Here are thirteen charities I give to regularly. Each of them meets the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability established by the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance. If you are looking for a way to help make the world a better place, contributing to any of these organizations is a good start.
1) Goodwill helps "people in need reach their fullest potential through the power of work." The national office supports 165 neighborhood locations and in 2010 alone "helped more than 2.4 million people train for careers in industries such as banking, IT and health care." I am forever impressed by their emphasis on strengthening communities, both through employment and giving new life to affordable, reusable clothes and household items.
2) Feeding America provides "low-income individuals and families with the fuel to survive and even thrive." They run a nationwide network of food banks and support local communities in a quest to end hunger. With the economy as it is, and so many of our neighbors struggling, their work is more important than ever!
3) Save the Children "is the leading independent organization creating lasting change in the lives of children in need in the United States and around the world." They work in the areas health, nutrition, education, emergency response, protection and livelihoods.
4) UNICEF addresses "the needs of children in developing countries." They do important work in the area of preventing HIV/AIDS among children and immunizations against measles, polio, tetanus and TB.
5) Girls, Inc. used to be known as The Girls Club of America. They inspire "all girls to be strong, smart, and bold" through economic literacy, the ability to deflect peer/media pressure regarding drugs and alcohol, celebrating educational achievement, and preventing teen pregnancy.
6) Marine Toys for Tots "assists the U.S. Marine Corps in providing a tangible sign of hope to economically disadvantaged children at Christmas." What more do you need to know?
7) Stand Up to Cancer accelerates "groundbreaking cancer research that will get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives." They also do a lot of work in raising awareness about early detection and prevention.
8) American Diabetes Association strives "to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes." They are do important work on behalf of the 25 million Americans living with diabetes, especially in the areas of education and health insurance.
9) St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital. "By supporting St. Jude, you are helping continue our lifesaving mission of finding cures and saving children." They concentrate on pediatric catastrophic diseases and (this is very important to me) "no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family's ability to pay."
10) ARF, or the Animal Rescue Foundation, was founded by Tony LaRussa when he was managing the Oakland A's in 1990. A stray cat wandered onto the field and was terrified by the roar of the crowd. LaRussa rescued her and tried to find a shelter to take her to, but back in the day, there wasn't a "no-kill" option in the area. After finding a home for the cat themselves, Tony and his wife began working to support dogs and cats by visiting "public shelters weekly where dogs and cats are scheduled to be killed and brings them to its facility. At ARF, these animals are given medical care, spay/neuter surgeries, and then ARF finds them homes."
11) Humane Society of the US works "to reduce suffering and improve the lives of all animals by advocating for better laws, investigated animal cruelty, conducting campaigns to reform industries and (this is very important to me) performing animal rescue and emergency response."
12) American Humane Association works to "create a more humane and compassionate world by ending abuse and neglect of children and animals." In addition to providing emergency relief and adoption services for pets, the AHA are the ones who issue that "no animals were harmed" proclamation at the end of movies and TV shows, ensuring that animals are treated humanely when used for our entertainment. They also run The Front Porch project, which is devoted to family education and welfare to address child abuse before it happens.
13) World Wildlife Fund seeks to reconcile "the needs of human beings and the needs of others that share the Earth." They protect natural areas, plants and animals, including (very important to me) endangered species.
I realize that how you share your resources is a very personal choice. (I was royally pissed off recently when someone very condescendingly responded to a post I wrote about MDA.) I know this list is by no means exhaustive and that there are many, many, MANY other causes that deserve your support. I just wanted to offer up some organizations that use their funds responsibly.
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