10 ways to give back this holiday season

The world is still a disaster, but you can help.

10 ways to give back this holiday season
[Video: Pixabay/Pexels]

Tis the season to start giving. After you give thanks for Netflix and Seamless and the roof over your head, remember that there are many others less fortunate than you–people you can’t help just by sharing your HBO Go password.


In the spirit of giving back, we’ve put together a list of some worthy organizations that are helping to make a little joy, spread a little light, and fight back against the overwhelming awfulness in the world. If there’s a cause that’s near and dear to your heart that’s not on the list–or you just want to help people recovering from wildfires–do give to those instead.

However, before you open your wallet or your PayPal account, remember to do a little research on sites like GuideStar and Charity Navigator to make sure your hard-earned dolla dolla bills are going to a good cause. And remember to brag to your accountant about your good deeds, because many charitable donations can be deducted on your taxes, too.

  1. UNICEF is certainly a behemoth in the charity world, but its status is well deserved as it works to ensure that every child has a childhood. Their relief workers are one of the first on the ground after natural disasters and human-created disasters reach the headlines (Yemen, for instance), and they are also on the ground helping children in areas that rarely make the news, like the crisis in the Lake Chad region where children are starving to death. Donate here.
  2. Since its founding in 1984, Best Friends Animal Society has helped reduce the number of pets killed in U.S. animal shelters by 91% by leading the no-kill movement in the hopes of making every shelter no-kill by 2025. If you’re looking to adopt a pet, visit a Best Friends Pet Adoption Center in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Salt Lake City or one of the almost 2,000 rescue organizations and shelters in its No More Homeless Pets Network. Donate here.
  3. The Birthday Party Project throws birthday parties for children living in homeless and transitional living shelters, helping create a special day for kids in bleak circumstances complete with cupcakes, balloons, gifts, and plenty of good vibes. This isn’t just for adorable tots, though, but helps kids all the way through 21 years of age, because kids of all ages need a little sunshine in their lives. Donate here.
  4. As the Trump administration tries to legislate them out of legal protections, trans people undoubtedly need a little support, and that’s where the Trans Lifeline comes in. The hotline is a national trans-led organization dedicated to helping curb the alarmingly high trans suicide rate and improve the quality of trans lives everywhere with direct service, advocacy, and education. Donate here.
  5. The Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide works around the world to try and save our planet through legal means, thanks to more than 300 grassroots lawyers and scientists working together in 70 countries around the world. Together they help protect rivers in Bangladesh, help Mayan beekeepers fight against herbicide exposure, fight coal mines in South Africa, and a lot more. Help them keep up the good fight by donating here.
  6. After writing letters to Congress about improving public education funding, help teachers provide what they need to provide the best education possible for their students by finding a project you believe in at Donors Choose. Start helping here.
  7. Women on Wings helps connect rural Indian women with entrepreneurs who employ them and market their crafts, giving the women an independent income and helping to provide a better life for themselves and their families. The organization’s goal is to create 1 million jobs for women by 2018, and you can help. Donate here.
  8. As the Trump administration rolls back environmental protections, shrinks national parks, and undermines the EPA, the Sierra Club Foundation is fighting it every step of the way to save the purple mountains majesty and the amber waves of grain, from sea to shining sea. Help the cause here.
  9. If you’re looking for a multitasking donation, consider Puppies Behind Bars. The organization trains prison inmates to raise service dogs for wounded war veterans and as explosive-detection canines for law enforcement. The puppies live in prison with inmates from the age of 8 weeks to 24 months and then, through the Dog Tags program, the pups are placed, free of charge, with wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Donate here.
  10. What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving and all its leftovers than by helping fight hunger and child malnutrition? In the U.S., more than 1 in 5 children are at risk of hunger, and that jumps to 1 in 3 among African-Americans and Latinx kids. Feeding America is a nationwide network of 200 food banks working across the U.S. to make sure everyone has food on the table. Donate here.

And if you’re feeling extra generous, consider donating to charity watchdog groups, because they’re in need, too.

About the author

Melissa Locker is a writer and world renowned fish telepathist.