Mapping philanthropy

I spend a lot of time looking for grants, reading about requests for proposals, and generally immersed in all things “soft money”, so it was I was excited to find The Foundation Center‘s Philanthropy In/Sight tool. The Foundation Center states that, “It’s the essential tool that grantmakers, policymakers, researchers, and academics are using to visualize the scope and reach of philanthropy — from local communities to countries around the globe.” It uses data on thousands of grants, grant receivers and funders, and other demographic information to provide a both a useful analysis and search tool.
If you are interested in the impact of philanthropy as a subject, there is a book called, “Mapping the New World of American Philanthropy: Causes and Consequences of the Transfer of Wealth: Causes and Consequences of the Transfer of Wealth” which is about the history of non-profits from 1940 until the current day and the impact of the baby boomer generation on philanthropy today and in the future.

3 thoughts on “Mapping philanthropy

  1. It is a very cool tool. The drawback is that they are only mapping the flow of money from donor to receiver and not actually mapping where activities are happening on the ground or what the outcomes are. And since they are mining data from US tax forms it only gives a picture of US based philanthropy.

  2. I’ve been using mapping for 15 years to point volunteers and donors to places in Chicago where volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs are needed. See and view the map gallery, blogs, and interactive map.

    Thus, I’m impressed with what the Foundation Center is trying to do. I would love to be in conversation to encourage additional innovations that would use their site to attract more donors through the maps and to the places where the web site of an organization would serve as the “request for donations” so the donor could decide how, and how much, he wants to help the NPO achive their mission.

    If such a system were combined with reporting who donated where, it might identify the gaps in funding, and encourage more consistent, long-term operational funding for work that will take years to have an impact.

  3. Thanks so much for your post on our Philanthropy In/Sight mapping tool. And thanks, also, to those who commented.

    Jubal, you make a good point about the need for data on the “geographic area served” of grants. Of course, the physical location of a grant recipient might not be the same as the ultimate destination of the grant funds. This is especially true for grants awarded to international organizations. The Foundation Center is working hard to enable users to map grants in this way and I’m happy to report that we’re getting close to making this a reality in Philanthropy In/Sight. Stay tuned!

    I also want to point out that for many years now we’ve gone well beyond the IRS Form 990-PF in our data collection efforts. In fact, hundreds of foundations regularly report their grants to us electronically, which helps us provide the most current, accurate, and detailed information possible. Another great thing about our electronic grant reporting program is that it enables us to gather information about grants awarded by non-U.S. foundations. We started doing this with the launch of Philanthropy In/Sight in 2009 and our databases now contain information on close to 100,000 foundations, more than 170,000 grant recipients, and over 2.1 million grants awarded by foundations both inside and outside the U.S. These numbers continue to increase weekly and our hope is that more and more foundations, both U.S.-based and non-U.S.-based, will become electronic grant reporters (

    Dave Clark
    Product Manager, Philanthropy In/Sight
    The Foundation Center

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