Frequently Asked Questions

Browse FAQs

About Glimmer

What makes Glimmer’s approach unique?

At Glimmer, we believe that the best way to affect sustainable change is to tackle the combination of factors that perpetuate poverty. Rather than focus on a single issue like water or education, our unique model of integrated development means that we work across the sectors that are key to bringing about deep change. Our Ethiopian staff members are development experts with many years of experience in transforming communities through water, education, health and microfinance projects.

Why Ethiopia?

Donna Berber, Glimmer’s founder, was deeply affected by images of the great famine in Ethiopia in the mid-1980s. Seeing those images shook her to her core and planted the seed that would later inspire a vision that would change millions of lives.

A decade later, while living in Austin, Texas with her husband Philip and her three boys, Donna founded A Glimmer of Hope. She and Philip were overwhelmed by the extreme poverty they saw in Ethiopia, but also inspired to create a different way of implementing international aid and development with more efficiency and transparency. Glimmer started with a unique approach to provide a hand up, rather than a hand out, and with an endowment to cover operating costs, to ensure that 100 percent of every donation goes directly to projects in rural Ethiopia.

Why does Glimmer focus on water, education, healthcare and microfinance?

Glimmer has spent more than a decade on the ground in rural Ethiopia. Our experience and the knowledge we have gained from indigenous Ethiopian development organizations has shown us that the integration of these four sectors addresses basic needs and provides those living in extreme poverty with the best chance of improving their lives. Additionally, these four sectors encompass much more than their names alone suggest. Learn more about what is included in each type of project Glimmer undertakes.

Does Glimmer work with Ethiopian staff and experts?

Glimmer hires Ethiopian staff as development experts to work with our regional Ethiopian partner organizations to construct all of our water, education and health projects and to manage our microfinance loans. Our project officers are based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.

Our partner organizations, in turn, are staffed with their own technical and field experts who provide valuable local expertise, help select project site locations and then implement the projects. Working together, they handle the day-to-day management of Glimmer’s projects and ensure sustainability.

How does Glimmer decide where to work in Ethiopia?

Ethiopia is divided into nine regions, and Glimmer works to transform villages in the four most populated regions: Amhara, Oromia, Southern and Tigray.

See a map of where Glimmer works.

At Glimmer we believe the greatest impact happens when we go deep, instead of wide. In a country filled with so much need, this means we do not go into a village and build a single water well. Instead, with the help of local experts, we carefully select the villages with the most need and invest deeply in projects that will work together to create lasting change.

With over 10 years of experience working to end extreme poverty in rural Ethiopia, we have seen that, like the deepest problems, the best solutions are complex and multi-faceted. Through clean water, health, education and microfinance loans, we are able to transform entire communities.

How long does it take to complete a project?

Our projects usually take 12 to 18 months from start to completion. There are a number of factors — including the rainy season and road conditions for vehicles and equipment — that impact the timeframe of our projects. We also ensure that each community is trained and ready to take on management of a project before we consider our work complete. Learn more about Glimmer’s process in our How We Work section.

What is a microfinance loan?

Microfinance loans ($100-$300) provide women and men with the help needed to start or expand a small business. This seed capital allows a budding entrepreneur to purchase a sewing machine, buy bulk materials for resale, or open a stall in a market, creating a revenue stream with which to repay the loan and accrue savings. Repayment rates are typically close to 98%, and funds are re-lent back into the community, thereby creating continuous opportunities for growth. A microfinance loan can completely change a family’s life.

Glimmer also provides loans specifically for irrigation projects. Micro-irrigation loans help farmers diversify crops, create income, and turn fields of rock and rubble into fields of green. These loans empower farmers to purchase equipment like drip irrigation kits, which provide a steady supply of clean water to crops. This equipment helps to potentially yield two or three harvests per year instead of the usual one harvest.

Does Glimmer support nonprofit causes in Austin, Texas?

Glimmer’s headquarters are based in Austin, Texas. While deeply devoted to their work in Ethiopia, founders Philip and Donna Berber quickly recognized the need within their own community, where nearly one in five residents lives in poverty. In particular, they saw the potential for empowering innovative grassroots nonprofits that were already demonstrating initiative — groups that were often using money from their own pockets to provide much-needed services to the underserved in their communities.

In 2003, A Glimmer of Hope Austin (affectionately called “Glimmer Austin”) was born with a commitment to support these startup groups. Since then, Glimmer Austin has distributed over $5 million in grants. The Glimmer Austin team has sourced, mentored and groomed over 140 nonprofits and programs — benefiting nearly 100,000 Austin residents. Learn more about Glimmer Austin at

Does Glimmer provide grants or donations?

Glimmer does not accept grant applications or provide donations. We work exclusively in four regions of Ethiopia to implement multi-year programs in strategically selected rural communities. We work with locally-based partner organizations to implement our water, health care, education and microfinance projects. By focusing on long-term programs in rural Ethiopia, we can create the greatest impact toward our mission.

While A Glimmer of Hope does not provide grants, if you are an Austin, Texas-based nonprofit, you may qualify for a seed grant through our affiliated organization, A Glimmer of Hope Austin. Please find more information on the Austin grant application process here.

How can my organization or company partner with Glimmer?

Glimmer works exclusively in four regions of Ethiopia to implement water, education, health care and microfinance projects. If your organization works within our geographic and program areas of focus, please send your information to We will contact you if there is an opportunity for us to work together, but please note that we do not provide grants or donations.

Donating to Glimmer

How can I donate to Glimmer?

We appreciate your support! The quickest and easiest way to donate to Glimmer is by clicking here or by clicking the “Donate Now” button at the top of this page.

Prefer to donate by check or money order? Please mail your donation to:

A Glimmer of Hope
3600 N. Capital of Texas Hwy.
Bldg. B, Suite 330
Austin, Texas 78746

In the memo line of your check, please indicate the campaign, village or sector (water, education, health, microfinance or wherever needed most) that you wish to support.

Are you a foundation, corporation or business interested in partnering with Glimmer? Please email us at

How do you decide what my donation will support?

When you make a general donation to Glimmer, it is especially useful because it allows us to apply funds to villages and programs where funds are needed most right now.

Every donation is assigned to a village and when you share your email address with us, we will send you occasional updates about the specific village your donation is supporting. We want you to experience the impact you are making in Ethiopia.

Note that this process can sometimes take several months as we raise all the funds needed before we break ground on projects in a village.

Can I support a project in a specific area of Ethiopia?

Ethiopia is divided into nine regions, and Glimmer works to transform villages in the four most populated regions: Amhara, Oromia, Southern and Tigray. Glimmer has established relationships with local partner organizations in these four regions, and we work closely with these partners to plan and implement our projects. At this time, we do not work in other regions of Ethiopia.

Visit our village pages to explore areas where Glimmer is currently working and where we have completed projects in the past. If you don’t see the area you are looking for, we would love your support for one of the communities where we are currently working!

In addition, when you start your own fundraising campaign with Glimmer, you have the opportunity to select a geographic area, based on areas where Glimmer is currently working or has plans to work in the near future. Alternatively, you can browse existing campaigns by village or by project type and donate to a campaign of your choice.

How do I stay informed about the impact of my donation?

Keeping our donors up to date on our work is a priority for Glimmer. Every donor will receive email updates about the village where their donation is making an impact, including details about the people whose lives they are helping to transform. Make sure we have your email so you don’t miss a thing!

Donors can also stay up to date on the villages they are supporting by visiting our village pages.

Can I make a donation in birr or another currency?

Donations made on the Glimmer website must be entered in US dollars. You can use an online currency converter to check the current exchange rate.

Are donations to Glimmer tax-deductible?

Yes. As a 501(c)(3) organization, gifts and donations to Glimmer are tax-deductible. Online donors will receive an email tax receipt, and those who donate by check, money order or wire will receive a mailed tax receipt.

When I donate to Glimmer, is my credit card information secure?

Rest assured that your credit card information is secure when you donate to Glimmer. All credit card processing is handled through our secure payment provider, Affinipay, which is fully certified and compliant with all PCI standards for secure transactions.

Why isn’t my donation showing on the campaign I donated to?

When you donate to a fundraising campaign with Glimmer, your donation should appear on the donation list on the campaign page. If you don’t see it there, please check your email for a donation receipt from Glimmer and forward it to us at so we may help you.

Getting Involved

How can I support Glimmer’s work?

Make a donation – 100% of your contribution will go directly to projects in Ethiopia. to donate to Glimmer.

Start a fundraising campaign – Harness the power of your network and raise money to support projects in Ethiopia. Click here to start a campaign.

Browse existing campaigns – Not ready to start your own fundraising campaign, but still want to help? Support an existing campaign!

Spread the word – One of the most important ways you can support Glimmer is to tell someone else about our work! Share our work on Facebook or in person with your friends and family.

Can I travel to Ethiopia and volunteer or work with Glimmer?

Glimmer's staff and partners work at full capacity to oversee and implement our projects in the field, so we are not able to coordinate travel or volunteer work. We do share news and stories about our work on our website and by email. Sign up to receive occasional email updates on Glimmer’s work.

Is Glimmer hiring?

Visit our jobs page to learn about any current job or internship opportunities at Glimmer.

Does Glimmer provide internship opportunities?

Yes — Glimmer interns are critical to our movement. Our staff is driven by the cause to help women and children living in extreme poverty in Ethiopia and we are often looking for energetic, hard-working interns to join our close-knit team in Austin, Texas. If you’re interested in using your skills to help fight poverty, we want to hear from you. Visit our jobs page for more information.

Online Fundraising Campaigns

How do online fundraising campaigns work?

We would love for you to join us by starting your own campaign on our website! You can create a personalized campaign page and rally your network to support your cause.

Our easy campaign setup process will walk you step by step through picking the project or area you’re most passionate about, setting a fundraising goal, and selecting photos and videos to tell your story. Then, you can share your new campaign page with your friends and family to ask for their support. Get started here!

How do I start a campaign?

Click here to start a new fundraising campaign, or click the “Start a Campaign” button in the main menu at the top of the website. You will be guided through the process of creating your own personal campaign page, which you can share with friends and family.

How do I find a specific campaign?

Visit our campaigns page to search by the campaign name or the campaign owner’s name. (Tip: Try typing one or two words from the campaign name, or just the campaign owner’s first or last name; you’re more likely to find results.)

If you still can’t find the campaign you’re looking for, it may be private. This means the campaign owner must send you the link. If you know the campaign owner (or someone else involved with the campaign), contact them and see if they will provide you with the link. Or you can contact us at

What is a team?

A team is made up of your special supporters who build fundraising campaigns of their own to help you reach your goal. For example, if you set out to raise $10,000 for education and two of your friends offer to help you out by raising $2,500 each, they can go to your campaign page and join your “team” and set up their own fundraising campaigns in support of yours. Every dollar they raise will “roll up” and count toward your total. Inviting friends and family to help this way is a great way to meet your goal!

Can I make changes to my campaign after I create it?

Yes. Simply go to your personal campaign page and make sure you are logged in (you will need to use the log-in you created when you first set up your campaign). At the top of your page, you will see two tabs: “Edit my page” and “View my live page.” Click on the “Edit my page” tab and you will have the ability to change the content on your page. For example, click “Edit text” to change your personal message, click “Change photos” to swap or add photos, etc.

100% Promise

What is the 100% Promise?

Glimmer’s operating expenses are covered by an endowment. This guarantees that 100% of your donation goes directly to projects that help improve the lives of women and children in need in rural Ethiopia. With all of our fundraising and administrative costs covered by the endowment — including credit card transaction fees — we can ensure that every dollar donated goes directly to the field. Learn more about our 100% promise.

How does Glimmer prove that 100% of my donation goes directly to the field?

When we promise 100% of all donations will go directly to the field, we are giving our donors a unique opportunity. You can help those living in extreme rural poverty without wondering how much of your donation will get to the field. It will ALL go directly to fund projects in Ethiopia.

We follow up on our 100% promise with proof. We show all of our donors how their money is spent and where it went. How do we prove it? Email progress reports from every village provide updates on our work in the field. Completion photos show the projects we construct in the villages where we work.

Sign up for email updates from Glimmer to receive news and stories from the villages where your support is transforming lives.