Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 19 seconds

Review: Giving Map Featured

Raise your hand if you felt helpless when Covid-19 devasted the country in March of 2020. We sat at home watching the news - wanting to help but not knowing how to. We knew that hospitals all over the country (and even in our counties) needed PPE; the supply chain industry was crippled; and people all over the country were getting sick from a disease we knew hardly anything about.

That was the fuel that Founder and Program Director Tess Gadwa needed to create Giving Map – an interactive map that showed Covid-19 infections around the country at a county level and subsequently where monetary donations were needed the most.  Since then Giving Map has expanded to include a Hunger Map displaying food insecurity throughout the nation.

In Use:

Giving Map’s statement is simple. It was created to “empower individuals to give whatever they can to the local organizations that will have the most impact.” A user interested in donating can go to Givingmap.org and see which states and counties are getting hit the hardest by Covid-19 and the hunger crisis. On the Covid-19 map, a county in dark green specifies there has been 0-9 new Covid-19 cases per 25,000 residents in the past 14 days. A purple county indicates that they have 500+ new cases per 25,000 residents in the past 14 days and are getting hit incredibly hard by the virus that has to date claimed 2.46 million deaths worldwide. Want to know more about a certain county? If you click on the county itself it will show Covid-19 data within the last 14 days including population; deaths in the past 14 days; new cases within the last two weeks; and how many total confirmed cases.

The hunger map, data indicates the number of people experiencing food insecurities as well as the total number of children experiencing food insecurities over a 14-day period.

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While this map is a great way to stay informed about your county – you can also go that extra step and donate to a local organization in your county or another county that has been hit incredibly hard by the pandemic. Giving Map uses Charity Navigator’s interface to help donors find a local nonprofit organization to give to. If a nonprofit is located on Charity Navigator – then a donor can find them using Giving Map.

What started off as a way to help those in need of financial help due to Covid has morphed into an interactive map that can be used to impact all different areas of need from hunger to homelessness, and Civil Rights. Therefore, any nonprofit organization can benefit from Giving Map regardless of their mission.

Ease of Use:

Giving Map is easy to use. By clicking on “Give Now”, a donor can access 501(c)3 organizations across the country through Charity Navigator; a charity assessment organization and search engine that connects donors to nonprofits. Through Charity Navigator, a donor can search by category, size of the nonprofit, and the scope of work (regional, national, international). Charities that have been assessed are given a rating (1-5 stars) so you can feel confident as to who you’re donating to.

Technology Used:

Giving Map is an open source platform that sits on Github. People are free to contribute to it anyway they’d like. Along with being an open source software, Giving Map web site is also carbon neutral stating on their website that they “…strive to be a model for sustainability and integrate earth-friendly practices wherever possible.”

Because Giving Map is essentially a website (although it’s so much more), there is nothing that a user needs to download or install to use it. One only has to go to the website, click on the county they are interested in donating to and find local charities within the county parameters.

Recap:

Giving Map is an open source website that lets donors research local charities that they can donate to within their counties. It started off as a way to track Covid-19 statistics in real time and has grown since then to encompass all local charities around the country regardless of their mission.

Giving Map made headlines last November when the second wave hit around Thanksgiving. Creators used the daily Covid-19 data that they collected from John Hopkins University and created a time-lapse animated gif that showed just how much Covid-19 has spread. At one point almost the entire country turned maroon – indicating that there was anywhere between 100-499 new cases of Covid-19 per 25,000 Residents in a particular county. When asked about it, Erik Amlee, Technical Lead for the Giving Map team, stated that the gif resonated with a lot of people which showed the power that accurate data can have.

Advantages:

  • Both the Covid-19 and Hunger maps are great ways for you to help the counties that need assistance the most
  • Giving Map can also be used in conjunction with Charity Navigator to find a local charity in your area that you can donate to – regardless of their mission
  • Giving Map sits on an open-source platform allowing anyone to contribute on the backend. In this way, contributors can make the map more functional, easier to use, and increase accuracy of the data displayed on the maps.

Disadvantages:

  • I would love to see the map expand to include volunteer activities. As it stands right now users are only able to find charities to donate to as opposed to volunteer with.

My Opinion:

Like Erik said in our conversation, data visualization is an extremely powerful tool. I appreciate the steps that the Giving Map team went through to provide an accurate portrayal of the Covid-19 and Hunger crisis that has been gripping the nation at a county level. In my opinion it’s easier to relate to a situation when it’s happening in your backyard. And when you relate to a crisis like hunger or Covid-19 relief, a person is more apt to donate their time and resources.

Donating money is crucial to any nonprofit organization, but I would love to see the Giving Map explore ways to incorporate volunteerism into their maps. Some people don’t have the resources to donate money, but have time to volunteer – or they want to both donate and volunteer. Creating an asset that shows them which nonprofits are looking for volunteers is a way that people can help their community and nonprofits can access volunteers to assist them.

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Danielle Loughnane

Danielle Loughnane earned her B.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College and has currently been working in the data science field since 2015. She is the author of a comic book entitled, “The Superhighs” and wrote a blog from 2011-2015 about working in the restaurant industry called, "Sir I Think You've Had Too Much.” In her spare time she likes reading graphic novels and snuggling with her dogs.

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