Thursday, December 13, 2007

7 Best Bets for International Donations

Christmas is a time of giving, which for many people also means giving to their favorite charities. If you're looking for ideas of where to donate your money this Christmas, realize that your money often goes further internationally than it does in the United States. Case in point: non-profit Room to Read allows you to sponsor a full year of education for a child in the developing world for $250, whereas the average expenditure per student in the United States is $6,058 according to Sperling's Best Places.

According to my research, only seven international non-profits currently hold both of the following awards: (1) Fast Company's Social Capitalist Award, based on an organization's social impact and organizational effectiveness, and (2) Charity Navigator's 4-Star Rating, awarded for an organization's financial efficiency and capacity to carry out its mission. The seven effective and efficient organizations that passed this screen are shown below, along with brief descriptions of the work they do:

  • ACCION International: Partners with Microfinance Institutions throughout the world, but especially in Latin America, which comprises 95% of its loan portfolio. Average loan ~$825.
  • KickStart International: Helps people out of poverty through economic growth and employment creation. Focus on micro-irrigation, oil-processing, and building technologies in Africa.
  • Mercy Corps: Alleviates suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities. Operates throughout the world.
  • PATH: Improves global health by advancing technologies, strengthening systems, and encouraging healthy behaviors. Projects in 65 countries around the world.
  • Room to Read: Partners with communities via challenge grant program to build schools and libraries, fund girls' scholarships, and publish local language books. Operates in Asia and Africa, with planned expansion into Latin America.
  • Root Capital: Provides small business loans to support low-income communities in environmentally sensitive areas of Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Average loan ~$200,000.
  • Unitus: Accelerates the growth of partner Microfinance Institutions in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Average loan ~$90.

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