The Society for Conservation GIS works at a
grassroots level worldwide to help local NGO's
and communities learn about and use
GIS technology for planning.

esri/Techsoup GIS Grants Program

Techsoup is a technology granting organization serving the global nonprofit & library community with heavily discounted software, hardware and support. Esri partnered with them from 2008-2012, at which point we expanded our own general nonprofit, schools & libraries grant programs. There were many interesting discussions with the Techsoup community during those years about the needs and appropriate uses of GIS technology, some of which are preserved here.





Techsoup Webinar: Introduction to GIS. This webinar focussed on social justice issues. "Before this webinar my organization was torn between using Google Earth and ArcGIS software for data and mapping purposes.  As we investigate ArcGIS and learn more about its capabilities we are beginning to realize that it will serve our needs and our customers' need far better."

Introduction to Social Justice GIS Webinar Answers: After the webinar numerous groups posted questions about additional resources, guides and suppor for GIS for their nonprofit, they are listed here with the answers provided in boldface.

General notes:
My web page,, has a lot of sections devoted to specific types of non-profit groups and how they use GIS.

One of the best and least-known sources for stories on how GIS is used in thousands of different settting is the archive of papers presented at the annual ESRI user conference. It's part of the ESRI online library. You can search on anything.

Another great source for general GIS tips is the ESRI Channel on youtube

Chris sent me a registrant list, for each case where I noticed a lot of similar types of groups I'll provide some help links below:

Libraries: ESRI Museums and Libraries Program, run by Angie Lee of our Minneapolis Office, she is the "@public" reviewer in the ECP grant program for those who have applied before.
Angie also works with me on our national Public Gardens grants program, a "special version" of the ECP program set up with the American Public Gardens Assn:

Search and Rescue: We are starting a new grant program just for these groups, it's being set up by Tom Patterson of ESRI Redlands, formerly of National Park Service SAR, tpatterson at esri dot com.

Historic Preservation uses of GIS: Doug Comer of Cultural Site Research and Management and Unesco is a great resource on the uses of GIS in historic and cultural preservation. He is a regular presence at the ESRI and SCGIS conferences. Josie Thompson is GIS manager at the Global Heritage Fund and also has lots of ideas and examples of how GIS is used. ESRI has made grants to several dozen other historic preservation groups, and I organize a special track of papers on "Historic GIS" for the ESRI conference whenever there are enough papers to do it, but there has yet to be an independent user group spring up of GIS users in this field. See also:

Legal Aid: Richard Zorza is an advisor to the Legal Services Corp., who oversee the nations legal aid clinics. He is associated with the Self-Help support web site. Gabrielle Hammond of the National Legal Services Technology Assistance Project is another great GIS resource. Kristen Kurland and Will Gorr put together a GIS training class for legal aid groups who wanted to know about GIS

Native Peoples: James Rattling Leaf, of the NATIVEVIEW tribal colleges consortium, is a great resource for the uses of GIS among native and first nations. The Indigenous Mapping Network is a newer group of native GIS practicioners. The Aboriginal Mapping Network is another great site (supported by Ecotrust).

I run a parallel grant program to the Techsoup one which allows access to the full range of ESRI software, data, books and training. It is an email-based process, you start by sending a blank email to: Over time we are hoping to expand the Techsoup program so that it can offer a wider range of GIS items, that will depend on Techsoup members interests and response. Regardless, we
will maintain both grant programs, and your status in either program does not by itself exclude you from applying to any other ESRI program.

Main question: What do you hope to get out of this webinar?

to get over my apprehension that GIS is fancy, complicated mapping software.
i have been a consumer of GIS data, and I need to now produce it.

I sometimes liken GIS to the early days of the automobile: there weren't any roads,
filling stations, or mechanics anywhere. You relied on a local blacksmith and often
dragged a horse behind you to pull you out of the mud. Nowadays roads and cars are not
only ubiquitous (if expensive) they are also part of a service infrastructure of taxis
and buses in every city where you don't even need to own one to take advantage of a
ride. It took automobiles the better half of a century to get that far. GIS was at that
stage only a decade or so ago. In the same way governments played a major role in
building vehicle infrastructures, they are increasingly playing a role in building
information infrastructures like GIS. As an example, the Geospatial one-stop is a
single website where you can search and download thousands of free government GIS data
sets. In the USA, the "National Agricultural Information Program" or NAIP, is making
available free high-resolution imagery with all the expensive pre-processing needed to
be directly useable in a GIS, for free. It's coverage is suprisingly broad, typically wall to wall for many states

Enhance knowledge regarding gis software

Learn about GIS and learn about its use in nonprofits

a better understand of GIS

A basic understanding of how to install and begin using the software.

I need to learn about GIS. I run a Botanical Garden.
the American Public Gardens Association has a new GIS support program for it's members, for info see:

Ideas for locating good data that can be useful to our organization in mapping resources available in our area vs. where our clients live, work, and travel.
Geospatial One-stop:
NAIP is at, but because each state sets up
it's own way to distribute it for free, you are better off doing a search
like "NAIP Download (state name)"

Information about how to use GIS software in social justice issues.
see also see Center for Study of Responsive Law,

Technical info

See new ways that GIS can be used.

A better understanding of how GIS software can help my organization, a concrete idea of what I need to map our data, and ideas for how to explain to management & colleagues why GIS is a good idea.
The Greeninfo Network is one of the better groups for advice and examples on "Advocacy Cartography", how to make a map design that is simple enough and clear enough to convey a complex message to the public and decisionmakers.
They do a lot of work with Land Trusts, too. See:
Edward Tufte is the self-published graphics genius many cartographers use for inspiration
For cartographic technical help see the ESRI Mapping Center:

new ideas to use GIS for expanding our non-profit's influence.

I'd like to learn more about GIS and the software packages

How GIS can help a case for support.

general knowledge about how to use this technology

Learn different techniques re: mapping for use with our current mapping solution

Better ways to present the history of our County to our public.
For History uses of GIS,

A better understand of the mapping process and the reasons why we use mapping.

1.) how to actually implement GIS
There are several current books about Managing a GIS project, but some
may include proprietary management techniques that they may want royalties
for if you use them so be careful. ESRI published a great little book
called "Managing a GIS" several years ago that didn't have any such issues,
you might still find used copies. A new conservation planning book is in
the works that will have heavy emphasis on planning and managing a GIS

2.) How to use GIS

Better understanding and GIS implementation .

How GIS can help me understand the needs of my community and tell a better story to potential funding agencies.

we collect a lot of data. we need easier ways to communicate this data to our consitituents.

understanding on how to better use arcview in conservation setting

Understanding of how the ESRI software works and potential applications.

I am hoping that the class will provide some general information about how the software works and various uses it may have for tribes who need to map roads.

Basic understanding of ArcView

I'd like to hear about data sources (and perhaps share one or two.)

A basic understanding of the software. I plan to take a class in the near future and

would like to have some basic info about it before taking the class.

A better understanding about ARCview and how it works.

To see how Arcview can help us

gis basics

Ability to organize and present both visual and statistical information. Our Association uses maps and overlays extensively in explaining everything from the geology of the area to land and water use to invasive plants. I use data to explain use of resources, their relationship to each other and to the land and water.

We bought the GIS and ARCS software; our president/executive director is learning to use it. It would be useful if I could, too. I'm treasurer, community-group organizer and a presenter for the land trust.

Learn about what other non-profits are doing with GIS and how much it costs.

11 food banks in our area cooperate in a coalition. We would like to map our areas vis-a-vis clients and other mapping analysis.

Better understanding of how to use/incorporate GIS within nonprofit organization

I am trying to learn more ways to identify areas in our community that can use our services. In addition, I am still trying to pursuade the benefits of technology to my organization.

Learn something about GIS & how to use it

Learn about the ArcGIS software.

Learn more about GIS software

good overview of capabilities

new tech

Better handle on Esri capabilities, and a notion of how each acronym (ESRI, ArcGIS,MSSQL, Java, etc.) fits into a running GIS site.
(ESRI: Environmental Systems Research Institute
ArcGIS: The "family" name for our range of Desktop software products , as opposed
to server products)

Intro and some ideas

Help up track our adoptions, I.D. which dogs are in an area if we need to follow up and possible return lost dogs.

A better understanding of how this software works. Some of my colleagues use this

software, and it will be helpful to learn more about what they do.

Expanded use of GIS

More info

Knowledge on how to use the GIS system available to us from our county officials

Learn more how we can use GIS with creating conservation easements.

An understanding of how to use GIS to present several layers of information in a way that eases communication.

Basic overview of typical GIS application capabilities.

Understanding of how GIS applications can be used for somethiing other than physical/geological maps.

learn how to use GIS for online resource database

Some staff in my office are mapping professionals and I'd like to learn more about what they do.

tools to map local resources

A basic understanding of GIS and how it works. Hopefully get a sense for how we might use it to map and track historic properties

Info to support GIS decisions for Group and client NPO firms. Orientation, concepts, software capabilities, how it can be used in website backend processing.

A basic understanding of how to use GIS Software and the benefits of using GIS.

GIS use to map out library shelves and hospital beds
MIT did a fascinating demonstration of the 3D analyst extension where they had mapped out several campus buildings down to the room, door and window level and used that to analyze exit routing during different kinds of emergency scenarios. That kind of modelling is being done more and more under names like emergency response GIS, or situational awareness GIS. I have not yet seen a library done that way but it would be an identical approach to map and model shelf heights and locations. "Penobscot Bay Media" is a new company who do interior space 3d mapping using a little cart they roll around with GPS and Lidar on it, they were testing it out at ESRI a couple months ago and come to the ESRI user conference. They were friendly and quite willing to talk about their technology, I would guess that they will soon be ready for hire for that service. a voxel is the new term for a 3d spatial "pixel", so you can also try searching on "interior spaces voxel gis" or something like that.










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