Giving the Gift of Giving

By Josie Rubio

It’s true that Americans are tightening their belts in response to grim economic conditions. A Harris Interactive survey found 71 percent of adults plan to spend less this holiday season. But that doesn’t mean charities will be Scrooged: 49 percent of survey respondents also said that they plan to make charitable donations as a gift. Looking for a worthy cause so you can follow suit? Here are 10 organizations that get the thumbs-up from Charity Navigator, an independent charity evaluator.

1. Action Against Hunger This organization commits itself to saving the lives of malnourished children and families, especially those affected by war, conflict or natural disaster. It also ensures communities access to clean drinking water and sanitation, implements health programs, works for humanitarian advocacy and creates infrastructure for self-sufficiency and sustainable solutions. Click to give.

2. American Architectural Foundation Since 1943, this nonprofit has inspired and educated individuals and communities about the effect architecture has on quality of life and well-being. Programs include Great Schools by Design, an initiative to improve the quality of school design in the United States, and the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, a program to improve the livability of American cities. Click to give.

3. American Hiking Society For the outdoorsy type, consider a donation or gift membership to this group that promotes and protects hiking trails through outreach, education and by working for policy and legislation. The $30 Gift Membership includes American Hiker and Backpacker magazines and discounts on hiking gear. Click to give.

4. Cancer Research Institute The only nonprofit dedicated exclusively to scientific and clinical efforts leading to the treatment, control and prevention of cancer, the institute’s goal is to find immune-based approaches to beat the disease. Click to give.

5. Equality Now This groups works to end violence and discrimination against women and girls worldwide, bringing attention to rape, domestic violence, reproductive rights, trafficking, genital mutilation and political participation discrimination. The Women’s Action Network is made up of more than 35,000 members in 160 countries who protest human-rights violations against females. Click to give.

6. Jumpstart This charity pairs low-income preschool children with college mentors for one school year to develop literacy, language and social skills. Bonus: Donations of up to $5,000 made through December are matched by a Jumpstart board member. Click to give.

7. National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts This foundation assists emerging artists at critical junctures in their education and careers in music (classical to popular), dance, film, photography, theater, writing and visual arts. Its youngARTS program has bestowed $6.4 million in awards and $80 million toward college scholarships, helping up-and-coming artists realize their dreams. Click to give.

8. Surfrider Foundation Started in 1984 by a group of California surfers, the foundation now has 80 chapters worldwide working for clean water and beach access and preservation. A Holiday Gift Membership ($44) includes a limited-edition Surfrider Foundation organic T-shirt or tote, a sticker and six issues of Making Waves. Click to give.

9. World Wildlife Fund A donation to this group is the perfect gift for an animal lover. Since 1961, the WWF has worked to protect animal habitats and endangered species and promote sustainable approaches to natural resources. Those who donate $75 or more will receive a WWF ornament. Click to give.

10. The Young Women’s Leadership Network This group creates single-gender public schools and college-access programs across the country. The YWL Girls’ Schools provide first-rate education and the CollegeBound Initiative, which now serves 5,000 students in 10 urban schools, specializes in increasing college enrollment and financial aid for low-income, inner-city students. Click to give.



  1. Great list! Thanks!


  1. […] issues, art and culture, education, health, women’s issues, hunger, homelessness and more. (See “Giving the Gift of Giving” in VIV’s Exclusive Content section for more charity gift […]