Adopting a Nonprofit Builds Stronger Counties (and Just Got Easier)

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    Adopting a Nonprofit Builds Stronger Counties (and Just Got Easier)

    NACo Partner Resource

    This blog post is sponsored by NACo partner, Esri. 

    Esri has started a software Grant aimed toward small Non-profits, particularly non-profits that support or are an integral part of county operations

    The Bond Between Counties and Nonprofits

    Nonprofits play a critical role in our communities. Small nonprofits make up the bulk of the 1.6 million organizations that help augment or supplement county services. At a more personal level, elected officials and individuals in county government departments recognize these organizations as those that feed the homeless, provide humanitarian relief to humans in crisis, provide a voice for civil liberties, protect animals, encourage conservation and strong environmental practices, offer help to the aging, and provide comfort to our veterans.

    These organizations are driven by their desire to make a difference. Having a great mission alone is not enough. Having the tools to collect and analyze data, storytelling tools to communicate your mission, and the ability to target donors and volunteers, all help build strong business operations. Leaders at nonprofit organizations must constantly balance priorities to identify communities of need, allocate resources, communicate purpose, improve advocacy, and increase overall effectiveness and efficiency. The organizations that thrive are those that plan, measure, and manage their programs and operations through one common language—location.


    But how can county government support the small nonprofit organizations in your communities?  The answer is to introduce them to the same technology counties use to improve your operations and effectiveness: geographic information system (GIS). Just as one would expect to find GIS in state and local governments, thousands of nonprofits are already using GIS to advance their efforts. The use of spatial technology ranges from local chapters of the American Red Cross responding to disasters; the NAACP advocating for fair redistricting; efforts such as the San Jose Mothers' Milk Bank connecting mothers to breast milk resources during the recent formula shortage; and the Surfrider Foundation who looks to protect our beaches.

    Esri Small Nonprofit Grant Initiative Supports Your County’s Nonprofit Collaboration

    Esri is going to make adopting a nonprofit easier. We have launched the Esri Small Nonprofit Organization Grant Initiative which will waive the first year’s fees and provide data, software, and resources. The goal is to introduce GIS as a tool to help nonprofits become more data-driven, identify opportunities to connect with donors and volunteers, and to communicate their mission and success more effectively. The program goal is to assist small nonprofits who would benefit from the value GIS brings to their business functions.  A secondary goal is to introduce this community to the larger academic, commercial, and government communities. 

    As a county leader advocating for the mission of these small nonprofits, we ask that you simply make your favorite organizations aware of the effort. Ongoing support can come from joint county and nonprofit projects, extending local data, providing cross-training on the software, and keeping an open line of communication.   

    Who is Eligible?

    The Esri Small Nonprofit Organization Grant Initiative assists small to midsize nonprofit organizations that are new to using geographic information system (GIS) technology. Esri is investing $1 million in this grant initiative, which will provide software and training to 150 nonprofit organizations that meet the requirements of an eligible 501(c)(3) public charity. Each applicant must be a small nonprofit organization with 25 or less employees that are not currently using Esri’s ArcGIS software. We have designed a special grant package that includes software, data, and training. This bundle gives up to five people in an organization access to various GIS tools and capabilities.

    Point Your Colleagues to the Grant Application Now

    The grant program opened on August 17, 2022, National Nonprofit Day.

    The application to apply is a simple two-step process.

    • Step 1 – Applicants fill out the short online grant request and justification form.
    • Step 2 – Applicants confirm their 501(c)(3) status via the Esri Nonprofit Organization Program form.

    The second step helps nonprofits become a sustainable member of the Esri nonprofit community.

    After both steps are completed, Esri will confirm your 501 (c)(3) status and then review your grant application. Grant recipients will be announced in two groups on November 17, 2022, and February 28, 2023.

    If you’re a county leader, please forward the Esri Small Nonprofit Organization Grant Initiative to your community’s nonprofit leaders at

    Nonprofits play a critical role in our communities. Small nonprofits make up the bulk of the 1.6 million organizations that help augment or supplement county services.

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