It can be tough to figure out a gift for someone who is super concerned about climate change and the environment. In a holiday that has unfortunately become defined by consumerism, what’s the best present that somehow circumvents buying even more stuff? But sending yet another $100 to powerful, well-known green groups may feel equally as pointless, and for good reason: Research released last year found that a quarter of charitable giving to environmental groups in 2020 went to just five big organizations.
We crowdsourced on Twitter and with some friends in the climate movement to bring you a list of recommended charities, nonprofits, and action funds—a mix of different climate causes to kick a donation to this holiday season. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and as always, we at Earther believe the best way to get involved in climate action is to figure out what’s going on in your local community and join efforts on the ground. That said, if you’re looking for a last-minute gift for the climate head in your life, we’re happy to provide a few ideas.
These organizations include old, established 501(c)(3)s, political action funds, and tiny crowdfunding operations for grassroots resistance. Organizations with a four-star rating on Charity Navigator, a service that reviews nonprofits, are marked with an asterisk. (We have not included any organizations with a three star or below rating; if the group doesn’t have a Charity Navigator rating, it simply means it is too new or too small for the organization to have rated.)
One of the most direct ways to help folks affected by the climate crisis is to give to organizations working to respond on the ground to disasters. The Red Cross, which has a stellar Charity Navigator rating, is always a good choice. For more specific disaster relief, local organizations can also be an option.
Help survivors of Hurricane Ian: Florida Disaster Fund*, Gulf Coast Community Foundation*, Collier Community Foundation*, Community Foundation of Sarasota County*, Community Foundation of Tampa Bay*, Charlotte Community Foundation*, list of verified GoFundMes in Puerto Rico, Hispanic Federation*
As we saw this year with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, getting politicians who prioritize climate change into office can make a real difference. But it’s not just Washington that needs politicians thinking ahead. Local governments in the U.S. and abroad all need focus in the years to come. These organizations work to elect climate-conscious politicians, get climate legislation on the ballot across the country, and educate voters on the issues.
Indigenous and Native communities are on the front lines of climate change. Activists from these communities have been some of the most important forces in stopping fossil fuel projects, preserving valuable forests and land, and drawing awareness to how climate change is irreversibly altering our world.
The global energy transition is going to be an enormous task. These nonprofits focus on making the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy as seamless as possible and ensuring that no one gets left behind in the change.
Resistance to Fossil Fuel Projects
The world needs to stop all new fossil fuel projects as soon as possible if we’re going to curb the worst of climate change—but the fossil fuel industry and its allies are still working to push through new projects. These organizations are working to resist either specific projects or the industry’s PR as a whole.
Working For Environmental Justice
Climate change disproportionately affects communities of color, and impacts like sea-level rise, climate gentrification, and air pollution can wreak havoc on traditionally marginalized neighborhoods. These organizations work in service of those communities around the country.
Rainforests like the Amazon are some of our most important carbon sinks—and they’re also some of the most endangered, as they face increased damage from agriculture, resource extraction, and wildfires. These organizations work to preserve the world’s forests and, importantly, many also work with Indigenous communities on the front lines, who are a crucial lines of defense for keeping rainforests safe.
Whenever people ask me for suggestions for how to combat climate change, my number one recommendation is to get involved in local mutual aid work. Climate change is, at the end of the day, a problem of inequality and poverty: Our society has set up an environment so unevenly balanced that we can’t start addressing the bigger issues until we live in a more just system. Giving $50 directly to a friend or neighbor in need to help pay a medical bill or keep their heat on during the winter is a concrete step toward larger-scale climate action.
Most local mutual aid groups, many of which got stronger during the pandemic, are not registered nonprofits (to eliminate overhead and to keep operations strong). A few organizations, including the Mutual Aid Hub and Food Not Bombs, can help keep track of local groups. Facebook is also a great tool to find mutual aid organizations—or just ask a neighbor.
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