what we do

Illuminate and protect the wonder of our world

For more than 130 years, the National Geographic Society has funded the best and brightest individuals dedicated to scientific discovery and understanding of our world. 

Our historic commitment to dauntless exploration dates back to our founding in 1888 when 33 prominent scholars and scientists established an organization dedicated to the “increase and diffusion of knowledge.”

Today, National Geographic Explorers are continuing to push the boundaries of knowledge, uncovering new insights about the natural and cultural worlds, and strengthening our connection to them and one another.

Erika Bergman films and explores deep reefs in manned submersables.  Photo by Barry B. Brown.
Our evolution

Through the years

our strategic vision

Legendary legacy, boundless future

Well over a century after our founding, National Geographic continues to reach and resonate with millions of people worldwide. How has our organization stood the test of time? We’ve stayed true to our original mission to pursue and celebrate exploration, scientific excellence, education, and unforgettable storytelling while simultaneously evolving with nimbleness and fortitude in a rapidly changing world. We embraced innovation and intentionally adapted, thoughtfully expanding our business model, global reach, 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. 

NG Next celebrates our legendary legacy and takes the next step forward by charting a dynamic, five-year plan that strengthens our foundation, builds on our momentum, embeds diversity, equity, and inclusion into every aspect of our work, and sets a clear vision for the future to drive significant impact.


The National Geographic Society and
The Walt Disney Company

Our joint-venture partnership enables us to invest every philanthropic dollar — 100 percent of donations — directly to our Explorers and mission programs. 

One of the powerful ways we build on our legacy and accelerate our impact work is through an innovative, sustainable business model. This joint-venture enterprise combines National Geographic’s global television channels, publications, media, and products and allows us to return a portion of the proceeds from these assets to fund our non-profit work.

Disney is one of the most recognized brands in the world and shares our legacy of innovation, inspiration, and storytelling. With its business expertise, brand power, and global footprint, Disney has the unique ability to broadcast the Society’s mission to millions more people who are endlessly curious and share our passion for exploration.


Photo Credits from top of page: Jim Richardson, Barry Brown, U.S. Geological Survey, Andy Mann, Paul Hagelbarger, Ana Elisa Sotelo, Lynn Johnson. Below: Michael Nichols, Andy Mann, Paul Nicklen, Ami Vitale, Christian Tryon, Kenneth Garrett, Mark Thiessen.

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.