19 of the Best Environmental Charities to Support

These organizations will put your money to good use.

Put your money into one of these top-notch charities that are working to protect the planet. (Photo: wk1003mike/Shutterstock).

As the year winds down, it's common to think about charitable giving. There are no shortage of charities to support, but how do you know which ones will use your dollars wisely?

We've scoured the web and cross-checked with Charity Navigator to come up with this list of the best and most responsible environmental charities that you may consider supporting. The list is far from comprehensive, but it is a good starting point for your own research for giving now or at any time of year.

7 Charities That Support the Environment

rain forest
The Rainforest Alliance works with farmers, foresters and tourism entrepreneurs to conserve natural resources and to conserve biodiversity. (Photo: Rainforest Alliance)

Conservation International: CI works on issues ranging from climate change to food stability to environment protection. The organization sponsors field projects, funds scientific research, and forges partnerships with businesses that can drive action on the conservation front.

Environmental Defense Fund: The key initiatives of EDF include protecting natural systems and improving policies that affect these systems, and dealing with issues of climate change, public health, sustainable agriculture, and ocean protection.

League of Conservation Voters Education Fund: This group's mission is to inform and engage voters about key environmental issues at election time and to advocate for sound environmental policies all year long. It says its mission is to "turn environmental values into national, state and local priorities."

Natural Resources Defense Council: The NRDC employs hundreds of scientists and lawyers who work to improve environmental protection at the legislative and judicial levels. Priorities include fighting climate change, defending endangered wildlife, and protecting the world's oceans. Based in the U.S., it also works internationally.

Rainforest Alliance: This is an international nonprofit that works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable agricultural livelihoods. The group's certification seal (the label with the frog) lets consumers know that a product has been created in a way that protects the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the area. It was named one of the 40 most inspirational market leaders for 2022 by Dutch consultancy Synergie.

The Nature Conservancy: This group works to protect threatened ecosystems from development, deforestation, and other environmental threats. It's working to preserve 650 million hectares of healthy land, 30 million hectares of freshwater, and 4 billion hectares of oceans. It has a plan to ensure a sustainable food supply for a burgeoning global population.

Sierra Club Foundation: The foundation supports a wide range of conservation efforts, all with the goal of protecting habitat, water quality, air quality, and the world's ecosystems. It encourages people to get outdoors and enjoy nature in protected lands. The organization is fighting the climate crisis by encouraging a transition to a "resource-efficient, clean energy economy that better serves people and nature."

4 Charities That Protect Animals

The Cheetah Conservation Fund is dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild. (Photo: Cheetah Conservation Fund)

American Bird Conservancy: The mission of ABC is to protect native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. Its strategy is to "prevent the extinction of the most endangered birds, conserve important bird habitat, reduce top threats to birds, and build an Americas-wide community of bird conservationists."

Cheetah Conservation Fund: This group is dedicated to saving wild cheetahs. Its work includes habitat restoration, research programs, and human/wildlife conflict resolution campaigns to address the principle threats to cheetahs. It employs best practices that benefit the entire ecosystem on which cheetahs depend, as well as consideration for other animals and humans that share those landscapes.

Sea Turtle Conservancy: Formerly known as the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, this organization is the world's oldest sea turtle research and conservation group. Based in Florida, it works to protect and recover sea turtles via research, habitat protection, public education, community outreach, and advocacy. Its research programs "have yielded much of what is now known about sea turtles and the threats they face."

WildAid: WildAid's mission is to end the illegal wildlife trade of items such as shark fins, rhino horns, and elephant ivory by reducing demand on the consumer end. As its main tagline says, "When the buying stops, the killing can, too." (Other organizations, by contrast, focus on scientific studies, policy-making, and anti-poaching campaigns.) The group's campaigns work to protect sharks, tigers, elephants, rhinos, and marine animals from poaching and illegal trade.

3 Small Charities Worth a Closer Look

community river cleanup
Living Lands & Waters hosts dozens of community river cleanups each year to help with watershed conservation efforts. (Photo: Living Lands & Waters)

Living Lands & Waters: The staff at this nonprofit spends several months a year living and traveling on a barge while hosting river cleanups, watershed conservation initiatives, workshops, tree plantings, and other key conservation efforts. The organization's goal is to protect, preserve, and restore the nation's major rivers and surrounding watersheds. It has been called "the only 'industrial strength' river cleanup organization" in the world.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia: The Wildlife Center of Virginia is a hospital for native wildlife, teaching the world to care about and to care for wildlife and the environment. Since 1982, it has treated over 85,000 wild animals across 200 species of native birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. Many schoolchildren come to learn about the animals that live in their surrounding regions. In 2007, it received the National Conservation Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation as the Conservation Organization of the Year.

Beyond Pesticides: This small nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., works to protect public and environmental health by reducing the need for unnecessary pesticide use. It seeks to "protect healthy air, water, land, and food for ourselves and future generations," and to do so by forging ties with government, other nonprofits, and individuals who rely on these natural resources. It works to identify and interpret hazards and to design safe pest management programs.

5 Charitable Donations That Also Make Great Gifts

Appalachian Trail hiker
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy preserves and manages the Appalachian Trail. (Photo: Appalachian Trail Conservancy)

Access Fund: The rock climber in your life will appreciate this gift that helps keep climbing areas open while supporting the environment in popular climbing spots. The organization raises money to buy private climbing areas when they come up for sale, protecting them for future climbers' enjoyment. It also advocates for sustainable use of these spots in light of the sport's tremendous growth in recent years.

Appalachian Trail Conservancy: Do you have a hiker on your gift list? He or she might appreciate a donation to this charity, which has a mission to protect and manage the Appalachian Trail—the world's longest hiking-only footpath—to ensure that it can be shared and enjoyed well into the future.

Coral Reef Alliance: Share the beauty of a protected coral reef with those on your gift list. This charity works to restore and protect coral reef habitats throughout the world, as these are spectacular and important habitats both for marine life and for millions of humans. The organization takes a scientific approach to tackling challenges like ocean warming and bleaching, translating data into effective interventions and policies.

Grand Canyon Trust: Whether a person has visited dozens of times or has it on a bucket list of sights to see, everyone loves the Grand Canyon. And this top-notch charity works to protect the air, land, water, and wildlife of this fragile and awe-inspiring environment. Its Mission & Vision statement says it envisions a Grand Canyon and Colorado Plateau where "wildness, the diversity of native plants and animals, clean air, and flowing rivers abound; sovereign tribal nations thrive; a livable climate endures; people passionately work to protect the region they love for future generations."

Ocean Conservancy: Marine enthusiasts will love a gift that protects their most treasured habitats. This charity works to fund research, build business partnerships, and advocate for policy changes that ensure the health of the world's oceans. It works to "create evidence-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it."