Google Maps has a handy (AND FREE!) tool that you can use to import a spreadsheet of addresses onto a map for use at your church. Our brains are very good at picking out patterns and visualization of data like this can be a powerful tool for decision-making. It could be used by your church in a number of different ways:
- Multisite // We regularly look at the shift patterns of where our attenders and guests are coming from to know where to put our next campuses. This is invaluable for us in the decision-making process.
- Student Ministry // You could drop the addresses of all your students on a map to help your leaders see which students are closest to them.
- Missions Trips // Get the addresses of various locations that you are visiting and share them with your potential participants. Because these maps are integrated with Google’s StreetView, you can literally see exactly where you are going!
- Facility Search // Maybe you are looking at new locations for campuses or your church plant. Drop all the potential new locations onto a map for people to explore!
Step 1 // Prepare Your Spreadsheet
Using your favorite spreadsheet program, make a sheet with all the information that you’ll need. Label the various columns whatever you’d like, but make sure everything is clear to you. In Step 6, you will pick a column to be the label for the “pins” that will be dropped on the map. Ensure that data is in one column now. My Maps limits the number of rows of data that you can import to just 2,000 … which might be a problem if you want to import your entire church database.
Step 2 // Log Into My Maps
- Create a New Map // This gives you the ability to create a new map from a spreadsheet.
- Open a Map // This is where maps that you have already created are stored for future use and sharing.
Click on “Create a New Map” to advance to the next step!
Step 3 // Name the Map
On the top left-hand corner of the map, there will be a dialogue box that reads “Untitled map” … click on that to rename it something that will be easily understood by all users.
Step 4 // Import the Data
In the same dialogue box, you’ll see a blue highlighted “Import” link. Click on that and you will be given the opportunity to upload your spreadsheet. (You can import CSV, TSV, KML, KMZ or XLSX files, as well as spreadsheets from Google Drive.)
Step 5 // Select the Location Data to Map
The next window will show the top row from your spreadsheet as titles of the columns that you will use to place the data. In our example, we selected multiple columns (ADDRESS, CITY, STATE, ZIP CODE) because Google My Maps will use that data and combine them together to place the data on the map. The more information you provide, the more accurate the map will be. For example, if you just gave it city names, it would place all the pins with that city name in the center of town.
Step 6 // Title Your Markers
The last step is to pick a name for each of the pins. You will pick one column that will serve as the title for each of the corresponding rows. You can only pick one, so when you’re making your spreadsheet, ensure that you have a column that would work well for what you’re trying to show.
You’re Done! // Explore Your Data
You’ll notice that the layer is renamed to the file name of the spreadsheet you’ve uploaded. When you click on any given pin, the information from the row in the spreadsheet is displayed … even data that wasn’t used as a title or a location marker.
Other Features // More helpful stuff you can use!
- Sharing // By clicking the “Share” button in the dialogue box, you can email the map to other people or generate a link for use on social media.
- Change Pins // Scroll over the “All items” label and you’ll see a little paint bucket. Click on that bucket to change the pins’ color or logo.
- Multiple Layers // Import more than one spreadsheet and you can compare various sets of data.
- Measure Distance // At the top of the map there is a “ruler” icon. Use this tool to measure the distance between two points on the map. Handy for doing quick approximations of drive times!