34 Reputable Charities to Help This Holiday Season



Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.

Good Cause

As the year draws to a close and the holiday season approaches, many people take the time to support charities that are meaningful to them. There are plenty of notable nonprofits that would benefit from support, from charities focused on protecting endangered wildlife or shining a light on climate change and still others conducting cancer research or helping children living in poverty. Since there's no shortage of challenging issues facing the world, here are some groups on the front lines taking them on in the United States and around the globe that could use support this holiday season — and handle your donation responsibly, according to the Charity Navigator service.

Related: Ways to Give to Charity and Get a Tax Break

Pets for the Elderly

Pets for the Elderly

Loneliness is a serious issue for many senior citizens. Pets for the Elderly operates in 36 states providing much-needed companionship in the form of pet ownership while saving the lives of animals in shelters that might be destroyed if not adopted. The charity helps pay the fees for adoptions from a participating shelter, including the costs of veterinary exams and spaying or neutering. The organization needs monetary donations to help expand.

Related: Free Perks of Owning a Dog

Doctors Without Borders health worker examines a malnourished child
Doctors Without Borders health worker examines a malnourished child by DFID- UK Department for International Development (CC BY)

Doctors Without Borders

Established in 1990, Doctors Without Borders is an international humanitarian organization working in more than 70 countries to help people whose lives are affected by violence, neglect, or catastrophe from armed conflicts, epidemics, malnutrition, and more, including refugees and Ebola victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ways to help include fundraising, volunteering, and participating in advocacy efforts such as calling congressional representatives to urge support for refugees and asylum seekers.

Amnesty International

Amnesty International, USA

A legendary name in the nonprofit world, Amnesty International dates back to 1961. Over the years, this grassroots organization has grown to include around 7 million members and even won a Nobel Prize. Amnesty International works to expose human rights abuses and mobilize public opinion on issues such as gun violence and protecting refugee and migrant rights. Ways to get involved include volunteering, leading efforts seeking donations, and attending events.

Related: Where to Donate for Racial Justice in Your State

Prostate Cancer Foundation

Prostate Cancer Foundation

One out of nine men in the United States get prostate cancer diagnoses. The Prostate Cancer Foundation funds research into preventing the disease and improved detection and treatment — to the tune of about $800 million since its creation in 1993. In addition to one-time donations, it welcomes monthly gifts or memorial gifts to remember a loved one, and sells holiday cards to support its efforts.

Related: The Top 10 Causes of Death for Men and How to Protect Yourself


Hope Loves Company

This tiny nonprofit has a mission of providing educational and emotional support to children and young adults affected by ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, whether in them or a loved one. Most people with ALS live only between two to five years after diagnosis. "I started Hope Loves Company in 2012 in memory of my late husband Kevin, who died of ALS," founder Jodi O'Donnell-Ames says. The New Jersey-based organization hosts six free camps a year, sends Hugs of Hope care packages to children caregivers, and provides free children's books to parents to help them explain the disease. Donations and volunteers are appreciated, O'Donnell-Ames says.



Another iconic name in the nonprofit world, UNICEF supports treatment of children with severe, acute malnutrition and in need of safe drinking water with health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief, and more — last year in 96 countries, aiding around 307 million people, through this organization created in 1946. Support the work by shopping the UNICEF Market for handcrafted apparel and other creations by artisans around the world as presents for the holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, or other occasions. Goods are searchable by price range and country of origin.

Related: Meaningful and Unique Gifts That Give Back


LUNGevity Foundation

LUNGevity focuses on research, education, and support against lung cancer in the United States. It is dedicated to funding scientific research, investment in early detection, and therapeutics helping those getting a diagnosis (one person every 2.3 minutes) live better. In addition to financial donations, there are a variety of endurance events — running, walking, biking, or swimming — supporters can participate in to help raise money.

Related: Ways to Get in Shape While Doing Good

Kenneth Canning/istockphoto

Big Life Foundation

Big Life Foundation works on the front lines of wildlife conservation in East Africa protecting species such as elephants and rhinos from extinction, coordinating anti-poaching teams in Kenya and Tanzania, and engaging local communities in protecting wildlife too — providing a model of how to protect endangered animals for the long term. The organization supports local people through scholarships, employment, and more, selling Big Life merchandise such as sweatshirts, bags, hats, and water bottles for funding.

Related: Places to Safely See Wild Animals Up Close

Guide dog for blind

Leader Dogs for the Blind

Created in 1939, Leader Dogs for the Blind offers tools and training for the blind or visually impaired, for whom a leader dog can mean mobility and independence. The organization even has a summer camp, free of charge to clients. There are a variety of ways to get involved, including sponsoring a leader dog puppy.


Orangutan Foundation International

It has never been more critical to help orangutans, which are at risk from deforestation driven by palm oil production and human development. In Sumatra alone, more than 80% of rainforests have been destroyed, leaving orangutans fighting for their lives from exposure to poachers and the illegal wildlife trade. Orangutan Foundation International was created in 1986 to support the conservation and understanding of orangutans, caring for the animals and rehabilitating ex-captive orangutans so they might be rereleased into the wild. Financial donations help this organization reclaim land and replant rainforest.

Rainforest Trust

Rainforest Trust

Every minute, a staggering 50 acres of rainforest is lost, despite its importance to threatened species and human communities and the fact that it's critical to the well-being of the planet, helping regulate Earth's climate and filtering the air. Established in 1988, Rainforest Trust works to protect rainforest with strategic purchases, focusing on the most severely threatened areas. To date, it has saved nearly 25 million acres in dozens of countries. You can help via monthly giving; the organization also provides teachers with rainforest-themed lesson plans for grades kindergarten through 12.

Related: Rainforest Adventures for Frugal Travelers

Girl in classroom

Plan International USA

Focused on children's rights and equality for girls, Plan International works in more than 50 developing countries trying to end the cycle of poverty. Its efforts focus on such things as strengthening health care systems, improving education, and providing fresh, clean water. One way to get involved is sponsoring a child, which includes sending birthday presents, educational gifts, and holiday toys throughout the year. Donations are also welcome to programs such as education, disaster relief, and recovery.

Folded American Flag

Folds of Honor

After witnessing the flag-covered casket of Cpl. Brock Bucklin being carried off of a commercial flight to family members, Lt. Col. Dan Rooney decided he had to do something to pay tribute to U.S. service members and their families. Rooney went on to establish Folds of Honor, a nonprofit dedicated to providing scholarships to the families of fallen and disabled soldiers. To get involved, give a one-time or recurring contribution, or you can even donate a car.

Related: Veterans Who Are Making a Difference

Feeding Baby deer

Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center

One of the smaller organizations on this list, the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center is eastern Long Island's only wildlife hospital. The not-for-profit organization rehabilitates wild animals affected by human encroachment on their habitat, helping waterfowl, raptors, turtles, deer, foxes, snakes, and more. The center has grown from just a few people to more than 3,000 members and supporters. Volunteer opportunities include transporting volunteers, volunteering in the center, educating animal handlers, symbolically adopting an animal, and more.

Related: Small Ways to Donate That Have the Biggest Impact

American Red Cross

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross, founded by Clara Barton in 1881, is one of the leading emergency response organizations in this country — in fact, the American Red Cross responds to an emergency every eight minutes. A staggering 90% of its workforce is made up of volunteers, meaning there are plenty of ways and opportunities to get involved, whether by working a blood drive or traveling for disaster relief. You can also buy Red Cross gifts to help support the work.

Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation

Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation

Another opportunity to honor the sacrifices of the nation's military, Children of Fallen Patriots provides college scholarships and educational counseling to military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty. Nearly 20,000 dependents have been left behind by troops killed in the line of duty over the past 35 years, by some counts. Created in 2002, Children of Fallen Patriots now provides college scholarships to Gold Star families in all 50 states and accepts donations to keep them going.

Related: Veterans Benefits You Don't Want to Miss

Childs Shoe

Shoes That Fit

Shoes That Fit was created to provide athletic shoes to children in poverty — which is one in five children in the United States — to boost self-esteem, encourage physical activity, and improve behavior and school attendance. The organization, which began in Claremont, California, in 1992 has provided more than 2 million pairs of shoes and other necessities to children across the U.S. Ways to help include establishing a volunteer chapter, participating in corporate volunteering, or making a donation.

Goats Eating

Heifer Project International

Heifer Project International seeks to defeat hunger and poverty by giving people livestock donations and mentorship. The nonprofit works in 21 countries and has helped some 30 million families since being established 75 years ago — and each participant who gets livestock passes on the gift by giving their animal's first female offspring to someone else. Ways to help include monthly donations, buying items from Heifer's gift catalog, or providing funding for such things as a flock of chicks for a family, or a community animal health worker kit.

children's hospital

enCourage Kids Foundation

Created to "humanize health care" for children and their families, the enCourage Kids Foundation works to support kids during medical treatment. To date the nonprofit supported 286 hospitals across 41 states and Puerto Rico. Founded in 1985, enCourage Kids now serves more than 1 million children each year. Ways to help include fundraising, planned giving, in-kind donations, and sending a teddy bear to a sick child.

Old Woman Manicure

GlamourGals Foundation

This organization, founded by a high school junior, focuses on fostering intergenerational relationships and decreasing elder isolation in a unique way: sending teen volunteers to provide free beauty help to seniors in residential care, since as many as 60% of the 1.4 million seniors in residential care programs nationwide get no visitors. GlamourGals' more than 1,300 volunteers work in 18 states. In addition to volunteering, ways to help include donating, hosting a fundraiser, or attending a GlamourGals event.

Related: Ways for Older Relatives to Stay Connected With Loved Ones While Social Distancing

Charity: Water

Charity: Water

One in 10 people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water. Charity: Water aims to change that. One hundred percent of public donations to this organization founded in 2006 goes to its local partners in developing nations and is used to build sustainable, community-owned water projects — about 59,608 projects so far. Ways to get involved including starting your own fundraising campaign, making a donation, or sponsoring a community.

Confident black woman outdoors holding a rainbow flag
Michele Pevide/istockphoto

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is the only accredited national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to the LGBTQ population under 25. Programming includes a free 24/7 lifeline, confidential and secure instant messaging service for LGBTQ youth, and a chatline messaging service offering live help from a trained specialist. There's also an online support center with resources. Ways to help including volunteering to help with those TrevorChat or TrevorText services, donating, fundraising, and more.

Related: Small Towns Known for Being LGBTQ-Friendly

installing solar panels

The Great Plains Institute

As climate change becomes increasingly pressing, The Great Plains Institute works to make a low-carbon future a reality. Though based in the Midwest, this nonprofit works across the nation to organize people around clean energy solutions. "Five sectors make up 90% of the emissions that contribute most to climate change, and GPI works on solutions to decarbonize each one of those areas: transportation, electricity, industry, buildings, and forestry and land use," says Gail Nosek, communications director for the organization. The public can support these efforts with a one-time or recurring donation.

Related: Energy Conservation Myths You Can Start Ignoring Now

Wildlife Conservation Experience

Wildlife Conservation Society

The Wildlife Conservation Society aims to inspire action on protecting the planet's wildlife and its wild places, both of which are diminishing rapidly. A charity that dates back to 1895, WCS focuses on global conservation, education, and management of urban wildlife parks, including the Bronx Zoo. The organization manages about 500 projects across 60 countries. Becoming a member helps support the organization's efforts and mission.

Rainforest Alliance
FG Trade/istockphoto

Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance tackles a variety of pressing issues, including food and farming — given that agriculture drives about 80% of tropical deforestation each year. It also works to protect wildlife and address climate change by promoting sustainable economic development. There are many everyday actions you can take to support these efforts, including making conscious choices to reduce your environmental impact. It's also possible to support the organization more directly by donating, buying its products online, and by looking for certified products when shopping (a green frog symbol indicates an item made in an environmentally responsible way).

Related: Products to Help You Use Less Plastic



Earthjustice likes to say it's the lawyer for planet Earth. Engaged in the environmental movement since 1971, this nonprofit organization works on a variety of fronts, including protecting natural places and wildlife, promoting the use of clean energy, and fighting climate change. Get involved by donating, hosting an event, and more.

Sea turtle

Ocean Conservancy

Another longtime presence focused on environmental efforts, Ocean Conservancy is on the frontlines to protect the ocean and its creatures. Key efforts include restoring sustainable U.S. fisheries, protecting wildlife from human impacts, conserving special ocean places, and reforming government for better ocean stewardship. You can help with a donation.

Related: Companies That Are Doing Good Deeds With Your Dollars

Volunteer at an Animal Shelter

Operation Kindness

The original no-kill animal shelter in North Texas, Operation Kindness has worked to save and rehabilitate more than 105,000 dogs and cats since 1976 — last year securing homes for 4,375 animals through partnerships with 40 municipal shelters. In addition to donating to the organization, you can buy items from its Amazon wish list or enroll a Kroger Plus card to support Operation Kindness when shopping. There are also volunteer and pet fostering opportunities.

Yosemite National Park

The Nature Conservancy

Established in 1951, The Nature Conservancy protects some 125 million acres and more than 5,000 miles of river around the world, as well as working on more than 100 marine conservation projects around the planet. Its efforts encompass climate change issues, battling invasive species, and providing fresh water. Donations help advance science and safeguard nature.

Related: Ways to Help Others on Giving Tuesday

DAV (Disabled American Veterans) Charitable Service Trust

DAV (Disabled American Veterans) Charitable Service Trust

The Disabled American Veterans organization offers a range of free, important services to wounded veterans, including helping them access health care and disability benefits. It also has an employment program designed to connect transitioning active duty, National Guard, and reserve members and their spouses with potential employers. Over the course of its century in operation, the organization has completed more than 11.7 million claims for veterans. Help by donating money or a car, or by becoming a corporate partner.

Food donation

Robin Hood Foundation

Excessive wealth is on display everywhere in New York City, but the metropolis also has more than 1.5 million residents living in poverty. The Robin Hood Foundation answers this challenge by partnering with poverty-fighting nonprofits and with its own programs as needed. It also operates a 9/11 Relief Fund. Ways to help include donating, volunteering, and participating in the New York City Marathon with Team Robin Hood.

Wildlife Alliance seized more than 3 tonnes of Ivory from Mozambique in cooperation with the Cambodian Authorities.
Wildlife Alliance seized more than 3 tonnes of Ivory from Mozambique in cooperation with the Cambodian Authorities. by Andyb3947 (CC BY-SA)

Wildlife Alliance

The Wildlife Alliance provides on-the-ground protection of The Cardamom Rainforest, one of the last intact rainforests in Southeast Asia, and engages in wildlife rescue and care, including combating wildlife trafficking. Founded in 1994, the organization also works on reforestation and to educate local communities. Support it by sponsoring an animal or giving a one time or recurring donation.


Kids Around the World

Kids Around the World is a religious charity that operates a variety of programs, including providing meals and building playgrounds in poverty-stricken communities. Since 1994, the nonprofit has built more than 920 of them and shipped more than 35.1 million meals. Ways to get involved including hosting a meal-packing event, joining a mission trip, and making a donation.

Related: The Best Playgrounds in America

Free Wheelchair Mission
Free Wheelchair Mission by Shihmei Barger 舒詩玫 (CC BY-NC-ND)

Free Wheelchair Mission

The Irvine, California-based Free Wheelchair Mission is a faith-based nonprofit that aims to provide the gift of mobility to people with disabilities in developing nations. To date, the organization has provided more than 1.2 million wheelchairs to those in 93 countries around the world, distributing an average of around 200 chairs each day. Ways to give include making a one-time or recurring donation, giving via a stock transfer, or starting your own online fundraiser