The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.

Dress, save animals and find older brother: how charity works in the US

Olga Khristoforova

travel blogger, graphic designer, blog author


Most Americans are convinced that a strong civil society does not depend on the state. Numerous non-profit organizations are built on this principle, thanks to which the American society solves many environmental, social, religious, economic, and even political tasks without government intervention. In short, non-profit organizations in the United States are engaged in almost everything - from controlling presidential elections to the creation of shelters for pets.

Not far from our home in Portland there is even non-profit bar... Everything in it is exactly the same as in regular bars, but when paying for food and drinks, you must indicate to which of the proposed charities you would like to send the profit from your order. “Who owns this bar?” I asked my friend Scott, perplexed. To which he replied that technically - no one owns - in the same way that no one owns churches, for example.

The Oregon Public House is a non-profit bar in Portland. Photo author

Thus, making their contribution to non-profit organizations through donations and volunteering, the Americans themselves choose which goals and programs they want to develop.

There are about 1,5 million non-profit organizations registered in the USA. For comparison, in Russia - about 228 thousand, and most of them are valid only on paper. I will not be able to tell about all successful non-profit organizations in one article, so I will try to describe the most interesting ones.


Several years ago, putting in order my apartment in Penza, I was faced with the question “where to attach things that have become unnecessary to me”. It's a pity to throw it away, but it's not clear to whom to give it. Googling this question, I found out that in every district of Penza there is a Center for Social Assistance to Families and Children, where things collected from the population are sorted and then handed over to people in need.

Having moved to the USA, I learned how this issue is solved here. Organization's activities Goodwill, which has been around for more than 100 years, is actively advertised, so even small children know about its purpose. Goodwill accepts unnecessary things, clothes, furniture, and even cars from the population. As a reward Goodwill issue a receipt confirming the fact of donation. By submitting an annual tax return, Americans put information about their donations and receive tax benefits.

Goodwill retail store has it all. Photo author

Collected items GoodwillAs a rule, he does not give out for free, but he sells at very low prices in his retail stores, which are popular not only among people with low incomes, but also among lovers of vintage items. Only from the sale of donated items in 2016 Goodwill collected $ 4,16 billion. Plus grants from the state and corporations totaling $ 1,55 billion. Collected funds Goodwill spends on programs for training and employment of young people, the elderly, veterans, people with disabilities or a criminal past.

In 2016 year Goodwill helped more than 36 to millions of people to acquire skills in the new profession, with the result that more than 313 000 people were able to get a job in such prestigious industries as banking, information technology and health care.


Humane societies - These are numerous organizations for the protection of animal rights, which are engaged not only in finding a new home for homeless animals, but also fighting any forms of cruel treatment of them. Once in Oregon humane society, I was amazed at the wonderful conditions in which homeless dogs and cats used to be.

Already at the entrance to the shelter, an employee told us that we could look at the animals in the cages at any time, but in order to communicate with the pet that we liked in a room specially reserved for this, we would have to wait at least an hour, because that day visitors.

Photo by the author

The animal shelter in Portland occupies a whole complex of buildings, in which there was a place for the training hall, and the veterinary clinic, and spacious rooms for our smaller brothers who were in trouble. Poor pet owners can get their pet sterilization services for free; Those who wish to bring up a pet from a shelter can choose a new friend; and everyone else can just come to the shelter and give a little attention to the four-legged inhabitants of the shelter. Since there are no stray animals in Portland during the daytime, pets are brought from other cities to a local shelter.

Photo by the author

In the shelter that we visited, on each cell hung a sign with the name, a brief history and the amount of remuneration that the shelter asks for the future host. Rewards range from $ 15 to $ 85 per cat, and from $ 150 to $ 450 per dog. The difference in the amount depends on the age and nature of the animal. But even such high rewards do not cover all the costs of the shelter, so the bulk of the funds come from private donations.


Currently, in the USA, as well as in other developed countries, there are no children’s homes for permanent residence. I mean - there are no state institutions that would be engaged in raising children who have no parents. There are temporary shelters for children until the child is placed in a foster family. In this case, it is often not a question of adoption, but of keeping a child in the family, to whom compensation is paid. Go

The system of distribution of single children in America was called "foster", Which translated into Russian means" to educate, patronize. " The essence of this system is as follows: children left without parental care almost immediately fall into the foster family, whose members have expressed a desire to shelter the child in advance. Therefore, children who were left without parents are almost without delay in such families. Every year in the US, around 100000 children are left without family for various reasons.

Currently, more than 428000 children are under the care of foster parents. In half the cases they are not related. On average, a child lives in a foster family for about two years. After that, children are either adopted or returned to their families of origin (if their parents were deprived of parental rights only for a short time). It happens that foster parents become attached to their wards so much that they bring them up to adulthood, but they are not in a hurry to adopt them, because they don’t want to lose their financial support from the state.

Фото: Depositphotos


Another great program that exists on donations is called Big Brothers Big Sisters. The mission of this non-profit organization is that it helps to find a “big brother” for children aged 6 – 18 who are raised by one parent of the opposite sex. Volunteers of this program are usually men (big brothers) and women (big sisters) at the age of 20 – 34 of the year with a degree not lower than college.

My friend Scott's mom raised him alone, so when he turned 6 years old, she took the opportunity to find an “older brother”. Scott wrote a short essay with a sweet story about himself and his family, and after a while he was accepted into the program. His first “elder brother” was Greg, with whom they went camping with a tent, rode canoes along the canals, fished, made wood crafts, played NintendoIn short, they did everything that Scott's mother was not ready to do.


Over the course of a year, the Scott mailbox periodically turned up circus tickets for him and his “older brother”, paid for by sponsors of the organization Big brothers. And each Christmas, the “older” and “younger” brothers were gathered together at one of the country ranches, where Tom Walden, a developer from Florida, organized a holiday every year for children from incomplete and low-income families. In addition to the carousels and a huge number of treats, the “younger and older” brothers could see the performances of stuntmen and lie in huge haystacks. The apotheosis of the holiday was Santa Claus, descending from a helicopter along a rope ladder with a bag of gifts for everyone.

When Scott turned 12 years, in the life of Scott appeared John, who was his second “elder brother” until adulthood. John taught him to cook, play tennis and golf, and drive a car. They maintained friendly relations even after Scott came of age. Moreover, John, being a financial specialist by profession, after the death of Scott's mother, became his financial advisor. Until now, Scott remembered with gratitude his “elder brothers”.

Olga Khristoforova, travel blogger, graphic designer, blog author

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