Educational Institutions

National Geographic Society

  • Washington, DC
  • http://www.nationalgeographic.org

Mission Statement

The National Geographic Society was founded in 1888 with a mission to "increase and diffuse geographic knowledge." As one of the world's largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations, the Society works to inspire people to care about the planet.

Main Programs

  1. Explorer Programs
  2. Genographic Project
  3. Education Programs
  4. Research, Conservation, and Exploration
  5. Public Programs and Special Projects
Service Areas

Self-reported

International

Founded in 1888, the National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. With a mission to inspire people to care about the planet, the member-supported Society offers a community for members to get closer to explorers, connect with other members and help make a difference. The Society reaches more than 500 million people worldwide each month through its media platforms, products and events. National Geographic has funded more than 11,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy.

ruling year

1938

Principal Officer since 2014

Self-reported

Mr. Gary E. Knell

Keywords

Self-reported

Environment, conservation, research, exploration, geography education, animals

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Also Known As

National Geographic

EIN

53-0193519

 Number

0643057621

Physical Address

1145 17th Street NW

Washington, DC 20036 4701

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Fund Raising and/or Fund Distribution (B12)

Fund Raising and/or Fund Distribution (T12)

Media, Communications Organizations (A30)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

Founded in 1888, the National Geographic Society is one of the world's largest science, research, and education nonprofits. The Society's role is exploring the world, documenting what we find, and using that information to broaden understanding among the widest audience possible. NGS has supported exploration and discovery through the ages, bringing to light the wonders of ancient civilizations, previously unknown human ancestors, fascinating new animal species, and mysterious ocean phenomena. NGS invests in bold people and transformative ideas that lead to a greater understanding of our world. National Geographic's field-based research, conservation, and exploration programs provide scientific breakthroughs and meaningful discoveries that inspire people everywhere and empower them to improve the health and well-being of our planet and its inhabitants.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Explorer Programs

The National Geographic Explorers Program's groundbreaking discoveries fuel the kind of critical information, conservation initiatives, and compelling stories that are the trademark of the Society. NG’s Explorers Program encompasses Explorers-in-Residence, Emerging Explorers, and National Geographic Visiting Fellows, who span a range of interests and expertise from archeology and art to biology, mountaineering, and music.

Category

None

Population(s) Served

Adults

General Public/Unspecified

Ethnic/Racial Minorities -- General

Budget

$2,700,000.00

Program 2

Genographic Project

The Genographic Project, a five-year research initiative of National Geographic and IBM, with field science support from the Waitt Family Foundaton, is using  genetic data to trace the migratory history of the human species.  The three components of the project are: to gather field research data in collaboration with indigenous and traditional peoples around the world; to invite the general public to join the project by purchasing a Genographic Project Public Participation Kit; and to use proceeds from sales of the kits to further field research and the Genographic Legacy Fund, which in turn supports indigenous conservation and revitalization projects. The Project is anonymous, non-medical, non-profit and all results will be placed in the public domain following scientific peer publication.

Category

Science & Technology

Population(s) Served

Adults

Ethnic/Racial Minorities -- General

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Budget

$3,644,778.00

Program 3

Education Programs

The Education Programs division works to help kids in K-12 classrooms explore the planet by improving geographic literacy through public policy, public engagement, grant-making, outreach programs, teacher training, and geography competitions.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

General Public/Unspecified

Budget

Program 4

Research, Conservation, and Exploration

The Research, Conservation, and Exploration division operates three grant-making bodies.  The Committee for Research and Exploration has supported more than 8,000 projects and expeditions for hypothesis-driven field reserach.  Projects funded by the Expeditions Council seek knowledge and inspiration through observation and documentation of remote locations and cultures.

Category

Science & Technology

Population(s) Served

Adults

General Public/Unspecified

Budget

$6,484,000.00

Program 5

Public Programs and Special Projects

The Public Programs and Special Projects division brings the “Geographic experience” to audiences around the world through exhibits at the NG Museum in Washington, D.C.; through the National Geographic Live! lecture series; and via NG Radio Programs. Additionally, the division organizes the annual All Roads Film Project, which offers seed grants to support film and video projects by or about indigenous and minority-culture storytellers.

Category

Public, Society Benefit

Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Ethnic/Racial Minorities -- General

Budget

$833,000.00

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    The National Geographic Society is a leading nonprofit that invests in bold people and transformative ideas in the fields of exploration, scientific research, storytelling and education. We support educators to ensure that the next generation is armed with geographic knowledge and global understanding. We aspire to create a community of change, advancing key insights about our planet and probing some of the most pressing scientific questions of our time. Our goal is measurable impact: furthering exploration and educating people around the world to inspire solutions for the greater good.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    National Geographic Society invests in the work of scientists, storytellers, conservationists, photographers, technologists, and educators at every stage of their career. The Society makes hundreds of small-scale grants each year in a variety of scientific disciplines, with particular focus on our human story, our changing planet, and critical species. Our grantees are making breakthroughs on seven continents, across the ocean, and even in space. NGS also takes on multi-year, worldwide, explorer-led major initiatives. For instance, the Pristine Seas project, led by National Geographic explorer Enric Sala, has contributed to the protection of more than 3.2 million square kilometers of ocean. The Big Cats Initiative, founded by National Geographic explorers Dereck and Beverly Joubert, has invested in dozens of fieldwork projects that bring scientists together with communities to save lions, cheetahs, leopards, and other big cat species. NGS also supports a nationwide network of geography education alliances that train teachers to deliver world-class instruction in geography education, and the National Geographic Bee inspires upwards of four million students each year to learn about our world.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    The National Geographic Society has been seeking out and funding the most innovative and impactful scientific fieldwork since the organization made its first grant in 1890. Since that time NGS has supported more than 12,500 projects led by scientists, explorers, and conservationists around the world. Explorers like primatologist Jane Goodall, underwater archeologist Bob Ballard, oceanographer Sylvia Earle, and three generations of the Leakey family of paleoanthropologists have all received decades of funding from NGS for their important work. Through National Geographic's award-winning media, the organization tells the stories of these remarkable explorers to inspire people everywhere. National Geographic Partners, the Society's sister organization and a commercial and multiplatform media entity, reaches a global audience of 750 million through National Geographic magazine, the National Geographic Channels, books, documentary films, a website, radio programming, and more. The dynamic combination of direct funding to world-leading scientists and explorers coupled with global media reach makes the Society uniquely positioned to take on many of our planet's most pressing challenges.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    National Geographic Society rigorously establishes goals for its work and tracks the impact that work is having over time. Each grant NGS makes includes the requirement that the grantee report back on the outcomes of their project. As a result, NGS has decades of data demonstrating that ways in which the Society has contributed to scientific advancement in the modern era. In 2015 alone, 529 scientific papers were published featuring work funded by National Geographic. NGS is also empowering a more diverse pool of scientific talent. Since 2006 the percentage of female grantees has gone from 26 to 37 percent. NGS regularly publishes an annual Impact Report for donors so they can understand how the work they are funding has an impact on our world.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Our world is an amazing and diverse place that continues to surprise us. Humans have explored less than ten percent of the ocean. We do not know how many species there are on our planet. Exploration will always be valuable and will never truly be over. For example, the Pristine Seas project has contributed to the protection of 3.2 million square kilometers of ocean. But this area is less than two percent of our global ocean. National Geographic hopes to fully protect 10 percent by 2020. Also, explorer and paleoanthropologist Lee Berger's discovery of Homo naledi adds a new human ancestor to our family tree, inspiring people around the world to consider what it means to be human. But this discovery came from fossils in just one square yard of a vast cave system that has yet to be excavated. Additionally, explorer Steve Boyes completed a nearly 2,500-kilometer, 120-day journey through Africa's Okavango River system. Now he must use the trove of scientific data and stunning images his team collected to demonstrate the area's importance to the health of the people and wildlife that call it home and work to establish the protected areas that will safeguard this critical wilderness for the long-term. And, National Geographic's classroom magazine, Explorer, was re-launched in 2016. It is the Society's goal to use this publication to bring stories of science and exploration into more schools—particularly in underserved communities—to help many more students discover a passion for reading, science, and exploration.
Service Areas

Self-reported

International

Founded in 1888, the National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. With a mission to inspire people to care about the planet, the member-supported Society offers a community for members to get closer to explorers, connect with other members and help make a difference. The Society reaches more than 500 million people worldwide each month through its media platforms, products and events. National Geographic has funded more than 11,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy.

Social Media

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External Reviews

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY
Fiscal year: Jan 01-Dec 31
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

National Geographic Society

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
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  • Forms 990 for 2014, 2013 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
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Principal Officer

Mr. Gary E. Knell

BIO

Gary E. Knell joined the National Geographic Society as president and CEO in January 2014. He has been a member of the Society’s board of trustees since April 2013 and has served on the board of governors of the National Geographic Education Foundation since November 2003. From 2011 to 2013 Knell was president and CEO of National Public Radio. Under his leadership, the organization solidified its position in a rapidly changing media environment. Knell’s media career spans nearly three decades, including 22 years at Sesame Workshop. Knell was instrumental in focusing the organization on Sesame Street’s worldwide mission. He also oversaw the creation and launch of two cable networks, Noggin and Sprout. Knell is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He serves on the boards of Heidrick and Struggles, an executive search firm; the Jacob Burns Film Center; and Common Sense Media. He is an adviser to the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California and to the Military Child Education Coalition. A Gordon Grand Fellow at Yale University, Knell was a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Duke University, Southern Methodist University, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Puerto Rico. Knell has a J.D. from Loyola University School of Law in Los Angeles and a B.A. in political science from UCLA.

STATEMENT FROM THE Principal Officer

"For 125 years, National Geographic has been keenly aware that mankind is linked by far more than just economics and geopolitics-every aspect of the planet itself is interconnected-through ecosystems and geography. The wonderful work of our scientists, explorers, photographers and journalists consistently underscores that reality. Our hope and ambition is that this organization's mission will be to continue to illuminate the story of our planet, and those interconnections in fresh and relevant ways."

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Mr. John M. Fahey

National Geographic Society

Term: Jan 2011 - Dec

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization

Yes

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Yes

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Yes

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Yes

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?