Uncle Al doesn’t need another tie. Grandma loves slippers, but her closet is overflowing with them. What to get the person who has everything this holiday season? Consider a donation to charity in the name of your family member or friend.
The United States has more than 1.54 million charitable organizations, according to the National Philanthropic Trust. But how do you choose an organization to donate to as a gift? First, the charity should reflect the interests of the recipient. For example, Uncle Al might be a veteran who always has supported causes to benefit military members or their families. Remember all of the stage productions Grandma took you to as a child? Maybe a gift to an arts organization would delight her.
Then, once you’ve identified a prospective organization, you can turn to one of the noted websites that provide deeper information about charities to help you determine their financials, activity and legitimacy. These include the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator and Candid’s GuideStar.
Inspired to make a charitable contribution instead of giving a gift this holiday season? Here are some organizations to check out, divided by category, as a starting point, but remember there are thousands of national and local charities that might delight the person in whose name you are making the donation.
- Alley Cat Allies calls itself a “champion for the humane treatment of all cats.”
- The Animal Rescue League of Boston is committed to keeping animals in safe habitats and homes.
- Days End Farm Horse Rescue provides rehabilitation programs for horses as well as community outreach and educational opportunities. The horses come from animal protection agencies from Maryland and surrounding states.
- Last Chance for Animals is an international, nonprofit organization that works to eliminate animal exploitation.
- The Actors Fund assists people who work in the performing arts and entertainment who urgently need help paying for basic living expenses such as food and medications. The organization says it has provided more than $24 million in assistance to 17,000 recipients since the start of the pandemic.
- RxART installs pieces of art in children’s hospital settings to give youngsters, their families and staff uplifting experiences at no charge to facilities.
- TDF strives to make the performing arts accessible to all.
- Based in Los Angeles, Inner-City Arts gives students the opportunity to work with professional teachers in the visual, performing and media arts.
- Make-A-Wish grants wishes of children with critical medical conditions, designed to boost the optimism and resolve of kids and their families.
- Shoes That Fit works to provide athletic shoes to children in need so that they can “attend school with dignity and joy.”
- No Kid Hungry strives to end childhood hunger in the U.S.
- Nebraska-based CEDARS, which works to aid children in crisis, including those kids who can’t stay in their homes because of abuse or neglect.
- The Children’s Health Fund promotes access to healthcare for children and provides support in disasters and public health crises.
- K9s For Warriors aims to improve the lives of military veterans who sustained a traumatic brain injury, suffer from PTSD, or went through other traumas by pairing them with a trained service dog.
- The Gary Sinise Foundation provides a variety of support programs to veterans, active-duty military, first responders and their families.
- Soldiers’ Angels strives to “provide aid, comfort and resources to the military, veterans and their families,” the organization says.
- Honor Flight Network honors veterans with an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to visit national memorials.
- Meals On Wheels America delivers nutrition and a “friendly visit from a volunteer,” the organization says.
- Alzheimer’s Foundation of America supports individuals and families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and also funds research.
- Second Wind Dreams helps seniors to achieve some of their long-held dreams. The group says it fulfills 2,400 dreams a year.
- Pets for the Elderly Foundation serves a dual purpose: providing companionship to seniors and saving the lives of companion animals in shelters.
- The National Council on Aging works to improve the lives of older Americans in a variety of ways. The organization says every dollar donated generates $93 in benefits to those served.
No matter which organization you choose, the recipients likely will be thrilled to know that their names have been attached to a worthwhile cause benefiting others. Making a donation online is easy, so you have plenty of time to pick the perfect charity.
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