‘Tis the season of giving and all through the town, pocketbooks are jingling with the sound of spending. Hang the stockings with care, wrap up the last of the holiday gifts, and pour yourself a glass of cruelty-free vegan nog. With just a few days left on the calendar, it’s time to squeeze in a little more giving before the year is over. Charitable donations are a great opportunity to give back, helping organizations do good deeds around the globe and offering a little boost come tax time. But with thousands of nonprofit organizations asking for contributions, it can be challenging to figure out where best to send your money. To reduce your load during this already stressful time of year, we put together this charitable giving guide so you can rest assured your hard-earned cashola will help high-impact organizations that make the most of every dollar they raise.
In order to make this list, organizations had to meet a number of criteria. First, we looked for groups focusing their efforts on protecting our Earth and its inhabitants. We also wanted to identify charities that have figured out how to make donations go as far as possible. That’s measured in two ways: the amount of money the organization spends in order to raise money and the percentage of funds raised that go to programs (as opposed to overhead and administrative costs). Monetary donations to each of these nonprofit organizations is tax-deductible in the United States.
1. Earth Justice
Earth Justice was founded in 1971 “because the earth needs a good lawyer.” This non-profit public interest law firm is dedicated to protecting the environment and wildlife, as well as helping build healthy communities. EJ works on nearly every continent, leveraging legal action to garner cooperation from government agencies.
2. Environmental Working Group
EWG is perhaps best known for its “Dirty Dozen” list which reveals the highest (and lowest) pesticide concentrations in conventionally-grown produce. Regular readers of Inhabitat may recognize the organization from a number of past reports, especially related to safety of consumer products like sunscreen and crayons. EWG reports donations received now will be doubled through a matching campaign.
Related: The 6 most pressing environmental problems – and what you can do to help solve them
3. Wildlife Conservation Society
WCS field scientists working in over 20 countries work to protect wild animals and wild spaces. In particular, WCS researchers have been working to combat elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade with the 96 Elephants campaign. In an effort to stamp out ivory poaching, the organization has even enlisted the help of the Terminator to raise awareness about ongoing legislation in the U.S. that might undermine global efforts to end ivory trading.
Ecotrust’s mission is to inspire innovative ways to create economic opportunity, social equality, and environmental well-being. One of its successful projects is FoodHub, an online marketplace designed to connect wholesale buyers and sellers of regionally grown food. That program is one of many Ecotrust backs that empowers individuals within a system that benefits all parties involved.
5. Animal Welfare Institute
AWI works on a very specific type of problem – alleviating the suffering of animals caused by people. That ranges from scientific research to agriculture and from wild to domestic life. Most recently, the organization has been working to further legislation in Congress that would phase out orcas in captivity, putting an end to the suffering exposed in the film Blackfish.
6. The Conservation Fund
The Conservation Fund works hard to protect America’s most important landscapes and waterways. This nonprofit is known for stretching funds far, putting 94 percent of funds towards program costs. In all, the fund reports saving 7.5 million acres of land and water across the United States.
Related: Oil-rich Rockefellers divest charitable fund from fossil fuels
7. Rainforest Alliance
Rainforest Alliance has gained public recognition with their independent certification of common rainforest products, such as chocolate, coffee, bananas, and tea. Producers must meet strict sustainability standards to gain certification. The Alliance also works with foresters and the tourism industry in ecologically vulnerable areas. Their website offers consumer and traveler information, helping us work together to steward some of the most biodiverse, threatened, and globally critical habitats.
For information on these and other charitable organizations, check out Charity Watch, an online directory with ratings calculated by the American Institute of Philanthropy.
Lead image via Shutterstock (modified)