A year in review

In a year unlike any other, individuals and families found ways to cope with the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and a deepening of poverty around the world.

At Unbound’s office in Bhagalpur, India, people practice social distancing and wear face masks as they wait to receive assistance. Staff members distributed food packages and face masks to more than 600 families in migrant neighborhoods to help them as they face the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unbound's top 10 stories of 2020


1. As pandemic pulls more into poverty, families push back

With tens of millions of people around the world at risk for falling into extreme poverty — defined by the World Bank as living on less than $1.90 a day — families participating in Unbound programs relied on grit and creativity to keep their livelihoods afloat during the pandemic.


2. Amidst pandemic, a single dad’s struggle for survival

Raising three teenage girls can be tough for any single father in any part of the world, but Diego is doing it in the rural, southwestern highlands of Guatemala amid a pandemic. To 16-year-old Maria and 14-year-old twins Juana and Ana, he’s been their sole provider and protector — and the personal embroiderer for their traditional “huipil” blouses for the last 10 years.


3. Students cope with remote learning

As challenging as COVID-19 made life across the globe, it would have been worse if not for the ability many had to work and study from home because of digital technology. But for nearly half the people on the planet, that ability doesn’t exist.


4. Massive storms impact Central America, Philippines

Three major storms in November affected families served by Unbound in Central America and the Philippines. Hurricane Eta caused widespread damage in Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador while typhoons Goni and Vamco forged paths of destruction the Philippines.


5. Unbound begins working in Rwanda

In an immensely challenging year marked by one setback after another for the human family, people everywhere longed for good news. Unbound, after years of preparation, publicly celebrated the opening of its program in Rwanda, making Rwanda the 19th developing nation with an Unbound program.


6. Pandemic pushes elders further onto society’s margins

Major world health institutions have documented that loneliness and isolation among elders can become a threat to their health. At a time when it’s vital to protect seniors through social distancing, how are organizations that address the challenges of elders able to safely continue their work? Unbound delivers sponsorship benefits to elders through cash transfers and other critical services.


7. Disaster fund brings COVID-19 relief to families

Donors to Unbound’s Disaster Response fund are helping families bounce back from effects of the COVID-19 crisis. Cash transfers are made to individual bank accounts where families receive their Unbound benefits. As of November, $2.4 million had been sent to families severely impacted by the crisis.


8. Mothers defend families from violence and virus

Their experiences with domestic violence and the isolation they felt in seeking help and justice led a group of women in Lima, Peru, to create the “Defensoría de la Familia,” or the “Defenders of the Family.” Now, the coalition comprising 250 mothers representing dozens of neighborhoods across Peru’s capital is finding out that their years of organizing has prepared them for challenges they never could have expected.


9. Unbound maintains highest ratings

Independent charity evaluators once again recognized Unbound with their top ratings. Evaluators took into consideration factors such as the amount spent on programs relative to overhead, performance on accountability and transparency metrics, the organization’s efforts to measure effectiveness, reviews from donors and board oversight. Evaluators included Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, GreatNonprofits and GuideStar.


10. Webinar challenges common biases about people in poverty

The most common mistake anti-poverty organizations make is underestimating the skills and character of the poor. Dan Pearson, director of international programs at Unbound, shared that insight in a webinar entitled, "The Potential in Poverty: Who Should Lead the Way?" The October event was hosted by Unbound for supporters and others interested in learning more about the organization's work.