We’ve all heard of, or even volunteered for, popular non-profit organizations like United Way, Salvation Army, Goodwill, American National Red Cross, and YMCA to name a few. Non-profit organizations rally around a common principle, using profits to invest back in projects that address the organization’s interests. The ones we are most familiar with have a charity or a public service component. They welcome and enable people to contribute their time, skills, efforts, and money for a greater good. Organizations that do this play an integral role in the general welfare and economic and social interests of our communities – solving problems and enriching the community. Non-profits can work domestically or internationally on a range of issues, from addressing immediate hardships for people to preserving macro and micro aspects of cultures.

Do you have an interest in working for the greater good? Human rights, gender equity, environmentally sound development, assisting refugees – I bet there is an organization that exists to address what you care about! Are you interested in giving to or volunteering for a non-profit but you’re not sure what charities are nearby and who needs help? As part of my focus on the Back-to-School season, I’ve compiled a list of non-profit organizations, both domestic and international, that address some of the issues related to going back to school like access to food, books, and a well-rounded education. Thanks to websites like Global Giving and InterAction, we have the resources to explore and support trusted organizations that serve nearly every country and every cause in the world.

Here are some organizations and projects that I have learned about that might interest you:

Help 95 DC Kids Extend Learning After School: New Community for Children plans to serve students from Kindergarten through 12th grade and support them in reaching their full academic potential, preparing for college, and giving back time and talent to their communities.

Increase Graduation Rates In Little Rock: City Year, of Little Rock, Arkansas, is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for low-income youth. City Year’s Long-Term Impact goal is to ensure 80% of the students in the schools they serve reach the 10th grade.

The Lunch Box Expansion Project: Chef Ann Foundation believes by changing the way children eat and think about food, we are helping to create a future generation of informed consumers and parents whose food choices will support sustainable, healthy food systems.

Goods for the Greater Good: Good 360 transforms lives and strengthens communities by mobilizing companies to donate needed materials. The non-profit leader in product philanthropy distributes goods to a network of more than 32,000 prequalified charities, schools and libraries on behalf of America’s top brands.

Pact:Pact’s vision is a world where those who are poor and marginalized exercise their voice, build their own solutions, and take ownership of their future. Pact accomplishes this by strengthening local capacity, forging effective governance systems, and transforming markets into a force for development.

Donating money to a non-profit enables it to utilize the funds in a manner that best serves its goal. Donating your time and skills to an organization locally means you understand the importance of the cause and think it is valuable enough to your community for you to contribute. However you choose to start the year, I encourage you to donate your time, effort, skills, or money to an organization you believe supports the future you want to see.

Class is dismissed! You’ve successfully completed the final course in giving back for back-to-school. What did you learn? What do you plan to share? I want to make the final lesson more active than the previous two and hope that my reflections on the fundamentals in starting the school year encouraged you to reminisce as well. I have a couple of questions for you!

How important can a great foundation be for a student to succeed?

How do you define foundation?

What’s your favorite organization? Is it one of the non-profits we mentioned above?

Share with us below, on your Facebook, or on Twitter! We’d love to hear from you.





Danielle Heiberg, Senior Program Coordinator, InterAction

Americans are generous. According to Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy, they gave nearly $3 billion to their favorite charities and causes in 2011. InterAction, an alliance of nearly 200 non-governmental organizations (NGOs or charitable organizations), estimates that in 2009 its members received $9 billion in private donations (which includes the public, foundations and corporations). InterAction members use these charitable donations to support their work helping the most poor and vulnerable. But where? And how?

To help answer these questions InterAction developed NGO Aid Map, an online initiative to map where InterAction members work and the specific projects they carry out in these countries. For the past two years, we have mapped the work of our members in Haiti, the Horn of Africa, and food security (or agriculture projects) globally. This past spring, we expanded the initiative to include China, India and Mexico.  And we plan to take the map global next year.

The projects on NGO Aid Map are provided voluntarily and are only a part of the picture of what the many charities in the U.S. are doing in the developing world, but it is an important first step towards understanding how billions of dollars in donations are used.

To date, over 3,800 projects from over 130 organizations have been added to NGO Aid Map. The site is searchable by organization, types of projects and geographical location. Visitors can learn more about a project to reduce newborn, maternal and child deaths  in India or about a micro-finance project in Haiti, among many others. Most importantly, the data is open and available for download, making the work of InterAction NGOs transparent

We encourage you to visit NGO Aid Map to learn more about what your favorite charity is doing and how your donations are making a difference in the lives of others.


NGO Aid Map is an initiative of InterAction and is funded by FedEx and the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD). For more information contact [email protected]