As you no doubt have noticed, it has been a long time since we at Inciting Altruism have posted an article. Don’t worry, we aren’t going anywhere. Although we have been relatively quiet, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes, coming up with new ways to maximize our impact as a community.
Stay tuned for exciting announcements to come. In the meantime, as this year comes to a close, I want to offer some reflections on the journey that Inciting Altruism has been.
This year, we have been touched by this community and all those who have supported us in our journey to build it. We have gotten the chance to connect with people all over the earth who are making the world a better place – people from South Africa, Kenya, England, Guatemala, the Philippines, France, Korea, Spain, Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. – people who live radically different lives but are all united in their mission to make those lives meaningful.
You have shared incredible stories – stories of kindness and redemption. You told the story of a boy who spent years learning to understand Blink, a language communicated solely through eye-movements, just so he could be a friend to one stranger whose body was paralyzed.
You told me a story of a man who has devoted his life to providing free education to children in his community so that they wouldn’t have to struggle to read the same way he did.
You told me the story of a woman who, without any further thought, adopted a two-week-old child that was left on a doorstep with only a bottle of alcohol on which to nurse.
Your stories have not only helped restore my faith in humanity, but have inspired me to persevere and keep fighting for a better world even when everything feels hopeless. 2020 has been a hard year. So much has felt hopeless. But your examples have shown me that things don’t become better when we use hardship as an excuse to fend only for ourselves. Your stories have shown me that the path towards a better world is paved with compassion - by letting people know that they aren’t alone.
As 2020 comes to a close, I am asking myself how I hope to remember it. I hope to remember it for the good. For the people that tried to make a difference when the world was crumbling around them. For those that did everything they could to keep others safe. For those that took to the streets to fight against injustice. For those that used their newfound time to ease the burdens of others.
One of our goals at iA has been to help spread positivity and combat the slurry of bad news that we have to confront on a daily basis. While we try hard to promote an optimistic outlook, it is impossible not to recognize the pain of this year.
1.8 million people dead. When numbers get that large, we often lose sight of each individual story. But we’ve lost 1.8 million individual people with lives and goals of their own, and who probably brought smiles to the faces of so many others. To all those who have lost someone, I am sorry.
2020 has been a year full of pain, from wildfires and destroyed homes, to lost jobs and food insecurity. How do we say goodbye to a year that has caused so much pain to so many?
If you ask me, I think the way to say goodbye is one final act of defiance. One big push to end this year on a good note. One last act of goodness to demonstrate a reverence for life in a seemingly indifferent world.
Join our community and kick off the new year by taking the 1 For All Pledge - making a concerted effort to make someone’s world a little bit better each day of 2021. Say goodbye to the old year by making a year-end gift to an organization or community in need.
If you would like to join us in one final push for good this year, we have tried to make that a little easier by compiling a list of recommended nonprofits to whom you might consider giving.
If there is a cause or organization important to you that you feel we have overlooked, please share it in the comments or shoot us a message. We would love to hear more about them and the work they do. Similarly, we believe that the organizations below are creative and impactful, but, if none of the organizations speak to you and you are still looking for a way to donate before New Years, contact us. We’ll come up with personalized recommendations.
Without further ado, here is our list of where to give this season of giving:
There is no doubt that health is on a lot of people’s minds. The consequences are severe when health systems fail, and so our first recommendation is working hard to address those failures.
The John Hopkin’s Center for Health Security has not only been providing countless resources so that health officials, policymakers, and the public can address COVID-19 in the present, they are producing a large volume of research and guidelines so that we are prepared for future, potentially more severe, biological risks. Experts believe that the prevalence of biological risks to human health is only set to increase as global warming progresses, and so it is more important than ever to begin to research and address risks before they become serious issues.
Meanwhile, hospitals in the Global North may be struggling to keep up with the burden of COVID-19, but people in many areas across the Global South don’t have readily available access to health services at all.
Last Mile Health improves access to essential healthcare services for people living in remote communities abroad, by training community health workers and by working with governments to create sustainable primary healthcare facilities in those communities. This year, across Africa, Last Mile Health recruited an army of female community health workers to help curb the spread of COVID-19. This being said, as the pandemic continues into 2021, significantly more help is needed.
Supporting Black Lives
We recommended many organizations at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests this summer, and we stand by those recommendations. That being said, we have a responsibility to keep learning and pushing for better solutions to injustice and police brutality. Giving to the following organizations is a great way to stay involved with the BLM movement and to keep fighting for what is right. Remember, true change comes not in fighting when everything is loud, but in continuing to make noise when everything has gone quiet.
Dream Corps’s #cut50 initiative is working to reduce the prison population of the United States by half. In addition to their advocacy work, they are also working very hard to halt the spread of the pandemic in our overcrowded prison systems by providing PPE, training, and relief work. If you, like the rest of the world, fell in love with Van Jones during the 2020 elections, you should know that he wholeheartedly endorses this organization.
Color of Change has been at the epicenter of the BLM movement and continues to lead the fight against systemic racism. It is the US’s largest online, racial justice community, and it organizes targeted campaigns to incite positive policy change, like the current #JusticeforJake campaign to demand justice for the ruthless killing of Jacob Blake at the hands of a Kenosha police officer.
Of all causes that I am passionate about, environmental preservation may be one of the closest to my heart. In fact, I give to Tradewater on a recurring basis. This is because it makes it possible for me to offset my carbon emissions.
Tradewater uses its funding to collect and safely destroy old chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons, two of the most potent greenhouse gases in the world. Combined are up to 10,900 times more potent than CO2 by volume. I participate in their emissions offset program in which for $24 dollars a month they eliminate 1.6 tons of greenhouse gases, an amount equivalent to the amount the average American is responsible for emitting over the same period. This is great because when I make concerted efforts to reduce my environmental impact, I’m not just reducing the amount of gasses I am emitting, I am actively reducing the amount of gasses that would otherwise find their way into the atmosphere.
Climeworks meanwhile operates a direct air carbon-capture program. In other words, they pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and deposit it safely underground. Pound for pound, Climeworks does not yet eliminate harmful gas as rapidly as Tradewater, but giving to Climeworks marks a very important investment in future technology. Many scientists agree that direct air capture systems are the future of climate change mitigation because not only do we need to reduce emissions to zero, we need them to be negative.
As the pandemic forces many women out of the workforce and back into domestic roles, advancements in women’s rights may see significant setbacks. However, if we are proactive, we can make sure girls get back into schools as they reopen and try to continue female representation for generations to come.
Wings helps to provide women with life-saving reproductive health services, in rural and indigenous communities of Guatemala. It is run by women, for women. According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, “Voluntary family planning is one of the most cost-effective investments a country can make in its future.” Wings enables this by providing services like IUD insertion for less than $25 USD, as well as sexual education for men, women, and children.
Women for Women International seeks to support women marginalized by conflict and oppression in eight countries around the world. Their programming includes psychosocial therapy, education, networking, and stipends for entrepreneurship. Women who participated in WfW’s signature program saw their wages more than double by graduation.
If there was ever a time to consider giving to organizations that work to combat food insecurity, that time is now. According to, Julio Berdegué, a representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, due to the effects of COVID-19 around the world, “if the projections we have of the impact of the pandemic occur, we could be going back to the [malnutrition] levels of the 1990s.”
For this reason, one of the organizations we highly suggest you consider giving to is the World Food Programme. The WFP’s smartphone app, ShareTheMeal is a super-easy way to donate meals either sporadically, regularly, or both. If you download the app now, you can always join the Inciting Altruism team to see how much others in the community have given.
Although there have been significant reductions in extreme poverty and marked improvements across development indicators worldwide, over the past two decades, there are still many lessons to be learned when it comes to effectively rendering aid. This is why we’ve kept an eye out for organizations that are doing aid differently.
If you have followed Inciting Altruism for a while, you will certainly have heard of StrongMinds. StrongMinds is combating the generational trauma and chronic depression that keep many international development initiatives from success. StrongMinds trains female group interpersonal psychotherapy facilitators, to help women in their communities fight depression together, and with incredible success rates. 80% of women that participate in StrongMinds programming remain depression-free long after facilitated sessions cease.
VisionSpring is an organization that creates access to eyeglasses internationally with a focus on individuals in need that make under $4 dollars per day. The eyeglasses not only provide immense quality of life improvements for those in need, one study shows that they can also increase productivity by as much as 32%. That is the largest recorded productivity increase of any physical health intervention ever. The repercussions for both human dignity and economic development are immense. *see note
As is apparent by this article and all that we have experienced this year, there is a long road ahead when it comes to peace, justice, and equal opportunity. It is time we train the next generation of leaders so they can continue to promote progress where we have fallen short.
The Yes We Can World Foundation provides continued educational programming to migrant children awaiting asylum at the US-Mexico border. Yes We Can has provided over 27,000 hours of teaching to migrant children since July 2019 and they will not be stopping anytime soon. One of their unique innovations has been to convert old school busses into mobile classrooms where children can receive peer support and feel safe.
Then there is El Centro Explorativo. A few Inciting Altruism contributors have worked closely with this organization that provides education to Ixil children in el Quiché Guatemala. This would be a particularly impactful organization to donate to because one, the cost of supporting a child’s education abroad is relatively inexpensive, and two, because El Centro is at risk of permanently shutting its doors due to the pandemic. Supporting El Centro would mean that hundreds of children wouldn’t have to go without the educational and nutritional assistance that El Centro Provides.
Of the many injustices that people face around the world, many are disproportionately felt by LGBTQ+ individuals.
The Transgender Law Center’s Detention Project works to end the abuses transgender and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) people experience in prisons, jails, and immigration detention centers. In addition to filing lawsuits against perpetrators, the organization works to provide resources and mental health programming to survivors. They also work to get TGNC inmates the safety and medical resources they are so often denied.
Other Ways to Give Back
Like I said, this year has been really tough on many. It may be that you find yourself in a place where you can’t give in the same way you have in past years. Don’t feel badly, there are still so many great ways to give back and help others.
As for non-monetary ways to give back, one great way is through the Give Back Box. If you have leftover gift boxes from Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other celebrations, you can put them to good use. Simply fill the boxes with gently used clothing or household items that you no longer need, print out a free shipping label from givebackbox.com, and drop it off at a FedEx, UPS, or USPS location near you. That’s it! Give Back Box’s incredible team will make sure the goods get to a family in need.
Vizer, on the other hand, is an app that encourages you to be active, by allowing you to donate a meal every day that you work out. Either exercise for 30 minutes or walk 10,000 steps and a corporate sponsor will donate a meal to Feeding America on your behalf. A win-win!
Hospitals around the world always have a need for blood, and donating blood is one of the easiest ways to get a little endorphin boost from helping others. If you aren't squeamish around needles, you can always visit redcrossblood.org to find a blood drive near you. Also, if you download their app you can join the Inciting Altruism team to see the incredible impact this community is having.
Lastly, many of the above organizations have petitions you can sign to help advance their missions. Check out some of the active campaigns on Color of Change or Global Citizen to add another voice to their chorus of changemakers!
* It should be noted that there may be a conflict of interest in this recommendation. I (Gregory Light) currently work for VisionSpring Inc. as an independent contractor. This being said, I was not compelled to recommend VisionSpring. I recommended them for the same reason I work for them: I believe wholeheartedly in their mission and have witnessed how impactful they are as an organization.
- If you still have more gifts to get people, check out this holiday shopping guide with recommendations solely from BIPOC owned organizations.
- Givinggreen.earth is a great way to learn more about supporting highly effective organizations working to combat climate change.
- To learn more about the benefits of comprehensive family planning, check out this article by the Gates Foundation.
About the Author
Gregory Light is a bartender, a traveler, a cook, a guitar player, a blackbelt, a French speaker, a cliff diver, a part-time theoretical physicist, a philosopher, a dog owner, a Star Wars lover, and probably some other things too. Notably, no one has ever seen Gregory and Batman in the same room…
He loves to rock climb, hike, and explore new trails. Most of all he loves learning more about the world by getting to know strangers as friends.