The 30 Best Charities to Donate to in the US (2021)

| 13 min read Crowdfunding

If you’ve decided that you want to financially support a cause that’s close to your heart, the next step is finding a legitimate nonprofit that will use your funds to make a lasting impact. But sorting through dozens of nonprofits to verify their credibility might take hours. Doing good shouldn’t be hard, which is why we’ve rounded up the 30 best charities to donate to. Whether you’re looking for coronavirus charities or charities doing environmental work—and everything in between—our list has a nonprofit for every cause. 

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The five best COVID-19 charities to support

While the below charities have always done powerful work, they have now made it their mission to fight COVID-19 and support the individuals and communities who have been affected. This list gives details on some of the best US charities  to donate to during the coronavirus pandemic. 

1. World Central Kitchen 

World Central Kitchen (WCK) has served over 25 million meals to the hungry since 2010, and now it’s tackling emergency food relief during a global pandemic. Working in dozens of cities, it provides over 250,000 fresh meals each day to those without access to food—and it’s doing this by working with restaurants directly to help them keep their doors open while also nourishing people in need during COVID-19. 

2. Crisis Text Line

When people need to talk to a crisis counselor ASAP, Crisis Text Line offers free 24/7 support. Anyone can text 741741 from anywhere in the US to be connected to a trained crisis counselor, which is an especially helpful resource for people struggling with anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

3. Heart to Heart International

Heart to Heart International has shipped medical supplies to over 131 countries and given over $2 billion in aid to the less fortunate. To help curb the spread of COVID-19, it has created Stay Healthy kits that include standard hygiene products, but also gloves, masks, and bottles of hand sanitizer.

4. The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund has been helping those in need since its inception in  1911. When COVID-19 swept the globe, the Neediest Cases Fund launched a special fundraiser for coronavirus relief. Donations to this fund will be used to directly support four other nonprofits on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.  

5. Relief International

This nonprofit works in 16 different countries to provide food, education, and medical care to “people in the world’s most fragile settings.” Now, its workers are building isolation and treatment centers in refugee camps for COVID-19 patients, delivering care packages to the homes of refugees, and opening more health clinics. 

Our list of 25 other top charities to support

From the best children’s charities to the best disaster relief charities, our list has a nonprofit for just about every cause.

1. Best animal charity to donate to: American Humane

Founded in 1877, American Humane has spent well over a century caring for animals both large and smile, wild and domesticated. Your donations help animals find shelter, urgent care, and forever homes. The organization also focuses on promoting bonds between animals and humans.

2. Best cancer charity to donate to: Cancer Research Institute

The Cancer Research Institute funds research on immunotherapy treatment for all types of cancer. Its programs include training for emerging cancer researchers, clinical research, and public education initiatives. In fiscal year 2019, the organization spent 87 cents out of every dollar donated on its programs. 

3. Best place to donate to if you can’t pick just one charity: GoFundMe Causes

You might be unsure of which charities you’d like to support, but you’re passionate about the urgent issues of our time. GoFundMe’s newest way to take action, GoFundMe Causes, can help you maximize the impact of your giving by directing your tax-deductible donation to verified fundraisers and charities in different cause categories. These categories are Justice & Equality, Basic Necessities, Learning & Education, Animal Rescue, and COVID-19 Relief. Whether you donate to one cause or to all five, you’ll receive updates on how your donation is impacting the causes you care about the most.

Related reading: Giving Made Easy: Five Causes You Should Care About in 2020

4. Best legal aid charity to donate to: The Innocence Project

More than 365 innocent individuals in the US have been exonerated thanks to DNA evidence. The Innocence Project fights for justice by re-examining cold cases with new DNA evidence and freeing those who were wrongfully convicted. The nonprofit also aims to reform the criminal justice system to prevent future wrongful incarcerations.

5. Best veterans charity to donate to: Hope for the Warriors

Hope for the Warriors provides what it calls a full cycle of care to service members, veterans, and their families. It focuses on health and wellness, fostering a sense of community, and providing support for those transitioning from military to civilian life.

6. Best women’s health charity to donate to: Center for Reproductive Rights

This nonprofit envisions a world where every woman is treated as an equal and is free to make crucial decisions related to her own reproductive health. Its attorneys fight both nationally and internationally to give women access to birth control, safe abortions, and reproductive care.

7. Best education charity to donate to: Scholarship America

When high school students dream of going to college but can’t afford the steep costs, Scholarship America steps in to lend a hand. The organization dedicates an impressive 96% of its cash budget to programs directly related to sending individuals to college, like scholarship funds, college readiness programs, and financial aid education.

8. Best disaster relief charity to donate to: Operation USA

From ongoing earthquake recovery in Ecuador and Nepal to programs for Native Americans in South Dakota, Operation USA delivers aid to all corners of the globe. The nonprofit has worked in 100 countries since 1979, focusing not only on disaster relief and reconstruction, but on helping and educating underserved communities.

9. Best Alzheimer’s charity to donate to: The Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association aims to fight and cure Alzheimer’s Disease from all sides. Donations fund Alzheimer’s research and clinical trials and help connect individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s to care in their communities. The organization also advocates for Alzheimer’s research nationally and at the state level.

Related reading: Three Ways to Cover the Cost of Alzheimer’s Disease

10. Best LGBTQ charity to donate to: The Trevor Project

The ultimate goal of The Trevor Project is to end suicide among LGBTQ people under 25 by providing them with counseling and education. It offers young people support with trained counselors via phone, text, and online chat. Every $1 donated allows people to get one more minute of counseling.

11. Best environmental charity to donate to: World Resources Institute

The World Resources Institute is a research organization that goes beyond research to create solutions to sustain our natural resources. The nonprofit works in over 50 countries to address the topics of climate, food, water, energy, cities and transport, and forests.

12. Best leukemia & lymphoma charity to donate to: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Finding a cure for blood cancer is just as important to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as supporting those already diagnosed with cancer. This 501(c)(3) has invested over $1.2 billion in research for clinical trials, and it also supports those already diagnosed with cancer through financial assistance, support groups, and access to live information specialists on their website.

13. Best immigration charity to donate to: The National Immigration Law Center (NILC)

This nonprofit has defended the rights of low-income immigrants in the US since 1979. It works to provide immigrants access to health care and fights unconstitutional immigration policy. The nonprofit also works to educate the public on the impact new laws would have on vulnerable immigrant groups and low-income immigrants.

14. Best civil rights charity to donate to: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

The ACLU has been defending the constitutional rights of individuals for almost 100 years. Whether it means fighting for LGBTQ+ rights or ensuring that women are able to make their own choices about their reproductive health, its mission is to protect the civil liberties of every person in the US.

15. Best senior citizens charity to donate to: National Council on Aging

One in three older adults doesn’t have economic security, according to the National Council on Aging. It then becomes increasingly difficult for older adults to address their own health concerns. The organization’s goal is to improve the health and financial situations of 10 million senior citizens by 2020.

16. Best children’s charity to donate to: Prevent Child Abuse America

This 501(c)(3) charity proudly designates 94% of its of its cash budget to programs that directly relate to its mission of stopping child abuse and neglect in the US. Prevent Child Abuse America uses donations to run parent education programs and to advocate for federal policies that promote children’s health and safety.

17. Best government accountability charity to donate to: Government Accountability Project (GAP)

The Government Accountability Project is a non-partisan group that protects and advocates for whistleblowers, or people who expose wrongdoing at private firms and in government. In partnership with other justice nonprofits, in October 2020 the GAP launched the Democracy Protection Initiative to represent whistleblowers who speak up to protect our democracy. 

18. Best homeless charity to donate to: National Alliance to End Homelessness

The National Alliance to End Homelessness wants to see a world where homelessness is a distant memory. It focuses on trying to shape federal policy and finding solutions to end homelessness, like short-term rental assistance programs and community education.

19. Best HIV/AIDS charity to donate to: Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR)

The goal of the Foundation for AIDS Research is to find a cure for HIV/AIDS. The foundation has invested over $550 million since 1985 in scientific HIV/AIDS research, public education, and public policy research.

20. Best wildlife charity to donate to: Africa Wildlife Foundation

The Africa Wildlife Foundation strives to protect endangered wildlife and their habitats across Africa so wildlife can continue to thrive. Along with combating illegal poaching and trafficking, the organization helps with economic development and community empowerment throughout the continent.

21. Best women’s rights charity to donate to: Global Fund for Women

The Global Fund for Women proudly calls itself and its supporters champions for equality. From setting up the first women’s fund in Nepal to funding secret schools in Afghanistan, this bold organization strives to empower women and girls around the world and ensure they are granted basic human rights.

22. Best international aid charity to donate to: charity: water

According to charity: water, one in 10 people don’t have access to clean drinking water. The organization hopes to change these stats by bringing clean and safe drinking water to developing countries. It has already funded over 29,000 water projects around the world.

23. Best hunger-relief charity to donate to: Action Against Hunger

Over 800 million people go hungry every day, according to Action Against Hunger. They hope to fight malnutrition and food crises in over 20 countries with help from donations.

24. Best hearing impaired charity to donate to: Hearing Health Foundation

The Hearing Health Foundation researches hearing loss and tinnitus with the aim of preventing these conditions for good. It also focuses on creating inclusive opportunities for those with hearing loss, tinnitus, or other hearing disorders.

25. Best mental health charity to donate to: Mental Health America

Founded in 1909, Mental Health America helps Americans understand, prevent, and treat mental health issues that can interfere with their overall wellness and ability to live a full life. They also educate Americans about mental health issues through their online hub of information and tools.

People who used crowdfunding to help charities

Thousands of people have used crowdfunding to support causes they’re passionate about. Here are just a few examples of individuals who made a real difference.

COVID-19 Mutual Aid Network

In response to the economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles–based grassroots organizations, individual organizers, and affiliated movements have started a mutual aid group to assist Angelenos in need.

The COVID-19 LA Mutual Aid Community Network delivers groceries and household essentials to residents in Los Angeles County. The volunteer network is preparing to offer services like running errands, childcare, and mental health support for individuals and families who are negatively impacted by the pandemic.

A six-person fundraising team partnered with local nonprofit People Organized For Westside Renewal to steward the COVID-19 LA Mutual Aid Community Network GoFundMe. The group started its GoFundMe in March 2020, and has already raised over $490,000 to help folks in the Los Angeles community. 

Dawn to Dusk Environmental Walk

Ella is organizing a fundraising walk to raise money for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy nonprofit that raises money to protect ecosystems internationally and in the US.

Ella, her friends, and interested community members plan to walk sunrise to sunset around her home of Westchester County, a suburb of New York City. On her last fundraising walk, the group trekked an impressive 27 miles. Ella has almost reached her $1000 fundraising goal, and any funds raised will go directly to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

In This Tent Together

In San Francisco, there are almost 5,200 unhoused people who live on city streets.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, organizer Chelsea Ann realized that these unhoused individuals also needed a way to safely shelter in place. In response, her team is raising money for the Coalition on Homelessness, a nonprofit that organizes homeless people to protect the rights of the homeless and fight for housing justice. The Coalition on Homelessness distributes tents to provide some shelter for San Francisco residents who are unhoused.A $25 donation buys one tent. So far, the In This Tent Together team has raised over $12,500. 

Raise money for your favorite cause with charity fundraising

Ready to take action? Charity fundraising through GoFundMe is an easy way to make a difference.

If you’re wondering why GoFundMe is among the top charity fundraising sites, here are just a few reasons:

  • We offer an easy fundraising platform, which means that more of your donations can go to your cause.
  • Our simple platform means you can set up a fundraiser in just a few minutes.
  • If you create a certified charity fundraiser, we’ll send all funds directly to your charity. There’s no need to manage any of the funds yourself.
  • We make it easy to share your fundraiser with all your contacts through email and social media.

Discover charity fundraisers on GoFundMe for inspiration, or take a look at this list of our favorite charity blog posts:

Do good by giving back to a cause you care about

Not everyone has the funds to support their favorite charity. If charitable giving isn’t in your budget, starting a fundraiser through GoFundMe can give you the opportunity to give back. Sign up to create your fundraiser today and start raising money for the best charities to donate to.

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