Technology is rapidly impacting the non-profit world in great ways. What used to take hours, days, and weeks, or months, to share data through handwritten forms, then transferring them to Excel worksheets, now can all be shared in real time using GIS technology. The power of this technology is radically transforming the efficiency by which non profits can deliver life changing interventions around the world.
Darrel Larson, Give Clean Water Initiative and The Last Well
Nonprofits and NGOs face many common challenges in achieving their goals of promoting and achieving sustainability, equality, smart solutions and various other causes and practices. For example, finding a donor or funds for an ambitious project might prove itself a demanding task, never mind living up to donors’ expectations, or getting the word out about the awesome projects you’ve been working on. Connecting with the community is another challenge, along with coordinating your own team efforts.
If you work for a nonprofit or a nongovernmental organization, there’s a good chance that you’ve encountered some of these challenges yourself.
Knowing all this, now imagine there is a solution that can help you to raise awareness of your project, attract donors, increase your effectiveness, and give you a single way to deliver results in a visually appealing way.
Cloud-based mapping can help in alleviating and addressing these challenges. Some of them will be covered in our webinar scheduled for February 21 (register here).
No matter if you are doing a nature or heritage conservation project, helping homeless people and vulnerable social groups, working in health and disease control, emergency relief, environmental preservation or want to raise awareness about an issue, your job can be much easier if guided by maps.
So, how can maps work for the benefit of NGOs and NPOs across different sectors?
1. Increasing Awareness and Attracting Sponsors
If an image is worth a thousand words, a map is worth a thousand more. If your efforts are scattered around the world, working on various locations and projects, there is no better visualisation tool than a map to effortlessly showcase what has been done, or will be done. For example, on a map you can show all the locations of environment cleanup events, places to sign petitions, protected habitats, illegal landfills, emergency centers and basically anything that comes to mind, in order to deliver the information in the best possible way, directly to your audience.
Scenario 1: Create an interactive and fully branded Map Portal which can be set up in less than half an hour. The Map Portal can have its own domain and you can use it to effectively deliver a message across and throughout platforms (for example, you can embed it on different sites and landing pages).
Scenario 2: Launch a Crowdsourcing campaign where you can get donors around the world to pledge for your cause. One great example is this Dance of Kindness Crowdsourcing Portal.
2. Delivering Results to the Public and Sponsors
For NGOs and nonprofit organizations, retaining funds and reporting to sponsors are tasks almost as important as getting the funding in the first place. People and organizations that have invested in your project or cause need to have a clear and unambiguous overview of how their money has been spent.
Scenario 1: Showcase what is done on an Interactive Map Portal. For example, if you pledged to plant or save from cutting a certain number of trees in the area, a public map portal is a great way to show what has been done and also what your plans and estimations for the next stages of the projects are.
Scenario 2: If data is sensitive or you want to address specific people or organizations, you can also fully control what you want to deliver and to whom via the Map Viewer application for private access to your maps and projects.
3. Microvolunteering, Building Networks, Engaging Citizens and Local Communities in your Initiatives
Explore the details of the GeoAid solidarity network via Map Portal interface.
Scenario 1: If you are doing a project where you count on high community engagement in order to reach your goals, look for the Crowdsourcing solution to help you out. You can engage your network in microvolunteering, sharing knowledge, voting on particular improvements in your neighbourhood, etc., or give your supporters a perfect platform to share their achievements and inspire others.
Scenario 2: If you are doing a project that requires individual action taking place at particular location, and you want to be in control of the data collection process, you can use Mobile Data Collection to gather real-time data from volunteers or staff in the field. This is the perfect way to engage your network in initiatives such as local cleanup events, interviewing citizens or collecting data on households that are in need of access to a particular service, etc. One such example is GeoAid project shown on the map above, in which data about services for socially vulnerable groups was mapped.
4. Better Team Coordination and More Effective Fieldwork
Scenario 1: If your organization does a lot of fieldwork, like Engineers without Borders, or the Give Clean Water Initiative, you can organize your entire workflow around maps – from collecting data (even in offline conditions) with Mobile Data Collection, to sharing priorities to people directly on the field. For example, if you work in an emergency relief situation, you can use real-time mapping with your smartphone to fill in data about resources needed in a particular shelter or facility, and it will be shown on a map in real-time. This can be used to coordinate your team better and can also communicate data to team coordinators at other locations. They in turn can gain immediate insight into where to send people in need of shelter, just by looking at a map.
Scenario 2: Use the data you collected in the field to directly notify stakeholders in different agencies and organizations. For example, you can send information on how many people are at a particular location to other organizations, sharing map data directly with those involved in the project via Map Viewer. This can help you to coordinate and be more effective not just within your own organizations, but on a larger scale.
5. Better Governance: Decision Making Based on Real-time Data
Scenario 1: Once you collect data in the field, either via Mobile Data Collection or Crowdsourcing, you can further use and analyze data in order to make decisions. For example, based on a particular type of data you collected (e.g. number of hospitals in an area that is affected by a disease), you can do a heatmap analysis in Map Editor to determine what areas don’t have a facility nearby or where you can put a field hospital in case of emergency. It is also a good way to prioritize tasks for your field crew even in the moment they are collecting data.
Scenario 2: You can filter data about work that needs to be done and do custom reports which can be shared with field coordinators via Map Viewer. They can then determine directly in the field where to send their field crew next, without having to inspect the situation themselves, saving time and energy for remote crews.
These are just some of the examples of how a cloud-based mapping solution can help with various aspect of your work.
If you have a particular idea or a question, don’t hesitate to ask us.
Also, don’t miss our webinar on February 21.
We are always eager to support great initiatives and projects, such as those we support each year during the GIS Day Contest. If you have an idea on how to utilize cloud mapping for your organization, let us know.