Search ArcUser

Summer 2012 Edition

Maximizing the Effectiveness of NPOs

This article as a PDF.

Thanks to this program, we are able to leverage cutting-edge GIS technology in the work we and our partners do. Using Esri tools to geoenable the data and platforms, Development Gateway makes the information much more powerful and easier to grasp, with a bigger impact on decision makers and international development efforts.

—Jean-Louis Sarbib, Chief Executive Officer, Development Gateway (Esri Nonprofit Program participant)

Nonprofit organizations (NPOs) use GIS technology from Esri for the same reasons that hundreds of government organizations and businesses do: cost savings, increased efficiency, improved decision making, enhanced communications, and the ability to manage resources in a holistic manner using a geographic framework.

The Esri Nonprofit Program enables a worldwide community of conservationists and social activists to use GIS technology and data to fulfill their objectives more easily. Program benefits include the ability to get started with GIS technology in a quick and affordable manner and deploy it everywhere it is needed—on desktops, servers, the web, and mobile devices.

This map, created by Save the Children, shows the number of children in relative poverty in Italy.

This map, created by Save the Children, shows the number of children in relative poverty in Italy. This international organization has created more than 70 maps that profile children and adolescents in terms of demography, environment, social spending, poverty levels, and other factors that indicate well-being.

Extending Good Works

Currently, nearly 2,700 NPOs are participating in the Esri Nonprofit Program. Here are some examples of how NPOs are using GIS to make their organizations more effective.

Direct Relief International (DRI), which relies solely on charitable contributions to fund its work in supplying medicines and medical supplies to those in need, uses GIS to provide transparency to donors and governmental organizations. An interactive web map shows where and how contributions are spent on medical supplies and also helps coordinate relief activities between DRI and other agencies responding to disasters such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

NPOs use GIS to support sustainable development efforts around the world through analysis and visualization tools to manage growth and change. The Renewable Energy Atlas of Vermont ( is involved in local energy production and bolsters community projects that retain jobs and stabilize local economies through its interactive website that helps people identify and evaluate renewable energy opportunities for any town or county in Vermont.

Habitat for Humanity's mission is to eliminate poverty and homelessness. Habitat uses GIS in many ways to optimize its social programs, from presenting information to potential donors to determining the best sites for the homes it cooperatively builds.

Esri's Commitment to NPOs

Esri first began as a nonprofit organization more than four decades ago. "Ever since our founding, we have had a deep commitment to the goals and missions of the nonprofit world," said Jack Dangermond, Esri president. Today Esri is a privately held commercial organization, but the belief in and support of the nonprofit model has remained a core value at the company. A team provides software and services to the NPO community, as well as to national agencies focused on humanitarian affairs and sustainable development. Get answers to common questions about the program.

Nonprofits with qualifying formal tax-exempt status can participate in the Esri Nonprofit Program. In the United States, this is signified by the 501 designation and National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) category. Nonprofit organizations outside the United States can contact their local Esri distributor for assistance to see if they are qualified. The primary criterion is tax-exempt status as granted by each organization's country. The specific nature of this status varies by country. Eligibility status and tax-exempt verification will be determined by the local Esri distributor as part of the request process.

Program Benefits

Eligible nonprofit groups enrolled in the Esri Nonprofit Program have access to the following resources:

Esri provides a wealth of free self-service training resources for NPOs to help these organizations get started quickly.

How to Apply

NPOs can apply to the program by registering at or contacting for more information. Organizations outside the United States can contact their local Esri distributor for details.

Contact Us | Privacy | Legal | Site Map