Filed under: Conservation

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…)

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 GreatNonprofits.org. 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.

Peru

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.

Brazil

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.

Cambodia

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.

Guatemala

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.

Uganda

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!

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 GreatNonprofits.org, and must have been reviewed by at least 10 volunteers. If your favorite Austin non-profit or volunteer gig is missing, find it on GreatNonprofits.org, 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 GreatNonprofits.org, and must have been reviewed by at least 10 volunteers. If your favorite Boston non-profit or volunteer gig is missing, find it on GreatNonprofits.org, 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 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 GreatNonprofits.org, and must have been reviewed by at least 10 volunteers.

(more…)

Small Nonprofit Makes the Most of Green Awards 2012

Leave a Comment June 5, 2012

Thank you to the Conservators’ Center for this great email about how they made use of Greatnprofits:

“For a small nonprofit, it’s a big deal to be featured as the Top Local Green Nonprofit of the Month on Huffington Post. When the GreatNonprofits campaign began we encouraged our Facebook fans to post reviews on our two pages (http://www.facebook.com/ConservatorsCenter and http://www.facebook.com/ArthurTheTiger), and added a similar request to our e-newsletter and to the thank-you email we send new visitors after their first tour of our facility. We were blown away by how many responded!
We love to hear about how  your organization is using GreatNonprofits as a resource. If you have a success story to tell, email it to Haney@greatnonprofits.org and we’ll consider it for the next newsletter.

We love to hear about how  your organization is using GreatNonprofits as a resource. If you have a success story to tell, email it to Haney@greatnonprofits.org and we’ll consider it for the next newsletter.

The reviews literally brought some of our hardworking employees and volunteers to tears. More important, they highlighted what people most enjoy about the Conservators’ Center, which has helped us better refine what we do to ensure visitors walk away determined to tell others about us. Thank you for challenging us with a campaign that has brought us a lot of good!”
-Mandy Matson
Communications
Conservators’ Center

Undiscovered Green Nonprofits Stand Out in Usual Contest

Leave a Comment May 6, 2012

When we here at GreatNonprofits announced the winners of the 2012 Green Awards, we saw some fascinating trends.  The organizations with the most reviews are far from the usual suspects; the leading nonprofits are small and local and frequently boast uncommon and niche missions.

One of the contest winners was the Bat World Sanctuary, based in Mineral Wells, TX. The nonprofit, dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of bats has racked up 144 reviews and have nearly a five-out-of-five star average. The Sanctuary works to protect wild bat colonies and provides sanctuary for non-releasable bats.

Reviews ranged from kids who got help with school projects through the nonprofit, to wildlife rehabilitators. One reviewer stressed the importance of the organization’s educational component, “I feel that Bat World Sanctuary is doing a great deal to educate the public on the importance of bats, along with protecting these incredible creatures.” Another reviewer mentions needing help identifying bats, writing “The only group that responded to my plea for information was Bat World Sanctuary.”

The contest, which allowed local environmental nonprofits to be honored through online volunteer, client and donor reviews, was created as a way to bring attention to under-the-radar organizations doing exemplary work to promote sustainability and the environment.   More than 130 nonprofits participated.

Another winning organization, WiserEarth, hopes to spread the messages of sustainability by offering a website covering eco-issues in Spanish, French, Chinese, German, Italian, Portuguese and Indonesian. Volunteers help with translation. Reviewers were impressed with the global and local opportunities the site provides:

“I am passionate about the potential impact nonprofits can have then they work together to build movements, instead of trying to “own” the cause or work themselves. As such, I was incredibly happy to work with WiserEarth to collaborate on local groups and events around the world that meant local organizations could come together, share knowledge, and grow together. WiserEarth’s collaborative approach is refreshing and promising!”

The Professional Animal Retirement Center shows 15,000 people around their sanctuary every year. Visitors learn about more than 45 exotic and endangered former “pets” and retired performers, and about conservation of endangered species and habitats.

“I love visiting,” writes one reviewer. “It was such an up close experience in seeing the animals, and the care that is tendered them is so very clear.”

Mindy Stinner, Executive Director at Conservators’ Center, another winning organization, says she entered the contest to get feedback from volunteers. The reviews the organization received “brought some of our hardworking employees and volunteers to tears,” she says. More importantly though,  the reviews highlighted what people like most about the enter, which Stinner says has helped it better refine what it does to ensure that visitors walk away determined to spread the word.

The results of this contest is consistent with the overall ratings of nonprofits on the website.  Small and local nonprofits consistently get higher satisfaction ratings from volunteers and donors than larger and national ones.

Why is this?  We believe that smaller organizations provide meaningful opportunities for volunteers to do real programmatic work – not just stuff mailers.  They also provide more hands-on opportunities for donors.  Donors might be able to visit the nonprofit, or meet with the staff or participate as a volunteer on a project.  Smaller organizations are probably also a lot more “high-touch” – they can respond quickly to donor or volunteer requests or feedback.

And most importantly, the work of local organizations is more visible in the community where donors and volunteers live.

A sort of Zagat guide of candid reviews of nonprofits, GreatNonprofits.org provides a platform for those who want to share their experience and also functions as a library of honest, user-generated content to aid potential volunteers and donors in their search for the right nonprofit.


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