going to have to revisit some of my old posts about mapping. These are great living uses - will work them into my second draft of the tech paper. Pete - so noted, I'll make sure you get a copy when there is a version to share. Thanks for keeping me and others in the loop on these tools and your work. (And the papers from OppAgenda)


Wealthy Perspective said...


Great article. I look forward to reading more. I currently write a funny blog for the well-to-do, and I was interested in what you wrote wondering how I could work it into an article. I will give it some thought.