I know you’ve heard of Black Friday, and probably Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday too. But there is also a “Giving Tuesday” now! In all the capitalist hoopla of the weekend, it’s easy to forget about giving rather than just savings and deals. One of my favorite holiday gifts (both to give and receive) is a donation to a worthy charity.
It seems like the world has gone a little crazy (crazier?) in the last month. Instead of just complaining about what we don’t like, I think it’s a great opportunity to do something about it by giving to charities that support your values. I totally believe in karma — spread some good around, and it will come back to you in ways you can’t even imagine!
If you’re looking for the perfect gift for family and friends, you can make a donation in their name to a charity they value. For example, my mom loves to learn about history, so I could donate to a local historical society, and my dad loves adopting dogs (they have several!), so I could donate to an animal adoption center for him. I would strongly advise you to use a site like Charity Navigator to screen each charity first. You want to know how your money is really being used!
Here are 10 of my favorite charities, and all of these have earned a 4 star rating on Charity Navigator (out of 4 possible stars).
- American Refugee Committee – While the American Refugee Committee has programs around the world, I’m most interested in their programs in Syria. The UN estimates that there are a staggering 12 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria, and ARC is providing water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure in collective shelters, and distributing emergency items for people who have fled their homes but are still inside Syria. You can make a donation by clicking here.
- The PetCo Foundation – The PetCo Foundation is one of the highest-rated animal charities (and surprisingly, several popular animal charities are actually not very highly rated at all). They help pets find homes (over 450,000 last year alone!) and provide grants for things like pet cancer research and therapy animal training. You can sign up for a monthly donation or even buy a calendar for $15 to support the programs (perfect for a gift). Donate by clicking here.
- 350.org – 350.org is a grassroots movement to bring awareness and policy changes related to global warming. They have several specific campaigns right now, including “Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.” They also have some great educational videos on their site, where you can learn more about the science behind global warming. Donate by clicking here.
- The Trevor Project – The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24. They provide educational programs to help teens discuss suicide prevention and safe schools, as well as a hotline for LGBTQ teens thinking about suicide. (Their call volume experienced a 116% surge in the two days following the election.) You can donate to The Trevor Project by clicking here.
- Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation – At just four years old, Alex Scott started a lemonade stand to raise money for childhood cancer research. When she passed away from cancer four years later, she had raised over 1 million dollars to find a cure. The ALSF is one of the top-rated cancer research charities, and money raised goes to research grants as well as programs for families undergoing cancer treatments. Donate by clicking here.
- Be the Match Registry – I joined Be the Match Registry, the international registry for marrow donation, back in 2009 when my friend was fighting Leukemia. Be the Match saves lives my matching donors with recipients around the world, and it’s easy to join the registry. They also provide educational and transport services, and even patient financial assistance. Donate by clicking here.
- The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption – One of the top-rated adoption and foster care organizations, the Dave Thomas Foundation provides adoption education and matching services for kids who desperately need a loving family. They also provide grants to local foster adoption agencies all across the country. Donate by clicking here.
- Doctors Without Borders – The last remaining hospital in rebel-held East Aleppo was destroyed in a recent air strike, and Doctors Without Borders is working to bring medical care to those in need even in this incredibly dangerous area. They have programs around the world, including Haiti, after the recent devastation of Hurricane Matthew. You can donate by clicking here.
- Puppies Behind Bars – This organization trains inmates to raise service dogs for wounded war vets and explosive-detection for law enforcement. I love that Puppies Behind Bars helps both the inmates, who learn to care for a dog and contribute positively to society, as well as those who receive the service dogs.
- Heifer International – I first received a gift from this organization a few years ago from a student, and it’s such a cool idea. There is an entire catalog of animals and produce that you can purchase, and the animal or other gifts are given to families in need, both in the US and in other countries. If you’re giving a charity donation as a gift, you can actually tell the person what you gave (a sheep, a small business loan, etc.) instead of just cash.
If you’ve still got some money left after Black Friday, consider giving to one of these charities or one of your favorites! Hope you all have a great weekend and enjoy getting into the holiday spirit!