The most important aspect of a nonprofit, in my opinion, is its ability to have a real, tangible impact. That is not always the easiest thing to accomplish, but if a nonprofit is started with a clear vision and a solid plan that serves as a foundation on which to build, I believe that goal is attainable.
We won’t be starting construction for a few months, so it’s not clear yet what impact we’ll have on the village of Ngong, Cameroon. However, the school was designed well, the materials were chosen carefully, and Kelsey will be there herself to oversee construction and make sure everything goes according to plan. These classrooms will be a much more comfortable place to learn, so we are optimistic that our goal in increasing school participation will be met.
Every nonprofit has the goal of making an impact. In this blog post, I’m going to mention a few nonprofits that have succeeded in that goal – because they prove that with a clear mission, a group of people starting with an idea can actually change people's lives.
One nonprofit, called Room to Read, builds schools around the world and focuses on literacy and girls’ education. Their website reads, “10 million children benefited worldwide” - in countries like Nepal, India, Vietnam, Laos, Tanzania, and South Africa. They’ve been incredibly successful, so much so that they’ve received 25 awards for their achievements. They hire mostly local people, so that around 86% of their workers are actually native to the countries they’re working in. They also publish books locally. Because of their transparency and impact, they’ve been given 10 four-star ratings from the rating organization “Charity Navigator” (out of four stars). I recommend checking out their website - it’s incredibly in-depth and tells a lot about what they do.
Khan Academy, a fairly famous nonprofit, is another great example of the reach and impact a nonprofit can have. This organization operates on the notion that anyone, anywhere in the world, can have access to quality education. They provide classes online completely free of charge, and in any subject - from Geometry to US History to Macroeconomics. They also have classes on entrance exams such as the SATs and MCATs. The classes are taught in video format, many of which are voiced by founder Sal Khan himself. They also feature interviews that are relevant to the topic. For example, the subject “Entrepreneurship” features video interviews of famous CEOs.
Lastly, the nonprofit One Laptop Per Child demonstrates how innovative thinking improves lives around the world. The founders of this nonprofit came up with a minimalistic but functional laptop design that can put technology in the hands of underprivileged students at a low cost. The laptop, which can operate in the user's native language, is sturdy and made to function even through tough conditions and in remote areas. The nonprofit makes sure that the kids that receive these laptops, aged 6 to 12 years old, get to keep them. They also make sure that no one is left out - when they give laptops to a classroom, they give laptops to every single child in that classroom. They focus on working with the poorest communities around the world. As it says on their website, “In the first years of OLPC we have seen two million previously marginalized children learn, achieve and begin to transform their communities. We are working to provide this opportunity to millions more.”
These are just nonprofits that operate in the educational field. There are many, many nonprofits that have had tremendous success in other areas as well, from humanitarian relief to environmentalism to women’s empowerment.
That is why we are excited about our project - we know that if we do this right, Design Cause can truly have an impact.