Charitable giving is a year-round event, but during the holiday season, it’s foremost on our minds – and that’s only partly due to the realization that income tax season is right around the corner.
While charitable giving is primarily about doing something good for the world, it does also help lower your income tax bill. Every dollar you give* reduces your taxable income, so you get a bonus benefit for your generosity.
And because they know we have charity on our minds and in our hearts, organizations take this time to make their pitches as to why they deserve our contributions.
To make sure your donation dollars do the most good, consider giving to one of these A-rated charities. According to CharityWatch, each of these charitable foundations uses at least 80% of the donations they receive for programs – not fundraising and overhead.
And while there are hundreds more charities clamoring for your contributions, these foundations stand among the very best.
- Doctors Without Borders: These committed professionals provide humanitarian aid and desperately needed emergency medical care to millions of people in crisis, often risking their own lives in the process. When catastrophe strikes – whether it’s due to armed conflict, natural disasters, or raging epidemics – they step in and save lives. The organization uses 89% of their funds in direct support of these programs. Learn more at http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/.
- Innocence Project: This dedicated group works tirelessly to exonerate wrongfully convicted Americans. Using DNA evidence uncovered after conviction, these attorneys fight in court to have innocent victims released from undeserved prison sentences, and also work to prevent future wrongful convictions. So far, the group has exonerated 347 innocent citizens – and 149 true perpetrators have been found. According to CharityWatch, which gives the organization a top rating, this group uses 84% of its funds on programs. Learn more at http://www.innocenceproject.org/.
- Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind: For 70 years, this organization has trained and placed guide and service dogs with blind and disabled people. Fostering good matches between people and their dedicated canine companions, the foundation promotes independence, confidence, and freedom for people with otherwise limiting disabilities. With consistently high ratings, this charity devotes the lion’s share of its dollars to dog training and placement. Learn more at http://www.guidedog.org/.
- PetSmart Charities: This foundation is one of the top-ranked charities in the U.S. by multiple ranking services. Dedicated to helping pets in need, PetSmart Charities uses 90% of their funds directly on spay/neuter programs and getting homeless animals adopted. Learn more at https://www.petsmartcharities.org/.
- Children’s Defense Fund: This charity earned an A-rating by spending 87% of its budget on programs dedicated to helping lift millions of American children out of poverty, protect them from neglect and abuse, and make sure they have access to quality healthcare and education. Learn more at http://www.childrensdefense.org/.
- Sierra Club Foundation: This group is dedicated to protecting the Earth and the people and animals who live here. They scored their A-rating by using 87% of their funds to promote clean energy, protect public land and waters, preserve national monuments, and support “Outdoors” programs to connect people and nature in inspiring adventures. Learn more at http://www.sierraclubfoundation.org/.
- Homes for Our Troops: This organization spends 85% of its funds to build specially customized, mortgage-free houses for severely injured post-9/11 veterans. These homes provide stability and independence for brave American soldiers with disabling injuries (including paralysis, amputations, and severe traumatic brain injuries), helping them focus on their recovery and rebuild their lives. Learn more at: https://www.hfotusa.org/.
- Girls Incorporated: This group works hard to inspire all girls to be “strong, smart, and bold.” A full 87% of their funds go to programs that promote financial literacy, and help girls develop the self-confidence to resist peer pressure, build leadership skills, decode negative media messages, and encourage physical fitness and sports participation. Learn more at http://www.girlsinc.org/.
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: By spending an incredible 97% of its funds on programs, this foundation provides cancer care to patients of all ages, along with supporting cancer research and education. Their centers employ a wide variety of treatments, advancing integrative medicine – herbs, acupuncture, massage, and other alternative treatments – as well as offering standard cancer therapies, and helping patients manage often debilitating side effects. Find out more at https://www.mskcc.org/.
- Action Against Hunger: This highly rated global relief organization devotes the vast majority of its funds to make sure everyone has access to food and clean water. They strive to treat and feed malnourished children around the world, help food-insecure families, and improve access to food, markets, and income for the most vulnerable. Learn more at http://www.actionagainsthunger.org/.
*Charitable donations to qualified organizations of up to 50% of your adjusted gross income are fully deductible (in most cases). For a more detailed look at the charitable donations deduction, click here.