Filed under: Environment

Make an Earth Day Pledge to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Leave a Comment March 12, 2015

Earth Day is right around the corner.  It’s the perfect time of year to do some spring-cleaning and reduce your carbon footprint.  The Foundation recommends making these changes to work toward a carbon neutral lifestyle.

Only 40% of the average American’s carbon footprint is due to their direct energy use. The other 60% comes from the goods and services we buy and use.  The easiest way to minimize waste is to reuse and recycle products whenever possible.  Another way to cut back is by removing your name from junk mailing lists. calculated that junk mail produces more CO2 than 9 million cars.  That’s why they offer a service to take your name off mailing lists for a nominal fee.  Also buying local and eating less meat can dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Vegetarians produce 3,000 pounds less CO2 per year than meat eaters.  Eating one vegetarian meal per week is an easy way to make a big impact.

To reduce the carbon footprint of your travel, regular car maintenance is critical.  Keeping your tires properly inflated can save 400-700 pounds of CO2 per year.  Accelerating slowly and smoothly is another effective way to use less gas.  Carpooling or telecommuting once a week will result in a 20% reduction in commuting emissions.

Making your home more energy efficient isn’t just beneficial for the environment; it will save you money in the long run.  Take for example florescent light bulbs that save more than 2/3rds of the energy used by comparable incandescent bulbs.  Changing ordinary habits, such as turning off the faucet when you brush your teeth, can conserve thousands of gallons of water per year.  Unplugging electronics that are not in use will prevent “vampire” energy loss.  Finally, purchasing a programmable thermostat that costs around $50 will save you much more than that in the first year alone.

To get involved with an organization working to combat climate change go to


Brittany Freitas,

Let’s Go! It’s Earthday

Leave a Comment April 3, 2014

Earth Day is coming up. Spring and spring fever are in the air. Kids are getting anxious for summer to come. Why not start planning outings that combine awareness of our fragile environment with the joys of the great outdoors?  GreatNonprofits provides information about environmental organizations with great programs for kids. What captures the imagination of your kids? Is it caring for animals, learning about whales, looking at fossils? (more…)

Help Victims of Typhoon Haiyan

Leave a Comment November 12, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan has left millions of families and children in need in the Philippines. As many as 2.5 million people require assistance. (more…)

International Travel and Do-Good Opportunities

Leave a Comment August 23, 2013

You can also read this article here on LinkedIn!

Leave behind more from this summer than bad tan lines and stale cotton candy. Have an adventure and make a difference. Check out some great travel volunteer opportunities as recommended by the community at You can experience different cultures, the diverse beauty of this world – and help a child to read, build a bridge, or contribute to rainforest research.


Create wildlife or flora guides, monitor wildlife and forest growth, teach English, map uncharted areas of the rainforest

You’re walking through the Amazonian rainforest just as sunlight is starting to spill through the tips of the canopy leaves; a crimson-tailed hummingbird flits through the air and a capuchin monkey scrambles between tree branches. Working with Amazon Conservation Association, which is dedicated to preserving the biological diversity of the Amazon Basin, you can explore Amazonian nature as a conservationist striving to ensure that the beauty of these rainforests lasts for generations to come. There’s a lot you can do to preserve these forests – you can create wildlife and flora photoguides and artwork to document research, for instance.

Said one volunteer of his trip down the Peruvian Andes to visit ACA’s research facilities and meet the indigenous community, “The entire experience was profound. ACA’s research stations were filled with students studying various aspects of the cloud forest and rain forest….The whole atmosphere was exciting and filled with creativity….The issues are huge but the organization has talented, hardworking, committed people who have a track record of achieving results.”

Take a look at more ways to volunteer with ACA in the Peruvian rainforests.


Teach English, help the disabled, volunteer at daycares, work in hospitals helping HIV/AID patients

Salvador, Brazil is a city that is impossible to forget; the pastel colonial architecture of its historic center and its Afro-Brazilian music. You can savor those experiences and volunteer to improve education and healthcare with Cross-Cultural Solutions. You can teach English, work in a daycare or a hospital.

“Being a volunteer with Cross Cultural Solutions is one of the best things I have ever done with my life,” said one volunteer. “I spent ten weeks in Salvador, Brazil from October through December 2011. During my time in Brazil, I was able to assist in a day care for a few weeks and work with underprivileged children. I also taught English at two different schools to people who only spoke Portuguese….The beach, the people, volunteering, and CCS…It is a great combination and a very rewarding experience.”

Discover what you can do with CCS to impact someone’s life across the world.

Costa Rica

Build bridges, clean water systems, and recycling stations; engage in reforestation and organic agricultural work

Costa Rica’s craggy volcanoes, picturesque beaches, and incredible flora and fauna biodiversity make for an overwhelmingly colorful and unique experience for travellers. It’s the perfect place to take one of Globe Aware‘s Volunteer Vacations – soak up the sun and culture while helping to build infrastructure. By day, you can build suspension bridges, practice organic farming, and construct recycling stations; by night, meet the locals, learn about traditional sugar cane processing, and enjoy the delicious food.

“…I just returned from building a pedestrian bridge in the middle of the rainforest in Costa Rica with them this June, and I have to say, out of all my life experiences, truly none have ever come close to these,” said a past volunteer.

Learn more about Globe Aware’s opportunities for change in Costa Rica and other destinations for volunteer travel.


Teach English and art, assist in pediatric and medical care

Sela is an 8-year-old boy with a gap-toothed, wide-mouthed grin, ears that stick out, and an impish look in his eyes. He looks just like any other excited elementary school kid – except that he gets his education, food and healthcare from the Cambodian Children’s Fund. You can volunteer to help children like him this summer by working in the school, bakery, or health clinic.

Said one volunteer who visited CCF facilities, “I had the opportunity to do some volunteer work for CCF in Phnom Penh this past year and experience first-hand what Scott and his team are doing. It was a truly amazing experience that left a huge impression on me….CCF is transforming an entire community and helping them lift themselves out of poverty by addressing the major problems that these people face including schooling for children, health care, vocational training, substance abuse and domestic violence. None of this would be possible without CCF.”

Find out how to get involved with Cambodian Children’s Fund.


Build stoves, work in nurseries and plant trees

Guatemala is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in Central America; you can wander through the Mayan ruins, climb a volcano, or explore the open-air markets. You can also travel with other volunteers of the Highland Support Project this summer to rebuild depleted forests and limit harmful smoke exposure within indigenous Mayan communities. You’ll build fuel-efficient stoves to replace open-pit fires in poorly ventilated homes, engage in reforestation, or work in Guatemalan schools presenting affordable art programs to help these communities achieve social sustainability.

“What I love about HSP is its commitment to collaborative/cooperative work in the villages versus what some folks call “hit and run” (drop in with supplies, then not show up again for another month or 6 months or longer). Members of the communities are active partners in all of the work that HSP supports. Through HSP I have experienced the true meaning of empowerment in its most positive way,” said a past volunteer.

Explore the ways that you can make a difference this summer in Guatemala.


Build water and sanitation systems, construct stoves, work with women’s activist groups

Uganda’s beautiful national parks and boundless savanna are the perfect destination for adventurous travelers with a thirst for exploring Africa’s rugged terrain and endlessly diverse wildlife. This summer, go on safaris and raft on the Nile while helping the Foundation for Sustainable Development improve water and food sanitation in Uganda’s Masaka district. Help construct rainwater collection tanks, educate communities about the importance of hygiene, and build pollution-minimizing stoves.

“The entire FSD team in Uganda was incredibly helpful and my host family was accommodating at all times,” said one volunteer. “The team made our experience truly hands on and exposed us the daily work that the Uganda people engaged in and we worked on projects that were making a real impact in the community….Overall it was a wonderful experience that broadened my horizons and cultivated my interests in global sustainable development.”

Explore the other destinations you can travel to and volunteer services you can provide with the Foundation for Sustainable Development.

Did I miss your favorite volunteer travel experience? Share your inspirational story – and help others find those same opportunities!

For 50+ more summer favorites from Influencers, check out the full Influencer Summer Guide here.

Follow Perla Ni, GreatNonprofits founder and CEO, on LinkedIn!

July 4th – Who Protects American History, Freedom and Landscapes?

Comment (1) July 2, 2013

“America is another word for opportunity.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

This Independence Day, take the opportunity to thank those who dedicate themselves to the preservation of our nations history, freedom, and the American spirit.

From our soldiers and their families, to our local museums, each and every day there are individuals who serve our country. You can see them in your community. Check out the list of nonprofits who preserve America’s history and serve it’s citizens. There are lots of great organizations out there to give your hats off to this July 4th – which ones have we missed? Add your favorites below! Or better yet, write a review about them so that everyone will see it when they search.

1. National Parks Conservation Association, Washington, DC

Mission: To protect and enhance America’s National Park System for current and future generations.

“I cannot imagine my life without the Parks that I have been fortunate enough to visit in my 65 years. Seeing all the natural beauty preserved by our forefathers is the basis of my spirituality & my sense of purpose. I believe saving these lands may be one of our greatest accomplishments so far.”

2. National Military Family Association, Alexandria, VA

NMFA is the only national charity educating, informing and representing the evolving needs of families of all the military services.

“The National Military Family Association is a wonderful organization that seems to have a very positive impact in the military community. I feel good knowing my donation is being used in so many great ways!”

3. National Relief Charities, Sherman, TX

Mission: To help Native American people improve the quality of their lives by providing opportunities for them to bring about positive changes in their communities.

“Our native friends greatly appreciate what we do with the NRC – the food boxes and food bags we give out on a regular basis truly helped them in their daily needs.”

4. National Women’s History Museum, Alexandria, VA

This educational institution is dedicated to preserving, interpreting, and celebrating the diverse historic contributions of women, and integrating this rich heritage fully into our nation’s history.

“The National Women’s History Museum has opened not only my eyes to the hundreds of thousands of women who have made our Nation great through their contributions, large and small, and their accomplishments in every field of endeavor but also those of girls, boys, tenagers, college students and the general public…women and men alike.”

5. The Project on Government Oversight, Washington, DC

Through investigations, POGO aims to promote good government reforms and a more effective, accountable, open and ethical federal government.

“POGO makes exhaustive efforts to research and monitor government programs, disseminate their findings to the public, and serve the public as advocates.”

6. The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, Washington, DC

Through chapters all across the country, ACS educates lawyers, law students, decision makers and the public about the Constitution and its importance for the lives of real people.

“Taking seriously the idea that an educated public is essential to a well-functioning democracy, the ACS provides educational and support networks to help disseminate an historically honest interpretation of the Constitution and its role as America’s founding document.”

7. Sergeant York Patriotic Foundation, Cookeville, TN

SYPF serves to continue historical research, provide education opportunities and increase sustainable heritage tourism to Sgt. York State Park.

“As an educator, I feel it is important for students to know where they have come from and about the people who have risked their lives for our great freedoms. The Sgt. York Patriotic Foundation’s goal is to inform people about Stg. Alvin C. York’s great accomplishments and to use the school he built to help educate our students with vocational skills essential to our economy.”

8. Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Kodak, TN

Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park helps to preserve and protect one of America’s greatest natural treasures by raising funds and awareness, and providing volunteers for need projects.

“The Friends of the Smokies organization is by far one of the greatest organizations related to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The FOTS staff are some of the most passionate and dedicated folks I know, and I have proudly volunteered alongside them with much enthusiasm and pride.”

9. Gig Harbor Peninsula Historical Society, Gig Harbor, WA

Mission: To create opportunities to experience the Gig Harbor community heritage by collecting, preserving and sharing the history of the area.

“The Harbor History Museum is a jewel. Visitors can expect to be wow-ed by the displays and artifacts which are part of the permanent gallery. The museum honors the contributions and stories of a wide range of early settlers who together shaped Greater Gig Harbor.”

10. Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science,            Tallahassee, FL

The museum encourages people to reach their full potential and contribute to a better sense of community, purpose and place by inspiring them to care for their natural world and value the role of history in their lives.

“…I have maintained my membership over all these years to help support the museum – our richest cultural resource. The museum is thriving with educational experiences, wonderful events, great people and acres of beautiful preserved land and native animals. I feel at peace when there – enjoying the outdoors, the exhibits, the farm or the many other offerings…”

How will you celebrate this Independence Day? Consider volunteering at a great nonprofits that serve America! Read about more volunteer opportunities here.

10 Fun Ways to Celebrate Earth Month With Your Kids

Comments (11) April 5, 2013

It’s Earth Month, and we have some great ways to get kids involved! Earth Month is the perfect time to get kids into appreciating the natural world and taking care of their planet. Here are some ways to celebrate!

1. Take a hike, and clean up!

Get outside and get moving–hikes are an easy way to show kids the wonders of their own backyard and with spring here, you might get to take in blooming flowers and wildlife. Many local nonprofits hold programs in parks and natural areas. Local nonprofits are also responsible for stepping up and helping out state parks during budget cuts. Find a local environmental nonprofit near you.

If you live near a beach, river or lake, chances are, a local nonprofit needs your help for its next cleanup! Many organizations ramp up their cleanup efforts for April. Don’t live near water? You can still pitch in to clean up in your own backyard at your local park, school or playground!

2. Visit an Animal Rehab Center

Get access to some amazing wildlife while learning about how humans affect wild animals and their habitats near you. Visit a raptor center, like Cascades and witness eagles and owls up close. Live near the water? Find a marine mammal center, like the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA,  to see how trash can entangle sea creatures, and how to help.

3. Go to a Car Wash

What kid doesn’t love being inside the car as it goes through a car wash? Why is it good for the environment? Car washes recycle their water, so much less water is used than when you run your hose at home to wash. And while your working on the car, check your tires, under-inflated tires can negatively affect your MPG, making your car less fuel efficient.








4. Start a Garden or Visit a Farm

Gardening is a fun, hands-on way to teach kids about the Earth and about healthy food. Grow your own veggies, or create a garden full of flowers to attract hummingbirds and butterflies! If your kids are into critters, start a compost bin and be sure to add lots of worms! Many nonprofits hold programs to educate urban farmers, like the Seattle Tilth Association. You could visit your local community garden for more inspiration. Many working farms give tours geared toward kids that show the effort and care that goes into growing healthy, local and fresh food while kids can engage with the farmers and animals.

5. Feed the Birds

Make your yard or balcony a haven for hungry wild birds. Set up a bird feeder and keep track of your visitors. There are many local Audubon Societies that give local birding walks as well and can help you identify the birds at your feeder. Take a walk around your neighborhood one morning and try to see how many birds you can identify. Believe it or not, the local dump is actually a favored birding spot as well. Some dumps and recycling centers offer tours. (Also a great place for kids to see how waste adds up.)

6. Recycle Your Clothes and Toys

Now is a great time to do some spring cleaning. If you end up with a mountain of clothes that no longer fit your kids, or toys that they have outgrown, consider donating them to those in need. It’s easy to have kids help out. Gather all of your donations in a recycling bin and head to your local Goodwill together. Many local groups also accept clothing and toy donations for those in need.

7. Ride a Bike

Instead of driving to run errands, try riding bikes together to local shops. You’ll save gas, get exercise and help the environment. Many bicycle nonprofits advocate for bikers’ rights and/or offer safety courses for riders, like The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

8. Read a Book–or Write One!

Take a trip to your local library and check out some books about your local flora and fauna. (After all, the library puts ‘reduce reuse recycle’ into action every day!) Have a writing session with your kids and create some art about the Earth. Nonprofits like River of Words in Berkeley, CA work to foster both literacy and environmental stewardship through poetry.

9. Go to a Farmers’ Market

Get some tasty local fruits and veggies at your farmers’ market. Most markets will let kids sample lots of different foods. Talk with the farmers and ask about how they grow their produce. Bring your reusable bags and ask for recipes too! Then have the kids help out with preparing a meal with the fruits and veggies you buy.

10. Make a Reusable Bag

Don’t have bags for the market? Use an old t-shirt and make a reusable bag! Kids can have fun decorating it.

Know of a great environmental nonprofit doing work near you? Write a review and let other folks know about it!




Top 5 Volunteer Opportunities in Austin

Leave a Comment September 17, 2012

Want to volunteer or intern at a great Austin non-profit? Whether you’re new to Austin and want to learn about the city’s charities, trying to change up your routine with some local charity work, or just want to volunteer or intern at a neighborhood non-profit, everyone knows that the best way to find the right place for you is from the people who’ve been there!

Here’s a list of volunteers’ and interns’ favorite Austin charities. Every non-profit on this list earned has an overall score of 4 or greater out of 5 on, and must have been reviewed by at least 10 volunteers. If your favorite Austin non-profit or volunteer gig is missing, find it on, write a positive review, and show your co-volunteers how to start adding reviews and get it on the list! (more…)

Top 10 Volunteer Opportunities in Boston

Comments (5) September 4, 2012

Want to volunteer or intern at a great Boston non-profit? Whether you’re new to Boston and want to learn about the city’s charities, trying to change up your routine with some local charity work, or just want to volunteer or intern at a neighborhood non-profit, everyone knows that the best way to find the right place for you is from the people who’ve been there!

Here’s a list of volunteers’ and interns’ favorite Boston charities. Every non-profit on this list earned has an overall score of 4 or greater out of 5 on, and must have been reviewed by at least 10 volunteers. If your favorite Boston non-profit or volunteer gig is missing, find it on, write a positive review, and show your co-volunteers how to start adding reviews and get it on the list! (more…)

Find Great Nonprofits Helping Hurricane Isaac Victims

Comments (3) August 29, 2012

Hurricane Isaac landed in Louisiana on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The Gulf Coast was pelted with rain and residents are dealing with flooding and power outages. GreatNonprofits released a list to inform potential donors, volunteers and people seeking help about the best nonprofits involved in the area. It’s a subject close to our hearts, we decided to launch after struggling to identify top local nonprofits helping Katrina victims seven years ago.


Redwood Shores, Calif.  (Wednesday, August 29, 2012) – In the wake of Hurricane Isaac’s convergence on still-vulnerable New Orleans, charity ranking website  has released a list of organizations doing work in the area that have been highly-rated by volunteers, donors and actual people helped by these charities.

The list offers up more than just the usual large organizations, and seeks to highlight small, lesser known nonprofits most effectively helping victims of Hurricane Isaac. Charities such as Big Bend Disaster Animal Response Team, working to retrieve pets left behind by evacuees. Many of the charities work on helping disaster victims deal with homelessness and job loss issues, like Coastal Women for Change and Community Center of St. Bernard. The lists of nonprofits covers charities whose missions span from providing food and shelter, to helping the local wildlife recover following the disaster.


Top 10 Volunteer Opportunities in San Francisco

Comment (1) August 27, 2012

Want to volunteer or intern at a great San Francisco non-profit? Whether you’re new to San Francisco and want to learn about the city’s charities, trying to change up your routine with some local charity work, or just want to volunteer or intern at a neighborhood non-profit, everyone knows that the best way to find the right place for you is from the people who’ve been there!

Here’s a list of volunteers’ and interns’ favorite San Francisco charities. Every non-profit on this list earned has an overall score of 4 or greater out of 5 on, and must have been reviewed by at least 10 volunteers.


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