Best Environmental Charities to Donate To

Fight the climate crisis with your dollar.

Sophie Hirsh - Author

Aug. 5 2019, Updated 4:48 p.m. ET

best environmental charities donate

From innovation to energy to pollution to agriculture, there are numerous facets of the fight for climate justice. That said, there are also numerous non-profit organizations in need of donations to help them effectively combat the climate crisis. With so many out there, how on Earth are you supposed to decide where to make a donation?

To help you weed through the pack and find the best environmental charities to donate to, read on for our tips and charity recommendations.

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How to Find Good Charities to Donate to

Before donating your hard-earned money, always do your research. It’s important to make sure a charity discloses what it does with donations, and that the money will be used to directly support its cause. If there’s an organization you’re interested in supporting, you can go to its website and look around on their About page, Donate page, or FAQ page for more info on how it uses donations.

A great way to find reputable U.S.-based charities is through the website Charity Navigator, which itself is a 501(c)(3) organization. Charity Navigator evaluates charities based on a variety of factors, and rates them out of four stars.

Tax-Deductible Environmental Charities

A 501(c)(3) organization is one that is exempt from federal income tax. Most 501(c)(3) charities are tax-deductible, and for that reason, Charity Navigator only rates 501(c)(3) organizations.

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What Are the Best Environmental Charities to Donate to?

Charity Navigator’s environmental experts compiled a list of the top four highly-rated charities protecting the environment. Each of the following charities are working to fight the climate crisis on a global scale.

Article continues below advertisement is a global organization working “to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy for all.” The group also has local branches, such as 350 NYC, working on similar goals at local governmental levels.

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Environmental Defense Fund

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is a global bipartisan environmentalist organization, working to “resist attacks against America's bedrock environmental laws.” EDF’s strategic plan called Pathways 2025 is working to “stabilize the global climate, build defenses against extreme weather, ensure food security and abundant oceans, and reduce exposure to air pollution and toxic chemicals” by the year 2025.

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Friends of the Earth

Conversely, Friends of the Earth (FOE) has a page on its website called “Stand Up to Trump,” stating the organization's goal of fighting “against every part of his agenda to destroy American values and its environment.” FOE pushes the envelope, often fighting for reforms and laws that seem out of reach.

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Natural Resources Defense Council

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has a mission to “ensure the rights of all people to the air, the water, and the wild.” The NRDC manages programs in more than a dozen areas, including Climate & Clean Energy, Healthy People & Thriving Communities, and Litigation.

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Other Major International Environmental Charities

Besides the four that Charity Navigator’s experts named as the very best, here are a few other four-star rated charities working to conserve the planet on a global scale.

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Sierra Club Foundation

The Sierra Club Foundation combines “strategic philanthropy and grassroots advocacy” to achieve its goal of protecting the environment.

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Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide

The Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) is a global alliance of lawyers, scientists, and other activists from around the world. ELAW volunteers give their time to advocate for communities who need better environmental protection with legal and scientific support.

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Environmental Investigation Agency

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) “investigate[s] and campaign[s] against environmental crime and abuse all over the world. Areas of investigation include wildlife crime, deforestation for cash crops, and threats to the ocean from the fishing industry, such as bycatch and plastic pollution.

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Best Local American Environmental Charities

If you want your donation to specifically protect American lands, there are plenty of four-star rated charities that focus on conserving the environment across the country. Here are just a few highly-rated charities whose work focuses on the U.S.

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Environmental Defense Center

Based in California, the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) is a public interest environmental law firm that provides legal advice to other nonprofits. The EDC “works to protect and enhance the local environment through education, advocacy, and legal action.” 

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Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment

The Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment works to empower individuals, organizations, and other groups to demand better environmental protection from the government, take care of nature, and more.

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Asian Pacific Environmental Network

The Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) is a movement to change economic, social, and environmental institutions to support a better quality of life for everyone on Earth, with a focus on Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

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Acadia Center

Acadia Center’s target is the clean energy sector, and making sure that clean energy is a big part of the planet’s future. The organization does this through research, advocacy, education, and more.

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Environmental Research and Education Foundation

The Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF)’s mission is to support waste management practices that will benefit communities, industries, and the planet. Trash is a huge issue that directly contributes to the climate crisis, and it’s important to make sure our efforts to reduce waste are sustainable for all involved.

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