There are over 1.5 million nonprofits registered in the USA. That is awesome! Well, sort of awesome actually. It seems to me that if we have that many nonprofits we shouldn’t have as many problems as we do. I really admire anyone who is going out of their way to make a difference. I honor anyone who is doing more than their share for humanity, animals, or the earth. Whether they form a nonprofit or are just a dude or chick making a difference matters none to me. It’s all about taking action! But it’s also about taking well planned and intelligent actions.
I think a vast majority of nonprofits out there are chopping away at the branches of the problems rather than the roots. Their heart is there and they want to do something, but the courage to actually work at the roots of the problem may not be there or they may not even know the roots of the issue they are working on. This is understandable because everything is interconnected so it’s not always really easy to find the root. However, I believe it’s still very possible to find some of the root causes to the issue on many social and environmental issues. I support the nonprofits that work on the roots of the issue.
I also think that a huge number of those 1.5 million nonprofits are very inefficient with their money. While traveling in Africa I learned that a lot of the large NGO’s are putting as little as a few percent of their funds into the actual problem they are working on. More and more I’m learning that big nonprofits are not efficient. Because of this I choose to work with grass roots movements that do a lot with a very little amount of money. I have however found some incredible nonprofits that work with huge budgets and use it extremely well.
The last issue is that not all nonprofits (or even close to all) are actually in it for the reasons they say. Countless nonprofits have been used for ulterior motives or money laundering. I choose to work with nonprofits that I can trust and that have a proven track record.
When I decide to give my money and support to a nonprofit, it’s because they are working on the root of the problem, work in a grass roots manner, and are trustworthy. I have vowed to donate 90% of my media income to nonprofits.
Ahead I lay out organizations in 2 parts that shine above the rest in my mind.
Part 1: These are nonprofits that I have had personal involvement with. I deeply trust and fully endorse these organizations. I highly encourage you to support them.
Part 2: These are nonprofits that I have had no personal involvement with. I can’t give my 100% trust in them at this point. However the fact that they are on this list means that I very highly trust them (really, really highly). I wouldn’t put them out here if I didn’t. I hope over the course of the next few years to get myself more deeply acquainted with these nonprofits and move them all to Part 1.
Food is Free is a project that I am absolutely elated to be involved with. The Food is Free Project grows community and food, while helping gain independence from a broken agricultural system. The Food is Free Project is a community building and gardening movement that teaches us how to connect with our neighbors and line your street with front yard community gardens which provide free harvests to anyone. I’ve spent time on one of the blocks they transformed and it was unlike any other community I’ve ever been in. I highly encourage following them on Facebook.
The Story of Stuff changed my life and largely lead me to the examined life I live today. The Story of Stuff Project’s journey began with a 20-minute online movie about the way we make, use and throw away all the Stuff in our lives. Five years and 40 million views later, they are a community of more than a million change makers worldwide, working to build a more healthy and just planet.
You’ve got to watch all 8 of these videos!
1% for the Planethas not only inspired me to use business for good, but also to be a good person. They are a growing global movement of over one thousand companies that donate one percent of their sales to environmental organizations worldwide. One of my top recommendations to anyone who owns a business is to join this movement! It’s absolutely simple and even an absolute great business move both for yourself and the earth.
The 1 to 1 Movement is based out of San Diego and headed up by Jonathan Zaidman, a good friend of mine. They really get sustainability and are truly unique in their means to affect positive environmental and social change. They exist to inspire and simplify sustainability in daily life. They’re helping each person find their own way to save the world and do this both through education and engagement.
The Stamp Stampede is the creation of two idols of mine, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. The Stampede is over 50,000 thousand Americans legally stamping messages on our Nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As the amount of stamped money grows, so does the movement to amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens United. These activists have come up with a fun and effective way of getting money out of politics!
I’ve been involved with Guitars in the Classroom for a few years now and am fully supportive of their mission. They are dedicated to training, equipping and empowering Pk-12 teachers to enrich academic learning across the curriculum in Title 1 schools by infusing music-making into lessons and activities throughout each school day. Their work brings the power of music to enthrall students straight to the heart of learning, boosting their engagement, participation, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication skills. By providing free ongoing training and access to guitars and ukuleles, we help schools strengthen the presence of music during and after school. They also use music to inspire teachers and children to live in harmony with our planet through songs in The Green SongBook. Simply put they teach every day teachers how to use music in their every day lessons. To help the kids on every wonderful level that music can bring beauty, development, and education into life.
ioby (short for in our back yards) brings neighborhood projects to life, block by block. They mobilize neighbors who have good ideas to become powerful citizen leaders who plan, fund and make positive change in their own neighborhoods. ioby is creating a future in which our neighborhoods are shaped by the powerful good ideas of our own neighbors. They have funded over 550 neighborhood environmental projects so far!
The Reuse Alliance is the voice of the reuse community, helping the United States get closer to zero waste. They represent over one hundred reuse organizations that employ 250,000 people. Their community diverts 9.1 million pounds of waste from landfills every day. One of my favorite reuse organizations that belong to the community is Materials for the Arts.
350.org is a global grassroots movement to deal with climate change. The number 350 means climate safety: to preserve a livable planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 400 parts per million to below 350 ppm. 350.org believe that a global grassroots movement can hold our leaders accountable to the realities of science and the principles of justice. That movement is rising from the bottom up all over the world, and is uniting to create the solutions that will ensure a better future for all.
I visited Growing Power in the summer of 2013 and it was better than I even imagined. Their vision is to inspire communities to build sustainable food systems that are equitable and ecologically sound; creating a just world, one food-secure community at a time. Their vision is growing larger than I think they ever imagined. On their little urban farm in Milwaukee they grow over 1 million pounds of food on three acres each year.
Falling Fruit is an urban harvesting map that brings together community and city datasets from all over the internet. We’re talking about a map that shows you where wild edibles are growing in your community and around the country and where you can add your finds as well. There’s even a dumpster map!
Community Cycles is a bicycle advocacy nonprofit based in Boulder Colorado. I think they are an excellent model for anyone that wants to get more cyclists on the road in their community. I love their Earn-A-Bike program that has gotten over 1,000 low-income friends and neighbors on bikes since 2006!
The Warm Showers Community is a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists. I’ve stayed with a few dozen hosts on my bicycle tours across the USA and it has always been a great experience. As a cyclist it is such a wonderful thing to have like minded people around the world who will put you up for the night for no other reason than good company and to be of service to fellow cyclists.
I was so excited when I learned about the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance. Their simple method of putting solar panels on low income homes provides hugely beneficial environmental and social solutions at once. RREAL is dedicated to making solar energy accessible to communities of all income levels, and has been pioneering the use of solar energy to address fuel poverty throughout the nation. RREAL accomplishes its mission primarily through its Solar Assistance program which provides residential solar energy systems to low-income families on public energy assistance as a lasting, clean and domestic solution to fuel poverty. RREAL’s Solar Assistance program has been an empowering solution to chronic fuel poverty for over ten years, and as an alternative to conventional energy assistance, our existing program has the potential the change the way in which our nation delivers energy assistance in cold climates.
Food Waste is an issue that I work on more than any other. With 50 million Americans being food insecure while we produce enough food to feed nearly two entire American populations it’s a huge social issue. But with agriculture being far and away our most environmentally impactful activity and industry food waste is also one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time. The next six non-profits all work on food waste and hunger.
“Feedback is an environmental organization that campaigns to end food waste at every level of the food system. We catalyze action on eliminating food waste globally, working with governments, international institutions, businesses, NGOs, grassroots organizations and the public to change society’s attitude toward wasting food.”
“Food Shift works collaboratively with communities, businesses and governments to develop long-term sustainable solutions to reduce food waste and build more resilient communities. We believe thousands of people can be employed in the recovery, redistribution and processing of excess food. By reducing food waste, we can feed the hungry, create jobs, combat climate change and cultivate more sustainable communities.”
“Boulder Food Rescue is a non-profit organization whose goal is to create a more just and less wasteful food system. We facilitate the sustainable redistribution of food “waste” to agencies that feed hungry, homeless, and low-income populations while educating communities about food justice. To date, we have saved nearly 750,000 lbs. of good food from ending up in landfills and instead redirected it to hungry bellies in the city of Boulder.” One of the things that excites me the most about them is they’ve created a guide on how to start your own bike-powered food rescue.
Food Recovery Network is the largest student movement against food waste and hunger in the United States. Students start a chapter at their own school and take the good food that would have been wasted by their cafeteria and donate it to people in need.
“Keep Austin Fed is a volunteer based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that gathers wholesome and nutritious surplus food from commercial kitchens and distributes it to area charities that serve hungry people in need. Our mission: Sharing healthy nutrition with our hungry neighbors by keeping surplus food out of the waste stream.”
“Our mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger. Feeding America is a nationwide network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs that provides food and services to people each year. Together, we are the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization. Our network serves virtually every community in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico.”
WWOOF is a world wide network of organic farms and growers who are looking for volunteers to work on their land. In return for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles. By being a part of this organization you can travel the world, gaining infinite education about farming and living off the land without hardly spending a penny on food or lodging!
The awesome activism through Greenpeace inspires me so much! Greenpeace is the leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.
I was in Boy Scouts from age 12 until age 18 and I credit this experience for much of who I am today. I achieved the rank of Eagle Scout after many years of hard work and believe that it truly prepared me for life. My years in scouts encouraged me to be a good citizen, be courteous and kind to all people, and to be prepared and resourceful. I highly recommend Scouting to children.
I use Native Energy for my carbon offsets when flying. I spent many hours researching the best place to do this and believe that Native Energy is a solid choice. Through them I am able to support projects that truly offset my carbon and are certified and verified through The Gold Standard.
All at Once believes that an individual action, multiplied by millions, creates global change. I couldn’t agree more. All At Once is Jack Johnson’s social action network where you can make a positive change in your local and world community: connect with non-profit groups, take environmental action, and receive rewards. All At Once promotes Sustainable Local Food Systems and Plastic Free Initiatives.
“Our mission is to help people turn yards into gardens and neighborhoods into communities. We do this by organizing local seed swaps & garden work-parties, and by facilitating the sharing of skills, tools, land and other resources within a community. Through this work, we aim to spread passion and information about permaculture, sustainability, organic living, seed saving, organic gardening and food security all around the globe!”
B Lab is the organization that certifies businesses as B Corps. B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk. B Corps are certified to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Today, there is a growing community of more than 1,000 Certified B Corps from 33 countries and over 60 industries working together toward 1 unifying goal: to redefine success in business.
The Environmental Working Group’s mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. With breakthrough research and education, we drive consumer choice and civic action. They are a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. They help us to make informed consumer decisions.
Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, nonprofit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and free market for industrial hemp, low-THC oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to grow the crop. Our ultimate goal is having hemp grown on a commercial scale in the U.S. once again and for the crop to be able to be processed here as well. We educate people on the issues surrounding hemp,register voters, and build coalitions to fulfill our mission.
NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable. Criminal marijuana prohibition is a failure. Over 20 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana offenses since 1965. NORML believes that the time has come to amend criminal prohibition and replace it with a system of legalization, taxation, regulation, and education.
Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations.
“We are a Sustainable Lifestyle Global Movement geared toward protecting and restoring the health of ocean and marine communities. Ocean Defender Foundation is a 501c-3 non-profit corporation since 2013. Saving the Ocean begins at home. We teach this though compassion, arts, science and actions. We inspire with Aloha, children and families, to become conscious consumers and empowered citizens of the world in harmony with the Earth.
“Earth First! formed in 1979, in response to an increasingly corporate, compromising and ineffective environmental community. It is not an organization, but a movement. There are no “members” of EF!, only Earth First!ers. We believe in using all of the tools in the toolbox, from grassroots and legal organizing to civil disobedience and monkeywrenching. When the law won’t fix the problem, we put our bodies on the line to stop the destruction. Earth First!’s direct-action approach draws attention to the crises facing the natural world, and it saves lives.
Guided by a philosophy of deep ecology, Earth First! does not accept a human-centered worldview of “nature for people’s sake.” Instead, we believe that life exists for its own sake, that industrial civilization and its philosophy are anti-Earth, anti-woman and anti-liberty. Our structure is non-hierarchical, and we reject highly paid “professional staff” and formal leadership. To put it simply, the Earth must come first.”
“Because the earth needs a good lawyer.” Earthjustice uses the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health; to preserve magnificent places and wildlife; to advance clean energy; and to combat climate change.
Fair Trade goods are just that. Fair. From far-away farms to your shopping cart, products that bear our logo come from farmers and workers who are justly compensated. We help farmers in developing countries build sustainable businesses that positively influence their communities. We’re a nonprofit, but we don’t do charity. Instead, we teach disadvantaged communities how to use the free market to their advantage. With Fair Trade USA, the money you spend on day-to-day goods can improve an entire community’s day-to-day lives.
The Breast Cancer Fund really excites me because they are really working on the roots of this issue. “The Breast Cancer Fund works to connect the dots between breast cancer and exposures to chemicals and radiation in our everyday environments. We translate the growing body of scientific evidence linking breast cancer and environmental exposures into public education and advocacy campaigns that protect our health and reduce breast cancer risk. We help transform how our society thinks about and uses chemicals and radiation, with the goal of preventing breast cancer and sustaining health and life.”
“The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The OCA deals with crucial issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children’s health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability and other key topics. We are the only organization in the US focused exclusively on promoting the views and interests of the nation’s estimated 50 million organic and socially responsible consumers.” They are highly involved in working towards labeling GMO’s and fighting against the corruption of Monsanto
“New Dream seeks to cultivate a new American dream—one that emphasizes community, ecological sustainability, and a celebration of non-material values, while upholding the spirit of the traditional American dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We envision a society that pursues not just “more,” but more of what matters—and less of what doesn’t.”
“Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.”
“The Reducetarian Foundation develops unique education programs to reduce the amount of meat that our society consumes. Our aim is to improve human health, protect the environment, and spare farm animals from cruelty.”
“Animal Equality works to achieve a long-term social change, where all animals are treated with compassion and respect. Through major campaigns, proactive educational initiatives, investigations, corporate plant-based outreach, and legal advocacy. By educating the public about animal issues, we motivate them to move towards a plant-based diet and provide useful resources to help them.” Their YouTube Channel is absolutely one to subscribe to if you want to fuel your fire to create animal equality.
“As the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, the Human Rights Campaign represents a force of more than 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide — all committed to making HRC’s vision a reality. HRC envisions a world where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.”
“The National Police Accountability Project (NPAP) is a nonprofit public interest organization dedicated to protecting the human and civil rights of individuals in their encounters with law enforcement. One of the central missions of NPAP is to promote the accountability of law enforcement officers and their employers for violations of the Constitution or laws of the United States.” They are a leading organization in working to end police brutality.
I believe that all people should have access to free birth control and I think Planned Parenthood is doing an excellent job of this. “A trusted health care provider, an informed educator, a passionate advocate, and a global partner helping similar organizations around the world, Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide. For nearly 100 years, Planned Parenthood has promoted a commonsense approach to women’s health and well-being, based on respect for each individual’s right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning.”
Also check out these lists of resources that have had a positive influence on me: