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The United Nations recently accredited the nonprofit, Freedom Now, as an official Non-Governmental Organization, when only one month before, its application had been denied.

Freedom Now is an American nonprofit organization that works to help free those who have been imprisoned as a result of discrimination based on sex, race, gender and other criteria. This is an advocacy group, which not only provides legal advocacy to clients but also advocates in the public sphere to raise awareness of illegal detentions taking place around the world.

In the original vote, the application was denied by a United Nations committee, arguably because this organization seeks to undermine the country’s own system. One example of a country voting against Freedom Now to further its own agenda is China, which has a history of imprisoning people who disagree with the government. Currently, Freedom Now has a campaign to free a Chinese Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo, who is currently serving an 11-year sentence that began in 2009 for “undermining the state authorities,” according to the Nobel Prize website.

While some countries like China and Russia strongly opposed the accreditation, the United States made the final accreditation possible. Following the rejection, the issue was brought to the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council, or ECOSOC, which had the power to vote again on July 20.

With its NGO status, Freedom Now can continue to grow its work as a nonprofit helping those imprisoned based on their identity, but this process has also sparked controversy in the international political sphere. Now, perhaps the United Nations will seek to reform its accreditation system, in which countries that have not always met the UN’s human rights standards are still part of the forces deciding whether or not to give an organization a title of “U.N. NGO.” Freedom Now is teaching us about illegal detentions, but this situation has helped bring public attention to the corruption that allows these detentions to take place.

Rachelle Kredentser

Sources: India Times, Freedom Now, Nobel Prize, New York Times

Want to donate to a nonprofit? Here are three easy steps to donate to a nonprofit organization that may interest you:

1. Find a Worthy Cause.

With so many causes worthy of your donation, finding the right one can be intimidating. For example, is it better to cure a certain disease or to make healthcare more accessible? Is providing shelter more important than providing education?

The answer to these questions largely depends on you, the donor.

In the fight against global poverty, for example, consider the following causes: international development, humanitarian relief, global health, education, gender equality and human rights advocacy. These are all important motivations for giving and many nonprofit organizations work in these fields.

If you are strapped for cash, you can also donate your time. All campaigns need volunteers and you may be able to gain hands-on experience by giving a few hours each week.

2. Find a Reputable Organization.

Once you have found a cause worth donating to, the next step is to find an organization that will meet your needs. Typically you will want an organization that is trustworthy and effective.

Finding one is no small task: the National Center for Charitable Statistics estimates there are over 1.5 million nonprofits registered in the United States.

To find a nonprofit, it is important to use GuideStar, a leading nonprofit information service. GuideStar indexes millions of IRS Form 990, a series of important financial documents that shed light on the trustworthiness of a nonprofit.

The website also allows donors to review an organization that they care about. For example, The Borgen Project has an average rating of Five Stars. You can view the page here.

You can also find worthy causes through crowdfunding websites; Crowdrise is typically a popular choice for charitable causes.

3. Donate. (And Don’t Forget Your Receipt!)

As soon as you have found a great cause and a trustworthy organization, it is time to donate. Most nonprofits have a donate page where you can select the amount among other options. You can often donate in your own name, someone else’s or anonymously. Whatever you decide, the nonprofit will thank you!

Don’t forget your receipt. Many donations are tax deductible but often require documentation.

If you choose to donate to a nonprofit, you will be in good company. According to the National Philanthropic Trust, Americans donated $358.38 billion in 2014. About 95.4% of American households give to charity and more donors are choosing to give online.

– Kevin McLaughlin

Sources: GrantSpace, GuideStar, National Philanthropic Trust

Photo: Flickr