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10 Great Charities That Need Holiday Help

The Giving Spirit


‘Tis the season for giving, but with so many charities in need of donations, choosing the best ones to support can be daunting. So MainStreet spoke with representatives from online giving sites Charity Navigator and Network for Good to help us compile a list of some of the best charities that rely heavily on year-end donations.

The data we used represent dollars that visitors to Charity Navigator donated in 2010 by clicking the “Donate Now” button on the site, which redirected them to Network for Good’s online giving system. We narrowed down the list to the charities that got the highest percentage of their yearly donations this way between Nov. 15 and Dec. 31, 2010, and only included those with a four-star rating from Charity Navigator – the charity watchdog organization’s highest rating.

Here are the 10 charities that made our list, with details on what your donation will go toward.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

#10: International Rescue Committee


Donations made by Charity Navigator visitors during the 2010 holiday season: $15,330

Percentage of 2010 donations through Charity Navigator received during the holiday season: 69%

If you’re interested in global humanitarian aid, consider donating your dollars to this not-for-profit that provides emergency relief, human rights protection, resettlement services and other forms of care and assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster. Today the IRC has a presence in more than 40 countries and 22 U.S. cities. According to the organization’s website, of every $1 the IRC spends, more than 90 cents goes to the programs and services that directly benefit refugees and communities affected by war or disaster.

Click here to give.

Photo Credit: Rescue.org

#8 (tie): Natural Resources Defense Council


Donations made by Charity Navigator visitors during the 2010 holiday season: $11,263

Percentage of 2010 donations through Charity Navigator received during the holiday season: 73%

Are you concerned about issues like curbing global warming, defending endangered species, protecting wildlife and preventing pollution? These are just a few of the policies on the agenda of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a not-for-profit environmental action group consisting of 1.3 million members and online activists and 350 lawyers, scientists and policy experts. According to the group’s website, in 2010 86% of its operating expenses went to environmental programs.

Click here to give.

Photo Credit: Facebook.com/nrdc.org

#8 (tie): The Conservation Fund


Donations made by Charity Navigator visitors during the 2010 holiday season: $9,845  

Percentage of 2010 donations through Charity Navigator received during the holiday season: 73%

The Conservation Fund is a nonprofit organization that has protected nearly 7 million acres across the U.S. by partnering with community, government and corporate organizations to fulfill their conservation priorities. According to its website, “Everything we do has environmental and economic value, from protecting ‘working’ forests and recreation destinations that provide local revenue to helping communities grow thoughtfully.”

Click here to give.

Photo Credit: ConservationFund.org

#7: The National Military Family Association


Donations made by Charity Navigator visitors during the 2010 holiday season: $8,683  

Percentage of 2010 donations through Charity Navigator received during the holiday season: 77%

Founded in 1969 by a group of military wives, the National Military Family Association fights for benefits and programs for U.S. military families by working with – and testifying before – Congress. The organization also works with families to help them understand the legislation that affects them and the health care options they can take advantage of. Many donors say they enjoy the organization because of its personal touch, as it’s staffed by military spouses, parents and family members.

Click here to give.

Photo Credit: MilitaryFamily.org

#5 (tie): City Harvest


Donations made by Charity Navigator visitors during the 2010 holiday season: $8,912  

Percentage of 2010 donations through Charity Navigator received during the holiday season: 81%

City Harvest feeds New York City’s hungry in an innovative way – by collecting excess food from restaurants, grocers, corporate cafeterias, farms and other parts of the food industry. The group delivers food free of charge to nearly 600 community food programs throughout New York City, and helps more than 300,000 New Yorkers in need each week. According to its website, every dollar donated helps feed four hungry people in the city, and the organization also runs nutrition education programs.

Click here to give.

Photo Credit: CityHarvest.org

#5 (tie): Homes for Our Troops


Donations made by Charity Navigator visitors during the 2010 holiday season: $8,875

Percentage of 2010 donations through Charity Navigator received during the holiday season: 81%

You can think of Homes for Our Troops as a sort of Habitat for Humanity for military families. The national nonprofit specifically helps severely injured servicemen and -women and their immediate family members by raising donations of money, building materials and professional labor and then coordinating the process of building them a new home or adapting an existing home for handicapped accessibility. The homes are provided to veterans at no cost.

Click here to give.

Photo Credit: Facebook.com/HomesForOurTroops

#4: Operation Homefront


Donations made by Charity Navigator visitors during the 2010 holiday season: $9,645 

Percentage of 2010 donations through Charity Navigator received during the holiday season: 84%

Operation Homefront provides emergency financial assistance to service members and military families across the country who have encountered financial hardship, death, injury or physical or mental detriment as a result of having served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Assistance can come in the form of checks paid directly to mortgage lenders, auto mechanics, contractors, hospitals and doctors as well as food, home repairs and baby formula, among other things. With 25 chapters serving 30 states, the nonprofit organization has provided more than $92 million of funding to programs for military families since its founding in 2002.

Click here to give.

Photo Credit: OperationHomefront.net

#3: Grameen Foundation USA


Donations made by Charity Navigator visitors during the 2010 holiday season: $9,095

Percentage of 2010 donations through Charity Navigator received during the holiday season: 92%

If you’re interested in helping the world’s most downtrodden escape from poverty, it’s worth looking into this global nonprofit group that promotes micro-finance – small loans made to borrowers who lack access to credit. Assisting mostly women and children, Grameen Foundation also helps open the door for business opportunities for poor entrepreneurs by providing them with cellphones. The group’s website says that more than 1.1 million loans have been generated through its Growth Guarantee program.

Click here to give.

Photo Credit: Facebook.com/StopPovertyNow

#2: Special Operations Warrior Foundation


Donations made by Charity Navigator visitors during the 2010 holiday season: $16,230

Percentage of 2010 donations through Charity Navigator received during the holiday season: 93%

Another worthy charity that helps military families is the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The organization provides full scholarship grants and educational and family counseling to the children of special operations personnel who die in operational or training missions, as well as immediate financial assistance to severely wounded special operations personnel and their families. The organization also has a school psychologist on staff to help families who need assistance with learning disabilities, academic challenges and other counseling needs.

Click here to give.

Photo Credit: Facebook.com/WarriorFoundation

#1: Stop Hunger Now


Donations made by Charity Navigator visitors during the 2010 holiday season: $10,775

Percentage of 2010 donations through Charity Navigator received during the holiday season: 100%

Stop Hunger Now, an international hunger relief organization, received a full 100% of its 2010 donations from visitors to Charity Navigator during the holiday season. Could it be that people are concerned about putting food on the tables of others in need while they enjoy their own holiday meals? Whatever the reason, the organization was highly successful last year, shipping nearly 16 million meals for children and families around the world. In addition to food, Stop Hunger Now also distributes lifesaving aid to the world’s poor.

Click here to give.

Photo Credit: StopHungerNow.org

The Least Charitable Cities


While many feel the need to give to others less fortunate, some people just can’t seem to spare a dime. Find out which cities in the U.S. are the least charitable in this MainStreet roundup!

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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