• Thu, Dec 12 - 10:00 am ET

10 Non-Scammer Charities You Can Give To This Christmas

donateAs cheesy as it sounds, giving is truly the reason for the season. I really love donating to a good cause throughout the year, but now that I have kids, holiday charities tug at my heartstrings even more. I can’t even imagine some kid not getting a gift on Christmas or not having food to eat on a holiday like Thanksgiving.

Of course, you don’t have to have kids to give to a charity. You just have to have a heart, people! So, we all agree that giving is good—but there is a catch… What about those jerkhole charities that are either total scammers or siphon all their donations to pay for a CEO’s summerhouse in the Maldives? The most recent scammer story to make headlines was of the viral poverty mom that received close to $62,000 in donations via GoFundMe.

If you’re anything like me, you’re gonna want to do your charity research before you plunk down some cold hard Christmas cash. You can check out a few resources, like BBB Wise Giving Alliance Accredited Charities and CharityNavigator.org. You can also consult the non-scammer charity list below to get some ideas. ‘Tis the season!

1.    Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America

Big Brothers Big Sisters has an A+ rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy. You can support them by donating or volunteering to give a little bro or sis a sense of family during the holidays—and the rest of the year too.

2.    Coalition for the Homeless

Homelessness is a year-round issue, and it becomes even more heartbreaking around the holidays. The Coalition for the Homeless has a Holiday Toy Drive leading up to Christmas and is also rated A- by the American Institute of Philanthropy.

3.    Crossroads Urban Center

Crossroads Urban Center of Salt Lake City, Utah, provides those in need with an “alternative to poverty” during the holiday season (and the rest of the year too). Bonus: The organization’s non-greedy CEO only makes $57,000 a year.

4.    First Book

I’m a big supporter of First Book myself because I love reading and writing, durr. 97 cents of every dollar donated goes to providing kids with books to promote literacy and a love of reading. Also, you should donate because Oprah says so—First Book was recommended by O Magazine.

5.    GiveDirectly

GiveDirectly is a brilliant concept that allows you to give directly to the “poorest possible households” in Kenya and Uganda, with 90% of donations going directly to charity recipients.

6.    Greenville Humane Society

Furry kids need holiday love too. The Greenville Humane Society is one of the highest rated animal-rights charities at Charity Navigator—it also happens to be the largest no-kill shelter in Greenville.

7.    Habitat For Humanity of Spartanburg

Habitat For Humanity is a good cause in general, but Habitat For Humanity of Spartanburg stands out with an impressively low CEO salary of $52,000 per year, as listed by Charity Navigator.

8.    Midwest Food Bank

Food banks and holiday cheer go hand-in-hand. The Midwest Food Bank is the highest rated food bank/food pantry on Charity Navigator. It boasts a perfect score in Accountability & Transparency.

9.    Modest Needs

This charity makes so much sense to me because so often people get stuck in a bind and don’t know where to turn for help. Modest Needs funds emergency expenses to keep families out of poverty. Modest Needs also has a perfect Accountability & Transparency rating at Charity Navigator.

10. National Alliance to End Homelessness

I can’t think of a better Christmas gift than giving a family a home for the holidays. The National Alliance to End Homelessness has an A+ rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy because donations go directly to the cause—putting an end to homelessness.

(photo: Getty Images)

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  • robbie

    What a great article and a great subject choice for the holidays! Kudos, Mommyish and Bethany Ramos!

  • Kay_Sue

    Our state released their Angels/Scrooges list, and there was a charity on there that actually used less than 1% of its contributions for outreach programs. WTF? Thanks for the handy reminder of the organizations that are doing right by people.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Okay, EW. That makes no sense at all.

    • Kay_Sue

      Yup. Really gave me a whole new appreciation for the posts like this that A) bring publicity to charities that are doing right and B) create an awareness that there are people out there just looking to make a buck off of someone else’s goodwill.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I always end up having a knee-jerk reaction to people that may be “in need.” The viral poverty mom post is a perfect example because I probably would have given to her too if I had read more about her beforehand.

      Because of my husband’s skepticism, I really do try to research charities more instead of just giving blindly. I’m always floored when people are total scammers because I just don’t see it coming.

  • Rachel Sea

    I’m donating to the local library’s adult literacy program. Low literacy is a huge hurdle that prevents people from escaping poverty.

  • ChopChick

    One more–I hope you guys don’t mind. I am not part of this organization, but have worked with it and they have helped me get some of my clients who are victims of domestic abuse get status in the US so they can leave their abusers.

    We talk a lot here about feminism and domestic violence issues, this organization directly helps some of those who are the easiest to victimize.

    You often hear of people getting married to US citizens or permanent residents. The spouse often says they will help them get a green card but then becomes very abusive and tells them they can’t leave otherwise the victim will be illegal and will get deported. The person sustaining the abuse therefore feels like they can’t leave the marriage without being deported. You also hear of people who are victims of crimes but are afraid to go to police for fear of being deported. Well, there is a solution: part of the Violence Against Women Act is visa status conferred based on abuse sustained by spouses of non-citizens as well as for people who assist police in prosecuting crimes against them.

    ASISTA is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that furthers the rights of immigrant women and children who are victims of these crimes. ASISTA’s co-founders helped create the special laws for immigrant survivors of crimes and are the primary liaison with government agencies that implement those laws. They act as a great resource for the on the ground attorneys who are actually working on these cases, talking to immigration about any problems and helping attorneys with really complicated cases. ASISTA also works closely with grassroots immigrant women’s organizations and other national groups to develop strategic, coordinated approaches to furthering the rights of immigrant women.

    http://www.asistahelp.org/

    • Bethany Ramos

      This is a great suggestion, thanks so much. I’ll definitely look into this for my personal donating.

  • Jordana

    This is great! I am donating to a sea turtle rescue charity in my daughter’s name as one of her gifts, and I think it really teaches kids a valuable lesson. Great article – great ideas!!

    • Bethany Ramos

      That is such a sweet idea – I’ll put it on my list for the future. :)

  • SusannahJoy

    I donate to Kiva. It’s a lot of fun because you can pick who exactly the money goes to, and you could keep donating the same money over and over again without it costing you anything (it’s a loan system, so you get the money back).

  • NPpromoter

    I think it is unfair to assume that nonprofit workers that earn greater than a certain dollar amount are greedy. Nonprofits are variable in size–for a nonprofit that has an annual revenue of $150,000, $57,000 (a low amount in your opinion) for a CEO is excessive–accounting for 38% of revenue . Whereas an organization with a $500 million dollar revenue a CEO earning $150,000 only accounts for 3% of the revenue. The CEO’s of nonprofits earn very little compared to their for profit counterparts, but oftentimes have comparable credentials. Is it unreasonable for them to earn a fair wage considering the scope of their responsibilities? What you should ask, is do you want a person that is making only $57,000 a year handling a budget of millions of dollars? The nonprofit sector is incredibly complex and to narrow it to who gets paid what is not good practice. Additionally, overhead expenses are necessary–think about utilities, buildings to run programs, staff, etc. These are all critical for the success of a nonprofit organization. There are countless nonprofits that fall outside of this list that are deserving of contributions and do a great deal of good.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I really agree with what you’re saying, especially in being compensated for running such a complex organization. I based some of my info off this Charity Navigator list, “The low salaries help these charities, which have earned at least two consecutive 4-star ratings, devote more than 80% of their budgets to their programs and services.”

      http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=topten.detail&listid=92#.Uqtjh_QVpM4

      You made another great point: “There are countless nonprofits that fall outside of this list that are deserving of contributions and do a great deal of good.”