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3 min Read
Published June 24, 2013

Top Ten National Charities that Deserve Your Time and Money

Which is more valuable: Giving one child a head start in education or feeding a dozen homeless people? Supporting ten families stricken by childhood cancer or providing aid to ten families who lost their homes in a tornado?

How does one determine the value of a charitable organization?

There are varying theories on this very quandary. The most common method is by looking at the overhead. The general rule of thumb is that 35% or less of an organization’s spending should go towards capacity-building, rent, and salaries. However, critics have pointed out that this equation may ignore the “on-the-ground” impact a charity has overall. It also overlooks that many new organizations may spend more money on capacity-building during big growth years, but in the long-term may provide more comprehensive services.

However, there are a couple of websites that rate charities. Based on crossing-referencing statistics from Charity Navigator and Charity Watch, as well as looking at an in-depth article on the Chicago Tribune, Candid Slice has come up with a list of the top ten best charities. None of the charities listed got less than a score of four stars or an “A” on either site. Well, except one. But you’ll see why.

Want to make a difference? With ten different charities and ten different social causes, these organizations are a great place to start volunteering time and money to impact your passion.

  1. Homelessness: National Alliance to End Homelessness
    A lot of people complain that homeless shelters spend their days doing “feel-good projects,” like giving out cozy blankets or hot soup, rather than dissolving the problem at its root. No such critiques here: The NAEH directly impacts federal policies on homelessness and implements studies on how to best solve the issue at its core.
  2. International Relief: Save the Children
    Save the Children does it all: Improving education and health care, providing disaster aid around the world, promoting nutrition and hunger initiatives. If you’re a kid–or if you like helping kids–domestically and globally, this organization is your best friend. You can also sponsor a child.
  3. Cancer: Cancer Research Institute
    The Cancer Research Institute doesn’t just fight one cancer. They’re out to get rid of all cancers! And they do a darn concise job with their budget and accountability. Why would you not support that?
  4. Veterans: Homes for Our Troops
    Whether you support war efforts or not, there’s no question that soldiers who risked their life for our country deserve to, at the very least, not be homeless. Yet many of them are. Homes for Our Troops raises money and materials to build homes, often with extra features to accommodate disabilities earned in service, for Veterans and their families.
  5. Environment: The Conservation Fund
    Known for protecting the most beautiful parts of the Great Outdoors, the Conservation Fund is a good choice for balanced environmentalism. They recognize the need for economic and business growth, but try to weigh those needs with protecting practices that are better for the earth. They also promote environmental living by providing grants for small “green” businesses and helping develop strategies for environmentally sound community-planning.
  6. Animals: Animal Welfare Institute
    Everyone has a soft spot in their heart for warm, fuzzy animals. Animal Welfare Institute proactively goes after all forms of animal suffering caused by humans: Factory farming, cruel animal testing, brutal forms of hunting, and environmental disasters. However, unlike some other, more extreme groups that I won’t name here, but who throw red paint on people’s fur coats and consider a five-dollar chicken dinner a form of murder, the AWI also considers human needs. Therefore, they seek realistic alternatives to things which harm animals, while still keeping in mind that animal experimentation, hunting, and slaughter will never be forced out of existence, but can be controlled and balanced in more humane ways.
  7. Senior citizens: National Council on Aging
    While we’re off worrying about homeless people and children, a lot of times the elderly are forgotten. The National Council on Aging strives to advocate for programs that benefit the elderly, as well as support senior citizens with connections to government programs and benefits to improve their lives. The Council also educates the elderly and their families on how to protect against falls, rest home abuse, and scams that impact our senior citizens.
  8. Youth development: Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America
    Most of us have heard of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters. By matching children with a one-on-one adult mentor, each at-risk youth is given a positive role model he or she may desperately need in a world that is full of temptation and misguided paths. Their records show that children enrolled in their program are less likely to get involved in drugs, more likely to show improvement at school, and show higher confidence and an ability to make better decisions. One kid at a time, they improve our whole future generation.
  9. Human services: American Red Cross
    When it comes to disaster relief, the first organization everyone looks for is the Red Cross. True, they’ve gotten some bad press and a few scandals over the past couple of years, and they’re the only organization listed here that only received three stars on Charity Navigator (although Charity Watch still gave them an A-). However, when researching disaster relief organizations, the only other major, national organization listed was Salvation Army. And guess what? Being faith-based, they don’t get a score. So I’m doing my own free-thinking and research here. If a tornado landed on my house, I’d be looking for those red crosses coming to save me, and I bet you would, too.
  10. Hunger: Action Against Hunger USA
    This non-profit received top marks from multiple major charitable and business review organizations, including Charity Watch, Charity Navigator, Philanthropedia, Guidestar, Independent Charities of America, and the Better Business Bureau. Those accreditation, along with saving over 150,000 children from deadly hunger this past year makes them worthy of any and all donations they receive. Literally 93% of all money donated goes directly towards feeding the sick and hungry. Over 600,000 people benefited from clean water and hygiene initiatives. And over 500,000 people are now self-sufficient, no longer needing the aid of charities to provide for their own families’ welfare. What on earth is there left to say?

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  • heather


  • I sincerely believe that through the power of storytelling, I can make social issues become more than a set of statistics. My expertise is in community leadership, non-profit work, event coordinating, networking, and storytelling. All my articles.

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