Two strips of white card stuck together to make the outline of a heart; photo via photoshkolnik/Canva.
News + Advocacy

The Ultimate Way To Give Back: 15 Charities To Support

Regardless of whether or not you take part in holidays and observances, like Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Festivus, Christmas or Kwanzaa; this time of year is often an opportunity to focus on giving back, spreading kindness and showing love.

Throughout the month of December and stretching across the Winter season, there’s a noticeable increase in people making charitable contributions. This could be for any number of reasons; from knowing our actions will do something worthwhile; recognising this can be a challenging time for many, or even doing it for an end of year tax benefit — being supportive (altruistically or otherwise) produces a knock-on effect that does something good.

A title graphic for a post available on Transatlantic Notes called, ‘The Ultimate Way To Give Back: 15 Charities To Support’. The background image shows two strips of white card stuck together to make the outline of a heart.

There are numerous organizations, communities and groups who work to provide relief, care and positive transformation within the world; it’s meaningful to celebrate and assist them whenever we can. Giving back, of course, is something that can be done all year round but not everyone has the means to do so. No matter how often we’re able to donate money, time or resources; it’s a worthwhile thing to do. We can also support charities just by raising their profile and sharing information about their work.

Charities You Can Trust

When it comes to donating money or advocating for a particular charity, it’s essential we check they are legitimate and make proficient use of the funding they receive. There’s a lot of information to look through before deciding on who/what to support; however, it’s imperative we identify the difference between a good organization and a bad or scam one.

Some charities adeptly use the money they receive while others spend more on administrative and crowdsourcing overheads than they do on the causes they’re championing. As you would expect, some expenditures are necessary, but we undoubtedly don’t want our hard earned cash going to charities with wasteful or “creative” accounting — or to those that overstate the good they’re doing.

We should always be well-informed about where our contributions are going, including what percentage the organization dedicates to management and fundraising costs (it should be 25% or less). Thankfully, charity checkers can perform this function for us.

To be more transparent, I’ve included ratings from GuideStar and Charity Navigator in this article. GuideStar provides up-to-date information on more than 2.7 million tax exempt nonprofits registered with the Inland Revenue Service (IRS) as well as data on former nonprofits; it uses a bronze, silver, gold or platinum rating. Charity Navigator lists nearly 200,000 charitable organizations and evaluates cost-effectiveness, stability, efficiency and sustainability (also utilizing IRS data); they use a zero to four-star scoring system.

Charities To Support This Season

Action Against Hunger | For more than 40 years, this humanitarian organization has taken decisive action against the causes and effects of hunger. They focus on long-term change that aims to ensure individuals and families can provide for themselves and that their communities thrive.
Geographical Reach: Global
Ratings: GuideStar Platinum | Charity Navigator 4-Star (96%)

Meals on Wheels America | A leadership organization supporting more than 5,000 community-based programs across the country dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger. Serving virtually every community in America; staff and volunteers deliver meals and safety checks that ensure seniors live with independence and dignity.
Geographical Reach: U.S. (with subsidiaries in UK, Ireland and Canada)
Ratings: GuideStar Gold | Charity Navigator 4-Star (97%)

World Institute on Disability (WID)
This disability-led organization is dedicated to advancing the rights and opportunities of more than one billion people globally with disabilities; creating a world in which they live in communities embedded with access, inclusion, equity and resilience.
Geographical Reach: Global
Ratings: GuideStar Platinum | Charity Navigator 3-Star (82%)

A man holding a heart made of brown card hands it to a woman; only their hands are visible.
photo via Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

Earthworks | Since 1988, this U.S. based organization aims to provide solutions that fight against extractive industries that harm the environment; helping communities secure protections for their health, land, water and air. They’re the only group nationally (along with international advocates) to focus exclusively on preventing the destructive impacts of oil, gas and mineral mining.
Geographical Reach: U.S. (with international ties)
Ratings: GuideStar Platinum | Charity Navigator 4-Star (96%)

Rainforest Alliance | An international nonprofit organization comprised of farmers, Indigenous Peoples, companies and consumers committed to developing a world where people and nature exist in harmony. Their work focuses on preserving the forests while also promoting the livelihoods and human rights of those who live and work there; helping them mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis.
Geographical Reach: Global
Ratings: GuideStar Silver | Charity Navigator 4-Star (100%)

Oceana | Dedicated to protecting and restoring the world’s oceans on a global scale; this international advocacy organization seeks to make our seas more biodiverse and abundant by winning policy victories in the countries that govern much of the world’s marine life.
Geographical Reach: International
Ratings: GuideStar Platinum | Charity Navigator 4-Star (94%)

Pollinator Partnership | This is the largest nonprofit organization in the world dedicated exclusively to promoting the health of pollinators and their ecosystems; focusing on conservation, education and research. To date they have protected over 30 million acres of agricultural landscapes and over 280,000 acres of managed timberland to support honey and native bees.
Geographical Reach: International
Ratings: GuideStar Platinum | Charity Navigator 4-Star (90%)

Marine Mammal Center | As the world’s largest marine mammal hospital; this ocean conservation institution rescues and rehabilitates marine animals using its state-of-the-art veterinary facilities and science/education programs. Since 1975, they’ve saved more than 24,000 marine mammals along 600 miles of Californian and Hawaiian coastline (as well as offering global outreach).
Geographical Reach: U.S. (with global advocacy)
Ratings: GuideStar Platinum | Charity Navigator 4-Star (95%)

Make-A-Wish America and Make-A-Wish International | This foundation creates unforgettable experiences for children with critical illnesses between the ages of 2.5 and 18 years old. Working to fulfil wishes based on individual dreams; this nonprofit manages to provide moments of fun and joy for children and their families.
Geographical Reach: U.S. and International
Ratings: GuideStar Platinum | Charity Navigator U.S. 3-Star (79%) International 4-Star (90%)

A woman holds a box with and inscription on it in blue lettering that reads, “Donations”.
photo via Liza Summer/Pexels

Pay Away the Layaway | This organization’s mission is to help families pay off their Christmas layaway balances; easing the financial burden that buying presents at this time of year can bring. Layaway is offered by various big-box retailers and is essentially an installment payment plan that spreads purchase costs over weeks or months.
Geographical Reach: U.S.
Ratings: GuideStar Gold | Charity Navigator (currently unlisted)

Dig Deep | A human rights nonprofit working to ensure every American has clean, running water — forever. While most Americans take access to this utility for granted, more than 2.2 million still don’t have basic plumbing. Through locally led water projects that leverage community experiences and resources; this organization advocates for real change.
Geographical Reach: U.S.
Ratings: GuideStar Platinum | Charity Navigator (currently unlisted)

Dress For Success | A global nonprofit that helps women to achieve economic independence by providing them with professional clothes that facilitate success in interviews; equipping them with confidence and knowledge for the workplace.
Geographical Reach: International
Ratings: GuideStar Platinum | Charity Navigator 3-Star (89%)

Malala Fund | Established by Malala Yousafzai, this organization fights for quality education for girls around the world; supporting activists and advocates who challenge local policies and practices that prevent girls from attending school.
Geographical Reach: Global
Ratings: GuideStar Platinum | Charity Navigator 4-Star (100%)

The Trevor Project | An incredible organization that provides suicide prevention and crisis intervention to LGBTQ+ youth. Confidential assistance and trained counselors are on hand to support users and provide encouragement and guidance. 
Geographical Reach: U.S. (International with TrevorSpace)
Ratings: GuideStar Silver | Charity Navigator 4-Star (99%)

Equal Justice Initiative | A nonprofit that seeks to reform the criminal justice system and eradicate racial bias. Not only does this organization investigate/expose unsafe prison conditions, it assists people who have been wrongfully convicted or given excessive punishment. It also educates about America’s history of slavery and the direct contribution this has had on the current state of unequal criminal justice.
Geographical Reach: U.S.
Ratings: GuideStar (currently only listed) | Charity Navigator 4-Star (100%)

Hopefully reading this list has encouraged you to give back in some way and share the remarkable work that these charities are doing. Every gesture (no matter how big or small) makes a difference — and that’s something worth being a part of!

Which organizations do you support? How are you making a difference during the holiday season?


Further Info:

How to Help This Winter – Coalition for the Homeless

The 10 Pet Products That Animal Shelters and Rescues Need Most This Winter – Chewy

35 thoughts on “The Ultimate Way To Give Back: 15 Charities To Support”

  1. I always make charitable donations this time of year. I’m fortunate to work for a company that matches donations so double the impact. I support the local food bank, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at my church, the local United Way, and The Terry Fox Foundation.

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  2. This is a good list of American charities. I tend to have 5 or 6 charities I contribute to regularly and appreciate when the have a 2 or even 3 times match of my own contribution. I find that monthly giving is a great way to give to your favourite charities as it maximizes my donation with hitting the pocketbook hard at the end of the year! Thanks for sharing Molly!

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    1. A lot of them are global or international in their work so their reach is considerable; it’s amazing to me all that they achieve and it’s great to highlight them here. It’s so great to hear you give regularly; I bet they make good use of the funds they receive (and to know that you’re making a difference)!

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  3. It is great when we can support charities that help others. It’s important to do the appropriate research. I love that you can support the environment, animals, and other people. I’m a big supporter of cat rescues. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Such an important post you have shared Molly! Christmas can be a lonely time of year and it’s important to donate (if we can) to help other people too and give back. x

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  5. That’s a lovely suggestion to remember charities at Christmas. I do have a handful that I support throughout the year, and I always try to top up and donate a little extra during the festive period. Every little helps!

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  6. This is wonderful! I’m glad there are ways to check to make sure your money is being utilized properly. I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Marine Mammal Center a few years ago and it’s what inspired my journey towards being more sustainable! My favorite charities to support this time of year are local food banks and animal shelters. I’ll keep these other charities in mind! Thank you for sharing Molly!

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  7. This is a great thing to share at this time. Especially since most people don’t know what charities actually donate the money they collect, or have ethical issues tied to them etc. If we can, it’s so important that we help others!

    Miriam | A Hygge Escape

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  8. I love giving back during the holidays. Pre-pandemic times I would pack food for low income families in my community and donate new toys to kids. It always feels good to give back to others.

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  9. What a lovely post! Definitely a great one to do and one which you’ll feel great after doing. Such great charities, I never heard of Pay Away the Layaway but sounds really good. Will have to look into it more! Thanks for sharing.

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  10. Thank you for this amazing list of charities! I like to give to charities occasionally but it can be hard to know which are genuine and will put the money to good use. There are so many here that I hadn’t heard of before but they are definitely causes I’d like to support.

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