Global Philanthropy

A recent article published in the Minnesota Star Tribune shed light on Minnesota’s philanthropic efforts. The article revealed that the state’s top 100 nonprofits had donated over $24 million to global philanthropies in 2012.

Scott Jackson, president of Washington D.C.-based nonprofit Global Impact, names the Twin Cities as one of the four or five largest concentrations of philanthropic dollars in the United States. This is a result of the hundreds of nonprofits operating for the cause of foreign aid.

This comes as no surprise to Minnesotans, as they routinely rank among the top states in volunteerism, civic engagement, corporate giving, educational attainment, per capita international adoption and peace corps volunteers. Minnesota is, as Jackson puts it, “an amazing stronghold of people concerned about the world.”

There are hundreds to choose from, but these three nonprofits exemplify Minnesota’s commitment to global philanthropy by not only giving money but also providing training and service to create sustainable solutions to poverty.

Children’s HeartLink

Based in Minneapolis, Children’s HeartLink works in partnership with pediatric cardiac programs in underserved regions of the world to promote sustainable cardiac care for children with heart disease.

The nonprofit has programs partnering with 13 hospitals in six countries on three continents, all working for the purpose of ensuring that children have access to quality care for the treatment of heart disease.

Children’s HeartLink began in 1969 by sending volunteer teams abroad to perform cardiac surgery but has evolved over the years to provide training in areas of need, empowering the people to take care of themselves.

Tractors for Africa

In December 2014 Louis Ricard, Mark York and Maurice Hurst created Tractors for Africa. This Wayzata-based organization just delivered their first tractor to a co-op of farmers in Burkina Faso. Tractors for Africa was born as a result of York’s experience working with farmers in West Africa. He recalls the agricultural technology in the region as being equivalent to that of the United States 150 years ago.

In the U.S., there are plenty of tractors in working condition, collecting dust for the simple reason that they are too small to meet the needs of today’s large farms. Ricard, York and Hurst strive to find and acquire these tractors and send them to Burkina Faso where they can be put to good use rather than rusting in a junkyard.

With the help of donations, Tractors for Africa finds and restores tractors and other farm equipment. Then, they ship the machinery to a co-op of farmers in Burkina Faso and spend two months training the farmers to use their new equipment.

American Refugee Committee

The American Refugee Committee, or ARC, is an international organization aimed at providing humanitarian aid and training in refugee communities. Over the past 35 years, they have tended to millions of beneficiaries in 11 countries, providing shelter, clean water and sanitation, healthcare, skills training, education, protection and any other support necessary for refugees and displaced peoples to start anew. Clearly, they serve as a stellar example of global philanthropy.

ARC strives to help people survive crisis and conflict by rebuilding lives of dignity, health, security and self-sufficiency. “They are committed to delivering programs that ensure measurable quality and a lasting impact,” and are praised for their efficiency in providing aid; 92 cents of every dollar donated went to help victims of conflict and natural disaster in 2015.

These organizations, along with hundreds of others based in Minnesota, share a collective goal of providing help and hope to those who need it most in their own communities and in communities all over the world. A strong volunteer spirit and desire to serve help to make Minnesota a leader in global philanthropy.

Aaron Parr

Photo: Pixabay

american refugee committee
The American Refugee Committee was founded in 1979 to combat and address the needs of the millions of refugees around the world. Today, the efforts of ARC reach 2.5 million people of the 39 million displaced in the world. In particular, the ARC aids those in the countries of Thailand, Pakistan, Uganda, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Somalia and Rwanda.

According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is someone who has a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”

In today’s modern world, various types of conflicts and natural disasters have resulted in 10 million refugees and 29 million internally displaced persons (IDP). The difference between the two is that a refugee has crossed an international border, while an IDP still remains in their home country. Regardless of their title, both groups are in deep need of protection, food, water and shelter – and this is often achieved through international law.

A notable aspect of the ARC is their Rapid Response Teams (RRT), which is a group ready to be dispatched on short notice to areas that have been recently struck with a type of crisis that may result in human displacement. The RRT can leave as fast as within 48 hours of receiving contact. Often times, such crises are not necessarily predictable and are deemed emergencies and urgent situations that need immediate attention. The RRTs scope the initial conditions and report the most pressing needs, partner with other agencies for effective humanitarian aid and ultimately provide true relief to those affected by the crisis.

Having RRTs has been advantageous to the ARC’s goals and commitments. For instance, in 2008 when a calamitous cyclone tore through Myanmar – which exceeded over 22,000 deaths and at least 41,000 missing – ARC sent off a RRT to the area. The ARC has had a team in Thailand (which borders Myanmar) for almost two decades and are consequently more familiar with the region’s language, culture and geography. Unfortunately, the Myanmar military government was slow to respond in granting visas to workers. However, the investments that ARC has sown into the regions shows much potential to bear fruit in the future when emergencies such as this happens.

The American Refugee Committee prides itself on possessing great financial responsibility. According to Charity Navigator, the ARC has received a score of 63.67 out of 70 points. The score is taken as an average of its financial score and its accountability & transparency score, of which the ARC received 60.06 and 70 out of 70, respectively. Nearly 89.4 percent of the ARC’s expenses go toward its programs – reflecting its efficiency and transparency.

– Christina Cho

Sources: ARC Thailand, Charity Navgiator, MinnPost
Photo: Minn Post


The American Refugee Committee (ARC) is an international nonprofit organization that has provided humanitarian assistance and training to millions of beneficiaries over the past 35 years. The ARC works with refugee communities in eight countries around the world – Haiti, Liberia, Pakistan, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Thailand, and Uganda. The people ARC serve have experienced devastating circumstances leaving many of them with nothing. ARC provides them with a number of resources including shelter, clean water, sanitation, healthcare, skills training, education, protection and whatever additional support needed for new beginning.

The Mission
The ARC works hand in hand with its partners and constituencies to provide unique opportunities to refugees, displaced people, and host communities. The goal is to help these people survive conflict and crisis and rebuild lives of dignity, health, security and self-sufficiency.

Programs and Services
Conflict and disaster have devastated numerous countries throughout the world, forcing many innocent victims to flee for safety, sometimes with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. ARC programs are formed by listening to the people they serve, understanding existing problems, designing practical responses, and training survivors to endure the work even after the peace is restored. The ARC also provides a number of beneficial services including gender-based violence prevention and response, economic opportunity development services, and reproductive healthcare services.

What is ARC Doing?
Recently many of ARC’s aid workers have been helping Syrian refugees who have fled the civil war. The camp, located in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, is currently sheltering more than 100,000 people. The camp only represents a small portion of refugees who have been forced out of their homes by the Syrian conflict that has been taking place for more than two years. ARC officials expect the organization will remain in Jordan for while to help provide water and sanitation for another refugee camp that is being planned there. The new camp will potentially handle as many Syrian refugees as the original camp.

How You Can Help
The smallest act of kindness can make a huge difference. Any amount of effort or support can be helpful to people with nowhere to go. There are a number of ways to get involved:

  1. Send an E-Card: Email a family member an ARC E-Card on a birthday or holiday. The E-Card includes a photo of a refugee and their story.
  2. Volunteer: Help raise awareness of the circumstances of refugees. Reach beyond your community by volunteering or interning at an ARC overseas location.
  3. ARC Events: Attend an event and learn more about the work of ARC and the global refugee crisis.
  4. Introduce ARC: Tell people you know about the work of ARC. Introduce them friends, family, peers, everyone!
  5. Make a Donation: Even a small donation can save lives.

– Scarlet Shelton

Sources: ARC Relief Twin Cities
Photo: Global Impact