How You Can Help

There are a number of practical activities that you can undertake right now to help end extreme poverty. Here are a few ideas to help you get started.

Individuals, community groups (Scout troops, church groups, etc), and companies all have an important role to play in supporting the Millennium Development Goals. In the following, you will find practical suggestions for actions you can take to contribute to the fight against global poverty. Millennium Promise, a new organization chaired and co-founded by Jeffrey Sachs, mobilizes support for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Consider charitable contributions

SUPPORT Millennium Villages

Experts at the Earth Institute, Columbia University, use science-based, proven, reliable, and appropriate technologies and interventions to help villages achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and get on a path to sustainable development. Find out more about the Millennium Villages.

SUPPORT the ongoing work of the Earth Institute at Columbia University

Directed by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the Earth Institute, Columbia University, is the world's leading academic center for the integrated study of Earth, its environment and society. With its poverty reduction work, the Earth Institute implements proven methods in support of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals for combating global poverty, hunger and disease, using specific cost-effective measures that together could cut extreme poverty in half and radically improve the lives of at least one billion people in poor developing countries by 2015. Gifts and grants from individuals, corporations, foundations and organizations enable the Earth Institute to lead its global effort to build a sustainable future for all Earth's citizens, by conducting research, introducing new coursework and degree programs and providing science-based, life-saving solutions to communities in much of the developing world.

Support Follow-Through on Existing Commitments

The single most important thing you can do is to make sure that your government is following through on its existing commitments to support the Millennium Development Goals. At the Monterrey conference on Financing for Development, the industrialized country governments committed themselves to providing official development assistance equivalent to 0.7% of their gross national income. To date, only five countries have achieved this goal, though six others have set out timetables to reach 0.7% by 2015.

Meeting 0.7% is critically important because only governments are capable of mobilizing the resources needed to achieve the MDGs. The Millennium Project has shown that the MDGs can be met using resources already promised – from 0.45% to 0.55% of gross national income. As a concerned citizen, the best thing you can do is to help convince your government to meet its promises on aid.

What to do:

  • Write your political representatives: Tell them that you support the Millennium Development Goals and the Millennium Project's recommendations for achieving them. Feel free to use our facts, figures, and ideas from our talking points to help support your arguments. Click here for sample letters you can use.
  • Organize letter-writing campaigns: More is always better – you can amplify your voice by enlisting other people in the campaign to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Reach out through personal networks and community groups.
  • Write letters to local newspapers: Send a letter to the editor to help you reach a larger audience of people. The web site of RESULTS.org has a number of useful tools that can be adapted to help you target both politicians and media outlets in your own country.
  • Join existing networks, such as the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, which has national chapters in many countries that are mobilizing around the Millennium Development Goals.
  • The Millennium Campaign is coordinating global action on the Millennium Development Goals.

Educate the Public on the Millennium Development Goals

The world needs to get talking about solving global poverty – and you can start by teaching your friends, neighbors and community about the Millennium Development Goals and how to reach them.

  • Read and familiarize yourself with key facts, figures and talking points on aid and the Millennium Development Goals
  • Organize a dinner party to get people informed about global poverty and the Millennium Development Goals.
  • Have your group organize a public awareness event to educate people about global poverty.
  • Directly Support the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals

You can also provide direct financial and non-financial support toward the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The Millennium Project has identified a series of “Quick Wins,” which are priority actions that can be taken immediately to save and improve lives.

  1. Eliminating school and uniform fees to ensure that all children, especially girls, are not out of school because of their families’ poverty. Lost revenues should be replaced with more equitable and efficient sources of finance, including donor assistance.
  2. Providing impoverished farmers in sub-Saharan Africa with affordable replenishments of soil nitrogen and other soil nutrients.
  3. Providing free school meals for all children using locally produced foods with take home rations.
  4. Designing community nutrition programs for pregnant and lactating women and children under five that support breastfeeding, provide access to locally produced complementary foods and, where needed, provide micronutrient (especially zinc and vitamin A) supplementation.
  5. Providing regular annual deworming to all schoolchildren in affected areas to improve health and educational outcomes.
  6. Training large numbers of village workers in health, farming, and infrastructure (in one-year programs) to ensure basic expertise and services in rural communities.
  7. Distributing free, long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed-nets to all children in malaria endemic zones to cut decisively the burden of malaria.
  8. Eliminating user fees for basic health services in all developing countries, financed by increased domestic and donor resources for health.
  9. Expanding access to sexual and reproductive health information and services, including family planning and contraceptive information and services, and closing existing funding gaps for supplies and logistics.
  10. Expanding the use of proven effective drug combinations for AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. For AIDS, this includes successfully completing the 3 by 5 initiative to bring anti-retrovirals to 3 million people by 2005.
  11. Setting up funding to finance community-based slum upgrading and earmark idle public land for low-cost housing.
  12. Providing access to electricity, water, sanitation, and the Internet for all hospitals, schools, and other social service institutions using off-grid diesel generators, solar panels, or other appropriate technologies.
  13. Reforming and enforcing legislation guaranteeing women property and inheritance rights.
  14. Launching national campaigns to reduce violence against women.
  15. Establishing, in each country, an office of science advisor to the president or prime minister to consolidate the role of science in national policymaking.
  16. Empowering women to play a central role in formulating and monitoring MDG-based poverty reduction strategies and other critical policy reform processes, particularly at the level of local governments.
  17. Providing community-level support to plant trees to provide soil nutrients, fuelwood, shade, fodder, watershed protection, windbreak, and timber.