‘Tis the season for giving, and giving to charity is the perfect way to help those in need – while also helping yourself to a tax break. But how do you know which charities are the best? There are thousands of great charities out there doing amazing things with donated money, but there are also shady charities that are just out to get your money.
We’ve constucted a list of a few charites by category, so no matter what area you’d like to help in, know that there’s a legitmate organization waiting for you!
FOR ANIMAL LOVERS
1) World Wildlife Fund
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) allows animal lovers to donate money to help species of wild animals. A $55 donation allows you to help wildlife while also earning you a small animal plush of your choice, photo, adoption of certification, species card, and gift bag. This charity is a fun one if you are looking to give a donation in lieu of a gift, since the WWF donation comes with a little gift.
2) Wildlife Conservation Society
As one of the best animal charities, the Wildlife Conservation Society uses its donations to help save wildlife and habitats throughout the world. Founded in 1895 — then named the New York Zoological Society — this animal charity uses science, conservation efforts and education to make a difference. By 2020, it aims to conserve the largest wild places on Earth in 16 priority regions, which is home to more than 50 percent of global biodiversity.
Headquartered in the Bronx, N.Y., 85 percent of the charity’s fiscal year 2016 expenses were spent on programming for its parks — the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and the New York Aquarium — and the field.
3) The Humane Society of The United States
The leading animal advocacy organization in the country, The Humane Society of the United States helps more than 100,000 animals per year. The nonprofit’s work includes animal rescue and care, animal advocacy, and providing training and services to local shelters and rescue groups.
Some of the Humane Society’s top accomplishments include lobbying to make malicious animal cruelty and dogfighting a felony in all 50 states, lowering the euthanasia rate for healthy, adoptable cats and dogs by 80 percent since the 1970s and working with several leading department stores and designers to go fur-free.
FOR CHILDREN IN NEED
1) Angel Tree
A Christian based organization, Angel Tree believes that every child has a story. For 2.7 million children in the U.S., that story may be filled with the abandonment and loneliness that comes from having a mom or dad in prison.
Angel Tree® is a program of Prison Fellowship, reaches out to the children of prisoners and their families. This unique program gives you an opportunity to give back by helping to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the families of prisoners.
2) Toys For Tots
Take your family to shop for a less fortunate child, and you’ll teach your kids valuable lessons on thankfulness, empathy and charitable giving. Purchase a new toy and take it (unwrapped) to a Toys for Tots drop-off location between October and December.
One or more members of the U.S. Marine Corps will distribute the toys to children in your community.
3) Playtime Project
The Homeless Children’s Playtime Project is a Washington, D.C based organization that partners with local family shelters and temporary housing facilites. While the Play Project is alway’s seeking on site volunteers, monetary donations are accepted as well. Learn more about The Homeless Children’s Playtime Project here.
1) True Colors Fund
An estimated 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT, often because they were rejected by their families after coming out. Homeless LGBT people often report having trouble finding shelters where they feel safe being out, so overtly LGBT-friendly shelters are critical. The True Colors Fund, which was co-founded by Cyndi Lauper, provides training and education for service providers like homeless shelters and soup kitchens across the nation on how to become safe, identity-affirming places for LGBT youth in need.
2) The Ali Forney Center NY
Ali Forney, was a gender-nonconforming teen who fled his home at 13. He entered the foster care system where he was bounced around to several homes, and was beaten and abused. Ali ended up living on the streets at the age of 15. Ali was dedicated to helping other young people and publicly advocated for the safety of homeless LGBT youth. Tragically, in December of 1997, Ali was murdered in Harlem—shot in the head and left for dead.
The organization was founded in his honor in 2002; assisting nearly 1,400 youths per year through a 24-hour Drop-In Center which provides over 70,000 meals annually, medical and mental health services through an on-site clinic, and a scattered site housing program. See how you can help here.
3) The Trevor Project
Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.
FOR THE ELDERLY
1) Meals On Wheels
Meals on Wheels ensures that millions of homebound senior citizens are fed throughout the year, and that during the holidays, participating senior citizens are fed special holiday meals. So definitely give back to the elderly this holiday season with a Christmas dinner they can enjoy.
2) National Council on Aging
The NCOA is a government organization that partners with other nonprofit organizations and businesses to help provide resources and solutions to make aging easier on seniors in the United States. They offer educational resources and tools to help seniors find and take advantage of the benefits available to them in addition to advocating for seniors’ concerns at a policy level. You can see the many ways you can give to the NCOA here.
3) Senior Santa
Home Instead Senior Care’s “Be a Santa to a Senior” program partners with local non-profit and community organizations to identify seniors who might not otherwise receive gifts this holiday season. The company then works with local businesses and retail stores to help facilitate the purchase and distribution of gifts by placing trees and ornaments within their various locations.
FOR THE HOMELESS
1) Robinhood Foundation
Last year, NYC based Robinhood invested $129 million in 200 of the best poverty-fighting organizations. Learn more about the organization and hw you can contribute here.
2) The National Alliance to End Homelessness
The National Alliance to End Homelessness is a nonpartisan organization committed to preventing and ending homelessness in the United States. Focussing on homelessnes prevention and housing assistance, The Alliance provides capacity-building assistance to help communities turn policy solutions and proven best practices into viable, on-the-ground programs.
3) Bowery Residents’ Committee
The BRC helps people with low income, who are homeless, hungry, chemically dependent, psychiatrically disabled, aged and persons with HIV and AIDS. They provide a comprehensive array of services, including health care, vocational rehabilitation, AIDS services, community education and advocacy.