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Giving Tuesday: 21 Charities You Can Trust With Your Money

Whether it's providing shoes, food, or a birthday cake, these organizations spend the bulk of your donation on people, families, and children in need.

by Dave Baldwin
Originally Published: 
Group of happy schoolchildren playing football together in park

Depending on your perspective, Giving Tuesday is either terribly timed ⏤ falling immediately after the three days a year where the nation collectively empties its wallet on a garage full of vacuum cleaners ⏤ or perfectly timed, to capitalize on the guilt it feels after buying so much stuff. Either way, there’s no denying that over the past years, it’s become a wildly successful day of altruism on the heels of the consumption melee that is Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. In 2021 alone, Giving Tuesday generated nearly 2.7 billion in donations for charities.

No matter how many watches, toys, or muscle massage guns consumers one-click ordered this past weekend, this is still the giving time of year ⏤ whether for good vibes or a tax write-off ⏤ and Giving Tuesday has become a big deal.

As with all charitable giving these days, it’s tough to know which organizations are putting your money to good use, and which are using it to send you a thousand more mailers soliciting another donation. Everybody wants to know their money isn’t going to outrageous overhead, excessive salaries, or egregious fundraising, but rather to actually helping people in need. And you want to get the most bang for your charity buck.

If you want to donate to charities that have good scores for their efficacy, run the organization through one of the four organizations that rank charities: CharityWatch, Charity Navigator, Great NonProfits, and BBB Wise Giving Alliance. They study the numbers and tell you how on the up-and-up the group is.

From organizations that build playgrounds and provide shoes, to those that give Christmas gifts and throw birthday parties for homeless children, to those that provide essential legal and housing services for migrant children and their parents, and medical organizations, too, here are 21 wonderful charities focusing on children, families, and people in need for your Giving Tuesday donations.

Project Night Night

Area served: San Francisco, CA; Cleveland, OH

Many kids have a hard enough time sleeping on a good night in a warm bed, let alone on a cot in a shelter for unhoused people. Over 2.5 million children in America experience homelessness and Project Night Night wants to not only help them get a better night sleep but offer some security as well. Operating in both San Francisco and Cleveland, the organizations deliver 25,000 canvas tote bags filled with a new security blanket, an age-appropriate children’s book, and a stuffed animal to kids in shelters each year. Donate Now

The Sierra Club Foundation

Area served: National

The Sierra Club, founded by John Muir in 1892, is a prominent environment nonprofit focused not on protecting America’s national parks and natural heritage. In addition to nature-oriented projects like group hikes aimed at building awareness of the environment, the Sierra Club lobbies for clean energy policies, fights against fossil fuels, and helps fund an environmental law program. Sierra Club has local chapters you can donate to directly, but also accepts donations to the national organization. Donate Now

The Young Center for Children’s Immigrants Rights

Areas Served: United States

As John Oliver pointed out in his famous 2018 episode of Last Week Tonight, children as young as two are expected to defend their asylum claims in court against a fully-grown judge to prevent themselves from being deported. The Young Center for Children’s Immigrants Rights aims to right that problem. The nonprofit exclusively serves the needs of unaccompanied migrant children from detainment throughout deportation proceedings. The Young Center is comprised of bilingual volunteers who translate between kids and attorneys, attorneys themselves, Child Advocates, and more. Donate Now

Children Incorporated

Area served: National; International

One of Consumer Reports’ top children’s charities based on an aggregation of reviews, this Virginia organization has been helping feed, clothe, and care for children in over 23 countries and across the United States since 1964. Their U.S. projects are interesting in that they serve three different populations: kids in cities, Native Americans, and folks living in Appalachia. They help over 20,000 kids a year and you can either make a one-time donation or sponsor a child monthly. Donate Now

Children’s Defense Fund

Area served: National

The Children’s Defense Fund grew out of the Civil Rights Movement helps lobby the federal government and state governments to enact a handful of programs proven to improve the wellbeing of children. These policies aim to end child poverty, increase child nutrition, increase equity in education, improve children’s welfare, and prevent gun violence. CDF also advocates for juvenile justice reform, helping rehabilitate kids who may have committed crimes and diminishing the impacts of juvenile incarceration. Donate Now

The Trevor Project

Area served: National

LGBTQ+ youth are in crisis. With legislative attacks on their identity mounting, and with laws aiming to keep them from living an equal and happy life, the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth is suffering. The Trevor Project has stepped in to help by running a 24/7 phone and chat suicide hotline for LGBTQ+ youth, responding to some tens of thousands of individuals a year. Not only does Trevor Project, named after the 1998 film Trevor, help those immediately at risk of self-harm, the group runs a text support line to anyone in crisis, has built a community for LGBTQ+ youth online, funds suicide research and training programs for those offering services to LGBTQ+ youth, and fights harmful legislation that hurts LGBTQ+ kids. This year for Giving Tuesday, H&M is matching donations. Donate Now

Shoes That Fit

Area served: National

Not only are shoes considered a status symbol for a lot of kids, but they’re also “one of the most visible signs of poverty.” With a four-star rating on CharityNavigator, this California-based organization has been working with local schools since 1992 to give out over 1.7 million pairs of new athletic shoes to kids across the country. And with new sneaks comes new confidence: statistics show that school attendance increases among kids who receive the new kicks, and they play more. Donate Now


Area served: National

Kids need to play. More importantly, they need a safe place to play. Since 1996, this accredited Washington, DC-based non-profit has built or repaired over 16,700 playspaces in poor communities around the nation. Give today and FAO Schwarz will triple your donation. Donate Now

Donors Choose

Area served: National

If you have a kid in a public school, you’ve likely heard of DonorsChoose, a nonprofit that’s basically a GoFundMe for teachers in need of classroom supplies. Given that teachers on average often spend hundres of dollars out of pocket on school supplies yearly, DonorsChoose funding campaigns that help stock class libraries, get Chromebooks in classrooms, pay for art supplies, and supply headphones for kids with sensory processing disorders are deeply necessary. On Giving Tuesday this year, all donations to DonorsChoose will be matched. Donate Now

Texas Civil Rights Project

Area served: Texas

The Texas Civil Rights Project is exclusively focused on the Texas to Mexico border. In their work, when family separation was just beginning to ramp up as a policy, TCRP attorneys noticed that many parents at hearings had been separated from their kids with no knowledge of where they were or when they would be reunited with them. One attorney named Efren Olivares, along with his aides, started going to as many hearings as possible in Brownsville, Texas and courtrooms in the surrounding border areas and, when time allotted, writing down all of the information of detained immigrant children and the names of their parents in the hopes that they could help reunite them, someway or somehow. The TCRP also focuses on voting rights and criminal justice reform. Donate Now

Wounded Warriors Family Support

Area served: National, International

When veterans come home after serving their country, they are often dealing with wounds that may or may not be visible, including wounds left by the stresses and trauma of war. Wounded Warriors Family Support helps provide assistance to the families of those veterans by funding family retreats to places like Yellowstone, where veterans can reconnect with loved ones in a stress-free environment. WWFS also helps those taking care of veterans with supplemental services like housekeeping, helping provide meals, providing child care and transportation services. This Giving Tuesday, you can double your impact with a donation. Donate Now

Against Malaria Foundation

Area served: International

Mosquito nets are one of the simplest ways to prevent the spread of malaria, a disease that kills 500,000 people per year, many of which are under the age of five. Since it was founded in 2004, this UK-based charity has raised more that $160 million to help provide, distribute, and set up mosquito nets in areas at high risk of contracting the disease. One-hundred percent of donated money goes to the foundation’s insecticidal nets, which cost a mere two dollars each. Donate Now


Area served: International

Around 92.2 percent of your donation to Unbound, an international Catholic organization headquartered in Kansas City, goes to feeding kids and combatting poverty. They are as highly ranked and transparent with their funds as it comes (noting that 3.4 percent goes to admin and 4.4 percent to fundraising) and you can either target your donation or sponsor a child monthly (and engage with them through letters and pictures). Unbound generally focus its attention on 18 countries in South and Central America, Africa, and Asia. Donate Now

Birthday Wishes

Area served: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York

Because every kid should experience the joy of opening a present or blowing out the candles on a cake, this Massachusetts-based org works with over 250 shelters in New York and New England to throw birthday parties for unhoused children. Since they opened in 2002, they’ve served over 100,000 kids. Donations can take the form of gifts, party supplies, or plain old cash. Donate Now

Doctors Without Borders

Area served: International

Doctors Without Borders, known outside Les États-Unis as Médecins Sans Frontières, is an international medical humanitarian organization. Doctors working with MSF offer emergency medical aid to those affected by armed conflict, pandemics (like COVID-19), and natural disasters — often working in refugee camps or under the threat of violence. MSF doctors provide care for people in over 70 countries across the world. Their work offers vulnerable populations dignity in care. This giving Tuesday, your donation will be doubled up to $195,000 until midnight strikes. Donate Now

Amnesty International

Area served: International

Amnesty International works globally on a number of issues, including political disappearances, torture, international justice, the protection of indigenous people, and the proliferation of reproductive rights to name a few. They also focus heavily on the survival and dignity of migrant populations. The nonprofit works, among other things, to pressure governments to process asylum claims properly, ensure that migrants are not exploited by employers or human traffickers, and to reunite families. Today, donations to Amnesty International are being matched triple. Donate Now

Marine Toys for Tots Foundation

Area served: National

Considering nobody’s breaking up Lego sets or dismembering baby dolls, it’s hard to argue that your donation to the Marine’s popular Toys for Tots program isn’t going 100 percent to the kids. You buy the toy, a child unwraps and enjoys it. Simple as that. (For cash donations, 97.4 percent goes to programming, in case you were wondering.) Toys for Tots has been making children’s Christmases brighter since 1947 and so can you, at least this year. Donate Now

Border Angels

Area served: The US-Mexico border

Border Angels is an all-volunteer non-profit based in San Diego, the town that surrounds the border of Tijuana and California. In their work, they reach out to Day Laborers to ensure that they are not being abused by their employers, set out gallons of water along common migration routes in order to ensure that migrants who are seeking asylum do not die of dehydration. They also help post bond for immigrants being detained in jail, help support legal representation so children can get green cards, and provide aid to caravans. Donate Now


Area served: Texas

RAICES — also known as the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services — is a legal aid group that has become the largest immigration legal services provider in the state of Texas. RAICES employs hundreds of attorneys, legal assistants, advocates, provides low or no-cost legal representation to detained migrants and families undergoing deportation proceedings. In 2018, RAICES worked on almost 38,000 cases without charging a single client for their services.

Now, RAICES is not only offering legal services but also social programs for the community they serve and continues to fight for families separated by the federal government. Beyond helping families with deportation, RAICES also helps families resettle in San Antonio, Texas. Donate Now

International Rescue Committee

Area served: International

The International Rescue Committee works with those who are fleeing war, conflict, and natural disasters as well as those who must stay in areas that don’t typically receive aid. They also work to help resettle refugees coming to the United States. This year, the IRC has helped many Ukrainians fleeing war. In healthcare, the IRC works with community health workers to cure treatable conditions in migrant or war-torn populations and to reverse malnourishment in children. They also focus on sexual violence perpetrated against women in refugee crises and help ensure that kids (and adults) on the move have access, ultimately, to educational opportunities. In short, they do a lot of good work. Unlike some non-profits, IRC also gives people cash assistance so they can have the funds to make their own decisions about how they want to live their lives — and continue to educate migrants on their rights in foreign countries. Today, donations are being doubled up to $1.5 million. Donate Now

Annunciation House

Area served: El Paso, Texas

The Annunciation House is a faith-based, all-volunteer organization in El Paso has been running for four decades and in its tenure has provided shelter for migrants, the homeless, and the vulnerable on the border. The Annunciation House exists solely on a volunteer basis and works in conjunction with a number of different houses in Juarez, Mexico and El Paso for both short and long term stays for migrants in need. Without these essential shelters, migrants waiting to be reunited with their kids or process their asylum claims would likely be homeless. Cash donations would be essential to helping the Annunciation House do its important work housing children and migrants. Donate Now

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