Philanthropy and Nonprofits
We all like to do things that make us feel good about ourselves. And what better way to feel good about yourself than to help others? Whether you're looking for a new charity to give to or want to check the legitimacy of one to which you already give, the resources you need are online. You can find a place to volunteer at home or abroad, research and apply to education programs in philanthropy and nonprofit studies, read up on the latest in nonprofit news, or even find ways to better run or start your own nonprofit.
The world of philanthropy and volunteering is made up of millions of people such as yourself, and thousands of opportunities to help out in myriad ways. These sites can help you sift through all the grains of goodwill and find the perfect way you can give, volunteer, and interact with the needy and all those others that want to help.
- There are thousands of causes and organizations out there. If you're feeling stretched thin, remember that there are other ways to help besides donating money or volunteering. Check out the community Web sites to help connect others with your causes.
- If you can't choose one specific charity but still want to help, consider giving to a larger charitable foundation, which in turn funds many various smaller charities and organizations.
- The sites here are well respected, but a good consumer is an informed consumer; it never hurts to run a quick glance over the fine print yourself. Donating doesn't have to be a one-way interaction, and building relationships with charitable organizations requires this bit of thought and education.
For volunteer and donor matching sites ...
is a well-known and respected nonprofit and volunteer resource site. Listing almost 60,000 nonprofit organizations, you can search for volunteer opportunities, nonprofit jobs, and community events and actions worldwide. Idealist's credibility and comprehensiveness are of particular note.
matches up volunteers and organizations according to their preferences, almost like a dating service. With good but simple search criteria and separate sections for volunteers, nonprofit organizations, and corporations, it offers an efficient and powerful way to start giving quickly.
also helps volunteers and organizations to come together, but with useful search criteria such as target age group to serve. Don't be put off by the somewhat dour and hard-to-read color scheme and design.
will track your donation history to help you out come tax time whether you're donating to a specific cause or to their umbrella fund. A place to coordinate all your altruism, this site lets you both find volunteer opportunities as well as manage your various monetary donations.
attaches the ".org" to the age-old bequest to sulky teenagers to, well, do something. The site provides kids with a multitude of ways to comply, hooking them up with charities and volunteer opportunities in their area that fit their needs. This site also gives out weekly mini-grants to fund youngsters' own pet projects to encourage their creativity and leadership.
USA Freedom Corps
is the White House office in charge of coordinating and promoting volunteerism among Americans. Among its associated programs are the well known Peace Corps and AmeriCorps programs. A USAFC kids' Web site has its home here as well.
For other volunteer organizations ...
is akin to a domestic version of the Peace Corps. If you want a rigorous, community-based volunteer experience but want to stay in the United States, this program might interest you. Because coordination is easier without international issues, AmeriCorps offers a greater variety of service options.
The National Park Service
has its own in-house volunteer opportunity search engine, as well as tools to find internships and jobs within the service, available to both Americans and foreigners. If you're a nature person this is a great place to find anything from short-stint volunteer positions to a full-time job.
offers an alternative way to spend your hard-earned vacation days. Its week-long volunteer trips of all sorts take small groups into the wilderness areas of the United States to assist a variety of government agencies in their conservation efforts. You can apply and browse the trips offered on this site, each of which cost $239.
To take part in one-time-gift charities and pledge sites ...
embraces the old "I will if you will" attitude when it comes to charity. Here you can post a pledge (ideally a charitable pledge) that you will fulfill only if a specified number of other pledgers will join you.
makes one-time small gifts of financial assistance to those in need with the philosophy that preventing people from falling into poverty due to temporary setbacks is paramount. You can browse and contribute to individual applications, all of which are vetted for authenticity by volunteers.
uses the same model as Modest Needs of connecting donors with small-needs receivers of charity to enable teachers and schoolchildren to get the funds they need for their projects, productions, or simply for everyday school life. After the funds are received the recipients file expenditure reports, photographs, and thank you letters to let you see how the money is being used.
To be part of an online charity community ...
is a social activism social networking site centered around "changes" people would like to see in the world. The site helps people discuss and share causes with blogs and videos, connects them to related organizations, and in partnership with justgive.org provides a place to make all your donations online and encourage others to do so using giving networks. The very informative video tour of the site makes joining and using it quick and easy to do.
enables you to share your passion for a cause and recruit others to donate and take part. Through a system of sharing "Badges," small snippets/info/ads about a cause, this growing social networking site (that includes a number of celebrity members) is all about getting the word out about what's important to you. Oh, and yes, it is one more way you can connect people to Kevin Bacon.
Nonprofit Organizations MySpace
hosts a good deal of useful philanthropic and volunteering information posted by different users. Run by one woman simply trying to bring organization and motivation to the nonprofit community online, this modest site is an effective rallying point for like-minded individuals.
has a charity community site that is a bit unwieldy and clogged with features, but click over to its shopping section and you can generate revenue to save the rainforests through the commissions Care2.com receives from e-stores when you shop online. The practical green thumbs-up tool will also tell you which sites you shop at are environmentally responsible.
To use a charitable search engine ...
has made it easy for even the biggest couch/computer-potato to help raise money for charity. This Yahoo!-powered search engine lets you direct 50 percent of the advertising revenue from your searches to the charity of your choice. The more you search the Web, the more money your charity gets.
works on the same principles as GoodSearch does, and though its charity option list is less expansive, the ability to customize the page with your own widgets makes it a nice option as your homepage portal site.
gives to just one charity a month, but it gives every last cent of its revenue to that charity, compared to 50 percent of most other charitable search engines, making it a true nonprofit. If you don't care what the cause is, but want your money used efficiently, this site might be more your style.
takes a more aggressive approach toward funding than other charity search engines, making commission deals with their advertisers. If you're planning on making a purchase online, search through this site first and if you choose an advertiser's site, most likely a commission or flat fee quite higher than any ad revenue will be given to a charitable cancer foundation.
has a massive searchable charity listing, with running stats on how much has been raised for each, that makes it stand out in terms of transparency. This UK site naturally focuses on UK charities.
The Hunger Site
is not a search engine, but it follows the general idea of these sites to let you give without giving. Here you simply need to click a button, which you can do once a day, and a donation is made from the site's sponsors. It is part of a family of similar sites for a range of causes, all accessible by tabs at the top of the site.
builds on the proven idea that small-scale loans to entrepreneurs is one of the best ways to spur development. On this well-designed site you can browse or search for specific entrepreneurs in developing countries and make a loan directly to that person. When the loan is repaid, so are you, after which you can make another loan with the money or not, knowing you helped someone take their first steps up.
lets you immediately start helping villages in the developing world, without leaving your seat. Here you can browse and take on various two- to eight-hour tasks that may involve researching various topics of development, interviewing local representatives to gain more information, or any number of other urgently needed things that require direct human assistance, all done at your desk!
Community volunteering doesn't have to mean your own community. Hordes of people young and old have embraced volunteer programs abroad as a way to see the world, help others, and contribute to a greater global cultural understanding. The opportunities are endless-these sites will help you find the one right for you.
- Although any good abroad program will plan well for your health and safety, you should still research any health or other safety hazards before leaving the country. Sickness or injury can ruin an otherwise amazing experience.
- Because comfort and safety standards vary throughout the world, it's good to deal with organizations that have an organizational presence in your home country to ensure a certain level of cultural understanding.
For overseas volunteer opportunities ...
is part of the larger GoAbroad site and enables you to search a large number of volunteer organizations and opportunities worldwide by location, length of stay, and type of work. Many of the organizations have been put through the site's own verification process to try to ensure they are reputable.
was founded to promote overseas volunteering and standards of quality among its alliance of overseas, nonprofit volunteer organizations. The site's design is bland and boring, but there's plenty of information on volunteering and fundraising, and a program search tool that spans members' offerings.
sends volunteers worldwide on vastly varied assignments, all designed to help local communities in the host countries. On this site you can explore the rigorous opportunities and benefits of this U.S. government department and, if it's for you, apply online.
Cross Cultural Solutions
has a rich site that seems telling of the rich experiences you can enjoy through its programs. The volunteer options it offers are particularly far flung, a fact you can see for yourself with the site's fabulous videos of volunteers at work. Apply online to its short-term "Insight Abroad" experiences or longer programs and internships.
For teen opportunities ...
integrates service work with cultural immersion to give teens an alternative to more typical summer activities. Language immersion trips are also available, as are custom-designed trips for groups of 14 or more.
has programs that include home-stay components and more specialized options such as a soccer/language-immersion/service trip in Costa Rica. If you're over 17 you can also apply for its three-month teach abroad programs. Along with staff positions for those over 24, GlobalRoutes allows you to engage the global community from teen-hood to adulthood.
The sites featured in this section have stepped in to help you ensure that your charity and philanthropy are being properly used. If you want a list of respected foundations, want to confirm that a certain nonprofit is on the up-and-up, or want a closer look into the finances of your favorite charities, these online watchdogs will give you the goods.
- There are thousands of charities and these watchdog sites have limited resources. Just because an organization doesn't appear on their list doesn't necessarily mean it isn't trustworthy. Try searching for articles about your charity for alternative verification.
- Some of these sites might have higher (or lower) standards than you think necessary for charitable organizations, so take a look at how a site evaluates charities before you trust its judgment on a particular one.
For charity watchdogs ...
The BBB Wise Giving Alliance
site is a reliable tool you can use to check up on your charities. The organization does not rate charities, but rather declares them as meeting its rather strict accounting and transparency guidelines, or explains where they're lacking. Its optional Charity Seal program gives organizations a quick way to show they've been favorably evaluated. Here you can also report on or inquire about a specific organization that's not on the list.
takes a different approach to its watchdog role by rating charities on a four-star scale according to their financial efficiency, i.e., how well your donations are being used. The extensive description of this process brings a high level of transparency to the site. In addition, the large sections of tips, studies, and articles, as well as the inclusion of more personalized and powerful tracking tools available to registered users, further expands the site's role to a personal charity manager.
The American Institute of Philanthropy
is known for its particular tenacity. On its site, charitywatch.org, you can read about how it rates organizations, browse articles on philanthropy, get tips on giving, and see its list of top-rated charities. If you want its full publication of ratings, however, you'll have to follow the site's instructions on where to send away for a sample copy, or how to become a member in order to regularly receive the tri-annual publication.
The National Center for Charitable Statistics
has an expansive databases that can be technical or hard to find, and the site is more focused toward those in the field. But if you have the time and need for some serious research, this is the place to find the nitty gritty.
For other charity information services ...
is not a watchdog group, but rather a souped-up charity directory. It can provide you with very basic legal information on individual nonprofit and charity organizations through a free search service, and detailed financial information through more extensive pay services built for those working with or in nonprofit agencies.
As philanthropy and nonprofits grow both as an educational discipline and a field of study, the information and research available to professionals is growing exponentially, and the technology to assist them is advancing at an even faster pace. These sites offer you a top-shelf taste of the publications that will help you keep up with all the advances being made-and the setbacks as well.
- With the ease of online publishing, many organizations such as those listed in other sections of this guide have their own Web publications. If you have more specific interests, you might try these in-house magazines and newsletters to stay on top of things.
- Before becoming too attached to an online publication, check the date it was last updated. Many now-defunct pubs still have old sites lingering on the Web that can feature outdated and irrelevant information.
For publications about philanthropy and nonprofit work ...
The Chronicle of Philanthropy
is a biweekly newspaper about the world of philanthropy. To access most of this meaty site and its archives you must purchase an online pass for $72 a year, but a selection of its most recent headlines is available free of charge.
The Philanthropy Journal
is updated daily, providing you with that needed fix of philanthropy news each morning. The site also offers Webinars on topics of interest to those working in nonprofits.
also serves up daily doses of practical news for the philanthropy professional. Topic buttons let you instantly sort and search the archives of this online publication.
publishes the aptly named Philanthropy magazine, replete with features on the history and current state of philanthropy, interviews, commentary, and reviews. Also available to download are a number of guides the organization publishes dealing with different aspects of and issues in philanthropy.
has an earthy, upbeat online publication that focuses on solutions rather than problems, and the amount of articles and other content housed here is staggering. A bright and slick design makes this site quite readable and the many contributors illuminate a seemingly endless collection of world-changing solutions. A handy list of local editions of the site allows you to focus on your area if you choose.
The Stanford Social Innovation Review
is published by the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and brings the minds and resources of this academic institution to its articles and blogs. The "Ask An Expert" resource for nonprofit professionals is a nice feature.
If you're already in the world of nonprofit or philanthropy, the Web has enormous resources that will help you to excel. Whether you're starting a new organization, have a legal issue, want to manage your nonprofit more efficiently, or are struggling to keep up technologically, these sites will help you solve your problem so that you can get back to making a difference.
- Many organizations designed to help nonprofits are nonprofits themselves. If money is tight, as it always is in this business, these can help you out with little cost.
- An informative Web site is no substitute for qualified personnel. Don't go shedding those accountants and lawyers after finding that tidbit of tax advice on the Web.
- Most of these sites provide excellent information for American organizations, but laws from country to country vary greatly. If you're planning on having an international presence, you'll need to expand your research.
To start a nonprofit ...
features a charity start-up guide that illuminates the lengthy and hairy process required to gain charitable status. For a preliminary look in plain English as to what the daunting task requires, take a look here. For similar information on starting a 501c3 nonprofit check out the equivelant guide.
Internal Revenue Service
has a charity page that brings you all the tax information you need to know as a nonprofit worker or contributor. Besides informative guides, all the relevant IRS forms are available here as well. The "Lifecycle of a Public Charity/Private Foundation" guide will be particularly useful to those starting new nonprofits.
For philanthropic foundations ...
The Council on Foundations
has been around for almost 60 years, providing guidance specifically for philanthropic foundations with leadership and legal issues. The site contains many guides and tutorials, and also facilitates networking among its thousands of member foundations.
For volunteer organizations ...
is an online library of resources for the volunteering world. The library is well organized, and many of its titles are free to download, while others are for sale on Amazon.
Points of Light Foundation
mobilizes and engages volunteers through a nationwide network of local community volunteer centers and a number of programs for volunteer managers. Information on all its programs and networks is available here along with a large library of educational publications and resources.
For help with grant and proposal writing ...
has a straightforward site that contains a number of guides for nonprofit organizations on grant/proposal writing, as well as a good list of grantmakers and resource sites.
For nonprofit management software ...
is sort of the Consumer Reports
of nonprofit software. If you're a nonprofit worker or manager who's struggling with the technological aspects of your organization or simply want to keep up to date on what's available, this site's articles, reviews, and online seminars can be invaluable.
For charities in Canada ...
is a broad charity resource site for Canada. Here you can find many sites and resources for the Canadian charitable sector.
If your altruistic interests are of a more academic or professional bent, many opportunities for a formal education in philanthropy or nonprofit management can be found online. These sites will get you on your way to a degree that will leave you with the skills needed to start your career in the nonprofit world.
- Although there are a few older programs, the field of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies is relatively new, and programs can vary greatly in focus and philosophy. If one doesn't look right for you, keep looking; there are all shapes and colors of them out there.
- Often nonprofit studies programs will be a smaller focus within a broader degree. Many of these degrees have names such as Masters of Public Administration or Management. Look at the coursework for a better idea of how focused the program is on nonprofits.
To find degree programs ...
The Chronicle of Philanthropy
has a Continuing Education Guide that will help you root out the nonprofit or philanthropic studies program that's right for you.
For schools with programs in philanthropy and nonprofit studies ...
The Center on Philanthropy
is an easily navigable portal to all their academic offerings. This Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis institution offers a number of different degree programs in philanthropy and nonprofit studies for both graduate and undergraduate students. It also features a fundraising school for nonprofit managers and others working in the field. Application materials are available online.
The Monterey Institute of International Studies
has a Master's of Public Administration in International Management that is geared toward those with an interest in international nonprofits. It also offers a new degree in affiliation with the Peace Corps that combines traditional on-campus study with eventual Peace Corps service.
The New School: Milano
embraces a mixed approach of core classes and a wide selection of electives to fulfill its course of study for a Master's degree in Nonprofit Management.
has an M.P.A. in Public and Nonprofit Management and prides itself on the breadth of its program, and brings with it NYU's name. This site will help shepherd you through the application process and help you learn more about the program.
has an Arts and Cultural Management Program that enables those in artistic fields to develop their artistic creativity, management abilities, and social awareness in a novel approach to both art management and nonprofit work. Its equally artistically pleasing and simple Web site elaborates on the program, its requirements, and its philosophy.
has a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management that is designed for those working in the nonprofit world in any of a variety of roles, from executive directors to volunteers.
The University of Judaism
provides opportunities for those just starting their graduate studies and for those already holding Masters degrees with both an M.B.A. degree and an M.A. degree in Nonprofit Management. The former includes internships and thesis work, while the latter provides a slimmer program for those who have finished higher degrees and would like to gain an education in Nonprofit Management. Despite the name of the University, these programs are nonsectarian.
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