Non-profit organizations offer something unique: people working together solely for to fulfill the mission for which they were created without the motive of profit. Employees drawn to non-profits aren’t pursuing work in hope of a big paycheck; they are out there to get involved, to do something good, to make a difference in the world or in the life of another person. Non-profit organizations have an advantage here, in that there is something at the core of the organization that will motivate people to be interested and to get involved.
While a standard corporation may find ways to turn a profit and make a dollar, nonprofits are focused on making a difference and starting something special.
The Best of the Best
There are thousands of nonprofits in the United States, and some are more well-known than others. There are a few elements that make a nonprofit stand out in a crowd, including: a unique mission, a well-organized business plan, and success at bringing attention – or raising awareness – for a cause.
Every nonprofit that succeeds in giving back to the community deserves recognition for their accomplishments, but there are some nonprofits whose efforts put them in the mainstream media.
Here is a quick run-down of the top 10 non-profits in the US, based on their ability to raise funds, to reach people and raise awareness, and to achieve their goals:
- RED: This organization is dedicated to treating and preventing AIDS around the globe, and their goal is to extinguish the presence of the disease from our planet. RED is unique in their efforts to form successful partnerships with huge industry representatives, from music stars (like Bono) to Starbucks and Target, as a means of raising awareness and funds for their campaigns.
- National Public Radio: NPR is consistently rated one of the most successful non-profits in the United States, as well as considered one of the best nonprofits to work for. NPR provides non-biased news, free of charge, online and on the radio.
- Human Rights Watch: The Human Rights Watch is a multi-national nonprofit and NGO (non-governmental organization) with more than 400 employees around the globe who are dedicated to protecting the rights of all people. The organization started in 1978 has since taken on an array of human right causes, focusing on raising awareness through media attention, as well as fundraising and governmental lobbying efforts to ensure the fair treatment of all people.
- Greenpeace: Greenpeace is an environmental non-profit organization that focuses its efforts on eco-issues across the globe. Much of Greenpeace’s man power comes from college student volunteers who focus on using financial support to organize peaceful protests around the world.
- UNICEF: A partner of the United Nations, UNICEF is focused on providing healthcare to children across the world, and is one of the largest and most successful nonprofit entities (success based on the number of children it has reached.)
- The Wounded Warrior Project: The Wounded Warrior Project is one of the fastest-growing nonprofit organizations, with offices across the United States and thousands of employees who are dedicated to supporting the needs of veterans who have returned from war with physical injuries, PTSD, or traumatic brain injuries.
- KIVA: Based out of San Francisco, this nonprofit is rated among the highest in the US for employees, as well as for their efficiency in delivering support to people in need of funding. KIVA provides micro-loans to individuals across the world. They offer a great alternative to acquiring bank loans that put people in debt, and offer a way to support those across the globe who are trying to make a living to provide for their families.
- TED: TED is a great example of how technology can really change the face of the non-profit industry. The goal of TED is to spread “ideas worth sharing.” They use phone apps, live conferences and web-based video to share some of the ideas of the greatest minds on the planet, for free.
- Heartland Alliance: This nonprofit is focused on delivering healthcare support to people who are living without medical care in the United States.
- Teach for America: TFA seeks out the best and brightest minds at colleges across the United States and places them in the areas of highest educational need in the US. The goal here is to bring people who are interested, dedicated, and committed to a great education to the schools that need it most. Teach for America is active in 46 states.
Now, although these are the “big guns” I would recommend researching the nonprofit’s in your area that are doing equally amazing things right in your backyard. It is a fun exercise, and often simply becoming aware of resources in your community, and spreading that awareness can have a huge impact.