Charitable Giving: 35 Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

With Black Friday on the horizon, a lot of folks have shopping on the brain, and this seemed like the perfect time to talk about an alternative to all of that consumption: charitable giving.

I don’t know about you guys, but we have so much…stuff. I mean, seriously. We’ve got so much stuff that we don’t always have a good place for it. It’s displayed on shelves, stashed in drawers, stuffed into closets, and shoved under beds. Do we really need more stuff this holiday season? I’m all for giving someone that perfect holiday gift – that thing you know they’ve been wanting all year but won’t treat themselves to – but so often, making a holiday gift list feels more like coming up with something to give for the sake of giving.

Related Reading: Have a Handmade Holiday

Back when my husband and I first got married, my mother-in-law started giving me a charitable gift in my stocking every year: she donates a bee colony through Heifer International. I look forward to that bee colony every year – it feels good knowing that instead of another tea towel or cookbook, part of my holiday haul is going to help people who really need it.

You can do this as a person’s sole gift or just as part of their holiday presents, but donating to a charity in someone’s name feels like it’s much more in the spirit of the holidays than hitting the mall for mass-produced products that clutter our homes and eventually fill our landfills.

When I started working on the list that’s on the next page, it was going to be 15 ways to give back. Then it became 22 ways. Wait, no…30 ways. There are so many organizations that need our support so they can help make this world a better place that all told I came up with a list of 35, and really it could have gone on and on. If there’s an organization you care about that you don’t see listed, feel free to leave it as a comment!

Up Next: 35 charitable organizations

charitable giving

35 Charitable Organizations

This list includes a lot of charities that are very close to my heart. I wish I could afford to give to every single one of them this season! Remember, if you don’t see your favorite charity listed, you can leave it in the comments – let’s spread some love this holiday season!

Just like when you’re shopping, you want to keep your recipient in mind when you’re choosing a charity as a holiday gift. Is your giftee an animal lover? A foodie? What cause would be close to his or her heart?

1. Your local food bank. Feeding America has a searchable database to help you find a food pantry in your area.

2. The Humane Society

3. Hurricane Sandy Relief

4. Charity:Water’s 100 Wells for the Holidays

5. Planned Parenthood

6. The Animal Welfare Institute

7. Farm Sanctuary

8. Performing Animal Welfare Society

9. Heifer International

10. Wildlife Conservation Society

11. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation

12. Cancer Research Institute

13. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

14. Children’s Defense Fund

15. Child’s Play

16. American Civil Liberties Union

17. Environmental Working Group

18. Food and Water Watch

19. Center for Biological Diversity

20. Earth Justice

21. The Environmental Defense Fund

22. Friends of the Earth

23. League of Conservation Voters Education Fund

24. Natural Resources Defense Council

25. Rainforest Action Network

26. Union of Concerned Scientists

27. Center for Community Change

28. National Alliance to End Homelessness

29. Amnesty International

30. Human Rights Watch

31. The Hunger Project

32. CARE

33. Clinton Foundation

34. The Sunlight Foundation

35. American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research

Do you give charitable gifts over the holidays? Leave a comment telling us your favorite organizations to support!

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Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago


Lynn D.
Lynn D.3 years ago

Great causes! You can give a lot closer to home also! Thanks!

Stella Gamboni
Stella Gamboni3 years ago

There are many good causes but you need to make sure you are giving to a worthy organization.

I find that is an excellent resource to learn which charities are most effective in applying my donations to the causes they serve.

Jacqueline Fonseca

I plan on sponsoring rescued animals in my nieces names for their Christmas presents.

Dominica Romeo
Dominica Romeo3 years ago

good one

Winn Adams
Winn Adams3 years ago

Don't go into debt to give gifts to friends and family. Make a donation to a charity you believe in and make it in their name. How many "things" do we need??????????

a             y m.
g d c.3 years ago


Shanti S.
S S.3 years ago

Thank you :-)

Sheri J.
Sheri J.3 years ago

Donating blood always helps too.

Lauren Senior
Lauren S.3 years ago

Duchenne Now ( and Action Duchenne ( are incredible charities, but awareness for their cause is incredibly low and so they don't get many donations! :(

For more information please see:
or view my profile (which also has links to various petitions for research into DMD!) :)

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is 100% fatal. There is no cure. Children are losing the ability to walk, eat, draw, play, hug and breathe every day. DMD is not well known and so charities for research into DMD don't get many donations. The disease is utterly and completely heartbreaking and devastating.