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GIS/Mapping Primer for Nonprofits

This article is intended to provide a very high-level conceptual overview of GIS software and geographic/mapping applications and their benefit to nonprofit and community organizations. 

STATS America

stats america shotSTATS America is a data portal where visitors can get demographic, workforce, housing, and other data for every state, county, and metro area in the United States.  The site is jointly sponsored by the US Commerce Department and Indiana University.

Seven Taverns For Each Playground: Fantastic Bunge Bio from

Zachary Johnson, the cartographer/geographer behind, wrote up a fascinating bio/review of William Bunge, a prominent social geographer from the times before mashups and slippy maps.  The images in this post are excerpted from the Bunge-created maps on and I believe they all first appeared in Wiliam Bunge's "Fitzgerald: Geography of a Revolution," 1971, Schenkman Pub. Co.

map showing a neighborhood with more taverns than playgrounds

Using maps in Literature class?! Take a Lit Trip!

A "Lit Trip" is a digital tour of the places and settings in a work of literature - think of it like a mashup of Google Maps and your favorite novel!  Lit trips can combine images, text, multimedia, and background information concerning a work of literature, and it can put these elements in their geographically-appropriate places.  Imagine seeing background context for The Odyssey superimposed over a map of the hero's travels, or following along with the Joads as they travel west from Oklahoma to California.

The Google Lit Trips site contains Google Earth based lit trip downloads, divided into age-appropriate groups for children and adults.

Tactical Tech's "Mapping for Advocacy" freebook

The cool folks over at Tactical Technology Collective recently revised their fantastic guide to using mapping and GIS for advocacy functions.  In addition to an overview of GIS, the guide also includes interesting case studies of GIS advocacy projects from around the world.  Definitely a must-read for those in advocacy and related practices in the nonprofit sector!