Philanthropic Mapping

Elizabeth Borneman


Crowdsourcing is a technology of the present and the future- everyday people mapping, exploring, and observing parts of the world that professional organizations don’t have the funding or ability to develop on their own.

How Crowdsourcing Can Help to Create Maps

Crowdsourcing can pool a massive amount of people together to create, collaborate, and analyze geographic data with precision, going through massive amounts of data in a blink of an eye.

What is Philanthropic Mapping?

Philanthropic mapping is just another sector that has been crowdsourced out to people around the globe. Philanthropic mapping means volunteers worldwide use technologies to map the streets, locations and organizations around their cities and countries.

These maps aren’t just geographic- they are mapping demographics, homelessness, access to water, healthcare services, and much more. This information is open to the public and is used by NGOs, medical organizations and governments to help coordinate disaster relief and other services that affect societies and people around the world.

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Philanthropic mapping is an ideal way to create social change because maps are being created by people on the ground that have access to information an outsider might not be aware of. Organizations can invest in local people while still gathering real data that can be used to create better policies and plans to help others.

Two such philanthropic mapping organizations are MapGive and Missing Maps.


MapGive uses a program called OpenStreetMaps that allows users to download the map data they’ve gathered for free, and to share it with other users and organizations.

MapGive gathers volunteer mappers from all over the world to map roads, structures, and land features for use in humanitarian and development work. The mapping is used to focus on economic, environmental and crisis management in areas that don’t always have accurate maps or ways in which data can be gathered reliably.

Volunteers can use satellite imagery to map anywhere in the world they want.

Screenshot for MapGive, a philanthropic mapping organization.
Screenshot for MapGive, a philanthropic mapping organization.

Missing Maps

Missing Maps also uses OpenStreetMaps and recruits volunteers worldwide. They are committed to empowering local communities by making sure they have access to the maps that have been created long after the team has mapped their area.

Missing Maps hopes to create maps of local emergency centers, evacuation points, street names, neighborhoods, and roads that could be useful in case of an emergency or natural disaster.

The goal of the Missing Maps project is to create maps that are useful to local and international NGOs as well as interested individuals in every community.

Screenshot from the Missing Maps web site.
Screenshot from the Missing Maps web site.

Philanthropic mapping can be done by anyone, anywhere, and it’s easy to get involved! Contribute what you can to a philanthropic map through the two organizations above or through many others that exist.

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About the author
Elizabeth Borneman
My name is Elizabeth Borneman and I am a freelance writer, reader, and coffee drinker. I live on a small island in Alaska, which gives me plenty of time to fish, hike, kayak, and be inspired by nature. I enjoy writing about the natural world and find lots of ways to flex my creative muscles on the beach, in the forest, or down at the local coffee shop.