8 Charities You Can Feel Good Giving to This ‘Giving Tuesday’

Writing a donation check to a charitable organization.
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As the holidays approach, it’s a wonderful time of year to give to charities, recognizing that not everyone has the same means. In 2021, Americans gave a record amount of nearly $485 billion to charitable organizations, according to Philanthropy Round Table, even as inflation has pushed prices to exorbitant highs.

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However, donating money sometimes feels like a gamble. Where can you donate and feel confident that your money is actually going to the cause? Some charities might have a high overhead, meaning your thoughtful donation will likely go toward administrative fees, rather than directly to the problem the charity is trying to solve. Others may have middlemen who take a cut. Here’s a list of charities where at least 90 percent of the organization’s expenses goes to the cause at hand, so you can feel confident donating to them.

Rainforest Trust

Rainforest Trust is dedicated to protecting rainforest land and saving endangered species. According to their website, they’re able to allocate 100 percent of donations for conservation projects because their operating expenses are covered by their board members. Since the organization began in 1988, 99 percent of the rainforests they’ve given funds to have remained intact, and more than 2,000 endangered and vulnerable species have been protected. Recently, they announced that Rainforest Trust will provide $500 million to protect and preserve 30 percent of the planet, particularly in places where there is still great biodiversity.

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DAV (Disabled American Veterans) Charitable Service Trust

DAV is all about giving back to those who have served the United States. The organization helps support physical and psychological rehabilitation programs, provides housing and food to homeless veterans and gives resources to their family members and caregivers. DAV has a 95.1 percent program expense ratio on Charity Navigator. The program expense ratio is determined by dividing an organization’s program expenses by total expenses based on the last three years of records.  

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Operation Gratitude

Operation Gratitude seeks to give back to the people currently serving our country, veterans, military families, first responders, and other healthcare heroes. The nonprofit sent its first care packages to soldiers in 2003, and since then has sent care packages to 3.5 million people. Volunteers can assist in making care packages or writing letters to the populations Operation Gratitude helps. Charity Navigator reported that the nonprofit had a program expense ratio of 94.5 percent, with only 3.2 percent of their expenses being administrative.

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Equal Justice Initiative

EJI provides legal representation to those who have been illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced, or abused in state jails and prisons. The nonprofit also helps perform research for politicians working in criminal justice reform. According to Charity Navigator, EJI has a program expense ratio of 92.4 percent. Based on this calculation, EJI only spends 7.6 percent of their donations on overhead costs. The rest goes straight to the cause, such as opening The Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, which educates visitors on the history of America and and its relationship with slavery.

Ronald McDonald House Charities

Beginning in 1974, RMHC has helped provide medical care for children in need, as well as resources for their families. One of their main services is providing families with a place to stay when they travel for medical care for their kids. Charity Navigator reports RMHC has a program expense ratio of 92.5 percent. On the RMHC website, they expand on this saying 80 cents of every dollar donated goes to their programs. RMHC serves 60 countries and regions and has supported millions of families since their organization began. They have over 380 house programs, 265 family programs, and 40 mobile care programs.

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Animal Welfare Institute

AWI is focused on reducing the harm people do to animals. This includes fighting against practices like laboratory testing, factory farms, harsh transport conditions and many other circumstances that can hurt animals. According to Charity Navigator 91 percent of their expenses are related to serving AWI’s mission. Most recently, AWI has been calling on congress to stop the slaughter of wild horses.

Enterprise Community Partners

Enterprise works to create affordable and equitable housing across the United States. Since the nonprofit was started in 1982, they’ve invested $54 billion and created 873,000 homes in all 50 states. Charity Navigator reports their program expense ratio is 93.5%. These causes include investing $3.5 billion Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and other historically marginalized housing providers to change the types of homes that get built and where they’re built for these communities. 

American Red Cross

Founded in 1881, American Red Cross has been on the frontlines of disaster relief for more than 100 years. The organization also helps conduct blood drives, and provides resources for veterans, active military members and their families. According to Charity Navigator, American Red Cross allocates 90.2 percent of its expenses to programs and services that help serve the community.

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Jordan Rosenfeld contributed to the reporting for this article.

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About the Author

Sam DiSalvo is an LA-based comedian, writer and actor who's performed all over the country. Her written work has appeared in numerous digital publications. As a copywriter, she's worked with a variety of major brands including GoldieBlox and Thrive Causemetics. Sam loves dogs and is currently perusing leisure suits to buy for her corgi mix, Barry
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