I was looking for an international charity to donate my time and money to poor communities in 3th world countries. My goal was to find organization which not just funnel the money, but directly work with impoverished communities and gives them incentives to improves basic life standard.
United by Friendship works directly with the local municipality, Uspantan closely connected to local villages. Local communities must identify projects related to water, sanitation, health and education, make commitment to supply all labor and submit petition to local government to provide skilled labor.
If the project meet United by Friendship mission criteria, the organization funds only building materials.
Each project is executed by local communities under the local municipality oversight. Execution of every project is fully transparent, original invoices are given to the charity. Once a year 6-8 volunteers travel to the region to inspect what was accomplished and gather solicitations for next ones. Volunteers pay they airfare and cost of living. The president and board members are all non paid staff, there is no overhead.
Since I first wrote a review in 2010 I have been intimately involved with the function of United by Friendship as a board member. I have helped develop the annual teams which travel to Guatemala to evaluate completed projects for auto-sustainability, accept and evaluate new project proposals from the villagers and visit work sites in progress. There have been several successful projects including more clean water sytems, construction of classrooms, repair and furnishing supplies to medical clinics and a budding weaving program where villagers are learning to create textiles that will sell successfully. The resulting health, economic and education improvement is very evident. I will travel again to Guatemala in 2013 and can report further at that time. Meanwhile, support is gratefully accepted and funds are used carefully. Every dollar is accounted for. and
United by Friendship is an amazingly effective organization that is led by a small group of people who believe that a real difference can be made by impacting clean water delivery, education, and medical services in Latin America. Since the organization's founding in 2004 the concentration has been on the small, remote villages in the Guatemalan central highlands where desperate poverty results in dismal living conditions. Projects that are requested by the villagers themselves. A United by Friendship group visits annually to assess the many requests for help. Projects are chosen based on maximum effect, likelihood of success and ability of the villagers to organize themselves and complete the labor portion of the project. Funding is usually for materials. Local elected officials guide the projects with frequent contact from UbF. This method has been very successful as can be seen in the list of accomplishments in the UbF information. The scope of success is truly remarkable.
Review from Guidestar
I was introduced to UbF three years ago and continue to be impressed by their efficiency and effectiveness as an organization. UbF has and continues to help rural communities in Guatemala that have desperate needs for clean water, updated education facilities, and improved medical equipment and services. The organization is run through the volunteer hours of very caring individuals with almost no overhead. One of the most important aspects of this organization is their continued contact with local groups to keep tabs on the progress of newly-funded projects and the success and effectiveness of historically-funded projects. UbF partners with local municipalities to teach community leaders to draft thorough and concise project proposals and identify projects worthy of funds. The UbF volunteers visit the projects annually to ensure that the funds were utilized to build and serve as they were directed and that the projects continue to provide a value to the communities served. UbF’s representatives also take the time to identify the adverse issues in a community and teach the communities to help themselves. Through education, outreach, and supply of resources, UbF continues to improve the living conditions of many individuals in the rural areas of Guatemala.