Suggestions for year-end donations?
I’d like to make some donations to environmental groups before the end of the year. Do you have any suggestions?
There are countless environmental organizations that are worthy of your generosity. Many of these groups simply cannot exist without private donations.
Before you whip out your checkbook or hit the PayPal donation button, it’s wise to do a little due diligence on the charities you are considering. Some key things to check:
- Is the non-profit is registered appropriately with the IRS?
- What is its mission? (and is that what you want to support?)
- Does the non-profit have a good rating and/or good reviews?
- Do they spend most of their money on programs, not on salaries and administrative costs?
Two main sources you can use to check out non-profits include:
Guidestar and Charity Navigator.
Guidestar is used by many foundations and institutional supporters. Although Guidestar has a paid premium subscription, you can get a lot of useful information for free, including whether the group is registered with the IRS as a non-profit, their mission statement, financial reports, donor reviews, etc.
You can search Guidestar for categories, including “Environment and Animals.” This search results in 7 sub-categories including: “Beautification and Horticulture,” “Conservation and Environmental Education,” etc. Guidestar covers non-profits of many different sizes. Here is an example – their entry for the Xerces Society.
Charity Navigator is more oriented to the individual donor (you!). They focus on larger non-profits and do not cover as many small charities as Guidestar does, but you will find a good number of organizations on their site. You can search based on categories including “Environment.” The results for “Environment” include: 270 “Environmental Protection and Conservation” and 109 “Botanical Gardens, Parks and Nature Centers.”
Charity Navigator offers rating scores on a scale up to 100 – a quick and easy way to evaluate important criteria like financial accountability. Some of the features on their website require that you sign up, but it’s free. Here is an example – their entry for the Pollinator Partnership.
I can always recommend donations to organizations like the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, your local native plant group, the Xerces Society, Pollinator Partnership, Beyond Pesticides, the Audubon Society, etc. Don’t forget to support your local and regional organizations, in addition to national groups.
Here are some helpful links to lists of environmental non-profits:
A Guide to Environmental Non-Profits from Mother Jones.
25 Environmental Agencies and Organizations from Web Ecoist.
National Resource Defense Council
Donations to environmental groups also make great holiday gifts for your family and friends.
Happy holidays from Kim Eierman at EcoBeneficial!
Photo: Chipping Sparrow on a Christmas Tree
Photo credit: Flickr_Distant Hill Gardens
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