Our Founding Story

When the images of the great Ethiopian famine emerged in the mid-1980s, Donna Berber was shaken to her core. When Donna attended Live Aid, the global concert that brought attention to the devastating famine that claimed millions of victims, the seed was planted that later inspired a vision that would change millions of lives.

Commitment To The Most Vulnerable

Years later, after the Berber family moved to Texas, the call within became too loud to ignore and Donna was compelled to take action. From that, A Glimmer of Hope was born in 2000 with the mission to improve lives in Ethiopia. A few months later, the Berbers found themselves in a position to do a great deal more than they had originally planned. Donna's husband, Philip, sold his Internet brokerage company, and the couple decided to invest a significant portion of the earnings into Glimmer.

Listening To The People

Donna then took her first trip to Ethiopia to research how to effectively support the most vulnerable. Philip saw the impact on Donna and visited himself to hear more directly from Ethiopians. While overwhelmed by the extreme poverty they witnessed, the couple was also struck by the dignity and joy of the people. Inspired by the experience, Donna and Philip began developing plans to create a new and improved way of implementing international aid and development with more efficiency and transparency. At that time, many of the existing NGOs in Ethiopia were focused around the capital city of Addis Ababa, and little was being done to help those struggling in the countryside. It was important to the Berbers to go where no one else was willing to go, to help the people with the greatest need.

An Innovative Solution To Ending Poverty

Powered by Donna's vision and Philip's business acumen, Glimmer's new model for community development took shape. With an endowment to fund all operations, they established Glimmer with the promise that all donor funds would go directly to projects. Glimmer employs a full staff of Ethiopian development experts and works with indigenous development partners to address the systemic needs of the people through an integrated approach.

Tremendous Progress & Infinite Opportunity

Since 2000, Glimmer has grown tremendously. To date, Glimmer has invested $110 million and completed more than 10,000 projects—impacting the lives of more than 5 million people in rural Ethiopia. As active board members, Donna and Philip's vision continues to guide Glimmer to lift communities out of extreme poverty and offer the most vulnerable populations the resources they need to build a better future.

We all share in this responsibility.
–Donna Berber, Glimmer Founder

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Austin, Texas

In 2003, while deeply devoted to their work in Ethiopia, the Berbers recognized the need within their own community of Austin, Texas, where more than 250,000 people live in poverty. The Berbers saw the potential of empowering grassroots nonprofits that were already taking the initiative and often using money from their own pockets to provide much-needed services to the underserved in their communities. Today, Glimmer Austin invests in innovative local nonprofits and organizations that care for and uplift those who suffer from homelessness, hunger and poverty. Learn more at glimmeraustin.org.