Charitable Organizations That Benefit Africa

Matt Salter
Health Worker

No list of anything can be comprehensive, and nobody has an answer to every problem. Instead, this is a cross-section of groups doing good in Africa: large organizations tackling systemic issues and small ones dealing with the trouble on their doorsteps, international bodies and local groups, established programs and new paradigms.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF - the founders and acronym are French - but the group is known as Doctors Without Borders in English) is one of the most successful medical charities in the world. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, MSF is committed to worldwide service and political neutrality, delivering emergency medical aid to anyone in need. However, MSF started in Africa, and currently, a large portion of their work still takes place there. MSF's work earned has earned it numerous awards including the 2017 Pardes Humanitarian Prize, the 2015 Lasker-Bloomberg Public Service Award, as well as the Nobel Peace Prize (1999).

How to Get Involved

Whether you want to donate, or you're a medical professional interested in helping MSF, there are plenty of ways to help:

  • Doctors and nurses are in high demand, especially if they are fluent in French or Arabic. You can find out more about working in the field online at their website. You can also work as office support.
  • Donate to Doctors Without Borders by making a one-time or monthly gift. You can also support MSF financially by giving stocks, matching gifts through your business or place of employment, or becoming a partner.
  • MSF also provides a variety of creative ways to host fundraisers. Alternately, you can participate in the NYC marathon or NYC bike tour.
  • If you're interested in attending an event for MSF, the site keeps an updated calendar so you can find something to support near you.

Farm Africa

picking figs at fruit farm

Based in London, Farm Africa works to connect African farmers with education and material resources, building more sustainable access to food and other agricultural staples. The organization was founded in 1985 with a focus on increasing crop yields, but it has expanded its interests to include new forms of farming like fisheries and aquaculture, as well as things like beekeeping and animal husbandry. They work mostly on the eastern side of Africa in the countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. They also have successful partnerships with businesses to bring sustainable agriculture to the areas in which they work.

How to Get Involved

Farm Africa accepts donations through their website. You can also get involved by hosting a fundraiser. The organization provides a variety of support materials for this endeavor.

FoodForward SA

FoodForward SA works to use surplus food as a means to permanent change. Originally FoodBank SA, the Cape Town-based organization collects surplus and unwanted food directly from shops, wholesalers and manufacturers, and then distributes the food to local organizations for people in need. Those organizations feed more than 250,000 people per year.

They also focus a part of their mission on finding lasting solutions to hunger. One current project that falls in this category is the Women's Micro Enterprise Project. However, they've also considered a Community Supermarket and similar endeavors.

The organization is notably partnered with corporations such as Knorr, Nestle and Kellogg's as well as many others.

How to Get Involved

There are several ways to get involved:

  • You can make donations directly through their website. They conveniently help you with an amount that will provide food for one person for a specified time (ie one month, one year, etc.) However, you can donate any amount you'd like. If you're looking to donate regularly or more significantly, check out the Fill the Gap Club.
  • They also host a variety of food drives or provide support materials so you can host a food drive.
  • Need a new T-shirt? Purchase a bonhappi-T and the company will donate money to FoodForward SA.

Gates Foundation

rural health clinic

In Africa, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is most active on issues of health. The Gates' African work prioritizes health care, sanitation and disease prevention, particularly neglected tropical diseases. Gates also provides financial and policy education in underprivileged communities. In 2016, President Obama gave Bill and Melinda Gates the Presidential Medal of Freedom for their work with the foundation.

How to Get Involved

The Gates Foundation prefers that people give directly to their grantees. They provide a list on their website and you can use the filters to find current grantees in the areas of Africa you want to support. It's important to note that if you give to the Gates Foundation directly, you cannot earmark your moneys specifically for Africa. Other notable opportunities to get involved include:

  • Visit the Discovery Center. When you visit the foundation's museum, you can learn about issues that affect many Africans and hear firsthand accounts of how the foundation's center is working to improve lives.
  • Sign up to receive updates and learn about issues at the Impatient Optimists Blog.

GiveDirectly

The GiveDirectly model is a bit like Kiva, applied to donations rather than loans. Instead of setting up programs or leading campaigns, GiveDirectly puts money in the hands of people who need it. The idea is that people in need understand their problems better than any well-intentioned outsider. The New York-based organization works exclusively in Kenya and Uganda, with field offices in each of those places ensuring grant recipients understand the terms of service. They have a FAQ section that explains a lot of their ideology and gives information to ensure donors are not being scammed. They are one of GiveWell's top-rated charities, and they have a small cache of impressive financial partners.

How to Get Involved

If you want to give directly to the poor, you can do so using GiveDirectly's donation page. They have set it up so you can support one person, three people, ten people or an entire village with corresponding donation amounts. They also have a basic income initiative which helps provide basic income for the extremely poor. In addition, you can read more about people who are being supported through GDLive, which is unedited and unfiltered.

Reading Hamlets

Formerly Curefo Reading Foundation, Reading Hamlets is dedicated to literacy, especially for women and girls. Based in New York, but founded in Nigeria, Reading Hamlets works to provide the people of that country, especially rural areas, with books, classroom tools and teachers. In addition to their library, Reading Hamlets has a few other initiatives:

  • girl with a book
    G-SECOP which stands for the Girls Self-Esteem and Confidence Program. Through personal mentors, each girl is encouraged to make academic commitments to improving reading and public speaking abilities to help them overcome difficult circumstances.
  • Books for Newborn Babies provides free books to newborns in the hospital.
  • Reading Hamlets also focuses on advocacy, working with policymakers and key figures to help improve literacy for all.

How to Get Involved

You can get involved with Reading Hamlets by donating through PayPal. You can also give books by emailing them directly.

Nothing But Nets

Nothing But Nets is a campaign within the greater United Nations Foundation. Its focus is laser-tight, providing insect repellent treated mosquito netting and other simple, inexpensive solutions for the deadliest disease in history: malaria. Nothing But Nets is a classic example of a cause-specific campaign, but they also partner with larger organizations, benefiting from the networks and resources of groups like the Gates Foundation and UNICEF. It has also recently partnered with the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, taking on the two biggest killers in Africa.

How to Get Involved

Interested parties can donate on their website, however, they also include a variety of other things you can do to get involved:

  • The site provides resources for those who want to donate their birthday or host another fundraiser.
  • Nothing But Net provides information on contacting your Congress member to talk about fighting malaria and other preventable diseases.
  • You can also join the Champions Council to come up with new and creative ways to stop malaria.

Kiva

Kiva takes a unique approach to charitable "giving." Founded in San Francisco in 2005, Kiva is a microlending platform, matching donors with people in need of small loans. In cash-poor places like some communities in Africa, lending as little as $50 or $100 can save a farm or start a business. It's also sustainable. People from struggling communities often apply to Kiva in groups, seeking several small loans to fund collective needs. A quick search reveals everything from upkeep on a cocoa farm and fish pond to buying 30 pairs of shoes. Kiva allows lenders to choose their recipients personally, with lots of search tools to find just who and how to help.

Kiva clients pay the money back, and you can then use the money to refund someone else. They believe the model is more impactful because it gives dignity to those the loans are helping, and encourages them to help themselves. Another unique aspect is that they do not take any money out of the money you donate to support overhead costs. In other words, 100 percent of the money you give, goes to support the project or person you chose.

How to Get Involved

Kiva is a 501(c)3 and you can donate to the charity itself. These donations are used to support administrative costs. In addition, you can get involved by:

  • Choosing a project to lend money to. This money goes directly to a project or person who has been approved for a Kiva loan.
  • Become a volunteer intern.
  • Become a fellow, where you are immersed in the culture and language or your Kiva project.

Make Your Help Count

Remember that even a small donation can make a huge difference in people's lives, especially in cash-poor communities. People in Africa do need your help. It only takes a little money and a little research to make sure they get it.

Charitable Organizations That Benefit Africa