Nonprofits are the organizations that change the world we live in—not just for us, but for generations to come. They’re the groups raising awareness for certain illnesses, providing critical aid and relief to people in need, and shedding light on important social causes. They are the ones making our world a better place.
And there are literally thousands of them.
While nonprofits come in all different shapes and sizes, the most well known in the world usually come with the most interesting stories. Don’t believe us? Here are the 6 best non-profits in the world and how they got there:
The Movember Foundation
The Movember Foundation started in Australia in 2003 as a joke in a bar between two friends, Travis Garon and Luke Slattery. The two were sitting in their local pub having a pint when they began talking about men’s style—particularly, facial hair. They jokingly made a bet that they’d be able to bring back mustaches, which had been absent from the public sphere for quite some time.
Inspired by their friend’s mother who, at the time, was fundraising for breast cancer, the two gents decided to turn things charitable. They officially named their event Movember (‘Mo’ is Australian slang for Mustache, and they were growing them during November), and got a group of 30 friends together who were willing to accept the challenge. Each donated 10 dollars to a prostate cancer-related charity, and it just blew up from there. In 2004 they came back and raised $40,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, kept increasing those efforts (drastically, might we add), year on year. By 2015, they’d raised over $710 million dollars and helped fund 1,200 men’s health projects.
It all started as a joke in a bar…
Remarkably enough, Direct Relief, one of the most successful and trusted nonprofit relief organizations in the entire world, was started in 1945 by one man—William Zimdin, an Estonian immigrant who wanted to help his friends, family, and former employees in post-WWII Europe. He sent care packages by the thousands to all the people he could think of, and following his death in 1951, fellow immigrant, Dezso Karczag, took the reigns.
Today, Direct Relief is considered one of the most reputable nonprofit organizations in the world, providing an incredible $36 dollars in aid for every $1 in operating costs. They provided 118,000 pounds of medical aid to the victims of the Nepal Earthquake in 2015, millions of dollars of to help fight the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa, immediate relief to people affected by Hurricane Sandy, and much, much more.
The smallest (and youngest) nonprofit on this list, Patriot PAWS’ mission is to provide mobility-impaired veterans (and others) with assistance dogs to help them in their day-to-day lives.
Patriot PAWS was started in 2005 after its Founder and Executive Director Lori Stevens—a simple dog trainer—was asked to help a group of disabled veterans train their new service dogs. After spending a significant amount of time with the veterans and visiting the VA Hospital in Dallas, Stevens realized there was a tremendous need for service dogs and decided to make it her mission to help as much as she could.
From there, she traded in her doggie treats for an Executive Director title, and in 2006 founded Patriot PAWS out of a tiny storefront in Rockwall, Texas.
From their website, Stevens says, “We owe them far more than we can ever repay, but we’re doing what we can, four paws at a time.”
If that’s not a cause worth supporting, we don’t know what is.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver (of the famed Kennedy family) started a day camp called Camp Shriver in 1962 to help give children with intellectual disabilities a place to play and participate in sports activities. She ran it out of her house in Potomac, Maryland.
A few years later, in July 1968, Shriver partnered with a Chicago physical education teacher (and future Illinois Supreme Court Justice) named Anne McGlone Burke, along with a few others, to host the first-ever Special Olympics Summer Games—right in the middle of Soldier Field in Chicago.
Today, the Special Olympics is officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee and hosts over 4.7 million athletes who participate in 220 national and U.S. programs in 169 countries all over the world.
Aside from its obvious impact on our world and the athletes who compete in its games, the Special Olympics does plenty of charity work, like its Healthy Athletes initiative, which has provided free health screenings and treatment to more than one million people with intellectual disabilities.
Perhaps one of the most inspiring nonprofits on the planet, the Make-A-Wish Foundation is dedicated to granting once-in-a-lifetime “wishes” to children between the ages of 3 and 17 with life-threatening medical conditions.
Sounds cool, right? Now, what if we told you that Make-A-Wish was started by a regular U.S. Customs Officer who just wanted to show a sick child a life-changing good time?
In the spring of 1980, U.S. Customs Officer Tommy Austin befriended 7-year-old Christopher James Greicius. Christopher was undergoing treatment for leukemia, but also one day aspired to be a police officer. Austin, having learned about Christopher’s dreams, reached out to the folks at the Arizona Department of Public Safety to help make the kid’s wish come true. Chris got to spend an incredible day as a real-deal police officer—uniform included—and was sworn in as the first honorary Public Safety Patrolman in Arizona state history. Oh, and he got a sweet helicopter ride, too!
Unfortunately, Chris lost his battle to leukemia shortly after, but his story spoke loudly and made quite an impact on Officer Austin and the Phoenix community.
To this day, the Make-A-Wish Foundation is still headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, but has 61 chapters throughout the U.S. and 38 affiliate offices in as many countries. Tens of thousands of volunteers have worked hard over the years to make over 270,000 wishes come true—all without costing the recipients or their families a single penny. According to the Make-A-Wish, in the U.S., a wish is granted once every 35 minutes.
Doctors Without Borders
Doctors Without Borders is a humanitarian aid organization—and Nobel Peace Prize recipient—whose sole purpose is to provide emergency medical aid to people in areas affected by wars, famine, natural and man-made disasters, epidemics, and other areas without steady health care availability.
Founded in 1971 by a group of doctors and journalists who wanted to place emphasis on victims’ rights in time of conflict, Doctors Without Borders has provided much-needed medical aid to countries all over the world, including Sudan, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and over 70 others.
What originally formed as a small group of journalists and doctors wanting to help people suffering in their own respective countries, has turned into an incredible and massive network of over 30,000 doctors, nurses, and medical professionals, along with some medical engineers and administrators whose sole purpose is to help heal the world.
As a part of the Movember movement, Rush Order Tees is taking the initiative to support the Movember Foundation this November, and we need your help! Purchase your limited time Movember t-shirt now. All proceeds will go to the Movember Foundation’s fight against prostate and testicular cancer. Get Your Movember t-shirt here!