Let’s face the facts: our world could be better. For as much as we at AVG try our best to make the world and the internet a better, safer place, there’s only so much we can do alone. Fortunately, we’re not — there are lots of other organizations and groups out there who are working hard to try to bring a little brightness into these occasionally dark times.

We figured, with the season of giving just around the corner, now would be a great time to highlight some of these organizations — so you can become aware of their mission, feel good about your fellow man, and maybe even chip in if you feel so inclined.

So without further ado, here’s just five of the many worthy causes currently out there, trying to make the world a better place:

Computer Aid

We live in a connected world, but that doesn’t mean everyone is plugged in. Inequality and poverty still plague many parts of the world, and for places like that, something as simple yet essential as a computer can make an enormous difference. Oftentimes, technological literacy is the first step to helping people help themselves, and in the process, their community.

Computer Aid bridges the technology divide by providing high-quality computers and smart devices to schools, universities, community centers, and NGOs all around the world. Their methodology is quite brilliant: they offer businesses, universities, and government branches the opportunity to completely erase their data from unused computers, which is a necessary procedure to keep data private and secure when disposing electronics. In exchange, Computer Aid gets to take the wiped devices, which they ensure reach those who need them most.

So far, Computer Aid has helped communities in Cameroon, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Swaziland, South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Ethiopia, Columbia, Ecuador, and more. They’ve helped deliver PCs into the hands of refugees, children, women’s universities, widows and orphans, rural and developing communities, and have even helped develop economically friendly methods of powering their technology.

If you want to learn more about Computer Aid, check out their website. They also accept donations.

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The struggle for equality for all races and genders around the world is an ongoing one, and people are feeling the impact of discrimination in every part of their lives. A lot has been said recently about the push to get more women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields, but Code to Inspire is taking that mission even further by creating the very first all-women's coding school in Afghanistan.

Created in 2015, CTI has helped 150 women (and counting) learn how to program, create apps and games, and get jobs in STEM fields within their home country. This not only enriches their own lives but also bolsters the economy of a country that’s… in a somewhat complicated situation, to phrase things mildly.

Their website not only contains more information about their school, its founder, and their mission, it also links to the works and projects created by its alumni. A nice, feel-good way to see the practical impact of the work this organization is doing.

They do accept donations, if you’re feeling charitable.

Childnet International

Here’s a mind-blowing fact: the internet is not always a safe place for kids. There are inappropriate sites, bad people, and dangerous malware out there that can make even the simplest online trip fraught with danger if you click on the wrong link, or search for the wrong word.

Childnet International is a UK-based charity that looks to make the Internet a bit better and safer for kids — or at the very least, arm children with the knowledge they need to navigate it safely and securely, with the tools to know what to do if they should find themselves on the receiving end of the internet’s more problematic residents.

But that’s not all. They also provide resources for teachers and parents to help educate their children, they go to schools, they host contests, collaborate with other charities, sponsor a Safer Internet Day in the UK, and have even worked to help young people get involved with the legislative process. To take advantage of many of their services (no matter where you live), you can always check out their website.

And if you want to donate, you can do that too.

Heartmob

We talk a lot about online harassment, but whenever the topic comes up, it’s almost always in the context of how it impacts children. But hitting puberty or graduating high school doesn’t mean harassment and bullying stops: online hate is a problem for people in all stages of life.

That’s why Heartmob exists; to try to act as a counterweight in an online culture too frequently dominated by vitriol and anger. Anyone at anytime can go to their website to get tips, learn about their rights, and discover new coping mechanisms. Or, you can share your story with a community of friendly, positive people who will listen to your problems and offer judgement-free support. 

They’re a small but passionate group, and if you believe in their mission, you can always donate… or join the “heart mob” and offer support to those who need help.

Center for Democracy & Technology

It’s not a bold statement to say that having rights is a good thing, but it does take boldness and vigilance to defend them.

In recent years, our ability to be free and speak our minds online has been threatened many times — sometimes by lawmakers acting negligently or maliciously, other times by companies enacting unfair policies. In both cases, the Center for Democracy & Technology is there to advocate, and fight, for your ability to express yourself freely and enjoy your inalienable human rights and civil liberties.

They’ve taken leading roles in trying to protect personal data, supporting Net Neutrality, managing digital copyright law, preventing abuse of law enforcement agencies regarding digital surveillance, and supporting internet infrastructure. With the 2020 election coming up, they’ve recently started working on improving election security, so the bedrock of American democracy doesn’t crumble due to some hackers and outdated voting machines. They also post blogs and host podcasts to help people become more informed, aware, and hopefully active online citizens.

You can read all about their many, many activities on their website. And if you have the money, a little donation goes a long way.

We hope you walk away from this article with a smile and a little more hope. As long as there are people willing to devote their lives to making the world a better place, we have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.