Fisher House is honored to be once again chosen as WalletHub's best veteran's charity to donate to.
Charitable giving increased by 4% in 2021 compared to 2020. Americans gave a staggering $484.85 billion total, 67% of which was from individual donors. Though generosity is always commendable, current donation increases are unfortunately unable to keep up with inflation. There’s still plenty of time to give this year, though, and a significant portion of all charitable donations are usually made in the month of December.
There is no shortage of noble causes in need of support this year, especially considering the devastating impact of high inflation on many individuals’ and organizations’ finances. No one wants their money to go to waste, though, so it’s fair to wonder which charities will make the best use of your donations.
To help you maximize your impact without jeopardizing your financial health, WalletHub compared more than 200 of the most prominent U.S. charities based on their financial performance, transparency and popularity. We also identified the best organization to donate to for each of the most popular causes.
Here are the best charities to donate to:
Human ServicesRotary Foundation of Rotary International100
AnimalsAnimal Welfare Institute97
VeteransFisher House Foundation93
International AffairsWorld Resources Institute98
HealthSemper Fi & America's Fund97
Disaster ReliefAll Hands and Hearts97
Environmental ProtectionSierra Club Foundation90
Child-Abuse PreventionNational Center for Missing & Exploited Children85
Community DevelopmentGary Sinise Foundation95
HungerWorld Central Kitchen98
HomelessnessNational Alliance to End Homelessness86
Social AdvocacyEqual Justice Initiative99
Below, you can learn more about how to choose the best charity for your holiday donation as well as how to do the most good on a limited budget. You can also take a closer look at criteria we used to select 2023’s top charities in the Methodology section that follows.
How To Choose A Charity
- Find A Cause First: It’s not about the charity but rather the work that it does. You should make a list of the causes you care about most before researching specific organizations involved in that area. This will help you avoid losing the forest for the trees, emphasizing the beneficiary over the conduit.
- Ask For Recommendations: People trust reviews from friends and family above all else, so ask your social network for some charitable suggestions. You may even want to ask subject-matter experts for their thoughts. For example, your veterinarian could suggest a good animal-related charity, and an environmental scientist at your local university could suggest a climate-oriented organization. All of their experiences and viewpoints will undoubtedly help you make a better choice.
- Do Your Research: It’s always important to do your due diligence before spending money with a company, professional or nonprofit for the first time. Check your chosen charity’s website, see how it’s being covered in the press and look into its financials. In particular, check how much of the organization’s funds are being used for its stated cause compared to marketing and administrator salaries.
- Spread The Love: You don’t have to pick just one charity. Donations are kind of like crowdfunding in the sense that a lot of people giving small amounts leads to relatively large sums at the end of the day. Don’t try to solve one problem all by yourself – consider giving small amounts to numerous charities in order to help address the various issues that you care about.
5 Tips For A Successful Donation
You don’t need to do much to make an impact on a worthy cause. But keeping the following pointers in mind will help you and your charity of choice make the most out of your good deed.
Have A Budget: It is indeed possible to be too generous. Donating more than you can afford will only hurt your finances, making it more difficult to give back in the future. That means overdoing it now could reduce your overall giving.
Consider your holiday gift-giving budget and your other financial obligations to determine how much you can comfortably afford to do without. It’s fine if you can’t give much. Every little bit helps, and something is always better than nothing when it comes to charity.
- Decide On Itemized Deductions: Rationalizing a donation with the potential tax benefits doesn’t make much sense if you aren’t going to itemize your deductions. Therefore, make a decision about that now, and remove taxes from your thought process if you’ll be taking the standard deduction. You can check out our Tax Tips for more insight into making these sorts of choices.
Consider Processing Fees: Making a donation by credit card is a great way to earn rewards while giving back. For example, you could earn $20 by making a $1,000 donation with a card offering 2% back, whether in the form of cash, points or miles.
Many organizations charge a processing fee for credit card donations, though. That can erode, or perhaps even eliminate, your earnings if it isn’t tax-deductible, so make sure to check.
- Earmark Funds For Something Specific: The more you donate, the more control you’ll be able to exert over how the funds are used. If you want your donation to be used to improve the conditions of the cages in an animal shelter rather than administrators’ salaries or marketing, for example, inquire with your organization of choice about the possibility of designating a donation for something specific. If they say it’s not possible, take your donation elsewhere (or at least make clear that you’re willing to).
- Don’t Forget About Goods & Services: You don’t have to give money to make a difference. You can also donate clothing, food and even your time. A lot of people actually wonder whether it’s better to donate time or money, and we have a handy calculator that can help you make that decision based on your personal situation.