Chronicle of Philanthropy 400 Google Map

I just came across the Google map mash-up of the Chronicle of Philanthropy top 400.  First, just the simple fact that the Chronicle created this is just great — goes to show the power of a concrete image instead of a list.  And better yet (though not obvious) you can click on the pins in the Google map to see each organization’s name, rank, and funds raised

At first blush what’s surprising is how evenly large non-profits are spread throughout the country.  Not what I would have expected.

I do wish the Chronicle would take the map a step further, though, and I expect that they have the data and technology to do this easily.  I’d love to be able to filter the map by type of organization and date founded (religious organizations; universities; charities founded before 1950 and 1970 and 1990, etc).  We all know how hard it is to grow a new nonprofit — William Foster and Gail Fine’s great article last year in the Stanford Social Innovation Review titled “How Nonprofits Get Really Big” described this challenge incredibly well.  Just one data point from the article: “the average founding year of the 10 largest U.S. nonprofits is 1903.”

So I’d love the Chronicle’s map to allow some filtering that would help illustrate and understand this point, so we could visually learn more about the makeup of the top 400.

(hat tip to for pointing out the map)

4 thoughts on “Chronicle of Philanthropy 400 Google Map

  1. I would like to be able to filter by what percent of funds raised goes to expenses and what percent to the “cause” itself. It seems that info. is always hidden. Shouldn’t we expect transparency in a non-profit?

  2. Walter, thank you for your comment. I am vehemently in favor of nonprofit transparency.

    For the data on funds raised, Guidestar ( will give you the information you’re looking for.

    However, if by transparency you mean a window into effectiveness, I’m personally pretty skeptical of what you learn by this ratio alone. If nothing else I don’t agree that you can easily separate out “expenses” (presumably you mean overhead, admin, and fundraising costs) and the “cause.” Partially this is because I think we generally misunderstand the power of the fundraising organization to influence and shape an agenda. And there are lots of interesting conversations out there about salaries in the nonprofit sector, and what one needs to pay to get the best talent.

    Some relevant links:
    – Manifesto I wrote about reconceptualizing fundraising:
    – Article today by Matt Bishop of the Economist about an effort at Acumen Fund to improve measurement in the social sector:
    – FT on talent in the nonprofit sector (though there’s another better article I’m having trouble finding)

  3. The map is interesting but I agree it would be more valuable with some filtering options.

    I think the real treat in this post was the article, “How Nonprofits Get Really Big”. An eye-opener to me (I hadn’t read it before).

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