Tostan: A Giving Assistant Success Story

Tostan: A Giving Assistant Success Story

In December of 2016, something incredible happened in West Africa. Something Tostan founder Molly Melching could’ve only dreamed of when she arrived in Senegal over 40 years ago as a young exchange student from Danville, Illinois.

Over 300 communities in four different countries came together to publicly declare a commitment to human rights.

They announced their abandonment of harmful traditions, including the long-standing practice of female genital cutting (FGC) as well as child/forced marriage. This brings the total number of communities who have made similar public declarations to over 8,000; evidence of a movement that has been quietly building in the region over the past two decades, due to community resilience and the efforts of Tostan.


Children hold up chalkboard signs declaring their community’s abandonment of FGC. Source: Tostan

Tostan is a non-profit named for the Wolof word for ‘breakthrough,’

And its unique model focuses on agency, not aid. Operating in six countries, Tostan offers an educational program which has proven that the greatest resources available to struggling communities are the people themselves and their own creative solutions.

In the Tostan program, participants first identify their vision and goals, then they acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to lead and sustain their own development. The Community Empowerment Program uses cultural methods of learning to cover not only the fundamentals of human rights and collective decision-making, but also:

  • Reading,
  • Writing,
  • Arithmetics,
  • Health and hygiene,
  • Problem solving,
  • And confidence building,

And this model has been immensely successful.

In the quarter-century since Tostan’s founding, they have witnessed improvement in issue areas including:

  • Women and girl’s empowerment,
  • Peace and security,
  • Education,
  • And more!

Women participating in a classroom session of Tostan’s program. Source: Tostan

Giving Assistant raises nearly $18,000 for Tostan

Earlier this month, Giving Assistant mailed a check to Tostan for $17,754.58! These funds were raised entirely by Giving Assistant members who have chosen to support the organization through their everyday shopping.

“Supporters of Tostan are part of our global family. Like our communities in West Africa, they form a collective that is joyfully in pursuit of a common goal: dignity for all. We are so thankful that Giving Assistant has joined this family.” – Molly Melching, CEO of Tostan

This generosity will stretch not only across the globe, but for generations to come as rural West African communities continue on their positive path.


Women celebrating. Source: Tostan

Help support this rising movement

Due to its proven success, the Tostan program is in high demand. You can help them meet this demand by using Giving Assistant to easily donate a portion or all of your cash back to the organization.

It’s simple! Just make sure to select Tostan in your account settings and decide how much of your cash back you’d like to donate.

Not a member yet? Sign up here to begin supporting Tostan as you shop (and save!) online.

Pencils of Promise: A Giving Assistant Success Story

Pencils of Promise: A Giving Assistant Success Story

You’ll never look at a #2 pencil the same way again…

When a small boy’s answer to “What do you want most in the world?” was a mere pencil, the future founder of PoP was utterly touched. For Pencils of Promise, something as simple as a yellow #2 has now come to represent the need to unlock the potential in children that lack a suitable learning environment.

Across the world, 250 million children of elementary school age lack basic reading, writing and math skills. Unsafe, unsanitary and ill-equipped classrooms serve as hurdles for both teachers and students – which is what Pencils of Promise (PoP) wishes to overcome – by building schools and bringing solid educational programming to areas in need.

Pencils of Promise: “We believe every child should have access to quality education.”

Since 2009, PoP’s efforts have led to increased literacy rates, improved training and support for teachers, and better access to quality education for children residing in some of the most underserved communities in the countries where the organization is active.

Today, PoP has a strong presence in Ghana, Guatemala and Laos. So far, nearly 36,000 students have been served by 380 PoP schools, impacting 300,000+ lives in their local communities.

These kids are on their way to their brand new PoP School. Source: Nick Onken

These kids are on their way to their brand new PoP School. Source: Nick Onken

With 85% of communities that PoP visits lacking basic school infrastructure, the organization strives to break ground on a new school every 5 days. In Guatemala, 98% of teachers report increased focus in students learning in a new PoP building. To make sure students are able to benefit from their programs, PoP also implements the internationally recognized WASH program, which promotes healthy water, sanitation, and hygiene practices.

Amongst many achievements in 2016, PoP delivered tablets to three schools in Guatemala, marking their “first-ever expansion of digital reading content in Spanish,” as well as expanded WASH programming to 20 more schools in Laos.

Giving Assistant shoppers have contributed over $15,000 to PoP.

To date, Pencils of Promise has received $15,127.72 from Giving Assistant shoppers, who use their everyday online purchases to fuel the education of children around the world.

“We love finding new and easy ways for people to support Pencils of Promise,” says Natalie Ebel, PoP’s Director of Marketing. “Giving Assistant is simple and fun, and they’re already almost halfway to funding a full school build with PoP!”

It takes $35,000 to build a school, and since 100% of online donations that PoP receives goes towards their programs, Giving Assistant shoppers are on track to break ground on a new one soon.

Thanks to PoP, these girls have the chance to enjoy learning in a safe, new school. Source: Nick Onken

Thanks to PoP, these girls have the chance to enjoy learning in a safe, new school. Source: Nick Onken

Help build a new PoP school.

With your contributions through Giving Assistant, not only will you make an impact in the lives of children, but also entire communities.

If you’d like to use Giving Assistant to easily donate a portion or all of your cash back to Pencils of Promise, visit their fundraising page here.

To make sure PoP receives your thoughtful donation, please select Pencils of Promise in your account settings.

Not a member yet? Sign up here to begin supporting Pencils of Promise as you shop online.

Camp Kesem: A Giving Assistant Success Story

Camp Kesem: A Giving Assistant Success Story

There are over 5 million children in our country who have been touched by a parent’s cancer. Kesem is the largest national nonprofit providing support to this population. Through its flagship program, Camp Kesem, thousands of these children experience fun, supportive, and totally free life-changing experiences.

While every child experiences a parent’s cancer journey uniquely – regardless of if the parent dies, survives or is currently undergoing treatment – there are often common and significant side effects to children including isolation from peers, loss of social interest, negative academic performance and taking on adult roles.

But then they find Kesem.

A child’s Kesem experience – while grounded in fun and the joy of childhood – helps address all of these consequences by providing them a community of support with children who are just like them and exemplary role models in Kesem’s college student leaders resulting in improved self esteem, enhanced coping skills, increased self-confidence and stronger emotional intelligence.

A happy group of campers on a hike. Source: Camp Kesem

“Kesem campers are part of our family for life.”

Every summer, Kesem holds over 90 weeks of summer camp in 38 states across the country. The camps are staffed by over 3,000 highly trained and passionate college student leaders from nearly 90 colleges and universities around the country. These college students volunteer their time year-round to create, manage and run the camp programs that accommodate children ages 6 to college-age. The camps are 100% free of charge.


Camp Kesem brings together new groups of friends. Source: Camp Kesem


Giving Assistant raises over $17,200.00 for Camp Kesem.

To date, Camp Kesem has received $17,230.75 from Giving Assistant shoppers, who have chosen  to support the organization through their everyday shopping.

“We are so grateful for our partnership with Giving Assistant and their impactful support of children touched by a parent’s cancer.” Kesem CEO, Jane Saccaro says. “The need for Kesem’s services is far-reaching and touches every corner of our country. The donations we receive from Giving Assistant and their shoppers allows us to open new Camp Kesem chapters and support more children who can benefit from our services.”

Contributions like this helped Camp Kesem serve over 6,100 children during the 2016 camp season. Still, with long waiting lists at several camps, Kesem is making plans to serve 7,000 children in summer 2017.

#GiveKidsKesem & Change a Life from Camp Kesem on Vimeo.

Help expand Camp Kesem’s reach to serve more children.

With your contributions through Giving Assistant, you can help Camp Kesem’s community and impact grow even larger – and help support more children touched by a parent’s cancer.

To learn how to use Giving Assistant to easily donate a portion or all of your cash back to Camp Kesem, visit their fundraising page here.

In order for Camp Kesem to receive your generous gesture, you must select Camp Kesem in your account settings.

Not a member yet? Sign up here to begin supporting Camp Kesem as you shop at your favorite online stores.

Team Rubicon Global: A Giving Assistant Success Story

Team Rubicon Global: A Giving Assistant Success Story

It’s early October, 2016.

Haiti has just been devastated by Hurricane Matthew. Over the next several days, the death toll rises to 900, and by the end of the month, over 1.2 million Haitians will be in desperate need of food assistance.

Less than 24 hours after the last storm clouds had parted—while other relief organizations around the world were still making the necessary preparations to provide much-needed disaster relief—the Greyshirts were already on the ground clearing away debris, caring for displaced citizens, and leading volunteer forces.

The Greyshirts (called such because of the ubiquitous grey t-shirts they wear) are the men and women of Team Rubicon, a nonprofit organization made up of military veterans committed to disaster response. According to their website:

“Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams.”

Team Rubicom

Team Rubicon members hard at work. Source: Team Rubicon Global.

Team Rubicon Global: “Disasters are our business. Veterans are our passion.”

Team Rubicon formed in the wake of the devastating 7.3 magnitude earthquake that rocked Haiti in 2010. In response to the earthquake, a group of military veterans made the quick decision to unite and travel to Port-au-Prince and offer their assistance.

“In Haiti, it became clear that military veterans are uniquely prepared to provide immediate emergency response aid, oftentimes in the early hours of a disaster before larger relief organizations can get on the ground.” (Source.)

Over the last 6 years, Team Rubicon has more than proven its immense value on a global scale. The organization has contributed to over 140 missions, and deployed more than 5,000 veterans to over 20 countries, providing disaster relief in 24 hours or less. The organization also boasts a massive team of over 40,000 committed volunteers.

But Team Rubicon is more than just rapid-response disaster relief.


Team Rubicon member on their way to work for the day in Haiti. Source: Team Rubicon Global 

By mobilizing veterans on behalf of jolted communities, Team Rubicon seeks to “bridge the gap between returning veterans and their home communities,” as well as support veterans by providing them with an increased sense of purpose and identity at home.

Giving Assistant raises over $18,000 for Team Rubicon Global

To date, Giving Assistant’s generous community of shoppers and donors has raised $18,437.45 in donations for Team Rubicon!

“We are grateful for the support of Giving Assistant. This is a fantastic opportunity. These donations will enable us to continue our global effort to harness the skills of military veterans to help people on their worst day. Going forward, we’re excited to have not only the support of Giving Assistant, but also of their shoppers who believe in our mission.”- William McNulty, Team Rubicon Global CEO

Even better—the nearly $18,500 raised in donations from Giving Assistant supporters is expected to grow right alongside Team Rubicon. “It’s really great to know we have this additional, reliable resource to lean on as we continue to expand our mission,” added McNulty.

rubicon global

Team Rubicon members wading through a stream in Haiti. Source: Team Rubicon Global

Support veterans. Support Team Rubicon Global

To find out more about how you can easily use Giving Assistant to support Team Rubicon, visit their fundraising page here.

Giving Assistant members interested in donating their cash back to supporting Team Rubicon and their veterans simply need to select Team Rubicon as their organization of choice in their account settings.

Not a member? Sign up here to begin supporting Team Rubicon while you shop.

Zidisha: A Giving Assistant Success Story

Zidisha: A Giving Assistant Success Story

“We had been trying so hard to raise donations from individuals and foundations. It was surprising how easy, and how big of an impact Giving Assistant has had on us.”

-Julia Kurnia, Founder, Zidisha

Giving Assistant members are changing lives—even as far away as Africa—just by shopping online.

Imagine, for a moment, a bright, entrepreneurial single mother named Bineta raising her children in Senegal, West Africa.

Bineta designs and hand-sews beautiful dresses for a living, but she’s faced with a challenge—her dresses are highly sought after, and she can only hand-sew one or two of them a week, limiting her income.

If Bineta could afford a sewing machine, she’d be able to sew five or six dresses a week instead, effectively growing her business and making it possible for her to provide even more for her family.

Bineta’s dreams come true

Thankfully, Bineta can look toward non-profit organization Zidisha for assistance in obtaining a small loan for the sewing machine. With an affordable, low-interest loan from Zidisha, Bineta purchases a brand new sewing machine, and repays the loan easily with the additional profits she earns sewing more dresses each week.

To date, Zidisha has received more than $250,000 from Giving Assistant shoppers in order to expand their work providing these affordable microloans to borrowers in developing countries.

And Bineta has since opened a studio, hired an employee, and sent her teenage daughter to college preparatory school.

Organizations like Zidisha (and amazing people like Bineta) are the cornerstone of Giving Assistant’s global mission to transform consumers’ everyday online shopping activities into meaningful, productive, long-term contributions to humanity.

What is Zidisha?

Founded by Julia Kurnia, Zidisha is an organization that seeks to provide people in developing countries with affordable microloans. These small loans invigorate local economies while helping citizens meet financial needs, or just move a little closer to their dreams.

Zidisha keeps interest rates low—and loans affordable—by harnessing the power of the internet: borrowers can log on to, create a profile, and be connected directly with lenders. Lenders browse borrowers’ profiles, and contribute to their projects with the click of a button. No loan officers’ salaries to cover, and only minor overhead costs.

“Through Giving Assistant, we’ve been able to raise almost a quarter of a million dollars in additional donations,” said Zidisha’s founder, Julia Kurnia. “That has allowed us to fund loans for two thousand people that otherwise would not have been financed.”

Giving Assistant shoppers donate $250,000+ to Zidisha—a number that grows every day.


Founder, Julia Kurnia, receiving Zidisha’s check from Giving Assistant supporters

Giving Assistant envisions a world where:

  • the average global citizen can more regularly experience the joy and fulfillment that comes from being able to contribute to their community
  • and where non-profit organizations like Zidisha can feel confident knowing they have one more consistent, reliable, long-term stream of financial support.

To this end, we developed an innovative, consumer loyalty program that enables us to pay Giving Assistant members more cash back on their online purchases than our competitors. Then, we provide shoppers with the option to donate some, or all of their cash back earnings to organizations they value.

In short: our shoppers earn more, so they enjoy the freedom to give more.

Zidisha is one of many organizations that Giving Assistant and its shoppers are passionate about supporting. In May of 2016, we were honored to deliver a check to Zidisha for $247,618.

That’s nearly $250,000 Zidisha can now use to expand their mission of providing microloans to business owners, teachers, families, and individuals in developing countries—and that number keeps growing. All because thousands of Giving Assistant members are shopping online, right now.

Want to give to Zidisha?

Giving Assistant members interested in donating a portion (or all!) of their cash back earnings to Zidisha simply need to select Zidisha as their organization of choice in their account settings.

Not a member? Sign up here to begin supporting Zidisha while you shop.

If you’d like to learn more about funding a loan to an individual or entrepreneur like Bineta in Senegal, visit

National Low Income Housing Coalition: For Affordable Homes

National Low Income Housing Coalition: For Affordable Homes


There are a few things in life that everyone should have access to. One of those things, of course, is having a roof over your head. Unfortunately, not everyone in the United States has access to affordable homes. And this is exactly what the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) is fighting for.

NLIHC is committed to achieving socially just public policy, to assure people with the lowest incomes in the US have decent, affordable homes. In order to achieve this, the organization sets clear goals:

  • To preserve existing federally assisted homes and housing resources.
  • To expand the supply of low-income housing.
  • To establish housing stability as the primary purpose of federal low-income housing policy.

The Importance Of NLIHC

The need for an organization such as the National Low Income Housing Coalition is significant, data shows. According to the Census Bureau, 46.7 million Americans were in poverty in 2015 compared to 46.3 million in 2013. It is also found that high-income households get four times more housing benefits than low-income households do and that federal housing expenditures poorly correlate with housing needs.

There is a lot to work on, which is why NLIHC differentiates itself from other organizations by focusing solely on the needs of extremely low-income people.
A 2016 report from NLIHC finds that there is “a shortage of 7.2 million affordable and available rental units for AmScreen Shot 2016-03-28 at 1.58.42 PMerica’s 10.4 million extremely low-income (ELI) renter households, those in the bottom 30% of income in their communities.”

NLIHC works on changing those numbers by frequently providing comment and testimony on both regulatory and legislative issues that are impacting the housing stability of those dealing with a low income.

Working together

To achieve great goals, you need to work together. No organization understands this better than NLIHC, which focuses on getting state housing and homeless coalitions, direct service providers and residents and other low-income people to take action together. “Together, we can then hold federal, state and local policymakers accountable for solving the housing problems of low-income people”, it states on their website.

NLIHC’s teams work together to study trends and analyze data to show how much need there is for low-income housing. They educate lawmakers, create support for low-income housing and shape public opinion. NLIHC now has hundreds of members across the United States and is well-respected in Washington, D.C. due to its thorough research and policy analysis, changing millions of people’s lives.


Start Giving With Giving Assistant

You, as a member of Giving Assistant, can help NLIHC achieve their great goals! To become a donating member, simply go to ‘Settings’, select ‘National Low Income Housing Coalition’ as your charity, and slide the Charity Bar as far to the right as you please.

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 1.51.40 PM

Becoming A NLIHC Member

You can also become a member of NLIHC by clicking this link, which gives you great benefits such as regional and national conferences, research publications and policy papers. NLIHC staff can also help you out with any research questions or organizing techniques and can give you additional information on their work.

Being a member is a great way to stay up-to-date on developments in low-income housing policy, to receive discounts on conference rates and publications and it gives you a chance to participate in the organization’s policy-setting decisions. For a full list of benefits, please visit NLIHC’s benefits page.

Want to know more about the National Low Income Housing Coalition? Visit their website!