Privacy Notice

Last Updated: February 21, 2024

1. Privacy Notice Introduction & Scope

The National Geographic Society is an impact-driven global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education, and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world.

The National Geographic Society ( understands the importance of your privacy, and we take our responsibility to protect it seriously. Our Privacy Notice tells you:

  1. What information we collect about you when you visit this website or use an online resource that contains a link to this Privacy Policy (the “Services”).
  2. How we use, share and protect this information.
  3. What choices you have about how this information is used.
  4. When and how you can access and update this information.

This Privacy Notice does not apply to your interactions with third-party sites, even if you find a link to them on our Services, and even if they use the Society’s trademarks under license. If you click on or interact with a hyperlink that you find on the Services, including but not limited to, you have left our Services and are sending information to a different website or application. You should read the terms and policies of the third-party website provider to see how your personal information will be treated on its site.

2. How We Collect and Use (Process) Your Personal Information

2.1 Summary

NGS collects personal information about its website visitors, donors, grant applicants, and grantees. Your level of engagement with NGS determines the amount and type of information we will collect, and the majority of the information we collect is given to us directly by you. Typically this information includes contact information like what can be found on a business card: first name, last name, mailing address, email address, and phone number, but may include other data described below. We use this information to provide constituents with goods, services, and NGS updates. We may also collect data automatically when you use our websites; this data allows us to understand how users are interacting with our content, which serves our legitimate interest of improving our website and our overall organizational offerings, and allows us to engage in more effective marketing and promotion of our organization and its mission. We may share personal information with third party vendors who are facilitating the delivery of NGS services or with other organizations who are aligned with NGS’s mission, vision, and values.

2.2 Personal Information We Receive From You

2.2.1 Donations

If you give a donation to the National Geographic Society, we ask for your name, postal address, email address, and your credit card number in order to process your gift and send a thank you letter and tax receipt to you.

If you are giving a gift in honor or memory of another person, we will also ask you for that person’s name, and the name and postal address of the person to whom you want an honor or memory gift notification to be sent.

We may also ask you to tell us what programs or issues you are interested in, if and how you would like your gift designated, and if and how you would like to be contacted in order to tailor your experience with us to your interests and preferences.

2.2.2 Grants, Challenges, Project Funding, and Awards
If you apply for or receive grants, funding, or awards, NGS stores additional information related to application details, external and internal review information, details related to the execution of grant agreements and payment, final reporting, media related to the work funded, and feedback on the success of the grant.
2.2.3 Attending Our Museum or an Event

If you purchase a ticket to National Geographic Museum or an event at NGS headquarters, NGS stores data related to that transaction including name, address, phone number, email, and purchase method. If you fill out additional information via a survey or provide subsequent information related to interests, how you learned about the exhibition or event or demographic information, that may be stored as well.

If you are a guest or attendee at one of our events, we may ask you for additional identifying information (such as passport details), health information, dietary preferences, ability information, emergency contacts, travel details, or related information. We use this information solely to arrange travel or activities for you in connection with these events or to ensure safety. In doing so, we may need to provide this information to travel agencies and operators, who may then use the data according to their own privacy practice, or to our service providers. We will only collect and use this information with your consent, but if you do not consent or withdraw your consent, we may not be able to arrange your attendance at these events.

2.2.4 Competitions/Challenges or Contests (See Section 6.2 for Specifics on the GeoChallenge Below)
If you participate in a competition, we may ask for your name, phone number, the name of your school principal (if applicable), name of student(s) competing and also email addresses of students’ parents. For collecting payment, we will ask for credit card name, address, phone number and credit card number. For students that are traveling with a coach, we will collect a health form to insure appropriate care while away from home. For contests, we will collect entry information (name, address, phone number).
2.2.5 Online Educational Resources
Many of our online educational resources enable users to set up an account to enable bookmarking of content or saving of online activities (such as marking up a map). Online courses require a sign-up process that collects email address, state, first name, last name, organization (school where course participant works). Participants write a brief bio of themselves on the course platform, and respond to a post-course survey identifying grade and subject taught.
2.2.6 Surveys, Sweepstakes, etc.
If you participate in an activity such as a survey or sweepstakes, we may also ask you to provide other types of information such as gender and personal interests, which we may then use to enhance and customize your experience with our Services.
2.2.7 Online Account
Our website enables users to create accounts that let them bookmark content, save other settings and content over time, or interact with certain content meant for particular audiences. Users will be asked to provide their name and email address, or they may create an account linked to an existing account with Google, LinkedIn, or Microsoft.
2.2.8 Personal Information Contained in User Content
Some parts of our Services may allow users to post or transmit messages, comments, screen names, computer files and other materials. If you choose to make personal information public through these Services, National Geographic Society will consider that information public.

2.3 Information Received From Your Use of Our Website

2.3.1 Summary

NGS websites collect certain information automatically and store it in log files. This information may include Internet Protocol (“IP”) addresses or other device identifiers, the region or general location where your computer or device is accessing the internet, browser type and version, operating system and other usage information about the use of the NGS websites, including a history of the pages you view. We use this information to help design our site to better suit our users’ needs. We may also use your IP address to help diagnose problems with our server and to administer our website, analyze trends, track visitor activity, and gather broad demographic information that assists us in identifying visitor preferences.

NGS has a legitimate interest in understanding how constituents, customers, donors, and educators use its websites. This assists NGS with providing more relevant products and services, communicating value to our partners, and providing appropriate staffing to meet our users’ diverse needs.

2.3.2 IP Address, Device Identifier, and Browser Settings

When you access our Services, we collect your IP address, which identifies the computer or service provider that you use to access the Services; your mobile device identifier, if you connect through a mobile device; and browser or computer settings. We may use these identifiers and information to analyze the way specific visitors interact with various parts of our Services. We also may use this information to make our Services, communications, and marketing to you more targeted to your interests.

For EEA users, we do not track across web sessions in the absence of explicit consent. We anonymize IP addresses and we do not associate IP addresses with individuals in our web analytics tools.

2.3.3 Cookies

Our site also uses cookies. Cookies are small text files that are stored on a user’s computer and allow websites to remember information about users. We use cookies for a variety of purposes, to enable and to enhance the quality of our Site, and your user experience.

We use essential cookies (sometimes called “necessary cookies” or “functional cookies”) to help make our website and web applications usable by enabling basic functions like session management and single sign-on. They also help us comply with legal requirements like GDPR. Our site cannot function properly without these cookies. Most of the essential cookies we use are transient (sometimes called “session cookies”). A transient cookie expires when you close your browser. We use analytics cookies that collect information about how visitors interact with and use our website. This information enables us to improve how our website works generally. We use functional cookies to remember the choices you make and provide enhanced features such as support that may be of particular interest to you. These cookies allow us to personalize your return visits and to save you time during certain activities, such as checking out from our online store. We also use marketing cookies to display ads that are relevant and engaging to individual users based on their use of our site.

You have the choice to set your browser to accept or reject these cookies, or notify you when a cookie is set. (Each browser is different, so check the “Help” menu of your browser to learn how to change your cookie preferences.) It is up to you whether to allow us to send you cookies. However, if you do not accept cookies from us, your ability to use some areas of our Site will be limited.

If you are an EEA resident, you will see a cookie banner giving you the option to provide your consent to cookies, with the exception of essential cookies, which are necessary for our website to function and expire when you close your browser.

2.3.4 Web Beacons and Other Technologies
The Services use other tracking tools, including web beacons. Web beacons are images on the Services (or in emails that the Services sends to you) that help us determine what parts of the Services you have visited, whether you have opened an email that we have sent to you, or otherwise to measure the effectiveness of the Services. These technical methods may involve the transmission of information to us or directly to a service provider authorized by us to collect information on our behalf. If you are an EEA resident, we will not use web beacons without your consent as described above under “cookies”.
2.3.5 SMS Services
If you sign up for SMS Services, data obtained from you in connection with this SMS service may include your mobile phone number, your carrier’s name and the date, time and content of your messages. We may use this information to contact you and provide the services you request from us.
2.3.6 Website Usage Data
We use various tools such as heat mapping or session replay to enable us to evaluate website user behavior so that we may improve our online offerings. These tools may use cookies and other technologies to enable us to see how a user moves around a page and interacts with the various elements on those pages. Steps are taken to ensure any information typed or otherwise entered by users are not captured. We will not use these tools without your consent as described under “cookies.”
2.3.7 California Do Not Track Disclosure

Our Site does not respond to honor “do not track signals” (e.g., the Mozilla Firefox Do Not Track feature), though you may be able to disable certain tracking as discussed above (e.g., by disabling cookies). For more information about do not track signals, please click here.

2.4 Personal Information We Get From Third Parties

NGS sometimes uses third parties and publicly available sources to validate, update, and enrich the information you provide. We do this to 1) ensure contact information such as email address, phone number, and mailing address are accurate and up to date, and 2) gather relevant demographic, financial, and biographical information about grant applicants and donor prospects to inform internal business processes.

2.5 Collecting Personal Data in the US

Our Site is maintained in the United States of America. The information we collect from you through our services may be transferred to, stored, and processed in the USA and other destinations outside the European Economic Area (“EEA”) or other country in which you are located. This includes processing by us, our affiliates, our third party service companies and other third parties as described in this Policy. You consent and agree to the collection and processing of your Personal Information outside the EEA or other country in which you are located. You understand that data stored in the USA may be subject to lawful requests by the courts or law enforcement authorities in the USA. The USA may not have data protection laws that are as comprehensive or protective as those in your country of residence.

3. When and How We Share Information with Others

3.1 Vendors, Consultants and Other Service Providers

Your information may be shared with entities that provide Services on our behalf, including service development, maintenance and support, payment processing, email distribution, marketing, consultants, and promotions management, only to the extent that these entities need the information to perform their services or as required and/or permitted by law, unless any additional use or sharing of the information is separately permitted under another provision of our Privacy Policy.

3.2 List Shares and Non-Profit Cooperative Groups

Your information may be shared with selected third parties so that they may send you promotional materials about goods and services that they offer. You have the opportunity to opt out of our sharing personal information about you as described below in Section 4, “Data subject rights.”

3.3 Internal Operations, Affiliates, Partners

Your information may be shared within the National Geographic Society family, which is defined for this purpose as corporate affiliates of National Geographic Society (“Affiliates”) and entities that are authorized to use the “National Geographic” name and registered trademarks to brand their products or services (such as National Geographic Partners, LLC and its sub-licensees) with your consent. For SMS services, opt-in data and consent may be shared with Affiliates but this information will not be shared with any other third parties.

3.4 Legal Requirements

Your information may be shared when we believe that doing so is required by law, may be necessary to protect any person’s property, rights, or safety, or to investigate a potential violation of law, will help to enforce any terms of use or other legal agreement, or will help resolve disputes that arise in the ordinary course of business, or in the event of a corporate transaction, such as a divestiture, merger, consolidation, reorganization, or corporate sale or asset sale.

4. Data Subject Rights & Unsubscribing from Communications

All users may request that the Society refrain from sending postal mail by clicking here. To unsubscribe from email sent by the nonprofit National Geographic Society (which includes fundraising emails, as well as email about educational offerings, events, etc.), please revisit the type of email from which you want to unsubscribe and click on the “unsubscribe or update your communication preferences” link at the bottom of that email.

Note: Your data may also be held by National Geographic Partners, a member of the The Walt Disney Family of Companies, which controls the National Geographic consumer and media assets. This includes, but is not limited to, National Geographic Magazine, National Geographic Kids, National Geographic Expeditions, and the National Geographic Online Store. Please visit Disney Privacy Choices for more information.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other privacy laws provide certain rights for data subjects. If you are a resident of the European Economic Area (“EEA”) and the Services are targeted to you, please note:

You may request information about: the general purpose of the processing; the categories of personal data concerned; who else outside NGS may have received data from NGS; what the source of the information was (if you didn’t provide it directly to NGS); and how long it will be stored. You have the right to correct (rectify) the record of your personal data maintained by NGS if it is inaccurate. You may request that NGS erase that data or cease processing it, subject to certain exceptions. You may also request that NGS cease using your data for direct marketing purposes. You may also request that NGS not share your data with its partners or other aligned organizations. In many countries, you have a right to lodge a complaint with the appropriate data protection authority if you have concerns about how NGS processes your personal data. When technically feasible, NGS will—at your request—provide your personal data to you or transmit it directly to another controller at your request.

Reasonable access to your personal data will be provided at no cost to you upon request made using one of the links above or by email to NGS at [email protected]. If access cannot be provided within a reasonable time frame, NGS will provide you with a date when the information will be provided. If for some reason access is denied, NGS will provide an explanation as to why access has been denied.

5. Security and Retention

5.1 Security and Incident Response

We take a number of steps to safeguard any personal information that we collect about you. We use data encryption technology to help protect against loss, misuse or alteration of your credit card information. Cryptographic algorithms and protocols protect the credit card information sent between your computer and our database. However, no method of transmitting or storing electronic data is ever completely secure, and therefore we cannot warrant or guarantee that such information will never be accessed, used or released in a manner that is inconsistent with this policy. We maintain and periodically test an incident response plan to handle any incidents that may involve your personal information.

5.2 Data Storage and Retention

We keep your Personal Information for as long as needed or permitted in light of the purpose(s) for which it was obtained. The criteria used to determine our retention periods include 1) for as long as we have an ongoing relationship with you and provide the Services to you; 2) as required by a legal obligation to which we are subject; or 3) as advisable in light of our legal position (such as in regard of applicable statutes of limitations and litigation).

6. Children's Privacy

6.1 Use of Websites

The Services NGS provides are not intended for visits from children under the age of 13, or under the age of 16 in the case of children in the European Economic Area (EEA), and we do not knowingly permit children under these ages to register for any content, product or Service, other than as described below in Section 4.2). Our Services are general audience services, and we do not knowingly collect information about children through them. Should a child make known to us his or her personally identifiable information, we will use that information only to respond directly to that child to inform him or her that we must have parental consent before receiving his or her personally identifiable information, or to respond otherwise in a manner consistent with applicable rules and laws. If we learn that we have collected personally identifiable information from a child other than in a manner authorized by law, we will delete that information from our database.

Sites managed by National Geographic Partners, LLC (an independently owned and operated legal entity),—including and—are not subject to the control of NGS. Please refer to the Data Privacy Policy of National Geographic Partners for additional information.

6.2 GeoChallenge

The GeoChallenge program is designed to challenge and recognize the achievements of middle school students in the United States. In order to administer these programs, National Geographic Society’s Education Department collects and stores students’ information, along with the information about their schools, teachers, and project sponsors. The information we collect includes: name, school, grade, gender, video submissions, and sometimes payment and travel data.

Many times this information is collected by the school or project sponsor on behalf of the students, though the students may also provide this information themselves. Prior to doing so, the schools and project sponsors are provided with National Geographic Society Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) notification which describes the information we collect and the rights parents have over their child’s data.

7. Changes and Updates to the Privacy Notice

By using this Site, you agree to the terms and conditions contained in this Privacy Notice and Conditions of Use and/or any other agreement that we might have with you. If you do not agree to any of these terms and conditions, you should not use this Site or any NGS services.

As our organizational practices, policies, and processes change from time to time, this Privacy Notice is expected to change as well. We reserve the right to amend the Privacy Notice at any time, for any reason, without notice to you, other than the posting of the amended Privacy Notice at this Site. We may email periodic reminders of our notices and terms and conditions and will email notifications to you, but you should check our Site frequently to see the current Privacy Notice that is in effect and any changes that may have been made to it. The provisions contained herein supersede all previous notices or statements regarding our privacy practices and the terms and conditions that govern the use of this Site.

8. Questions, Concerns, Complaints

You can contact us with questions, concerns, or complaints about our processing of your personal data using the contact information below:

National Geographic Society
1145 17th St., NW
Washington, DC 20036, USA


[email protected]

Photo credits: Robbie Shone

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