End-of-Year Giving – Donate to Worthy Causes

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giving seeds sprouts

I suppose the definition of ‘worthy’ can be subjective, but since this is a blog about green living, I define ‘worthy’ as ‘progressive’. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of progressive non-profits doing good work for the environment, education, food safety and human rights.

Year-end donations help them out, and you also get a tax break. I am not going over all the tax benefits here. Read these tips from the IRS, and talk to your accountant.

Looking at your own community

To donate, first look at your own community. I’m sure you have an animal shelter and a food bank. How about a homeless shelter or a safe haven for battered women? Your region or state probably has a Farmers Market Association, and most likely there are non-profits protecting the environment. The charter schools where I live have non-profits set up for fundraising. Money spent at home is well-spent benefitting the local economy, local issues, and you and your family.

Choosing a cause

To think outside your area, scour Charity Navigator. Not all non-profits are listed here – they have to apply – but most of the big ones are. There is a rating system that evaluates financials, accountability and transparency. A series of Top Ten lists show the best and the worst charities according to Charity Navigator’s evaluations. You can browse by category and also find news briefs about the non-profit world and specific organizations.

Nan’s list of worthy causes for end of year giving

Here is a list I compiled through research and talking to friends. Do your homework, ask a lot of questions, and please help them out!

Doctors Without Borders “provides independent, impartial assistance in more than 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters.”

Books for Africa “A simple name for an organization with a simple mission. We collect, sort, ship, and distribute books to students of all ages in Africa. Our goal: to end the book famine in Africa.”

Natural Resources Defense Council “The New York Times calls us ‘One of the nation’s most powerful environmental groups.’ The National Journal says we’re ‘A credible and forceful advocate for stringent environmental protection.’”

Shareable “is a nonprofit news, action and connection hub for the sharing transformation. Mission: To empower everyone to share for a more joyous, resilient, and equitable world.”

Green America (formerly Co-op America) “Our mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.”

Oxfam America “works on the scene, helping people gain the hope, skills, and direction to create a new future. We are also active in the global arena, addressing social injustice through our advocacy, public education, and emergency assistance programs.”

Seed Savers Exchange “Our mission is to conserve and promote America’s culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.”

Freedom to Marry “We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.”

Heifer International “Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth.”

AlterNet “is an award-winning news magazine and online community that creates original journalism and amplifies the best of hundreds of other independent media sources. AlterNet’s aim is to inspire action and advocacy on the environment, human rights and civil liberties, social justice, media, health care issues, and more.”

Organic Farming Research Foundation “has a very clear vision — that organic farming will be the leading form of agriculture in America. OFRF cultivates organic research, education, and federal policy that brings more farmers and acreage into organic production. Founded in 1990, OFRF is a leading champion of American organic family farmers.”

PFLAG “is committed to advancing equality and societal acceptance of LGBT people through its threefold mission of support, education and advocacy.”

Food and Water Watch “works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainably produced.”

Girls Inc. “inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold SM through life-changing programs and experiences that help girls navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.”

Native Seeds/SEARCH “conserves, distributes and documents the adapted and diverse varieties of agricultural seeds, their wild relatives and the role these seeds play in cultures of the American Southwest and northwest Mexico. We promote the use of these ancient crops and their wild relatives by gathering, safeguarding, and distributing their seeds to farming and gardening communities.”

Planned Parenthood “For nearly 100 years, we’ve worked to improve women’s health and safety, prevent unintended pregnancies, and advance the right and ability of individuals and families to make informed and responsible choices.”

Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First “Our mission is to end the injustices that cause hunger, poverty and environmental degradation throughout the world. We believe a world free of hunger is possible if farmers and communities take back control of the food systems presently dominated by transnational agri-foods industries.”

Habitat for Humanity “believes that every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. We build and repair houses all over the world using volunteer labor and donations. Our partner families purchase these houses through no-profit, no-interest mortgage loans or innovative financing methods.”

Farm Aid “promotes a strong and resilient family farm system of agriculture. Farm Aid is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep family farmers on their land.”

Bioneers “The overarching mission of Bioneers is the advancement of holistic education pertaining to global social, cultural and environmental issues. Bioneers identifies progressive yet nature-honoring solutions to rising challenges of instability, inequality, and unsustainable growth and disseminates this knowledge via independent media, events, and community action networks.”

Organic Consumers Association “is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The OCA deals with crucial issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children’s health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability and other key topics.”

Feeding America “is the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. Our mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.”

There are many great organizations that need help to do their work! A generous year-end tax-deductible donation is a win for your favorite progressive cause and yourself. You can donate in someone else’s name as a gift, and you can make payment arrangements to donate year-round.

What is your favorite charity to donate to? Please add it in the comments!

Happy Holidays!

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.