Our Top 10 Environmental Charities to Donate to this Holiday Season

By Patrick Donohue

The holidays are here again, and the season of giving is upon us. Maybe you can’t think of anything you need, or maybe you’re having trouble thinking about what to get that certain someone that’s impossible to buy gifts for (Lord knows my father has enough ties already to outfit lower Manhattan). Maybe your Secret Santa is a Scrooge, or just maybe you feel the season of giving really means the season of giving back.  Well, what better way to spread Yuletide cheer than by making a donation to a deserving charity?

With thousands of organizations out there, and all those horror stories you hear of ‘non-profit’ CEO’s making 7 figures, it can be tough deciding which charities are worth your time.  Go ahead and lay aside your hesitations, trepidations, and consternations, we’ve got you covered! Here are 10 charities committed to environmental causes that we’ve researched and vetted, so that you can feel confident putting your money where your mouth is.

1)Rainforest Trust– First up is an amazing organization devoted to rainforest conservation, reforestation, and protection of endangered species.  Unlike most other charities, Rainforest Trust’s operating expenses are paid for by board members, so 100% of your donation goes directly to conservation projects.  The trust has current projects underway in rainforests worldwide, from Laos to Madagascar to Peru, and allows you to choose which area you’d like your contributions to be directed towards.  Donate now, and your contributions will be matched dollar for dollar through the trust’s SAVES Project.

Photocred. Rainforesttrust.org

2)The Ocean Conservancy  A venerable heavyweight in marine conservation and activism, the Ocean Conservancy has been working for over 40 years to protect marine ecosystems, clean our waters, and fund research so that we may better understand the Big Blue and the very real problems it faces.  The Ocean Conservancy meets all 20 criteria of the Better Business Bureau’s ‘Wise Giving Alliance’, and has audited financial records from the last ten years readily available on their website.

Photocred. Oceanconservancy.org

3)One Tree Planted– The concept is elegantly simple:  One dollar, one tree. Simple as that.  With project sites around the globe, One Tree Planted works to reforest areas that have been razed due to wildfires and agricultural use.  Since their founding in 2014, One Tree Planted has been able to double the number of trees planted annually, and in 2018 were responsible for 1.3 million trees planted!  You don’t have to dig deep to make a difference either. Donations start at just $1.00, and as I’m sure many of you have already cut down trees to put in your living rooms, what better way to restore karmic balance for the holidays?

Spend some green to see some green. Photocred. Ekohunters.com

4)Coral Reef Alliance- Time for some sobering thoughts.  Coral reefs cover only 1% of ocean floors, but are home to 25% of the world’s biodiversity.  Due to various factors such as global warming, acidification, and pollution, coral reefs are disappearing at an alarming rate, and it is estimated that most reef systems will collapse by 2100 unless carbon emissions are reduced.  Needless to say that non-profits such as the Coral Reef Alliance are vital in these pivotal decades when we still have a chance to correct the course.  The CRA works not only to preserve and protect, but aims to establish ‘adaptive reefs’–that is, reefs that are better able to withstand the threats of ocean warming/acidification in ecosystems worldwide.  Another Charity Navigator 4-star recipient, the CRA is rated excellently in transparency and fiscal management. Donate by December 31st, and you’ll see your donations matched dollar for dollar.

Photocred. Shutterstock.com

5) 350.0rg– Founded by pre-eminent environmental author Bill McKibben (go buy a copy of ‘Falter’ if you really want to knock your socks off), 350.org is a progressive non-profit that takes an urgent, no-holds barred approach to climate justice.  Its aims are clear: end taxpayer subsidies to fossil fuel companies, halt any new ‘dirty energy’ projects, and fight tooth and nail for an immediate transition to a renewable based energy economy.   Want to see what causes your donation will contribute to? Check out 350’s 10 year game plan for the coming decade.

6) Wildlife Conservation Society– No secrets in the name, the WCS is a society that aims to research and protect populations of endangered species in targeted areas on four continents.  The WCS works in partnership with local governments and citizens to rebuild wildlife populations, curb animal trafficking, invest in sustainable local businesses, and above all keep wild places wild. The society also manages the largest system of urban zoos and aquariums in the world (ever been to the Bronx or Central Park Zoos?) The Wildlife Conservation Society boasts a perfect 4 star rating from Charity Navigator, and is currently matching all donations up to $50,000 dollars. Act Now!

WCS Priority Regions Worldwide Photocred. wcs.org

7) Water.org– Here are some facts for you.  Over 790 million people worldwide are without access to an improved water supply, and 2.5 Billion people lack access to improved sanitation.  For over 25 years, Water.org has been a leader in providing support and solutions to communities affected by the global water crisis, and have directed more than 2 billion in funds towards improved sanitation and water treatment solutions. You can feel confident with your donation knowing that every dollar spent creates an estimated $66 dollars of impact.

Do you like Wahta? Photocred. Water.org

8) Acadia Center– Certainly one of the most exciting entries on this list, the Acadia Center is an American organization that develops initiatives and advocates policy designed to transition our energy grid to efficient, renewable sources, and reduce our total carbon output.  Using market-based strategy and data-driven analysis, the Acadia Center uses 21st Century strategy to solve 21st century problems, and has undertaken successful initiatives throughout the Northeast. The Acadia Center lands in the top 1% of Charity Navigator’s rankings for accountability, transparency, and financial health.

Photocred. Acadiacenter.org

9) The Union of Concerned Scientists– Knowledge is power, and the more information that can be researched and published regarding climate change and the tipping of scales, the better prepared we’ll be to face the changing landscapes of tomorrow.  The Union of Concerned Scientists strives to use independent research as the fulcrum by which the levers of public perception and policy shift towards clean energy, sustainable consumption, nuclear disarmament and democratic governance . The UCS has a sterling reputation for transparency (4 stars from Charity Navigator), and refuses donations from corporations or government grants. Blind em’ with science.

Photocred ucsusa,org

10 The Sierra Club– Rounding out this list is the Sierra Club. With 125 years of storied history, the Sierra Club remains an American institution and a testament to the legacy of John Muir.  With over 750,000 million members in the US alone, the Sierra club is the largest Stateside grassroots environmental organization, and is committed to championing causes such as ‘securing protection for 439 parks and monuments, winning passage of the Clean Air and Endangered Species Acts, and putting over 281 coal plants on the path to replacement with clean energy.’  Involvement doesn’t need to stop with a donation either. Become a member of your local chapter, volunteer at an event, and join a group of like-minded folks for one of the many nature outings the club hosts. ‘For in every walk with nature, one receives far more than they seek.’

Yosemite Valley Photocred. Sierraclub.org

There it is folks, thanks for reading.  And if we don’t see you, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukkah, Solstice, Festivus, and a very Happy New Years to ya!!

-The Going Green Gang

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