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Where Do NGOs Get Their Funding? Where Do NGOs Get Their Funding?


Where Do NGOs Get Their Funding?

NGOs rely on various sources of funding to support their initiatives, including grants, donations, sponsorships, and fundraising activities. Discover how finance plays a crucial role in sustaining the operations of non-governmental organizations.

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Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) play a crucial role in addressing global issues and advocating for social change. From poverty alleviation to human rights, NGOs work tirelessly to bring about positive impact in various sectors. However, running these organizations requires substantial financial resources. In this article, we will explore the different sources from which NGOs obtain their funding.

NGOs rely on diverse funding channels to finance their operations and initiatives. These funding sources can vary depending on the size and scope of the organization, as well as the nature of their work. By understanding these sources, we can gain insights into how NGOs sustain their activities and make a difference in the world.

Government Funding:

Numerous NGOs receive financial support from governments around the world. Governments allocate budgets dedicated to social welfare and development, with a portion of these funds specifically designated for partnering with NGOs. This funding often comes in the form of grants, subsidies, or contracts. Governments recognize the expertise of NGOs in specific areas and value their contributions in delivering services that complement government efforts.

Private Donations:

Individuals who believe in the mission and vision of an NGO often choose to contribute financial support through private donations. These donations can be one-time contributions or recurring pledges. NGOs establish fundraising campaigns to engage individuals and create awareness of their causes. Donors may be motivated by personal connections to the cause, moral conviction, or simply a desire to make a positive impact in society.

Corporate Sponsorships:

Many NGOs establish partnerships with corporations to secure funding and support for their initiatives. Corporations see such partnerships as an opportunity to fulfill their corporate social responsibility (CSR), enhance their image, and align with causes that resonate with their values. NGOs may receive financial contributions, in-kind donations, or assistance in organizing events or campaigns. Corporate sponsorships provide NGOs with increased visibility and resources to further their impact.


Government Funding

Government funding is a significant source of financial support for NGOs. Governments at the national, state, and local levels allocate budgets specifically for social welfare programs and development initiatives. Many countries recognize the important role that NGOs play in addressing social challenges and rely on them to supplement government efforts.

NGOs can access government funding through various channels:

  1. Grants: Governments offer grants to NGOs based on specific eligibility criteria and funding priorities. NGOs are required to submit detailed proposals outlining their projects, expected outcomes, and budget plans. Grants can cover a portion or the total cost of a project, depending on the nature and significance of the initiative.
  2. Subsidies: Governments may provide subsidies to NGOs to help cover ongoing operational costs. This form of funding is designed to support the day-to-day activities of NGOs, including salaries, administrative expenses, and infrastructure maintenance.
  3. Contracts: In some cases, governments enter into contractual agreements with NGOs to deliver specific services on their behalf. These contracts outline the scope of work, timelines, and financial arrangements. NGOs may be responsible for managing and implementing projects in sectors such as healthcare, education, or disaster response.

Government funding for NGOs is often allocated based on priorities and policy objectives. Certain sectors, such as poverty alleviation, education, healthcare, and environmental conservation, may receive more substantial funding due to their importance on the government’s agenda. NGOs that align their work with these priority areas have a higher chance of securing government funding.

It is important to note that government funding for NGOs can vary greatly across countries and regions. Some governments have robust financial support systems in place, while others may have limited resources allocated to fund NGOs. NGOs often need to navigate complex bureaucratic processes and meet stringent reporting requirements to access government funds.

Furthermore, government funding can come with certain limitations or restrictions. NGOs may need to comply with specific regulations, demonstrate transparency and accountability in their financial management, and adhere to governmental guidelines. These measures are put in place to ensure responsible use of public funds and safeguard against misuse or mismanagement.


Private Donations

Private donations are a vital source of funding for NGOs, providing them with the financial support they need to carry out their mission and programs. These donations come from individuals who are passionate about a particular cause and want to make a positive impact in society.

Private donations can take various forms:

  1. Individual Contributions: Many individuals choose to donate directly to NGOs based on their personal beliefs and values. These contributions can be one-time donations or recurring pledges. NGOs often establish fundraising campaigns and online platforms to facilitate and encourage individual giving.
  2. Major Donors: Some NGOs receive substantial financial support from major donors, also known as philanthropists. These individuals have the means and the desire to make significant contributions to causes they care about. Major donors may establish charitable foundations or trusts to manage their philanthropic giving and support the work of NGOs.
  3. Crowdfunding: With the rise of online platforms, crowdfunding has become a popular and effective way for NGOs to raise funds. Through crowdfunding campaigns, NGOs can reach a wide audience and collect smaller donations from a large number of people. This democratizes the fundraising process and allows individuals from all walks of life to contribute to causes they resonate with.

Private donations provide NGOs with the flexibility and autonomy to allocate funds according to their priorities. NGOs can use these funds to support specific projects, expand their programs, or invest in capacity-building initiatives. The donors’ generosity not only helps NGOs sustain their operations but also enables them to innovate and make a greater impact in their respective fields.

NGOs invest significant effort in building relationships with individual donors. They engage in fundraising activities, such as events, campaigns, and appeals, to create awareness about their causes and connect with potential donors. Maintaining transparency and accountability is crucial in building trust with donors. NGOs often provide regular updates on the utilization of funds, sharing stories of impact and demonstrating the tangible results of their work.

It’s worth noting that private donations may fluctuate depending on various factors. Economic conditions, changes in societal trends, and global events can influence individuals’ willingness and ability to donate. NGOs must remain adaptive and proactive in their fundraising strategies to navigate uncertainties and maintain a stable income stream.


Corporate Sponsorships

Corporate sponsorships are a valuable source of funding for NGOs, providing financial support and strategic partnerships. Many corporations see sponsoring NGOs as an opportunity to fulfill their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and contribute to social causes.

Here are some ways in which corporations can sponsor NGOs:

  1. Financial Contributions: Corporations can provide direct financial support to NGOs through sponsorships. These contributions can be one-time donations or ongoing commitments. The funds can be used to support specific projects, initiatives, or operational expenses, depending on the agreement between the NGO and the corporate sponsor.
  2. In-kind Donations: Instead of direct financial contributions, corporations may choose to provide in-kind support to NGOs. This can include donating products, services, or expertise that are relevant to the NGO’s work. For example, a technology company might provide software or hardware to enhance an NGO’s operations, or a logistics company might offer transportation services for relief efforts.
  3. Event Sponsorships: Many NGOs organize fundraising events or awareness campaigns, and corporations can sponsor these events. The sponsorship can involve financial support, provision of resources, or assistance in event planning and execution. In return, the corporate sponsor gains brand exposure and positive public relations by aligning themselves with the NGO’s cause.
  4. Employee Engagement: Some corporations encourage employee engagement in philanthropic activities by providing paid time off to participate in NGO initiatives. These corporations may also offer matching gift programs, where they match their employees’ donations to NGOs, effectively doubling the impact of individual contributions.

Corporate sponsorships provide NGOs with more than just financial resources. They often lead to strategic partnerships and collaborations that can amplify the NGO’s reach and impact. By partnering with corporations, NGOs can tap into corporate expertise, networks, and marketing channels. In turn, corporations benefit from the association with the NGO’s mission, gaining credibility and brand loyalty among consumers.

When seeking corporate sponsorships, NGOs need to demonstrate the alignment between their mission and the values of the potential sponsor. Corporations are more likely to support NGOs that are closely related to their industry, target audience, or CSR focus areas. NGOs should carefully research and identify corporations that share similar values and objectives, and develop tailored proposals that highlight the mutual benefits of the partnership.

It’s important for corporations and NGOs to establish clear expectations and transparent communication regarding the sponsorship. Both parties should have a common understanding of the objectives, deliverables, and reporting requirements to ensure a successful and mutually beneficial partnership.


Grants and Foundations

NGOs often rely on grants and foundations as a significant source of funding for their programs and initiatives. Grants are financial awards provided by organizations, both public and private, to support specific projects or activities that align with their funding priorities. Foundations, on the other hand, are organizations established with the primary purpose of providing grants and other forms of financial support to NGOs.

Here are some key points regarding grants and foundations:

  1. Grant Applications: NGOs typically go through a competitive application process to secure grants. They are required to submit detailed proposals outlining their project objectives, implementation plans, expected outcomes, and budget breakdown. The proposals are evaluated based on their alignment with the grantor’s funding priorities, the organization’s capacity to execute the project, and the potential impact it will have on the target beneficiaries or the broader community.
  2. Foundation Funding: Foundations are organizations dedicated to providing financial support to NGOs. They have their own funding priorities and selection criteria. NGOs must research and identify foundations that align with their mission and work, and then submit grant applications accordingly. Some foundations have open calls for proposals, while others may have specific focus areas or restricted application periods.
  3. Restricted and Unrestricted Grants: Grants can be classified as either restricted or unrestricted. Restricted grants are awarded for a specific purpose or project and come with specific guidelines and requirements to ensure that the funds are used as intended. Unrestricted grants, on the other hand, provide NGOs with more flexibility to allocate the funds according to their needs and priorities.
  4. Relationship Building: Developing relationships with foundations and grantors is crucial for NGOs seeking funding. Personal connections, networking events, and engaging in meaningful conversations can help establish rapport and understanding. NGOs should also showcase their past achievements, impact, and financial transparency to instill confidence and gain the trust of potential grantors.
  5. Recognition and Reporting: NGOs who receive grants are often required to recognize the support of the grantor through appropriate acknowledgment, such as mentioning them in annual reports, press releases, or project materials. Additionally, NGOs are generally expected to provide regular reports on the progress of funded projects, including financial and impact assessments.

Grants and foundations offer NGOs the opportunity to implement long-term, sustainable projects and expand their reach. These funding sources can provide financial stability and allow NGOs to tackle complex and pressing issues with the support of experts and organizations committed to making a positive impact.

It’s important for NGOs to dedicate time and effort to research potential grant opportunities and develop strong grant proposals. Customizing proposals to meet the specific requirements of each grantor and ensuring a clear alignment between the NGO’s mission and the funding priorities will significantly increase the chances of securing grants and funding from foundations.


Fundraising Events

Fundraising events are a popular and effective way for NGOs to raise funds and engage their supporters. These events provide an opportunity for individuals and communities to come together, have fun, and contribute to a worthy cause at the same time.

Here are some key points about fundraising events for NGOs:

  1. Types of Fundraising Events: NGOs organize various types of fundraising events to appeal to different audiences and generate excitement. Examples include charity galas, benefit concerts, sports tournaments, auctions, charity runs or walks, art exhibitions, and community fairs. The choice of event depends on the NGO’s target audience, resources, and the cause they are supporting.
  2. Community Engagement: Fundraising events provide an opportunity for NGOs to connect with their community and create awareness about their cause. These events bring people together around a shared interest or passion, fostering a sense of community and social responsibility. NGOs can use these events to share stories, showcase the impact of their work, and educate attendees about the issues they are addressing.
  3. Sponsorship and Partnerships: NGOs often seek corporate sponsorships or collaborate with businesses to support fundraising events. Sponsorships can provide financial contributions, in-kind donations, or assistance with event logistics and promotion. In return, sponsors receive brand exposure, positive public relations, and the opportunity to align themselves with a cause they believe in. Building strong partnerships with local businesses can significantly enhance the success and impact of fundraising events.
  4. Ticket Sales and Donations: NGOs generate revenue from fundraising events through ticket sales, entry fees, and donations from attendees. Additionally, they may offer opportunities for attendees to sponsor certain aspects of the event, like providing meals or entertainment. NGOs often leverage online platforms and social media to promote their events and facilitate ticket sales and online donations.
  5. Event Planning and Execution: Successful fundraising events require careful planning and execution. NGOs must take into consideration factors such as event logistics, venue selection, marketing and promotion, volunteer management, entertainment or program lineup, and ensuring a seamless and enjoyable experience for attendees. It’s important to have a dedicated team of volunteers or staff members to coordinate all aspects of the event.
  6. Post-Event Follow-Up: After the event, NGOs should express gratitude to attendees, volunteers, and sponsors for their support. This can be done through thank you letters, certificates of appreciation, or social media shout-outs. NGOs can also provide updates on how the funds raised will be utilized and share the impact achieved as a result of the event.

Fundraising events not only generate revenue for NGOs but also create a sense of community, increase awareness, and deepen engagement with their cause. The success of these events relies on effective planning, strong partnerships, and enthusiastic participation from donors and supporters.

It is important for NGOs to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of each event and consider the potential return on investment. By analyzing the success of past events, NGOs can refine their strategies, identify areas for improvement, and enhance future fundraising events to maximize their impact and fundraising potential.


Membership Fees

Membership fees are another valuable source of funding for NGOs. They provide a stable and recurring income stream that allows organizations to sustain their operations and plan for the future. NGOs often offer membership programs to individuals and organizations that support their mission and want to be actively involved in their work.

Here are some key points about membership fees for NGOs:

  1. Membership Tiers: NGOs typically offer different membership tiers, each with its own benefits and corresponding fees. These tiers can range from basic memberships for individuals to corporate or institutional memberships. The fees are usually set at different levels to cater to the diverse financial capacities and interests of potential members.
  2. Benefits and Incentives: NGOs provide various benefits and incentives to attract and retain members. These can include exclusive access to resources, newsletters or publications, discounts on events or merchandise, networking opportunities, and invitations to member-only events. The value and appeal of the membership benefits play a crucial role in encouraging individuals and organizations to join as paying members.
  3. Community and Networking: Membership fees not only provide financial support but also foster a sense of community and belonging. Members often have the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and peers who share a common interest in the NGO’s mission and objectives. These networking opportunities can pave the way for collaborations, knowledge-sharing, and synergistic efforts to address social issues.
  4. Renewal and Retention: NGOs actively work towards renewing memberships and retaining existing members. They may offer incentives for renewing memberships, send periodic reminders, or engage in personalized communication to demonstrate the impact of their work and the value of continued membership. Building strong relationships and providing ongoing value to members are critical for long-term sustainability.
  5. Transparency and Accountability: NGOs must demonstrate transparency and accountability in managing membership fees. They should have clear financial reporting mechanisms in place, providing members with regular updates on how their contributions are utilized. This transparency builds trust and confidence among members, encouraging continued support and engagement.
  6. Member Engagement: NGOs actively engage their members in their work. They may seek input and feedback on program design, invite members to participate in volunteer activities, or offer opportunities to contribute through special projects or committees. This level of involvement and engagement strengthens the bond between the NGO and its members, fostering a sense of ownership and collective impact.

Membership fees contribute to the financial sustainability of NGOs, as they provide a reliable income source that can be used to cover operational costs, support projects, and invest in capacity-building endeavors. The sense of belonging and the meaningful interactions that come with being a member of an NGO also contribute to an individual’s commitment and passion for the cause.

It is crucial for NGOs to continually assess the benefits they offer to members and ensure that they align with the evolving needs and expectations of their target audience. By understanding their members’ motivations and providing tangible value, NGOs can attract new members, retain existing ones, and create a vibrant and engaged community of supporters.


Partnerships and Collaborations

Partnerships and collaborations are essential for NGOs to expand their reach, leverage resources, and maximize their impact. By joining forces with other organizations, both within and outside the non-profit sector, NGOs can access new funding opportunities, share expertise, and tackle complex social challenges more effectively.

Here are some key points about partnerships and collaborations for NGOs:

  1. Cross-Sector Partnerships: NGOs often collaborate with organizations from different sectors, such as the government, private companies, academic institutions, and other non-profits. These partnerships enable NGOs to tap into diverse resources, expertise, and networks that can complement their work. For example, a healthcare NGO may partner with a pharmaceutical company to improve access to medication or collaborate with a university for research and development.
  2. Resource Sharing: Partnerships allow NGOs to share resources, both financial and non-financial, to achieve common goals. This can involve pooling funds, sharing office space, equipment, or technology, or exchanging knowledge and best practices. By leveraging shared resources, NGOs can increase their efficiency and achieve greater impact.
  3. Collective Impact: Collaboration among multiple NGOs and organizations can lead to collective impact, where organizations come together to address complex social issues holistically. By coordinating efforts, sharing data, and aligning strategies, these collaborations create a more comprehensive and integrated approach to social change. Collective impact initiatives often involve NGOs, government agencies, community groups, and businesses working towards a common vision.
  4. Funding Opportunities: Partnerships can open up new funding opportunities for NGOs. By collaborating with organizations that have access to funding sources, NGOs can expand their financial resources and support the implementation of larger-scale projects. For example, an NGO focused on environmental conservation may partner with a foundation that specifically funds environmental initiatives.
  5. Advocacy and Influence: Partnerships can amplify the advocacy efforts of NGOs by combining resources, expertise, and voices. NGOs can advocate for policy changes or raise awareness about social issues more effectively when they collaborate with other organizations that share similar goals and values. By speaking with a unified voice and leveraging collective influence, partnerships can create a greater impact on policy debates and societal change.
  6. Building Trust and Relationships: Successful partnerships rely on trust and strong relationships between organizations. NGOs must invest time and effort in building and nurturing these relationships. Regular communication, collaboration, and shared decision-making are essential to foster effective and sustainable partnerships.

Partnerships and collaborations offer NGOs the opportunity to achieve more significant and lasting impact than they could accomplish alone. By leveraging the strengths and resources of different organizations, NGOs can address complex social challenges in a more holistic and sustainable manner.

It is important for NGOs to identify potential partners who share their vision, values, and goals. Building mutually beneficial partnerships relies on aligning interests, fostering open and transparent communication, and establishing clear expectations and roles for each organization involved. By working together, NGOs can achieve greater social change and make a lasting difference in the communities they serve.



Crowdfunding has emerged as a popular method for NGOs to raise funds and engage a large number of individuals in supporting their initiatives. This innovative approach harnesses the power of the internet and social media to reach a wide audience and mobilize financial contributions from supporters across the globe.

Here are some key points about crowdfunding for NGOs:

  1. Online Platforms: Crowdfunding platforms, such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe, and numerous others, provide NGOs with a dedicated space to create fundraising campaigns and connect with potential donors. These platforms offer a user-friendly interface that allows NGOs to share their stories, set fundraising goals, and track progress.
  2. Appealing Campaigns: Successful crowdfunding campaigns are built on compelling stories and clear messaging. NGOs must effectively communicate their mission, the impact they aim to make, and why donors should contribute to their cause. Engaging visuals, videos, and personal anecdotes can help create emotional connections with potential donors and motivate them to take action.
  3. Tiered Rewards: NGOs often motivate donors to contribute by offering tiered rewards based on different donation levels. These rewards can range from simple acknowledgments and shout-outs to exclusive merchandise, access to events, or even the opportunity to participate in project activities. Donors feel a sense of ownership and appreciation when they receive something in return for their support.
  4. Engagement and Updates: Crowdfunding campaigns provide an opportunity for NGOs to engage with their supporters. NGOs should regularly communicate updates on the progress of the campaign, share stories of impact, and express gratitude to donors. This fosters a sense of transparency and builds trust, encouraging continued support.
  5. Spreadability and Virality: Crowdfunding campaigns can go viral through social media sharing and word-of-mouth. NGOs should leverage their networks, encourage supporters to share their campaigns, and utilize social media advertising to maximize reach and engagement. A well-executed crowdfunding campaign can attract new donors who may not have been previously aware of the NGO’s work.
  6. Time-Limited Campaigns: Crowdfunding campaigns often have a set duration, typically ranging from a few weeks to a couple of months. This time limit creates a sense of urgency and motivates donors to contribute promptly. NGOs should plan and promote their campaigns in advance to maximize donor engagement during the allotted timeframe.

Crowdfunding allows NGOs to tap into the collective power of the crowd and receive support from individuals who resonate with their cause but may not have other means to contribute. It enables NGOs to fundraise for specific projects, launch new initiatives, or respond to urgent needs in a more agile and efficient manner.

However, it’s essential for NGOs to approach crowdfunding with a strategic mindset. They must invest time and effort in planning and executing their campaigns, as success goes beyond simply creating a campaign page. NGOs should develop a comprehensive marketing and communication strategy, engage their networks, and continually adapt their approach based on donor feedback and campaign performance.

By harnessing the potential of crowdfunding, NGOs can reach a wider audience, cultivate a global community of supporters, and mobilize resources to create meaningful change.


Earned Income and Social Enterprises

In addition to traditional fundraising methods, NGOs are increasingly exploring earned income strategies and social enterprises to generate revenue while furthering their mission. These innovative approaches enable NGOs to become more self-sustainable and reduce their reliance on external funding sources.

Here are some key points about earned income and social enterprises for NGOs:

  1. Earned Income: Earned income refers to revenue generated through the sale of goods, services, or expertise. NGOs can develop income-generating activities that are aligned with their mission and core competencies. This can include training programs, consulting services, the sale of merchandise or publications, or charging fees for workshops and events. By monetizing their skills and resources, NGOs create a sustainable revenue stream.
  2. Social Enterprises: Social enterprises are organizations that operate with a dual purpose of generating revenue and creating positive social or environmental impact. NGOs can establish social enterprises that align with their mission and utilize business models to address social challenges. These enterprises can be profit-oriented or not-for-profit, but they prioritize impact over maximizing financial returns.
  3. Hybrid Models: Some NGOs adopt a hybrid model, combining traditional non-profit activities with income-generating ventures. They generate revenue through their commercial activities and reinvest the profits into their social programs. This approach allows NGOs to diversify their income sources and achieve financial sustainability while remaining focused on their core mission.
  4. Market Research and Value Proposition: Before venturing into earned income or social enterprises, NGOs must conduct market research to identify potential customers and assess the demand for their offerings. They must also develop a compelling value proposition by clearly communicating the social impact generated through the income-generating activities. This ensures that customers understand the added value of choosing to support the NGO’s products or services.
  5. Financial and Operational Management: Engaging in earned income and social enterprises requires NGOs to adopt business principles and sound financial and operational management practices. They must consider factors such as pricing strategies, cost management, marketing, distribution channels, and customer relationship management. NGOs may need to develop new skill sets or partner with individuals or organizations with expertise in business development and management.
  6. Impact Measurement: NGOs must continue to prioritize their social impact while engaging in earned income and social enterprises. They should establish mechanisms to measure and evaluate the impact of their income-generating activities, ensuring they align with their mission and contribute to positive change. This allows the NGO to demonstrate value to stakeholders, donors, and customers.

Earned income and social enterprises empower NGOs to diversify their funding sources, reduce their reliance on donations, and increase their financial resilience. By tapping into their expertise and leveraging their resources, NGOs can create sustainable revenue streams that complement their charitable activities.

However, NGOs must strike a balance between financial sustainability and maintaining their mission-driven focus. It is essential to ensure that earned income activities do not compromise the organization’s values, ethics, or social impact. Transparency and accountability remain critical in demonstrating how the revenue generated is utilized to advance the organization’s mission and benefit the communities they serve.

By embracing earned income strategies and social enterprises, NGOs can unlock new opportunities for revenue generation, expand their reach, and make a lasting impact on social and environmental challenges.



Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) rely on a variety of funding sources to sustain their operations, implement impactful programs, and address critical global issues. The funding landscape for NGOs has evolved, with organizations exploring diverse strategies to secure financial support and ensure long-term sustainability.

From government funding and private donations to corporate sponsorships, grants, and fundraising events, NGOs leverage a range of channels to access financial resources. Each funding source offers unique advantages, enabling NGOs to tap into different networks, diversify their income streams, and expand their reach.

Membership fees provide NGOs with stable and recurring revenue while fostering a sense of community and engagement among supporters. Partnerships and collaborations allow NGOs to pool resources, expertise, and influence with other organizations, creating a more significant collective impact and amplifying their reach.

Crowdfunding and earned income strategies present innovative opportunities for NGOs to engage wider audiences, generate revenue, and increase financial sustainability. Crowdfunding enables NGOs to mobilize funds from individuals who are passionate about their cause, while earned income and social enterprises allow NGOs to monetize their resources and skills to create sustainable revenue streams.

Regardless of the funding sources, transparency, accountability, and strategic management are crucial for NGOs. Effective financial planning, impact measurement, and strong relationships with stakeholders are vital in ensuring that funding is effectively utilized to create meaningful change.

The ability of NGOs to secure funding from various sources not only provides financial stability but also enhances their credibility, influence, and ability to make a significant difference in the world. By diversifying their funding streams, NGOs can weather challenges, adapt to evolving needs, and continue their vital work in addressing social, environmental, and humanitarian issues.

In conclusion, the funding ecosystem for NGOs is dynamic and multifaceted. Embracing a multi-pronged approach to funding allows NGOs to sustain their operations, drive meaningful impact, and create a more equitable and compassionate world.