3 charities + 3 tips for giving!

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CHRISTMASTREE2018today is giving tuesday! i love this day. it’s a day sandwiched right in between our thanksgiving day, when we are focused on being grateful, and the christmas season when we are focused on loving others. so while every day of the year is a good day to give to charities, it feels like an especially good time to combine those feelings of gratitude and love in a recipe for serving and helping others.

so today i’m sharing a few charities for you to consider as you begin your giving tuesday, and a few tips for giving to your own favorite charities…

charity 1: heifer international

LOVE-TAZA-christmas-day9jfjg-4LOVE-TAZA-christmas-day9jfjg-3every christmas for several years, we have made it a christmas tradition to sit down with our kids and choose animals on the heifer international site. (while you’re still just giving money), it’s a more tangible and easy-to-understand way of giving that our children wrap their heads around. they get really excited about choosing the animals! and we talk about how each animal could help you (milk from this animal to sell to make money for other food, medicine, or tuition for school…eggs from here to do this…babies from these bunnies to do that….). what is also great about this organization is how they support the idea of self-sufficiency, education, and enabling people to help themselves and then teaching them to lift their neighbors and communities with what they have been given. they do a lot with providing basic needs and empowering woman (something we witnessed firsthand in peru) too.

charity 2: save the children

as a mother, this is something near and dear to my heart, helping children who often seem the most vulnerable and innocent. save the children works hard to support kids everywhere they can, sometimes in response to a sudden emergency or natural disaster, sometimes with ongoing programs that fight hunger, lack of education, sexual and physical abuse, and often in response to war, conflicts, and mass migrations. for the many of you that come to my blog to check in from all around the world, this a very international organization too, with a legal presence in many countries around the world. (here is the international site for save the children to choose your specific country site).

charity 3: charity water

life can’t go on without water! it’s hard to survive let alone stay healthy or have time and resources to get ahead unless you have access to clean water and have a way to bring it into your community. charity water is a very efficient organization that has already made a huge impact by bringing cleaning drinking water to millions of people around the world. there are other great charities (like water.org) working to get safe water for drinking and sanitation and, on a related note, many working to get toilets to the millions of people without one, too. whether it’s drinking or flushing, this is one of the absolutely most impactful ways to change someone’s life with a very small donation. water.

also, here is an article i shared a couple weeks ago with suggestions on how to help victims of the fires in california. a lot of people are still really feeling the impact and hurt of that horrific situation, and this article pointed directly to ways we can best help those in california.

tip 1: get your donation matched!

Screen-Shot-2013-12-25-at-1.19.57-AM-540x291tons of companies having matching programs for their employees’ charitable contributions. it’s very possible that the company you work for will give the same amount you give to your charity! and it’s often as simple as filling out an online form with a copy of your donation receipt. so check that out before donating.

tip 2: check up on your charity!

you can use sites like guidestar or charity navigator to see how much of your donation goes to the cause you care about. they have efficiency ratios that show how much of your $1 goes to running the organization vs. how much goes directly to the cause. they have overall scores and rankings, and guidestar even makes it easy to find the tax filings for charities if you are extra worried about what happens to your donation (you can see salaries of their top officers!). try doing a quick search before finalizing your choice!

tip 3: follow your heart!


it sounds so cheesy, i know (but like, hi. have you met me?!), but it’s so important to choose what is important to you and not what is important to others. if you love animals or the environment or fighting human trafficking or advocating for mental health or more religious and political liberty, then give to something for that cause! giving locally to something in your neighborhood or region is a great idea too, since there are always needs right where we live. if you want more ideas, ask your friends and family for how they give to others and support causes (it’s a great conversation to have!). and after you have found a cause, don’t be afraid to share your cause with others. we have chosen to help charities that friends and family have shared with us before, it works! i’m always so grateful to those who shed light on causes they love because it inspires me to learn more about them or think about the causes that are near and dear to my own heart.

bonus tip:

just give! $1 or $10 can go a long way and you’ll be so happy you did. in this midst of all the black fridays and cyber mondays and crazy holiday sales that just keep popping up everywhere for each of us, this is a perfect day to just pause all that and give something, anything!

i’d love to hear in the comments about some of the charities you are working with or have loved supporting in the past.  it’s always wonderful to hear about the great work people are doing around the world! thank you for all you already do. i feel like my readers on this blog are always so on top of things like this year round and i love you for it.

  1. Tania

    As someone who works in a nonprofit, I am a bit baffled by the obsession with “efficiency ratios.” Of course you want your money to go to help an issue you care about, but an organization that spends virtually no money on overhead is likely not performing well – how do you keep good staff and leadership if you pay them poorly? How do you make sure your programs are efficient if you don’t invest in databases and tools that keep things running smoothly. There is such good evidence that a somewhat higher ratio of operations: program cost is actually a sign of a high-functioning nonprofit.
    As for looking at the salaries of people in nonprofit to decide if you want to support it, I’m curious why we don’t look at the salaries of people in tech before we spend $1000 on a phone or camera. We seem sanguine with paying more for gadgets to line the pockets of executives, but somehow we think we should police how much nonprofit employees – who are doing work to make the world better! at much, much lower salaries than if they did something else – so that they earn as little as possible as some sort of badge of honor?

  2. Sarah

    Hey! Just want to point out a typo… you might want to say “fighting human trafficking” instead of just “hunan trafficking. The say the sentence reads now, it sounds like someone would love human trafficking, not just fighting it. A heads up!

    Great post. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Barbara Christiansen

    One thing to add (having worked as a management consultant to charities for 15 years): making contribution decisions based on efficiency ratios can do a big disservice to charities. Charities (like any organization) need to compensate talented people, invest in infrastructure, train employees, etc. There is so much pressure from donors for charities to keep overhead costs down that many charities under-invest in their organization and it ends up limiting the work they can do (or how effectively they can do it). This is a great article that explains this dilemma: https://www.bridgespan.org/insights/library/pay-what-it-takes/nonprofit-overhead-costs-break-the-vicious-cycle

  4. Jeanne

    Naomi, as someone who works in the field of philanthropy, I’m so happy that you are helping to promote #GivingTuesday! Plus, it was started by one of my college classmates. Today I gave additional money to the charities I normally support, my local Children’s Miracle Network affiliated hospital, St. Jude, Sandy Hook Promise and my alma mater. I’ve heard lots of good things about all the charities you’ve listed above, and my daughter’s Kindergarten class is currently collecting money for Heifer Project Int’l, and my parents do what you do with your littles, each year they donate to HPI in honor of my daughters for Christmas!

  5. Alex

    My husband and I try to donate to our local food bank regularly. I love knowing that people in my community have access to food. I know that many food banks have shortages of holiday-related food, like whole/half turkeys, ham, stuffing, etc. We dropped off a turkey before Thanksgiving and it made us so happy to know that families around us had the chance to celebrate, no matter their economic circumstances.

  6. Isahrai

    I work at Puente a la Salud Comunitaria, a nonprofit in Oaxaca, Mexico. We take a holistic approach to finding solutions to 3 very intertwined issues facing rural communities: child malnutrition, drastic climate change effects, and lack of opportunity which leads to a constant exodus of our brightest young people. With our team living and working in the fields of 30 communities, we provide hands-on workshops for nutrition, sustainable farming, and community organizing. We also purchase small-scale farming and commercialization equipment so that micro-enterprises can buy amaranth (a highly nutritious native grain) from farmers and turn them into products to sell throughout our region as well as export. To ensure that our farmers can feed their families the best of their produce, we also offer a buyback program to return a percentage of their crops to them. Finally, we train teenage ambassadors to help lead our workshops and summer camps. This gives them critical knowledge, leadership skills, and a pride in their community which hopefully will translate into their longterm commitment to Oaxaca. Before Puente, I had always worked with large nonprofits (ie. Amnesty International). This small organization has reaffirmed my faith in grassroots organizing. I can see exactly how every dollar is spent and know that every dollar makes a huge difference. If you are looking for a small organization to donate to that supports sustainable farming, healthy families, and empowering youth, I wholeheartedly recommend Puente a la Salud Comunitaria.

  7. I work in development for a small non profit – a Unitarian Universalist church which exists online and has no geographic boundary. 20% of our membership is currently incarcerated and is unable to support us financially. We staff this program completely with part time folks. Each year on #GivingTuesday our theme is #GiveLove. We know that folks experiencing incarceration are likely to be dehumanized and required to work for little to no wages (one member sent us his entire month’s paycheck- it was $14). We let these folks know that they are worthy RIGHT now. GivingTuesday is always a super exciting day for us. Whether or not you choose to give today send a nice message to someone you know working in fundraising. Today is very energizing and also very stressful! To learn more about our organization visit clfuu.org/give-love or worthynow.org

  8. Georgia

    I just love rainforestfoundation.org because not only to they try and protect one of our most valuable nastiest environments but also the native peoples that live there from logging and other threats facing these fragile ecosystems.

  9. Sarah

    One of my favorites is DonorsChoose. I love being able to pick a specific classroom to help— you can support a teacher’s snack drawer for kids who may not know where their next meal is coming from, or buy a set of legos for a low-income Kindergarten class so they can play and create.

  10. LB

    Thank you for sharing Naomi, love posts like this. I truly believe everyone should give to orgs they feel
    passionate about.

    Another idea for this Giving Tuesday consider these orgs focused on helping migrants:
    RAICES, ACLU, Young Center For Immigrant Children’s Rights, Border Angels, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, We Belong Together, United We Dream, Women’s Refugee Commission, ACLU, Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), Human Rights First, and La Union del Pueblo Entero.

  11. stephanie

    Hi, this post really talks to me ! My 5yo Charlotte cried for the dying orangoutans when I takled to her about their fate. This morning she has decided by her own to give up her christmas presents to (virtually) adopt one of them in order to give him a chance to live a decent life ! I almost cried (no, I DID crie), this little girl will change the world with her inner strenght, her soul is pure love and light, she will move mountains with her smile !
    hello from France !

  12. Megan

    Hi Naomi, I love that you’re encouraging action and empathy over apathy from the earliest age, and your kind and generous heart spreads a lot of light in this world. I also wanted to echo what the commenters above have said about efficiency ratios (I understand why it matters to know that the money donors work so hard to earn creates the biggest impact possible). I won’t reiterate what they’ve said, but wanted to add to the conversation.

    So here comes a gentle argument against donating specific items (an animal, shoes, canned goods). Absolutely it’s exciting to think about a direct connection between your donation and impact, but I wish more non-profits were able to let communities and community members themselves determine their greatest needs (maybe it is a goat, but maybe it’s access to legal services, or salaries to train teachers or social workers, or rent to keep a health centre open offering vital services to families). A goat is the right fit for some families, sure, but I wish more non-profits used grassroots models that offered funding to community-based organizations run by local experts who are from the community being served and have the deepest possible understanding of the culture, the true needs and the expertise needed to implement programmes. I think sustainability comes from letting local knowledge lead the way, and believing that people on the ground know what they need better than we ever could. (I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, because I can only imagine how many “your kids aren’t dressed warm enough for the weather” and “don’t breast feed in public” comments you must have fielded over the years. You know what works best for your family, end of story).

    Thanks for reading, and again, not meant as a criticism but food for thought. Giving is personal.

    (In case your computer hasn’t died of exhaustion, one last thing to chew on linked below. I’m going now, I promise.)


  13. Shoshana Gould

    Hi Naomi! Another great organization where your kids can really get involved is Kiva. Their platform allows people to loan money (in increments of $25) to those around the world who need money to start small businesses or go to school, etc. When the money is paid back, you get to choose someone else to loan it to! So, you money is getting recycled over and over again. Its’ really interactive for kids because they can choose who to lend to based on gender, country, loan type, etc.

    I think your family would really enjoy it!


  14. Mary Claire

    My son has been a patient at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in columbus, Ohio for tests and 2 surgeries since he was airlifted there 2 days after he was born. He is 2 now and doing really well thanks to the exceptional care he received there. For the past 2 years, I’ve run the Columbus marathon (half this year) and raised money for the hospital. We created Tram Ernie in honor of my son. Friends and family participated by either running or donating. We’ve raised about $4,000 for this place that means so much to us. I like to say that we learned what love is at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. I appreciate your suggestion to follow your heart. We’ve done that by giving back to the place that has given us everything, and I am forever changed. Team Ernie will be back at the marathon every year! Thanks for your post today.

  15. Laura

    Naomi – Thank you for using your platform form such wonderful causes! It’s clear that you have a giving heart. I supported No Kid Hungry today, which works to feed the 1 in 6 kids in the US facing hunger (disclaimer: I also work there).

    I wanted to echo a few of the other comments on here about efficiency ratios, which are really not a good way to measure impact. There’s a great TED Talk on this topic, here’s a link: https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pallotta_the_way_we_think_about_charity_is_dead_wrong/up-next?language=en

    Happy holidays to you and your family!

  16. https://www.nvcf.org NorthValley Community Foundation is doing amazing work with victims of the Camp Fire here in Northern California. Our community has really been shaken to it’s core, so many people displaced and in desperate need. Love & Thanks!

  17. Elizabeth S


    My friend’s sweet organization that brings help and sunshine to families with children in the hospital.

  18. SM

    No Kid Hungry is a Great Organization.

    Also, it’s not a donation, but I think it’s a great idea to subscribe to as many trusted news sources as possible (WSJ, WaPo, Time, NYT, any trusted news source), even if you don’t read them, since the news industry is in such serious financial struggles now. honest news is indispensable and these platforms are struggling across the board. Also wikipedia.