My Top 5 Favorite Charities
I know there are hundreds of thousands of wonderful charities to choose from, but the ones on this list are the ones that mean the most to me.
#1 The Innocence Project – The Innocence Project is my favorite charity and the one I feel most passionate about. Their primary goal is to help exonerate the wrongfully convicted. In addition, they help to prevent wrongful convictions in the first place by working to raise awareness of the flaws within our justice system, and by laboring to rectify those flaws.
The flaws within our justice system are absolutely staggering, and as far as I’m concerned, it should top our country’s list of problems to fix. I know that there are a lot of causes in the world to feel passionate about, but I ask you to please consider adding The Innocence Project to your list of favorite charities.
They need money, and they need exposure. So many people still don’t know that innocent people are not only convicted, but are actually sentenced to death!
Can you imagine being found guilty of and sentenced to death for a crime you did not commit? To think that happens at all is horrifying, but that it could happen to you or someone you love is even worse. It does happen, it can happen to you, and more people need to be aware of it.
By donating to The Innocence Project, you’re helping to do your part as a good member of your community and your country. You’re showing that you care about justice and you’re taking a stand against willful ignorance. It is a noble cause and worthy of your time and money.
#2 Wikipedia – I am an information junky, but I don’t have the amount of time and money required to research, gather, and compare information. This is why I love Wikipedia, they do it for me and they do it for free! I know that many people like to complain about Wikipedia being inaccurate, but I’ve spent massive amounts of time doing research and fact checking and I’ve never once come across misinformation on Wikipedia. It’s often lacking in quantity and detail, and that can sometimes lead people to reach wrong conclusions, but that’s not Wikipedia’s fault. If a person comes to an incorrect conclusion based on the limited information that Wikipedia provides, then the blame rests solely on their own lack of critical thinking skills and their own poor diligence. Wikipedia should not be blamed for the failures of an individual.
Instead, Wikipedia should be praised for being a reliable, responsible, comprehensive, free, quick, and easy information resource available worldwide. It is a reference tool, not a scientific journal.
I would personally prefer that Wikipedia contain massive amounts of information and detail on every subject and be host to billions of research papers, but that’s just not realistic, nor would it be especially user-friendly.
I’ve mentioned that Wikipedia is free a few times, but I feel the need to also mention that it’s a nonprofit organization and all contributors and editors are volunteers. Wikipedia is supported solely on the donations and goodwill of others. If you use Wikipedia, please consider adding them to the list of charities that you financially support.
#3 Goodwill – Goodwill operates stores all over the country that sell used clothing, furniture, and household goods for very reasonable prices. Contrary to some nasty rumors circulating the internet, Goodwill is a nonprofit organization. By selling used items Goodwill not only helps raise the standard of living for some of the poorest people in the USA, but they also use the money they make to provide education, job training, and employment to people for whom it would otherwise be out of reach.
Goodwill is the only charity, in my city of 55,000, that offers free literacy classes for adults. Can you believe that? The only one! How on Earth are people living in poverty supposed to improve their lot in life if no one will teach them how to read?!?
Reading is a fundamental skill necessary to thrive in our culture and Goodwill helps teach people how to read. Good Goodwill. Good.
The awesome thing about Goodwill is that even if you can’t afford to donate cash, you can still donate. Goodwill will take your clothes, furniture, cars, books, and other household items. You just drive up to the donation doors, where some strong and extremely friendly men will greet you, take your donations, hand you a receipt, and wish you a nice day. You don’t even have to get out of your car! If you have a lot of things, they will come to your home, and pick it up for you. Your donations to Goodwill are tax deductible!
Even if you can’t spare any money or items to donate, you can still support Goodwill by shopping there. Even if you’re certain they have nothing you could possibly want, then just go and buy a handful of children’s books and pass them around to any and all kids you know. Kids can never have enough books and Goodwill has thousands to choose from.
Can’t get to a Goodwill store? Then shop online! Yep, ShopGoodwill.com is Goodwill’s online auction site and you can come away with some wonderful treasures for very little money.
Did you know that Goodwill recycles everything they don’t sell? How freaking cool is that? Goodwill is a wonderful and responsible charity that puts all of your donations to good use. You think that’s why they named it Goodwill?
I keep a Goodwill box on a counter in the garage and every time I come across an item that I no longer need, it goes in the box. As soon as it’s full, I know it’s time for a shopping trip. After I donate the box, I head inside the store to shop. First, I start by hitting the rack with the dresses. Dresses at Goodwill are about $6 dollars each, and you can find some amazing and beautiful dresses here. I’ll filled my closet with soft chiffon dresses that I wear on date nights.
Next, armed with my wishlist, craft list, and gift ideas list, I browse the rest of the store looking at the clothes, furniture, plant pots, craft items, and dishes. Then I hit the books and CDs. I look for books and CDs on my list, pick up any that catch my eye, and spend the rest of my time selecting children’s books. I always buy a bunch of children’s books and stockpile them for my niece and nephew. I have a ton of books saved for birthdays and Christmases for years to come. Literacy is one of the most valuable skills a person can possess and I like to give people, especially children, a lot of books. You can find some amazing, pristine hard backed children’s books at Goodwill. Sometimes they’re even autographed by the author and or illustrator which is always fun.
#4 Kiva – Have you heard of Kiva? Kiva is a nonprofit organization that hosts a crowd funding website that helps match borrows in need with willing lenders. The thing that makes Kiva different, is that rather than donating money, you’re lending money. The borrower is fully expected to pay it back, and then, you can lend it again.
Kiva works with organizations throughout the world to help fund businesses, projects, and other expenses of some of the world’s poorest people. Usually from third world countries, these are people who cannot otherwise obtain financing. Without financing, these poor people would be unable to start businesses, grow businesses, or improve their lot in life.
The delightful thing about Kiva is that you get to choose who gets your money! Each borrower is featured with a brief description of who they are, where they’re from, and what they need the money for. You can sort by gender, country, and project type. This gives you a very personal feeling when donating your money and it’s much more fulfilling this way.
You can donate as little as $25 and I’ve reloaned the same $25 six times so far! It is possible that the borrower will default, but it’s extremely rare and I’ve never had it happen.
Kiva is a personal, fun, fulfilling way to give back to the world you share with others. If you can spare $25, please consider using it to fund a Kiva loan.
#5 The Local Library – Libraries are one the best resources any community can have. The library is one of my favorite places in the whole world and it’s where I go anytime I need perspective. You know how some people feel small when they stand beside the ocean or look up at the stars? That’s how I feel when I stand within my local library. There, I’m surrounded by 3 huge floors of people, books, and computers full of thousands of years of culture and history, stories and information. As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “There are more things in Heaven and Earth … than are dreamt of in our philosophy.”
The library helps me internalize that concept. No matter how much I learn, experience, or accomplish, there will always and forever be more. How’s that for a message of humility?
Most libraries are free for local residents.
My local library lets people check out physical books, digital books, audio books, magazines, videos, CDs, iPads, and laptop computers. They even offer free homebound services for people unable to get to the library.
In additional, they offer free internet access, the use of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, a free version of Rosetta Stone, and 5 free music downloads per week.
They also offer meeting rooms, fax, scan, print, copy machine, and notary services. They have book clubs with rewards and social opportunities. They host a wide variety of events for all ages like parties, games, movie matinees and movie nights, seminars, and free classes. Most of the classes are for basic computer skills, but I’ve seen a ton of different classes offered, like employment training, arts and crafts, babysitter training, genealogy, personal finance, real estate, and even exercise classes. In the summertime, they even host an outdoor event for dog lovers.
My local library offers all of that and more for free or nearly free.
Do you know what all services your local library offers? Do you know how much it costs to offer those services? Taxpayer funding may cover the basics, but private donations cover all the extras. Private donations from supporters like you make the difference between a good library and a great library. If your local library has limited hours, it’s most likely because they don’t have the budget to pay employees for more work. Private donations will help your library afford to expand its hours.
Even if you don’t use your local library, thousands of your community members do. You can help support your community by supporting your local library. If you can’t afford to donate cash, your library will also take your unwanted books and media, and they’ll even provide you a receipt for the tax deduction.
Don’t have anything to donate? Then volunteer! My local library employs the services of volunteers to help with various programs and events such as book sales. Inquire at your library for volunteer opportunities.
Giving back to the world you share with others is not only the moral thing to do, but it’s also incredibly fulfilling. If you don’t have much time or money to spare, then I suggest picking just one and focusing you all your efforts there. The Innocence Project is my personal favorite and most of my cash donations go to them.
As I said at the beginning of this post, there are thousands of worthy charities, but these 5 are my favorite. Do you have a favorite cause? When is the last time you gave to your favorite charity? Maybe you could set aside some time and do that today?
Don’t have time or money to spare? That’s okay. You can still help by spreading the word!
If you’re a blogger, you could use your blog as a platform to help promote your favorite causes. If you’re not a blogger, you can use your social media accounts to help spread the word. I’m always sharing petitions on my personal Facebook page and I have a Pinterest board dedicated to The Innocence Project.
You can utilize the following sites to help you research and choose a favorite charity.
Charity Navigator (This site rates and provides detailed information about thousands of charities so you can know the quality and legitimacy before you donate.)
Charities.org (I believe that this site only features charities that have operations in the USA.)
CrowdRise (Their tagline: “If you don’t give back, no one will like you.”)
Have you heard of AmazonSmile? AmazonSmile is a free program offered by Amazon.com that donates money to your chosen charity every time you shop. Amazon will donate .5% of every Amazon purchase you make through the AmazonSmile page. All you have to do is pick your favorite charity from the list, and then shop through Smile.Amazon.com as you would normally shop through Amazon.com. You must shop through AmazonSmile’s page in order for the charity to receive the donation. Subscribe and save purchases do not count.
I love the AmazonSmile program and I think it’s wonderful, but I’d like to mention that the charities only receive .5% of the purchase. If however, you were to shop through an affiliate instead, that person would get up to 6% of the purchase. There’s a HUGE difference between .5% and 6%. So, if you have a favorite blogger, you might consider shopping through their affiliate links instead of through AmazonSmile. Unfortunately, you cannot do both.
I am an Amazon affiliate and I do make money from purchases made through my affiliate links. I also regularly donate to charity and I will be donating at least 15% of any income I make from this blog. So, if you shop through my affiliate links, it will be even better than if you shopped through AmazonSmile; unless of course you’d prefer to support charities other than the ones listed above, as that’s where most of my charitable donations go.
This is my Affiliate Link and if you’d care to shop through it in the future, just visit my homepage and click on the Amazon.com link at the top of the left sidebar. I am extremely grateful for your support. Thank you so much for reading my little blog!