31 Nonprofits Who Made Waves In 2013

Check out these inspiring and innovative nonprofits who stand out from the crowd.

2013 was a big year for innovating nonprofits. Nonprofits are thinking in more creative ways than ever before. They are marketing what they do differently, they are quantifying the value of donations and they are engaging their donors in more creative ways both online and offline.

It’s hard to narrow down a list of top innovating nonprofits. There are over 1.4 million nonprofits in the U.S. alone, and 945,000 of those are public charities. However, I collect nonprofits the way some people collect shoes. I have been involved in giving and causes my whole life. I love to know who is doing what in the cause world and how I can support them. So I decided to put together a list of nonprofits I find myself recommending to people when I get asked my most frequently asked question:

“What nonprofits are doing a really good job right now that I should know about?”

Here are my top 31. This is by no means exhaustive so please leave yours as further reading at the bottom of this post. This list is in alphabetical order, not in order of my favorites.

  1. Alex’s Lemonade — Nonprofit fighting childhood cancer, one cup at a time. Connecting w/our #childhoodcancer supporters & giving ways to help in the fight.
  2. 826 National — 826 National is a family of 8 nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping students, ages 6-18, with expository and creative writing.
  3. Architecture for Humanity — Where some might see poverty, blight, or the aftermath of disaster, we see an opportunity to build stronger communities.
  4. Bpeace — Bpeace: non-profit network of business volunteers who assist entrepreneurs in places with a history of violence: Afghanistan, Rwanda, El Salvador & Guatemala.
  5. BUILD — BUILD uses entrepreneurship as a vehicle to propel underserved youth through high school to college success.
  6. charity: water — We’re an NYC-based charity working in 20 developing countries around the world, bringing clean water to people in need.
  7. Dress for Success — Dress for Success provides professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.
  8. Face Africa — FACE Africa implements water, sanitation and hygiene projects in rural Liberia. We place an emphasis on sustainability, gender equality, and local ownership.
  9. Girls Who Code — Girls Who Code works to educate, inspire, and equip young women with the skills and resources to pursue academic and career opportunities in computing fields.
  10. Global Citizen Year — Global Citizen Year is a premier global bridge year program designed to unleash the potential of the next generation of American leaders. #bridgeyear
  11. Donors Choose — DonorsChoose.org makes it easy to help classrooms in need. Public school teachers post requests from pencils for poetry to microscopes for mitochondria.
  12. Heifer International — Heifer empowers millions to go from poverty to self reliance via gifts of livestock, seeds, trees & training, providing a multiplying source of food & income.
  13. Hole In The Wall Gang Camp — The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp provides “a different kind of healing” to seriously ill children and their families throughout the Northeast, free of charge.
  14. Invisible Children — Invisible Children exists to bring a permanent end to LRA atrocities. Join us as we strive for #zeroLRA.
  15. Keep A Child Alive — We are dedicated to providing life-saving HIV treatment & loving care to children and families affected by HIV in Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and India.
  16. Kiva — Fight poverty with loans as small as $25.
  17. Malala Fund — The Malala Fund is the official organization led by Malala Yousafzai focused on helping girls go to school and raise their voices for the right to education.
  18. Malaria No More — Malaria No More is determined to end malaria deaths.
  19. MOUSE — MOUSE empowers underserved youth to #learn, #lead and #create with #technology, preparing them with skills essential for their academic and career success.
  20. Operation Gratitude — Volunteers sending Care Packages to Deployed Troops, their Children left behind, Veterans & Wounded Warriors; 100% donation-based, non-profit 501(c)(3)
  21. Pencils of Promise — Pencils of Promise brings life-changing education to children living in poverty around the world.
  22. She’s The First — She’s the First sponsors girls’ education, with the goal of creating more first-generation graduates and our next generation of global leaders.
  23. Somaly Mam — ex slavery survivor & activist fighting for victims worldwide. Life is Love.
  24. St. Bernard Project — SBP’s mission is to ensure that disaster-impacted citizens and communities recover in a prompt, efficient and predictable manner.#NOLA #JOMO #NY
  25. Stoked Mentoring — We believe that snowboarding, skateboarding, and surfing can accelerate youth development and teach 21st century skills to close the #opportunitygap.
  26. Team Gleason — Steve Gleason. Heroes are born from adversity. Inspiring others to live with ALS. Thrive. Inspire. Adventure. Steve tweets with his eyes.
  27. Team Rubicon — Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams.
  28. The Adventure Project — We add venture capital to create jobs in developing countries.
  29. To Write Love on Her Arms — TWLOHA is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.
  30. Water.org — Safe water & the dignity of a toilet, for all, in our lifetime.
  31. Witness — See it. Film it. Change it. WITNESS uses video to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations. We empower people to use video as a tool for justice.

I hope you inspired to learn more about some of these organizations and find ways to give back that are meaningful to you. It’s not important what you give, it’s important that you try. That you push yourself to be able to answer the question, “What do I care about?” From there, the whole world is your oyster for opportunities to get involved in your community and in the world around you.

Giving doesn’t end on December 31st and nonprofits you find this month could be the places you fall in love with next year and for years to come.

What nonprofits are you passionate about? Whose work do you support? Leave links to organizations below or tweet #31daysofgiving with your picks to help spread the word.

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