End hunger. Fight world poverty. Give everyone a home.

We’re all familiar with these far-reaching global goals. Many of us, recognizing both their importance and nobility, do what we can to join such seemingly impossible fights.

But what about the less general (and therefore less-publicized) charities established to serve a more specific need? I’ve compiled a list of five unusual niche charities that, for donations or purchases of less than $100, promise to do quite a bit with what you give them.

1. Name: BoGo Light
Purpose: For every flashlight purchased from BoGo Light, one is given to a family in a developing area. This eliminates the danger and inconvenience of more rudimentary lighting methods like kerosene oil and candles. The site also claims that the lighting provided can make an exceptional difference for students in poor areas as education hours can be extended and homework/reading time at home can be well-lit.
Price to give: $39-49 per flashlight.

2. Name: Charity:Water (charitywater.org)
Purpose: $1 can give one person drinking water for a full year. Donations start at $20, which provides someone with 20 years of clean drinking water. Puts 100% of donations directly toward the project.
Price to give: $20.

3. Name: Modest Needs
Purpose: Lists requests by low-income families for help with paying for items like a new car seat or one month’s heating bill. Every donation made earns Modest Needs points on the site, which can then be directed to the family request of your choice (request list is available for your review). By signing up for donations on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, schedule, donations are doubled by a matching program. Requires registration for security of donations.
Price to give: Any amount, but most requests are over 100 points.

4. Name: One Acre At A Time
Purpose: According to the USDA Forest Service, nearly four acres of natural American forest is lost per minute.  This organization works to protect productive American forests in order to work toward sustainable living.
Price to give: $50 saves 200 square feet.

5. Name: Malaria No More
Purpose: According to this organization, roughly 3,000 children die each day from malaria. In addition to effective medical treatment and targeted spraying, mosquito nets are critical in fighting malaria infection. A single treated mosquito net can protect one child or more from malaria for up to five years.
Price to give: $10 buys one net.

Courtesy of ASU chapter.

Courtesy of ASU chapter.

In my time at ASU, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet several passionate members of the university’s chapter of non-profit organization Camp Kesem.  Students in college chapters of Camp Kesem fundraise throughout the year in order to put on a free, week-long camp in late summer for children personally affected by cancer, such as those whose parents have died of cancer or are currently undergoing treatment.  The camp has the potential to close the gap for children who may feel alone or helpless, as it allows them to make connections with others their age who can truly understand what they’re going through (for many, this will be the first time they’ve met a peer who can empathize with their situation).  On a more superficial but equally important level, it gives children who may have been forced to grow up very fast a week to simply be kids – to have fun and make friends.

Chapter members may later serve as counselors at the camp itself.


I interviewed Charlene Fan, a member of the ASU chapter of Camp Kesem, about why this organization matters and, of course, how to get involved.

How do you join a chapter?
CF: It’s easy.  Just speak to a current member, coordinator, or co-chairs Jack (jack.jeng@live.com) and Mark Jeng (mark.jeng@asu.edu).

How does the club work?
CF: For ASU’s chapter, there are bi-weekly meetings.  To be considered a committee member (essentially an “active member”), you must:
1) attend 3 committee meetings per semester
2) attend at least one letter-writing party per semester (where we write letters to potential donors)
3) join and actively participate in a sub-committee (such as Fundraising or Camper Care)

What if you want to take it a step further and be a counselor?
CF: To be a counselor, there is an application and interview process.  You don’t have to be considered a committee member to be accepted as a counselor, but I would strongly recommend it as participating actively throughout the year allows the current coordinators to get to know you and see your dedication in action.

If you don’t have time to be in the club, can you make a donation?  How?
CF: Definitely, donations of any amount are appreciated at any time.  You can send a check to a local chapter or donate online.

Why do you think Camp Kesem is valuable?  Why would you tell someone to do it?
CF: For me, it’s about knowing that you are directly touching the lives of other people.  There are many cancer support groups out there, but Camp Kesem is the only one I am familiar with that specifically targets the needs of the children in these families.  You always know exactly what you’re doing it for, and you frequently get feedback from the families involved.


Mailing Address (used for donations)
Arizona State University Camp Kesem
P.O. Box 386
Tempe, AZ 85280-0386