National Geographic Society President and CEO Gary E. Knell recently sat down with Denver Frederick, host of the radio show “The Business of Giving.” The program profiles contemporary changemakers who are uncovering solutions to today’s complex social problems. Gary was invited to share the incredible story of National Geographic and how the brand has remained a household name over the past 129 years.
In the interview, Gary described how National Geographic evolved and continues to adapt to the changing media landscape through its 2015 joint venture with 21st Century Fox. Its new structure enables the Society to fund the best in scientific research and exploration as well as unparalleled storytelling with the goal of ensuring a healthy and sustainable future for generations to come. He also detailed National Geographic’s long-standing commitment to satisfying people’s curiosity and inspiring them to care for the planet.
Additionally, Gary spoke of the history of “membership” at National Geographic and the pride that came with it. He shared how the organization is currently redefining what membership means, moving toward the notion of becoming part of a “tribe” to foster a deeper interaction with the brand.
According to Gary, what sets National Geographic apart from other organizations is its unmatched capacity for storytelling that furthers people’s understanding of the planet. National Geographic strives to inform numerous audiences, including decision makers, by giving grants to explorers and then sharing their untold stories with the world. As Gary deftly noted, storytelling is about education, and it’s a powerful vehicle.
He also explained how the Society’s grants program is supplemented by partnerships developed with foundations and corporations that share common interests, such as Rolex who is helping support the organization’s ocean exploration efforts. Gary stressed the critical importance of diversifying National Geographic grants, expanding its portfolio of explorers to include people from all over the globe to provide insight into worlds we have yet to explore.