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A World of Philanthropy: Nonprofits with International Programs


From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, U.S. nonprofits are at work in almost every corner of the globe. Collectively, their activities encompass nearly every aspect of philanthropy.

  • Arts, Culture, and the Humanities—U.S. performing groups share American dance, music, song, and theater with audiences worldwide. Nonprofits sponsor cultural exchanges with artists, writers, and performers from other countries. Foreign museums receive contributions from American organizations.

  • Education and Research—American nonprofits sponsor educational programs across the globe, with activities ranging from early childhood development programs to universities. Schoolchildren receive books, school supplies, and tuition assistance. U.S. organizations assist foreign exchange students studying in the States and help educate refugees. Think tanks and policy institutes research ways to achieve and sustain peace.

  • Environment and Animals—Environmental groups sponsor reforestation projects and work to protect wildlife and natural habitats. Other nonprofits provide renewable energy sources and promote sustainable agriculture and alternative land use. Many groups battle the threat that poverty often presents to the environment, seeking to preserve natural resources while at the same time enabling people to meet the need for food, shelter, heat, light, transportation, and waste disposal.

  • Health—American teams travel to developing countries to perform life-saving and life-altering surgeries or operate on children brought to the United States. U.S. nonprofits offer prenatal care, immunizations, oral rehydration, and dental services to Third-World residents. Many groups provide medical training, facilities, and supplies; others combat the devastation that AIDS is wreaking, particularly in Africa. Some organizations reach out to special overseas populations, such as amputees and individuals with disabilities.

  • Human Services—Relief groups feed, house, and clothe the less fortunate and respond to natural and manmade disasters. Hunger organizations work to create long-term solutions to the perennial problem of world hunger by giving the impoverished seeds, tools, livestock, and agricultural training so that they can feed themselves. U.S. groups support orphanages throughout the world, promote international adoption, and provide safe havens for street children.

  • Public, Societal Benefit—A number of U.S. nonprofits sponsor community development programs, vocational education, and business courses across the globe. Other groups focus on defending the rights of refugees, immigrants, women, or children. Still others address conflict management and the promotion of peace. Some foster volunteerism in other countries.

  • Religion—Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist organizations all sponsor international programs. Some of these activities take place in a religious context; others are offered on a nondenominational basis. Additional nonprofits focus on reducing religious strife.


suzanne-coffman-150x150.jpgThe preceding post is by Suzanne Coffman, GuideStar’s editorial director. See more of Suzanne’s sector findings and musings on philanthropy here on our blog. 
Topics: Nonprofits Philanthropy