25 Must-Follow NGOs in North America


By: Heather Mansfield Authored On:

The NGO sector in North America has an advantage over other continents in its online technology use for the simple fact that the majority of the online tools and social networks commonly used today by NGOs originated in North America. From the i­nternet boom and then bust of the late 1990’s to the rise of Web 2.0 in the mid-2000’s, NGOs in North America have been using online technology to champion their cause and raise money online for nearly two decades. That said, the 25 NGOs listed below are a small sampling of approximate three million NGOs based in North America that use the internet for social good.

1) Aldeas Infantiles SOS ▪
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Aldeas Infantiles SOS works to prevent the breakdown of families and to provide care for children who have lost their parents, or are at risk of losing their families. The NGO uses an innovative model of creating alternative SOS families for orphans where siblings always stay together. They also provide education, health, and emergency services to children at risk.

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2) Alaska Wilderness League ▪ 
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The Alaska Wilderness League works to preserve wild lands and waters in Alaska by consistently engaging citizens and decision makers. From the classroom to Capitol Hill, the organization has helped prevent countless attempts to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, built a support network for the Tongass National Forest, and conserved 11 million acres in the Western Arctic.

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3) Alley Cat Allies ▪
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Alley Cat Allies is a national advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and improving cats' lives. The NGO actively advocates for Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), spaying and neutering, anti-cruelty legislation, and for the millions of cats who are euthanized every year in shelters nationwide. The organization also launched    National Feral Cat Day on October 16.

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4) Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente
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Founded in 1998, AIDA is an environmental law organization that works to defend threatened ecosystems and the human communities that depend on them, primarily in Latin America. AIDA is committed to freshwater preservation, marine biodiversity and coastal protection, acting on climate change, protecting human rights and human health, and enforcing international law.

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5) Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
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The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada’s only nationwide charity dedicated solely to the protection of public land and water. Over the last 50 years the organization has played a lead role in protecting over half a million square kilometres of landscapes and waterscapes including forests, oceans and freshwater, grasslands, and wildlife.

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6) Everytown for Gun Safety
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Everytown is building a movement of American citizens, elected officials, and gun violence survivors who work together to end gun violence and build safer communities. Members believe that for too long change has been thwarted by the Washington gun lobby and by leaders who refuse to take common-sense steps that will save lives.

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7) Electronic Frontier Foundation
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The Electronic Frontier Foundation champions civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. They work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows.

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8) Fabretto Children’s
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The Fabretto Children’s Foundation empowers underserved children and their families in Nicaragua through education and nutrition programs. They offer extensive programs in early, primary, and secondary education and in vocational training, such as computers, business training, and English classes. Fabretto’s also has a free school lunch program.

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9) Food
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Food Tank is a membership organization that advocates for a more healthy global food system. They spotlight and support environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity, and poverty and seeks to empower networks of people and organizations to push for food system change.

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10) Give and
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Give and Surf provides support to the indigenous communities of Bocas del Toro, Panama. The NGO has constructed and developed two schools that serve preschool and kindergarten children and offer summer and after school programs. Located near surfing spots, the organization recruits and trains volunteers to both serve the communities and surf the waves.

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11) Global
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Global Zero is an international movement of more than 300 world leaders and half a million citizens worldwide whose mission is to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, secure all nuclear materials, and eliminate all nuclear weapons. The movement engages in direct dialogue with governments and the global community through online and grassroots campaigning.

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12) Lambi Fund of Haiti
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Founded jointly in 1994 by Haitians and Americans, the Lambi Fund of Haiti is a unique grassroots organization whose mission is to assist the popular, democratic movement in Haiti. Its goal is to help strengthen civil society in Haiti as a necessary foundation for democracy through sustainable development, micro-credit, animal husbandry, and leadership programs.

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13) Imagine Canada 
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Imagine Canada works to ensure that charities continue to play a pivotal role in building, enriching, and defining Canada society by serving as a legal, research, and fundraising resource for Canadian charities. In addition, the organization offers a Standards Program that awards accreditation to NGOs that demonstrate excellence.

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14) Mayan Families ▪
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Mayan Families provides opportunities and assistance to indigenous and impoverished communities in the Highlands of Guatemala. A highly-rated and effective nonprofit, the NGO provides extensive education and scholarship opportunities, medical services, home-building assistance, and even spay and neutering programs for Guatemala’s street dogs and cats.

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15) National Museum of African American History & Culture
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The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. The Museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution, and to date has collected more than 36,000 artifacts.

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16) Polar Bears International ▪
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Made up of a small group of passionate conservationists, scientists, and volunteers, Polar Bears International exists to help secure a future for polar bears across the Arctic. The NGO conducts media outreach, advocates for scientific research, and engages in advocacy to inspire people to care about the Arctic and the threats to its future and in habitants.

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17) Random Act of Kindness Foundation ▪
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The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation works towards building a kinder world. The organization provides lesson plans to teach kindness in schools and uses the power of the internet to make kindness effortless and to inspire random acts of kindness. In addition, the organization organizes the annual Random Act of Kindness Week.

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18) Room to
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Room to Read focuses on literacy and gender equality in education in developing nations. Working in collaboration with local communities, the NGO teaches children to read, helps open libraries and train librarians, and has distributed over 18 million books to schools, libraries, and children throughout Africa ad Asia.

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19) She Should Run
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She Should Run is a non-partisan 501(c)3 organization working to expand the talent pool of future elected female leaders. Central to their mission is their online She Should Run Incubator which is meant to help more women envision themselves in public leadership. The program also provides guidance and support for these women as they consider a future run for office.

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20) Sloth Sanctuary
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The Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica is a 320-acre tropical biological reserve that serves as a rescue center for injured, orphaned, and abandoned sloths. As the first-ever sloth rescue center in the world, the sanctuary offers tours, education programs, and conducts importance research about sloth biology from both veterinary medicine and zoological research perspectives.

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21) Southern Poverty Law Center
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Founded in 1971, the Southern Poverty Law Center uses litigation and education to fight hate and bigotry and to seek justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Central to their work is their HATEWATCH campaign which exposes right-wing hate groups in the United States and their TEACHING TOLERANCE educational resources for teachers to use in the classroom.

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22) UNICEF Cuba ▪
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As one of the few international NGOs with a presence in Cuba, UNICEF Cuba advocates for the human rights of children in Cuba. Their focus is on health and sanitation, education, and promoting a culture of children’s rights and participation in in Cuban society. In addition, UNICEF Cuba advocates for the well-being of girls and boys to the Cuban Government.

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23) Union of Concerned
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The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, the NGO combines technical analysis and effective advocacy to champion clean energy, clean vehicles, sustainable agriculture, action on climate change, and the de-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

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24) World Monuments Fund ▪
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Founded in 1965, the World Monuments Fund works to halt the destruction of artistic treasures and cultural heritage sites throughout the world. To date, the Fund has orchestrated over 600 projects in 90 countries. The Fund’s World Monuments Watch program seeks to bring attention to architectural and cultural sites in peril that span the history of human civilization.

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25) YWCA Canada ▪
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YWCA Canada is the country’s oldest largest women's multi-service organization. With 32 Member Associations operating in more than 400 districts and communities across Canada, YWCA Canada is the largest provider of shelter to women who flee domestic violence each year and the second largest provider of childcare services.

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This list was curated by Heather Mansfield, Principal Blogger at Nonprofit Tech for Good, author of the Global NGO Online Technology Report, and promoter of NGOs, nonprofits, and charities worldwide at @NonprofitOrgs.