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GeoTree: An Interactive Tool for Classifying Geographic Focus

Frequently Asked Questions

How will the GeoTree stay current?

This standard has been built to be flexible and dynamic. As political divisions change over time, the GeoTree will reflect those changes.

Where does the data in the GeoTree come from?

The Foundation Centerís GeoTree draws on a variety of gazetteers and authoritative geographic sources. One of the primary sources of this geographic data is the comprehensive Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names. Gettyís hierarchical system of "parent" and "child" relationships between geographic locations provided the core structure for the GeoTree. Additional data sources include the United States Postal Service, CIA World Factbook, United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Atlas, Google Maps, Wikipedia, in-depth conversations with members of the Grants Managers Network, and direct feedback from funders using the tool.

What if a geographic location has more than one name?

The GeoTree has a built-in flexibility that allows more than one name per location, including AKAs (i.e. West Indies for the Caribbean) and FKAs, and more than one "parent" per "child" location.

What are "parent" and "child" locations?

Parent locations refer to the places directly above another place in the tree structure. For example, the United States is the parent of the New York state; Orange County is the parent of Chester, NY. Every location has a preferred default parent in order for the data to be easily aggregated to the continents and general regions that make up the world. Some locations also appear under secondary ethno- or geo-political regions (Middle East, Latin America, etc.) to give a fuller picture of the geographic focus of philanthropic giving. Secondary and even tertiary relationships allow for wider interpretations of geographic categories and for our underlying research to be open to those interpretations. For example, Turkey is listed as a child of Europe, Western Asia and the Middle East. Reports about aggregated grants to any of those three regions can therefore include or exclude grants to Turkey, if so desired.

Does my organization have to use the Foundation Centerís GeoTree?

The Foundation Center does not dictate that any organization use these terms, nor endorse specific political boundaries of disputed geographic regions. Rather, the Center hopes that the GeoTree will promote conversation around the need for a field-wide geographic coding standard that allows organizations to clearly and transparently communicate the geographic impact of their grantmaking.

How can I provide feedback about the GeoTree?

The Foundation Center is committed to keeping the GeoTree as relevant, accurate, and comprehensive as possible. Feedback and recommendations for improvement of the GeoTree from the public are encouraged. Contact us at geotree@foundationcenter.org.

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