How Our Recommended Charities are Addressing the COVID-19 Pandemic

How Our Recommended Charities are Addressing the COVID-19 Pandemic

We remain steadfast in our mission and know that we’ll now have to work even harder to help save and improve lives, as the already-poor will undoubtedly be the hardest hit by this crisis.

“As bad as the coronavirus has been in wealthy countries, it will likely be much more devastating in poor countries that have worse health-care systems. In many places, social distancing is not even an option. Imagine how quickly the virus may spread in a crowded refugee camp without adequate hygiene and sanitation.”
Susan Athey and Dean Karlan

All of our recommended nonprofits are pivoting rapidly and taking exemplary steps to safeguard their staffs during the crisis. And many of them are putting specific programs in place that will fight COVID-19’s devastating impact among their beneficiaries and ensure safe delivery of their basic programs. Below are updates about how these organizations are adapting—with help from donors like you!—so they can forge on in these times when their assistance is needed more than ever. (Note that we’re adding updates as we receive them, so please check this page regularly to see new information!)

To support their work, you can make one donation to be divided evenly among all of our Recommended Nonprofits through our All Charities Appeal, or choose specific organizations to support via the buttons below or here.

Development Media International 

DMI, Burkina Faso

2020 March 31
DMI COVID-19 Statement

“DMI has experienced in-country teams in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. These teams have strong relationships with both Ministries of Health and radio stations that reach large populations. DMI is therefore very well-positioned to support the health communications responses for COVID-19 in these nine countries. DMI has already been approached by health ministries with requests to support their COVID-19 efforts.

We also have substantial evidence that radio and TV campaigns can improve hygiene-related behaviours, based on data from Ethiopia, Ghana, Cambodia and Tanzania. The most rigorous evidence comes from a trachoma-related campaign that DMI’s CEO oversaw in the Amhara region of Ethiopia in 2002-2005. The campaign was evaluated by LSHTM and based on observations of 1700+ children, rather than survey data. It showed dramatic reductions in dirty hands, falling from 59.3% to 36.5% using radio messages alone. The data was published in Tropical Medicine and International Health.

Our main aim is to help health ministries to reach communities with key messages relating to COVID-19, using our existing relationships with radio stations as well as our ability to rapidly produce high-quality radio spots. The radio spots will cover a range of topics in line with WHO guidance and national priorities, for example the promotion of handwashing and social distancing.

DMI is actively looking for funds to support COVID-19 campaigns in our countries of operation. We hope to launch radio COVID-19 campaigns in Burkina Faso and Mozambique within the next few weeks.

Donate to DMI


Evidence Action

Evidence Action/Dispensers for Safe Water
On March 26th, Evidence Action’s CEO Kanika Bahl shared this update:

We are rapidly working to proactively identify and address challenges as they emerge. For example, deworming medications for hundreds of millions of children rely on functioning global supply chains, with active ingredients largely sourced from China. As this supply chain falters, we are directly engaging with suppliers to map and identify sources of alternative production capacity, with a lens towards minimizing the disruptions hundreds of millions of children might face.

Meanwhile with Dispensers for Safe Water, we are very actively preparing if our Africa transport hubs are shut down. This includes teams working around-the-clock to make advance deliveries of chlorine and key supplies to sustain operations for three months. 
To help slow the spread of COVID-19 in rural Africa, Evidence Action has also launched a fundraising campaign to provide vital supplies, including soap and disinfectant, to communities served by Dispensers for Safe Water. Donations to this specific initiative can be made here:


Donate to Evidence Action

Despite these and other measures, there may be challenges we cannot surmount – children may not be dewormed as scheduled if schools remain closed, and dispensers may fall into disrepair if travel for maintenance is not possible. However to the best of our ability we are seeking to act urgently in service of the poor during this time of immense need. It is through the support of our donors that we are able to pivot to these challenges, holding true to our value of act urgently in this time of need.”
You can read Kanika’s full blog here.




A message from Oxfam:

“Oxfam is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by protecting and advocating for the most vulnerable people in the United States and around the globe. We know too well that when a crisis hits, the poorest and most marginalized communities suffer the worst effects. From our experience with other outbreaks, such as Ebola, the Zika virus, and other diseases, we know that working directly with communities to ensure they have access to the right information and are involved in decisions that affect their lives is critical. We are currently working with our partners, government ministries of health, and key UN agencies in 65 countries to coordinate our response. Given our expertise in public health, and water and sanitation, many of our teams are increasing their delivery of soap and sanitation services, including handwashing facilities and clean water—especially to people in higher-risk areas. We are also focusing our community engagement work on helping people minimize the risk of infection by providing them with accurate information and advice in local languages via mass and social media.”

Read more about Oxfam’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic here.

Donate to Oxfam


Sanku/Project Healthy Children

An update from Felix Brooks-church, Co-founding President & CEO

“In response to the current global pandemic, Sanku is ensuring that the two million people it reaches everyday continue to receive life-saving fortified flour during this crisis, while at the same time safeguarding the health of our 31 staff and 357 millers and their families. 

While this shutdown is slowing the social enterprise sector’s ability to deliver impact, Sanku has mobilized operations to deliver the basic human right of nutrition and has taken the below actions to ensure the fortified food supply chain is not disrupted. 

  • We mobilized a team equipped with the necessary protective gear to stock up over 300 of our partner millers with a multiple-month supply of empty flour bags and nutrient premix, necessary to continue fortifying their flour during this period. By doing so, and by outsourcing the actual deliveries of these goods to a local logistics company, we have eliminated our staff’s chances of being exposed. 
  • We deployed “Health Kits” to every single miller, packed with a generous supply of protective gloves, masks, medicated soap and hand sanitizer for all estimated 1000 mill staff across Tanzania. Sanku is determined to maintain improved health and hygiene for all our staff and millers, as well as for the essential food the millers produce for two million people every day who critically need strong immune systems at all times, but especially during this crisis. 
  • We are also exploring a new project to feed the millions of children who are no longer eating because schools have shut down for the foreseeable future. These school feeding programs are often a child’s primary daily meal.

To continue doing this, we desperately need capital now to build up inventory levels of flour bags and nutrient premix, and immediately purchase additional health kits for our millers and their families, as well as families of the school children now forced home due to school closures. If we are unable to do this, we would be depriving millions of the basic human right of nutrition and health safety. Our team is ready to do their part, but we need the support of our donors.”

Support Sanku/PHC here.


Innovations for Poverty Action 

From IPA’s Executive Director, Annie Duflo:

“IPA’s comparative advantage is research management and policy outreach. Since timely and accurate data and evidence are needed in times of crisis, they feel it is their responsibility to contribute in any way they are uniquely positioned to—that is, by leveraging their on-the-ground presence in 22 countries, their data collection expertise, and their relationships with governments. For example, on March 9 our Peace & Recovery team began accepting time-sensitive off-cycle proposals that answer questions about how communities may best respond to the shock and crisis of COVID-19.

IPA are currently actively exploring ways to support partners with research, information, and data needs during this crisis. For example, by creating and sharing evidence on how to achieve behavioral change to slow the spread of COVID-1.”

Donate to IPA


Population Services International 

A message from PSI CEO, Karl Hofmann:

“In this rapidly evolving crisis, PSI is applying our 50 years of expertise to answer the needs of local Ministries of Health and ensure that the people we serve are able to access critical self-care, prevention and healthcare services. Our COVID-19 response builds on our experience from previous outbreaks — including Ebola, Zika and cholera — to rapidly design, deploy and continually improve interventions that are effective and follow evolving global learnings. We are designing our response in close collaboration with our partners, all under each specific, national context.

PSI teams worldwide have already begun to:

  • Promote non-pharmaceutical interventions through social behavior change communications that will help stem the outbreak, such as handwashing, social distancing and providing access to reliable sources of locally relevant information, as with a campaign created in Laos in partnership with the Ministry of Health.
  • Expand our digital footprint to reach users with key prevention messages, self-risk assessment and when needed, referral for clinical care, as with the use of our digital platforms originally built for HIV Self-Testing in many African countries.
  • Curb the spread of false information surrounding COVID-19 by rapidly creating localized marketing strategies to dispel myths and provide accurate information on transmission, prevention and symptoms, as our cyber educators are doing throughout Central America.
  • Support health providers and pharmacy staff to provide point-of-care information, accurate COVID-19 risk-counseling, diagnosis, treatment and case reporting, as in South Africa and Angola where we are bringing e-learning about the disease to community health workers.
  • Support Ministries of Health to establish and strengthen existing emergency operations centers, which track disease and response efforts nationally and regionally as happening currently in Laos and Myanmar.
  • Build on our current information system capacity to support data capture and reporting from the health care sector to aid ongoing disease surveillance and better prepare ourselves and partners for future outbreaks with the many Ministries of Health we support to use the world’s largest digital health management information system.”

You can read more about PSI’s response here.

Donate to PSI



Here is an update from Possible’s CEO, Gita Pillai

Together, we have the opportunity to reduce the suffering and deaths, especially in locations where the outbreak is just beginning. In countries like Nepal, where Possible has supported universal health access to especially vulnerable communities, the call to action is urgent and the moment to respond is now.

Possible is collaborating with others to prepare a timely response. We are working with urgency to secure requisite supplies and equipment to sustain quality patient care, protect providers from infection, and to test and identify cases. We are sharing resources, information on clinical best practices, and communication to control spread.

Possible is working with Nyaya Health Nepal to support a dedicated team of Nepali doctors, nurses, and health workers to respond to the outbreak in line with the Government of Nepal and World Health Organization guidance. They have planned clinical work flows to maintain quality services and timely referral for all patients, established isolation rooms, reinforced infection control protocols, and updated electronic systems to capture COVID-19 surveillance data.

Your contribution will be a valued part of our global response.”

You can read Gita’s full blog here.

Donate to Possible


Living Goods

A Living Goods Community Health Worker

Here is part of an update from Living Goods:

“We’re engaging closely with ministries and their emergency preparedness and response teams as we build the capacity of CHWs and our staff to protect themselves, families and communities against the risks of COVID-19. We have already begun training CHWs on prevention, early detection and reporting, and are working to sensitize communities and support setting up handwashing stations. In addition, we are working to develop an e-learning platform that can be leveraged by CHWs, supervisors and our teams. While the Governments of Kenya and Uganda are aligned that CHWs should support prevention efforts, we are working with them to determine the appropriate roles CHWs should play in disease detection and response. It seems governments do not currently envision engaging CHWs in directly managing infected patients. We are also trying to procure personal protective equipment and developing protocols that concurrently protect CHWs while ensuring they do not become vectors of transmission. Importantly, we are developing ‘no-touch protocols’ that we intend to roll out to CHWs in the very near term with the hope that they can continue to save lives by assessing and treating cases of malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia; supporting pregnant women and newborns; and educating families around COVID-19 prevention efforts and identifying potential cases. We are already using our SMS system to contact CHWs and households receiving support, and we hope to make this two-way very soon. With 10,000 CHWs in our network equipped with smart phones, we believe we can enable the delivery of substantive primary health services that minimize disease transmission risks between CHWs and community members.”

You can read the rest of Living Goods’ COVID update here, and support their work here:

Donate to Living Goods


Helen Keller International’s Vitamin A Supplementation Program

Helen Keller International

An update from Helen Keller International:

“Helen Keller International has been working for decades to reduce the impact of disease on children and vulnerable communities. This work continues, adapted to the specific challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our programs, from vitamin A supplementation to preventing malnutrition to fighting avoidable blindness and vision loss among vulnerable communities, can be life-saving in the context of a viral epidemic.  

Helen Keller has supported governments and communities to treat tens of millions of children with vitamin A, following the discovery that supplementation with vitamin A reduced all-cause mortality by over 20%. This is particularly relevant in the current epidemic, because vitamin A deficiency has been extensively shown to impair immunity against viral infection, including viral pneumonia. Vitamin A specifically improves a child’s ability to neutralize viruses in membranes in the gut and lungs. In the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen enormous differences in the clinical course, from little or no symptoms, to severe illness and death, based in large part of pre-existing immunity. In the increasingly likely scenario of large-scale infection in areas of Africa and Asia with poor nutrition, vitamin A capsules provided by Helen Keller in the last few months could be the difference between life and death for thousands, and potentially millions, of young children. This is also why we are working to continue distributing vitamin A in places where large-scale documentation has not yet occurred. (It is important to note that we are doing so while keeping important precautions, including physical distancing, reduced contact with patients, and frequent hand-washing with soap.)

In addition to this long-standing prevention work, which is likely to yield enormous benefits for the present crisis, Helen Keller offices throughout the world have pivoted to providing immediate support to governments and communities facing the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Donate to Helen Keller International’s Vitamin A Supplementation Program


Against Malaria Foundation (AMF)

Against Malaria Foundation

AMF reports that currently the effect of coronavirus on their work is minimal, but they are keeping this constantly under review and are expecting the situation to change as matters develop in Africa. Net distributions are likely to be an important part of minimizing the coronavirus impact as increased malaria rates are likely to increase the mortality rate from coronavirus. AMF remains focused on fundraising to fill significant funding gaps.

Donate to AMF




Update from April 2, 2020

“As of today, our international response to COVID-19 is live: you can give directly to households living in extreme poverty in the hardest-hit communities overseas. More information on this below.

We are deeply concerned for these families. As the pandemic hits and governments impose lockdowns to try to limit its spread, many will suddenly be unable to continue earning a living. Few will have the financial resources to weather this storm, let alone provide care if a family member falls ill. To make matters worse, traditional aid programs that rely on face-to-face interaction may need to scale back at the same time.

This is the moment for digital cash transfers. Giving directly to families in extreme poverty has always been a great opportunity to do good, but it’s an extraordinary opportunity now. If you’re coping with this crisis yourself and are in a position to give, please do so generously.

Our current plans are as follows. All may change as we develop better opportunities and refine our tactics, and we’ll keep you informed as we do so.

  • We’ll start enrolling new recipients next week. We will focus first on urban areas, where we expect the economic impacts of COVID-19 will hit first and hardest. We will coordinate with local governments and NGOs to identify and prioritize underserved groups, and we’re starting with youth in Nairobi slums.
  • We will enroll recipients remotely, using some combination of (a) our own existing databases of low-income households, (b) rosters provided by local NGO partners whom we have vetted, and (c) rosters of mobile money subscribers recruited through our partner mobile network operators. Specific approaches will vary across countries.
  • In parallel, we will continue to pay previously enrolled recipients in all six countries with live projects (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Liberia, Malawi, and the DRC), and have already shifted to a remote follow-up model. We completed payments to 13,806 recipients in March totaling over $2.5M.”

During the crisis, all GiveDirectly donations made through TLYCS will go to their international Covid-19 response.

Donate to GiveDirectly


Fistula Foundation

Fistula Foundation
On March 16th, CEO Kate Grant shared this update:
“Our staff teams in Zambia and Kenya will continue their work as long as feasible.Our goal is to continue critical funding to our partners in Africa and Asia, who provide life-transforming care to women, as long as conditions on the ground allow. We will continue to communicate with you, our loyal supporters, about how the situation here and with our partners evolves.”
You can read Kate’s full message here. Donate to Fistula Foundation


Village Enterprise

An update from Village Enterprise:

This pandemic is affecting activities globally and Village Enterprise is no exception. Given the impact that COVID-19 is having on our daily operations, our planned programs and goals will shift for the time being. Our activities will be more aligned and focused on the goal of ensuring that people remain healthy. 

With this in mind, we have put together an overview of our response to date below, with the caveat that we are responding to a quickly-evolving situation and our response may change as different situational needs arise.

  1. In consideration of the health and safety of our staff and program participants, along with recommendations and restrictions put in place by the governments of both Kenya and Uganda, we have just taken the step of pausing our field operations. This has meant suspending group gatherings and nonessential contact in our program activities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our main priority is ensuring that our staff remains both employed and healthy, and we are currently working on team-specific adaptation plans and remote work when possible. We will continue to keep you informed as the situation develops.
  2. We are working on upgrading technological capabilities that we had already been prioritizing organizationally in order to provide remote support to our business owners and communities during the period of closure, however, this initiative is still in the planning phase.
  3. We anticipate that the effective closure of the economies in both Uganda and Kenya will be extremely difficult for the communities in which we work. With this in mind, we are working on an adaptive response plan on the longer-term effects of the crisis in our communities.

We’ll add more updates from these and other of our recommended charities as they become available. 

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The views expressed in blog posts are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Peter Singer or The Life You Can Save.