AWS Public Sector Blog

Three Nonprofits to Inspire You on World Creativity and Innovation Day

September 8, 2021: Amazon Elasticsearch Service has been renamed to Amazon OpenSearch Service. See details.

At Amazon, our culture of innovation runs deep. It’s always Day 1, which means we are constantly looking around corners for the next big idea to help us innovate on behalf of our customers. From adding new capabilities, such as voice donations with Alexa, to developing over 1,400 new AWS services last year, our commitment to delivering the highest value to our customers is largely driven by our ability to think big.

As we celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Day, we are reminded of the powerful alliance between creativity and innovation, and a third element – technology. Nonprofits and social impact organizations are increasingly looking to this combined approach for solving some of the world’s most pressing issues.

Here are three nonprofits that are employing creativity and innovation for social good:


GameChanger’s mission is to leverage gaming, technology, and innovation to improve patients’ quality of life. Through video games, character-based academic scholarships, and cutting-edge technologies like virtual and augmented reality, GameChanger breaks down barriers for children facing long or short-term hospital stays, and particularly those who are isolated for treatment. It provides an outlet for creativity, intellectual engagement, and social connectedness, regardless of a child’s physical condition.

GameChanger and its subsidiary, ZOTT, work with child life specialists to create personalized experiences for patients, while prioritizing requirements for comfort, safety, and HIPAA compliance. The organization has reached over 20,000 children across 100 hospitals, and seeks to drive further adoption of its technology nationwide.

To support its growing operation, GameChanger relies on a broad range of AWS services, including Amazon EC2, AWS Lambda, Amazon S3, Amazon Elastic Transcoder, Amazon Aurora, Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), Amazon Route 53, Kibana, Amazon Elasticsearch Service, and Elastic Load Balancing. These solutions help GameChanger improve performance, scalability, and security, among other features.

To get involved, you can start by donating your video games, gear, or time, to support GameChanger’s important work.


National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a Berkeley, California-based nonprofit, believes that everyone has a story to tell and that everyone’s story matters. Each year, NaNoWriMo offers people worldwide a chance to realize their creative potential by challenging them to write 50,000 words of a novel in the span of a month. It provides a platform for creativity, a variety of online writing tools, and a vibrant community of supporters and resources, to help participants achieve their creative goals.

However, with an IT team of two, NaNoWriMo faced challenges in managing an online community of more than half a million people. It sought support from AWS CloudFormation, Amazon RDS, and Amazon EC2 to autoscale its website to meet sharp spikes in demand, while minimizing costs. Services such as AWS CodeDeploy, AWS Identity and Access Management , Amazon Simple Email Service, and AWS Certificate Manager also allayed concerns about managing security and infrastructure, freeing up focus for strategic projects. NaNoWriMo can now feel confident in the ability of its web application to support its growing community of writers.

Discover more about how NaNoWriMo can help everyone tell their unique story.

The SPARK Team

The SPARK Team began in the garage of a passionate volunteer who was determined to bring efficiencies to pop-up medical clinics. Pop-up clinics are frequently found in repurposed school gyms or auditoriums, and rely on volunteer clinicians to provide free medical, dental, and vision care. The clinics are set up for one or two days, and can serve as many as one hundred patients per hour.

First launched on the AWS Free Tier, SPARK developed a patient management system that stores its high volume of patient documents in Amazon S3. This alleviates paper management, frees up storage space, and enables mobile access to help with capacity planning in near real-time, (e.g., accounting for the number of physicals performed, dental fillings completed, and more).

Of the many beneficiaries of SPARK’s innovative system, the Seattle/King County Clinic plans to provide over $3.5 million dollars in dental, vision, and general medical care in October. This is credited to the work of thousands of volunteers, plus SPARK’s new, innovative technology.

Learn more about how SPARK is facilitating access to medical care around the world.

As you prepare to build your next great idea, explore how other nonprofits and NGOs are thinking big with the support of cloud technology.

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