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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Plan International USA, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Disaster Aid, Disaster Preparedness & Relief Services, International, International Development, International Relief

Mission: Plan International USA, part of the Plan International Federation, is a child-centered development organization that believes in the promise and potential of children. For more than 75 years in over 50 developing countries, Plan has been breaking the cycle of child poverty. Everything Plan does – from strengthening health care systems to improving the quality of education, to advocating for increased protection and beyond – is built with, and owned by, the community. The result is a development approach designed to improve the lives of the youngest members of the community for the longest period of time. For more information, please visit PlanUSA.org.

Target demographics: Plan programs help millions of children and their families escape the cycle of poverty in countries around the world.

Geographic areas served: 51 developing countries across the Americas, Asia, and Africa. Program countries include: Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Uganda, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Programs: Plan child-centered program areas include: health, water & sanitation, education, disaster relief & resilience, and nutrition.

Community Stories

55 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Donor

Rating: 5

Plan International's approach is to strengthen communities by strengthening the situation of the children and youth. The Plan donor connects to one specific child or youth, but the monthly funds go towards educational, health related and other programs in the area where the sponsored child lives. Yet Plan gently pushes (by sending reminders, by supplying stationary) the direct communication between donor and child. To receive a personal letter 2 or 3 times a year from your sponsored child makes the monthly contributions more real - although you know they go to the community and thus only indirectly to the child. But still, these letters are very special.I value this approach as many people benefit from it, and thus elevate entire villages or even regions. My husband and I just recently (March 2017) had the opportunity and privilege to visit our foster child Keysi in the Dominican Republic. The Plan office in the general area where she lives has about 25 to 30 staff members. Over the course of the day many of the social workers take off on their mopeds to check on or teach or hold meetings in their specific village. Each village has a small simple Plan community center. Here are a few examples of the projects and programs that Plan offers or gets involved in in this area: Early childhood stimulation - kind of a kindergarden/preschool to support the physical, cognitive and socio-emotional development of young children. Special support for 3rd and 4th grade children with learning difficulties. Nutritional classes for children and parents. Money management for youth and parents, learn how to save and how to budget, and get micro-loans. Childrens Rights project teaching children about their rights and parents how to discipline without abuse. Empowerment of girls projects with an emphasis on equal right as well as sexuality and prevention of teen pregnancies. There are many more projects, but those were the ones that the Plan people talked about. Plan organized our visit very well. We had a driver, a translater and a field worker who gave us their whole day to show us around. We first met our foster child Keysi who is 14 years old at school. We pretty much crashed her English class, and it was a very emotional first meeting. Apart from the personal connection I was happy to see that the school was pretty new, in very good shape, and all girls and boys were wearing nice school uniforms, including Keysi. However, I am not sure to what extent Plan contributes to the school, the learning equipment and the uniform, and if the school provides meals or not. At a different school, a small primary school, we met Keysi's mother who is a teacher. This too was a very emotional encounter. The Plan people took all of us including Keysi and her mother to several villages in the area where we met neighbors and friends, and visited Plan community centers. We all went out to lunch to further talk and connect. Later we all drove to Keysi's home and met her father and her brothers. I was pleasantly impressed to see that they lived in a nice small home that they had built themselves over the course of several years. It appeared to have running water and electrical, and Keysi as the only girl had her own bedroom! Overall I had the impression that Plan is doing an excellent job in this area. I am very happy with this organization. I have been with them for over 20 years. The only thing I wished they would change is that they would allow for the children, once they "graduate" from the program at age 18, to stay in touch with their donors if they so wish. It was always hard for me to just cut off the relation and never hear a word again from the child that's been somewhat part of your life for many years......

1 Emmanueludo

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

Plan international USA changed the lives of twenty rural women in ikot obio idim community in Nigeria through its grant program.
Their income level was increased by 30% thereby giving them a voice in their families because they can now contribute to their family income .
The Gwim 65 opened my career and organization to see the untapped potentials hidden in our rural sisters .

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Over the years I have implemented parts of my vision to empower women through Focus On Women Institute in Cape Town, South Africa. I knew that for me to fully execute this vision there’s a skills gap I needed to close. Today, I am proud to say that Plan, through its GWIM programme which I attended in 2017, has closed that gap. My leadership, mentorship and facilitation skills have been greatly heightened. GWIM has given me all that I needed to fully function in equipping women to be effective leaders and transformation agents, as well as in economically empowering them to not only be survivalists (living from hand to mouth) but engage in sustainable economic activities that not only serve themselves and their households but add to the national accounts. When I reflect on how GWIM has impacted my life, I think of Page and Czuba (1999)’s definition of empowerment as a process of giving people "capacity to implement". This is exactly what Plan through GWIM did to me.

Donor

Rating: 4

I gave four-stars just to get your attention! I consider Plan a five-star, over-all, but am frustrated with the gifts-to-sponsored-children requirements. I started sponsoring children (then Plan was called Foster Parents, I believe) in 1965. I recall having few limitations on gifts -- large stuffed animals were okay, etc. (I agree that is no longer feasible for economic reasons.) And for a while, more recently (within the past years, that is), I recall Plan's decision to eliminate anything except stickers, coloring pages. There was an issue of jealousy in small villages when some sponsored children did not receive anything. I agreed with that position, and Plan's attempt to deal with problems at customs (including bribing), and lost or stolen items. I also believe that Plan's Charity ratings have improved in the last few years -- now 5-stars because of better fiscal policies. BUT (you saw that coming!) I am frustrated with the "new/newer" gift limitations -- in part because they seem to be inconsistent. For example: Now we have 8 children, one in Ecuador, 7 in the Philippines. I sent each a "school kit" which included a mesh, zippered pouch (@ 5x7 in); a few pencils, erasers, small pencil sharpener, a few yellow highlighters, a few gel pens, rubber bands, a few large paper clips, and a small (as in mini-mini) notebook. I got a telephone call from a Plan representative (cannot recall her name) who said that she would have to divide up the items in the kit, and send them at different times. She said that I was permitted one small gift every two months, and that the gift could not be larger than 4 in x 6 in, by about 1/2 in. (I had asked if I could send a small dictionary that I measured to be 5 in x 7 in x 3/4 in -- no, not on her list). One of the kids thanked me for the three pencils and small notebook. I do not know if she received (or will receive) the rest -- but, hey, this was a school kit! I continue to look for a mini dictionary that is no larger than 4 in x 6 in x 1/2 in! Then, I noticed that Plan does not permit sharp objects -- understandably. But, a compass and protractor set, sealed in a hard plastic shell? Well, is that okay to send to kids between 12 and 17 years old? Or what about a small sewing kit -- with a micro-scissors? I contacted Plan and the person who responded by email was great, and really tried to be helpful. She told me there was no limit on gifts -- well, that is not what I was told. After she checked with a supervisor (about a mini-umbrella -- answer was no) she advised me to use a sandwich baggy to determine if the item was okay. Well, they are about 4 x 6 -- but will pencils fit in those? So, how about a quart-sized baggy; yes, the item should be relatively thin (perhaps no more than 2 inches), and weight must be a consideration, of course. And are hairbands considered clothing? What about barrettes -- would that be jewelry (I am talking about Walmart stuff -- not Ivanka's line). Surely Plan could do better in providing a great list of possibilities -- have staff visit a dollar store, for example, and come up with a good list! And how many times can we send small gifts? I do understand the issues -- including some kids getting more than others; and most certainly Customs, and just the extraordinary cost of sending items internationally. I do know that Plan has a short list of possibilities -- but insufficient information I think. I should add that I remember that Plan at one time had a system allowing sponsors to buy items, such as backpacks. Well, I thought the items were too expensive -- but perhaps that is petty. I would not mind such a possibility for such items as backpacks, but would hope that "small gifts" still could be individualized by the sponsor. MJP from Maryland

Comments ( 1 )

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PlanDonorLoyalty 03/07/2018

Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. We appreciate your concern and desire to connect with your sponsored children. We apologize if our gift policy was not clearly explained to you. As you mentioned, in recent years, there have been modifications to our gift guidelines. These changes were implemented as a global policy, which we are required to follow. After receiving your feedback, we reviewed our gift guidelines and have updated our website to more clearly reflect our policy. Moving forward we will ensure that we provide consistent messaging, surrounding this policy. Please know, we truly value your long-term support and appreciate your understanding. If you would like to discuss this further please do not hesitate to contact me at 1-800-556-7918. Kind regards, Michelle, Manager Donor Engagement and Loyalty

Donor

Rating: 1

My story ended in tears . I sponsored a child from Honduras. He was about 4 years old when our sponsorship began. I loved sending him gifts (at that time plan allowed gifts) letters ,which I tried to write in Spanish btw, and photos. This correspondence lasted until he was 16 years old. Then I noticed I hadn't heard from my sponsor for awhile so I called plan and they casually said that my sponsor no longer wants to be part of the sponsorship because they didn't like the work ethics of plan?? They never wrote me good bye or thank or anything!! I was broken hearted. Next plan was going to automatically send me another person to sponsor!! I I think they forget about the emotional and very human element in these relationships. I was so upset to have someone I was growing so close to, just stop corresponding. So becareful ... it's rare that a sponsor will withdraw before their 18 birthday but it happened to me . I felt that plan USA handled it very coldly with no consideration for me or my family's feelings .

Comments ( 1 )

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PlanDonorLoyalty 01/10/2018

We are truly sorry to hear about your sponsorship experience. Your feedback is extremely important to us, and we take your concerns very seriously. Unfortunately, there are instances where sponsored children and their families decide to leave our sponsorship program before the age of 18. It is very important to us that any sponsored child cancellation is handled in a sensitive and informative manner, as we understand this news is upsetting to receive, especially when you have been sponsoring your child for many years and have built a meaningful relationship. I would very much like the opportunity to discuss your experience in further detail. Please contact me at 1-800-556-7918. Kind regards, Michelle, Manager, Donor Engagement and Loyalty

Donor

Rating: 5

Very simply if you don't believe in the work, enroll in a child sponsorship, immerse yourself in the donor journey and try it yourself. I am a believer.

Luke S.1

Donor

Rating: 5

My company, Study Group, has been partnered with Plan for a number of years now and have sponsored over 10 projects around the world to bring quality education to places that need it most. I can personally attest to the incredible work Plan does, as I was able to be present for the opening of a brand new school in a remote village in northern Sri Lanka. This was my companies 10th project sponsored through Plan and it truly is incredible how Plan empowers the local community in every aspect of their projects to ensure long-term sustainability. I can't say enough how amazing this organization is and the difference they truly make in the world.

Cheryl Moore B.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have had a child since 1986. I had pen pals in school and this is even better since I can help a child and the family writes to me and I them, sharing life with them. I have had children write to me from all over the world and it makes me feel good knowing the children are thinking of me and they know I am thinking and caring about them. I convinced my daughter to give it a try and she was happy she started. The proof that they receive my help is in these letters they send. I will continue to share our lives with letters and help them and their families. The people I deal with who pass along the help and letters have always been friendly and helpful when I call the 800 number. Great Organization!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Irawati

Many lessons that I have learned from the Global Women in Management Workshop, facilitated by Plan International USA. Not only the content, but also the creative process, interesting and effective in its delivery, as well as strong leadership and compassion of its Staff. They are all professional experts in their field. Thanks to the GWIM Workshop and Staff, I become more confident, calm but strong personality and passionate to empower people, especially women.

Plan International USA Staff are very concerned about the development of alumni. There are 2 obsessions of mine that arise after attending the GWIM Workshop which are to build the network and gather the strength of GWIM alumni in Indonesia and share the leadership knowledge that we have from GWIM Workshop to more women in Indonesia. And again the Plan International USA Staff are always ready to be "behind and beside" us. This March three of us from Indonesia together with 5 other countries were invited to the Skill Building Workshop for GWIM Alumni in Designing & Facilitating GWIM Step-Down Trainings. This training was very useful for our preparation to organize Leadership Training in PEREMPUAN (WOMEN), stands for Pemberdayaan Ekonomi Perempuan Unggulan (Empowering Economic of Women Leader) to 20 women leaders from one field area of ExxonMobil in Java Indonesia last April 2017.

Picture note: Five of eight GWIM Alumni that active in PEREMPUAN, from left to right: Ayu (GWIM 60), Nur Aenah (GWIM 54), Irawati (GWIM 57), Andriyani (GWIM 57), and Thilma (GWIM 60). We are all from different organizations, united by GWIM Alumni Network in Indonesia.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My name is Catharina. I am alumnae of GWIM58 and chairman of Terasmitra Foundation. I learned alot from this workshop. I knew my capacity as a leader and implemented the knowledge to my organisation and my life. One of the best knowledge that I learned and implemented is one minutes message. This is powerfull technique to give an introduction about your passion or your mission, vision, organisation to somebody (government, donor, stakeholder) in only one minutes.
The trainers is not only as a teacher, they also like friends, sisters, and mentors. Not only give me direction but also walk with me to achive my goal.

5

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

2003 was the year when I first got an opportunity to associate with the capacity building team of Plan International USA and never looked back since then . The institution built my capacity in the area of women leadership , Women in Management and then provided several rounds of training to develop me as a coach. When I first participated in their training, I was a young , raw professional who had just started career in the field of development as a mid manager . Having come from a small town and conservative family / society in India and a bitter personal life experience , I had lost all my confidence, self esteem and was totally shattered .
Over the years of continuous training and support from Plan International USA my life was transformed completely. From an ordinary mid level Program manager I became a Country Director now of a well reputed International Development Organization. Over 15 years of my association with this amazing organization , I have been able to support thousands of disadvantaged and deprived women from the grassroots level of remotest areas in India and as a coach nearly 15 women managers from around the developing countries in their career progression.
Plan International USA very meticulously selects women from developing countries who have potential to become effective leaders , trains them , builds their capacities in every way possible and develops them as confident and competent leaders so they can further train and uplift other women who lag behind back in their countries. This organization does not take training as a one time activity but once it holds your hand they stand by you throughout. I am extremely proud to say that I am a Plan International USA Alumni and a coach . I attribute my success to my mentors in this wonderful institution ..whatever I am today is because of their hard work and efforts on me. As a return on their investment on me , I have taken a vow to uplift as many downtrodden women as I can.

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a graduate of Plan International USA’s Global Women in Management in 2015, I believe in the power and promise of every woman. Plan International USA has taken it upon themselves as a formidable team to practically build the capacities of women leaders like me who before my training could not have developed and used my potentials for the benefit of my community.
I have benefited from their training on professional and personal levels which now has ripple effect because of the step-down training I have done after GWIM training. I have trained over 100 women in leadership roles and we now have a functional cooperative of over sixty women who come together to share knowledge and skills on agricultural activities. One of them has been able to set up an oil mill with support from her husband, courtesy of the skill I gained from Plan International USA on men inclusion in advocacy. Plan International USA has been supportive to projects that build the capacity of women and open the doors to opportunity that had previously been shut.
Back in my country after the GWIM workshop, I initiated the registration of all the GWIM alumni in my country to have a common front bringing together different expertise in one house.
GWIM has guided me on improving my leadership and business skills and appreciating and investing in those skills in my employees and constituents. It has taught me how to promote gender equality and equity in a way that includes men and boy champions in our homes, businesses, and communities. In my words, I will say that Plan International’s Global Women In Management Program is a propeller, as well as a one stop shop, for women’s capacity building.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a leader of a Community Based Organisation in a developing country who had the amazing opportunity to be in the Global Women in Management (GWIM) training. This training gave me the tools to design programs that are suited to empower my beneficiaries. I thought I knew how to lead but after GWIM, I started started grooming leaders who replicated my leadership style and we are now changing our communities as leaders in our own rights. GWIM Training has played a tremendous part in giving me direction and structure to my leadership!

Client Served

Rating: 5

April 11, 2017

As one of the alumnae of Plan International USA's Global Women in Management in 2014, I have seen and experienced the great work that this organization had done through their work and investment in women. Plan International USA had taken the leap of faith in nurturing women leaders - from the professional to the personal level; a great deal of commitment and engagement that has profound effect to woman leaders like me. All staffs in Plan USA had shown their focus and passion in moving the world forward by initiating and maintaining the network of woman leaders from more than 20 countries -- which provide a strong support system for me. Post GWIM I was nominated as the host and one of the committee of 2015 Indonesia Women of Change, trained up to 100 more women in several line of works, and were able to take up at least 3 leadership position in international projects -- a proven track of putting the leadership skills and knowledge I had been invested to into practice

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was served by PLAN USA through their program Global Women In Management (GWIM). The program has built my capacity as a leader and manager of my organisation in my country. My organization has now grown and I am very greatful for all the help and support this PLAN USA continues to give to me as an alumnae of the GWIM program.

Previous Stories
1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was served by PLAN International USA, Inc through Global Women In Management workshop that they run. The training has been the best capacity building training I have ever received and coming from a developing nation, it has been such a godsend. My organisation has a strategic management plan, and our programs running well all due to the much needed training I got from PLAN USA.

2

Donor

Rating: 4

My Dad used to support children via Plan International his whole life. I remember him reading us the letters and showing us the pictures the kids drew over the years and once I started making my own money I followed in his foot steps. I do encourage my friends do support a child since we can make such a difference in these children life with such little effort. I've been with Plan International for over 15 years and now my children and husband enjoy receiving frequent letters from our current child from India.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I am delighted that I found Plan USA. You are doing a wonderful job for children and their families. I worked with children as teacher, counselor and Special Education Specialist for 35 years. I am delighted that I found you. You keep us informed about the children we sponsor and about your work. Communication with "my children" is very important to me. I cannot imagine how you do it, but keep up the great work. The children will be able to have a better life because of Plan Int USA. I wish I could do more, but one thing I can do is pray for all of you.

1 Susan485

Client Served

Rating: 5

I would like to thank Plan for all of the great programs they offer. I have been a sponsor since 1988! Through the years I have recommended Plan to friends as well who want to help a child. I have been impressed always with what they have done to help the children and the communities . The children receive health care and education in a world where they and their communities need support. Also , Plan makes it easy to communicate with your child as well . Plan runs their organization with integrity and honesty asking for a monthly donation that is very affordable.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

My organization has partnered with Plan International for over a decade to support education projects around the world. Through the various development projects we’ve supported over the years, our employees have been able to connect our organization’s mission of supporting student success to Plan’s mission of improving the quality of life for children in developing countries.

Plan staff, both those based in the US offices and around the globe within country offices, are wonderful advocates for children and communities. They’re knowledgeable on the issues facing the various countries we’ve worked in throughout the years. They’ve welcomed our employees with open arms during site visits and share their love of each project.

We’ve also been fortunate to be able to receive updates over the years on the various projects we’ve supported. It’s great to see the continued progress year over year; our employees look forward to these updates.

Our partnership with Plan International is an important part of the culture of our organization and our focus on student success around the globe.

Donor

Rating: 5

I am a former Plan employee and a current donor. I can not speak highly enough of Plan, having seen the ins and outs of this organization. The work that Plan does is so incredibly important and to be a part of it feels extremely gratifying.