national geographic society

A Year of Impact

2022 Annual Report

With your support, the National Geographic Society is taking bold steps toward a brighter future, supporting the world’s most innovative scientists, conservationists, educators, and storytellers who are leading the way in a new age of exploration. Because of you, we are seeing real impact in our work to protect our ocean and precious landscapes, safeguard threatened species, and preserve our natural and cultural heritage.

Thank you for supporting the National Geographic Society.

2022 Impact by the Numbers


contributions by generous donors and partners to support the Society’s mission


average monetary investment to funded National Geographic Explorers


new species photographed for the National Geographic Photo Ark


African storytellers supported through the Africa Refocused program


students participated in Explorer Classroom events


new grants awarded to support National Geographic Explorer-led projects


readers of National Geographic print and digital content across 58 editions and 28 languages
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A Message of Thanks

Jill Tiefenthaler

CEO, National Geographic Society

Thanks to you, our incredible community of donors, the Society is continuing its forward momentum to transform our organization and inspire meaningful change across the globe. Your extraordinary support in the past year has made it possible for us to elevate the work of our Explorers, who are driving change through impact-driven research, conservation, education, and storytelling. We couldn’t do it without you.
Kara Ramirez Mullins Headshot
Kara Ramirez Mullins
Chief Advancement Officer

Our Mission

The National Geographic Society uses the power of science, exploration, education, and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world.

Our Vision

By 2030, the National Geographic Society will be known globally for its bold and impactful Explorer-led programs that spark curiosity in hundreds of millions of people, inspiring them to learn about, care for, and protect our world.
At the National Geographic Society, we believe in the power of fearless exploration and bold innovation to change the world. As global challenges like climate change, pollution, and wildlife extinction escalate, the Society’s mission to illuminate and protect the wonder of the world is vital and urgent—and we are taking action.
Jean M. Case Headshot
Jean M. Case
Chairman of the Board of Trustees

Our Programs

Our Programs

We invest in signature Explorer-led programs that can have meaningful, lasting impact by combining the core elements of our vision: They leverage rigorous science and exploration while combining storytelling and education throughout the fabric of their efforts.


The National Geographic Society funds Explorers across disciplines like oceanography, marine ecology, climate science, and more, who are seeking solutions to the most critical challenges facing our marine and coastal systems. Their important work aims to better understand and preserve our ocean, and to inspire and empower people across the globe to make an impact.

In 2022, National Geographic’s ocean conservation program Pristine Seas led scientific expeditions to Colombia, Canada, and Dominica, conducting research to support the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs) in each location. As a result of their efforts, Colombia’s Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary marine protected area was expanded by more than 20,000 square kilometers, encompassing many of the region’s vital biodiversity hotspots.

Learn more about the work that programs like Pristine Seas are doing to restore and protect our ocean.


National Geographic Society Explorers are documenting and conserving terrestrial and freshwater systems across the globe. These scientists, conservationists, educators, and storytellers are working to protect our world’s diverse landscapes, support healthy ecosystems, and improve our understanding of the impacts of climate change on our lands, lakes, and rivers.

In 2022, the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project conducted two simultaneous scientific and storytelling expeditions across Angola, Namibia, and Botswana to monitor the health of the greater Okavango Basin, which is a vital source of water to more than one million people and one of the most biodiverse places in Africa.

Learn more about the Okavango Wilderness Project and other programs that seek to understand and preserve our planet.


The National Geographic Society invests in Explorer-led projects that seek to illuminate and preserve all wildlife, including animals, plants, and fungi. Our Explorers are working around the world to protect threatened species, safeguard biodiverse habitats, and foster peaceful coexistence between human and animal populations.

The National Geographic Photo Ark, founded by Explorer and photographer Joel Sartore, aims to locate and document every species living in the world’s zoos, aquariums, and wildlife sanctuaries—approximately 20,000 in total—to inspire people to help protect at-risk wildlife. In 2022, the spoon-billed sandpiper (Calidris pygmaea) became the 13,000th species to be added to this archive of global biodiversity.

Learn more about programs like the National Geographic Photo Ark that are working to illuminate and protect wildlife.

Human Histories and Cultures

National Geographic Society Explorers are investigating our planet’s history, uncovering the roots of humanity, and preserving cultural knowledge and practices. These anthropologists, journalists, community organizers, artists, and advocates discover and elevate important human stories that encourage us to better understand our complex, interconnected world.

In 2022, the Out of Eden Walk project led by Explorer Paul Salopek continued tracing the migration routes of our ancient ancestors from Africa to South America. Traveling along a route through China that stretches across some 3,600 miles and at least 10 provinces, Salopek employs his signature slow journalism style to share the stories of the people and places he encounters with critical context and nuance that is often missed by traditional media.

Learn more about the work that programs like the Out of Eden Walk are doing to understand and celebrate human histories and cultures.

Human Ingenuity

From developing technology that expands the boundaries of knowledge to uncovering patterns that illuminate the mysteries of our planet, National Geographic Explorers are working at the forefront of science, exploration, education, and storytelling to find innovative approaches to solve our planet’s most pressing challenges.

National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Expeditions study the effects of climate change on our world’s most fragile environments: mountains, rainforests, and the ocean. In 2022, the Perpetual Planet team conducted several scientific and storytelling studies across the globe, deploying world-class experts along with cutting-edge technology to advance our understanding of the environmental impacts of climate change and help identify solutions for the future.

Learn more about programs like Perpetual Planet that use the power of human ingenuity to make a difference for our planet.

Cutting-Edge Science

Cutting-Edge Science

At the National Geographic Society, our commitment to science lies at the heart of everything we do—through the dauntless pursuit of knowledge and understanding, we are examining the world around us, revealing truths that connect us, and finding solutions to help us build a better future. Our Explorers contribute their significant findings and breakthrough discoveries to globally-respected scientific publications, sharing the results of their important work with audiences around the world.

In 2022, Society-funded Explorers and programs contributed 767 articles spanning 90 disciplines to top scientific and academic journals. The top nine disciplines represented are shown here.




Evolutionary Biology




Multidisciplinary Sciences


Biodiversity Conservation






Environmental Sciences





The National Geographic Society is one of the largest funders of individual storytellers in the world. For 135 years, storytelling has been a central component of the Society’s work, and today it plays an integral part in our mission to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. The Society is deeply committed to championing the diverse voices of our global Explorer community and ensuring that their unique perspectives and stories are reflected throughout our mission work.
A filmmaker instructs students on how to use cinematography equipment in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, as part of the Africa Refocused program.

In collaboration with The Climate Pledge, the National Geographic Society established the Global Storytellers Fund to empower photographers, filmmakers, multimedia artists, and other Explorers working to illuminate the planet’s most pressing challenges as well as the communities on the front lines of climate change.

The National Geographic Field Ready program offers one-on-one guidance from seasoned industry experts to early career filmmakers or photographers interested in expanding their skillset to include large-scale natural history, science, exploration, and documentary filmmaking.

Wildlife Watch is a Society-funded investigative journalism project that reports on wildlife crime and exploitation across the globe to identify weaknesses in conservation programs and inspire institutions and individuals working to protect at-risk species.

The Second Assistant program supports early career photographers who have been historically excluded in the field of technical photography, focusing on women and people of color. The program provides opportunities for participants to assist established photographers in the National Geographic Explorer community on an editorial assignment or larger storytelling project.

The Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship, a component of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, provides five selected Fulbright grantees per year the funding, training, and mentorship to pursue an academic year of storytelling on a globally significant theme.

Transformative Education

Transformative Education

National Geographic is where education meets exploration. We are transforming the learning experience for young people and the educators who reach them by creating meaningful connections with the important work of our Explorers. Through externships, online courses, and leadership opportunities, we provide students with support and resources to feed their curiosity and inspire them to become the Explorers of tomorrow.

Explorer Classroom

These live interactive sessions connect young people with National Geographic Explorers to learn from and interact with scientists, researchers, and storytellers from around the globe. In 2022, Explorers imparted their stories and knowledge to more than 135,000 students, sparking their curiosity and inspiring the next generation of Explorers.

Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship

The National Geographic Society partnered with Lindblad Expeditions to resume the Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship for educators in 2022. Fifty fellows were given the opportunity to join one of Lindblad’s 29 educational voyages for a field-based experience that equips participants with new ways to bring geographic awareness into their classrooms and communities.


In partnership with The Nature Conservancy, the Society’s externship cohorts in 2022 engaged 300 college-aged youth from over 75 countries to learn about marine and freshwater community conservation. Forty-two externs were awarded additional seed funding to support community-based conservation projects.

Slingshot Challenge

In 2022, the National Geographic Society, with support from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, launched a global video competition called the Slingshot Challenge. Participating students created one-minute videos outlining innovative solutions to environmental issues that they’re passionate about. Winners of the Challenge were announced in May 2023, receiving up to $10,000 in funding to support their ideas.

Inspiring a Global Audience

Inspiring a Global Audience

The National Geographic Society supports Explorers around the world who are learning about, caring for, and protecting our planet—and their important work is encouraging millions of people across the globe to do the same. Through signature annual events that showcase the incredible impact of Explorer-led projects, as well as traveling and resident museum exhibitions that connect people more deeply to the wonder of our world, the Society is committed to sparking curiosity, engaging new audiences, and inspiring the Explorer in everyone.

National Geographic Museum

After a hiatus due to COVID-19, the Washington, D.C.-based National Geographic Museum reopened in 2022 with two exhibitions: “Greatest Wildlife Photography,” featuring images of some of our planet’s most fascinating animals, and “Once Upon a Climb: Stories from Everest,” sharing stories from Explorers working to study and protect the world’s tallest mountain. Later in the year, the cinematic, immersive exhibit “Beyond King Tut” broke attendance records to become the highest-performing museum exhibition in the Society’s history.

Explorers Festival

The annual National Geographic Explorers Festival brings together scientists, conservationists, educators, and storytellers worldwide who are working to advance the Society’s mission. In 2022, 50 National Geographic Explorers representing 25 countries shared captivating presentations on their work, from helping humans and lions coexist in northern Kenya, to studying the DNA of sharks, to exploring the hidden world of microorganisms, and more.

Traveling Exhibitions

In 2022, three new traveling exhibitions attracted more than 12 million visitors across 22 countries. “Inside the Curve” featured photographs that richly illustrated a world in crisis during COVID-19. “Pristine Seas” showcased the importance of marine protected areas to protect ocean biodiversity and the livelihoods of coastal communities. “Wolves” included images and videos captured by National Geographic Explorer Ronan Donovan in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the Canadian Arctic.

Storytellers Summit

In January 2022, over 2,700 people virtually joined the National Geographic Society for its annual Storytellers Summit to celebrate the power of storytelling to change the world. Journalists, photographers, and filmmakers from around the globe transported attendees to mesmerizing, complex, and deeply personal worlds. The Society also named two storytellers as new Explorers at Large: artist and environmentalist Maya Lin, and photojournalist and educator Shahidul Alam.

The Power of Philanthropy

The Power of Philanthropy

Thanks to the generous support of our global community of donors, the National Geographic Society had another record-breaking fundraising year in 2022. Because of incredible contributors like you, the Society and our Explorers are driving impact and transformation around the world, helping to create a healthier planet and a brighter future.

In 2022, the Society generated more than $117.9 million in new commitments, representing the largest fundraising year in our history and a 58 percent increase over the prior year. These donor investments represent a tremendous vote of confidence in the Society’s mission to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world and in the National Geographic Explorers who live that mission every day.

We are deeply grateful to our chairman of the Board of Trustees, Jean Case, and our CEO, Jill Tiefenthaler, for being at the forefront of this historic effort to inspire a global community to learn about, care for, and protect our world.

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philanthropic participation by the Society's Board of Trustees
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Base Camp: Home of the Explorer

Home of the Explorer

Home of the Explorer

The National Geographic Society has always been the home of the Explorer—beginning when our earliest Explorers returned from their expeditions to our headquarters in Washington, D.C., to share their findings, experiences, and stories with the public and each other. As the Society steps into a new era of exploration, we are transforming our public space to advance our commitment to exploring, protecting, and illuminating the wonder of our world. Our reimagined Base Camp will be an unprecedented destination with an expanded museum and new public spaces where visitors will experience cutting-edge immersive technology, stunning photography, bold storytelling, and glimpses into the life of an Explorer. Made possible through the support of our partners and donors, our new Base Camp represents the most significant expansion in our 135-year history.

Financial Summary

Financial Summary

100 percent of donor contributions go to support Explorers and our mission work.

During a year of significant growth and impact for the National Geographic Society, the record-setting contributions of our supporters, combined with our recent Moody’s rating upgrade, reinforce our confidence in a secure financial outlook for the Society’s future. We remain grateful for our supporters’ investment in Explorer-led programs, allowing us to continue working towards a better tomorrow.
Michael L. Ulica Heasdshot
Michael L. Ulica
President & Chief Operating Officer, National Geographic Society

Thank YoU

Thank YoU

Your support of the National Geographic Society allows our global community of Explorers to take on some of the most urgent challenges our planet faces, creating hope for a more sustainable future.

Thank you for being among our community of contributors and for your dedication to our mission to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world.

About the National Geographic Society

For 135 years, the National Geographic Society has funded the best and brightest individuals dedicated to scientific discovery and understanding of our world. Since our founding in 1888, we’ve stayed true to our original purpose—to pursue and celebrate exploration, scientific excellence, education, and unforgettable storytelling—while evolving to reflect a rapidly changing world. We have embraced innovation and thoughtfully expanded our business model, global reach, commitment to sustainability, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. In doing so, we have remained a vibrant, relevant, world-class brand at the forefront of exploration and knowledge.

Today, National Geographic Explorers are continuing to expand the limits of understanding, uncovering new insights about the natural and cultural worlds, and strengthening our connection to our planet and one another.

Learn more about how you can support National Geographic Explorers and the Society’s important work to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world.


The Society’s Sustainability program aims to ensure that our business practices reflect our respect for the people, cultures, and ecosystems that we explore, celebrate, and support through our educational, scientific, and grant-giving programs.

Our Commitment to DEI

National Geographic puts diversity, equity, and inclusion at the heart of all we do. We are committed to creating an environment where everyone benefits from opportunity, mutual respect, and a sense of belonging.

Photo credits from top of page: Thalefang Charles, Mac Stone, Manu San Félix, Joel Sartore, Pragna Parsotam-Kok, Mark Thiessen, Taylor Schuelke, Kiliii Yüyan, Mark Thiessen, Jon Betz, Jean Case, Manu San Félix, Mike Beckner, Grace Kareska, Stephen Alvarez, Nichole Sobecki, Charlie Hamilton James, Jaime Culebras, Charlie Hamilton James (2), Steve Winter, Matthew Abbott, Charlie Hamilton James, Robert Clark, Jasper Doest, Pragna Parsotam-Kok, Mark Thiessen, Meghan Peterson, Eric Guth, Xavier Lorenzo/AdobeStock, Rebecca Hale, Steve Pickard, Sam Kittner, Sirachai Arunrugstichai, Enric Sala, Hickok-Cole Architects (3), Mark Thiessen, André Dib

Get updates about our critical work to explore and protect our planet.

The National Geographic Society is proud to invest in a global community of intrepid Explorers working to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Make a tax-deductible gift to support the Society today, and your support will help fund the next generation of changemakers.