The festive holiday season is fast approaching. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we’re reminded of the extremely fortunate lives we in the United States lead.
For many Discover Corps travelers, the opportunity to give back to communities in developing nations is part of what makes traveling so special. But your contribution to our shared world doesn’t have to be restricted to volunteer time abroad. In fact, the holiday season is typically when families in the U.S. make the biggest impact through charitable giving.
In an effort to inspire those of you who wish to contribute to meaningful and impactful charities during the holiday season, we’ve put together a short list of organizations we admire. These are just a few of the countless charitable orgs that could really use your support.
If you’re feeling in the giving spirit this holiday season, we encourage you to read about the incredible organizations below. No matter how small your donation may be, we urge you to consider contributing to a cause that speaks to your heart and mind. If you have suggestions for other organizations that should be on this list, please leave them for us in the comments!
Connect with Entrepreneurs Through Kiva
Kiva International, the trailblazers of micro-finance, are still at it over a decade after breaking onto the scene.
Kiva’s mission is to connect people from around the world through lending to help alleviate poverty. They celebrate and support people looking to create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.
Potential lenders are able to select specific projects that speak to them. From helping single parents start businesses to funding health, education or agriculture projects, loans given to Kiva entrepreneurs are not a hand out, but a hand up.
Expand Access to Clean Water
The one thing that every human being on the planet requires in order to survive is becoming increasingly scarce. It’s estimated that over a billion people worldwide– a shocking number!– don’t have consistent access to clean water.
Fortunately, there are many organizations that are dedicated to solving this humanitarian crisis, and Water.org (which was co-founded by Matt Damon) is leading the charge.
The education, data collection, and advocacy that Water.org provides empowers local people to overcome social, political and economic issues that prevent equitable access to clean water around the world.
Interested in contributing to additional grassroots water sanitation organizations?
Discover Corps’ partners in the Dominican Republic have established Filters for Families. The NGO was created alongside teenage traveler Sarah Stubbs in order to improve access to clean water in the region.
So far, Filters for Families has distributed filters to over 550 local families. Last summer alone, they raised over $8,000 for filters, thanks to their passion for improving the health of their community through clean water access.
Address Issues of Poverty
Solving poverty on a global scale can seem overwhelming. But the reality remains that, as many of us celebrate holidays with family and food, far too may others are struggling to survive.
Enter Oxfam, a global movement of people working together to end the injustice of poverty. With 70 years of experience in more than 90 countries, Oxfam takes on the big issues that keep people poor: inequality, discrimination, and unequal access to resources including food, water and land.
The org helps people save lives in disasters, build stronger futures for themselves, and hold the powerful accountable. They also host impactful “Hunger Banquets” across the world, which draw attention to the global food crisis.
Another incredible organization that is working toward alleviating poverty (both domestically and internationally) is Heifer International. Founded on the “teach a man to fish” philosophy, Heifer empowers families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity.
Heifer helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. They provide animals to communities in need, which brings both food and reliable income, since agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey can be traded or sold at market.
When many families gain this sustainable income, it brings new opportunities for expanded education, creating agricultural cooperatives, forming community savings and funding small businesses.
Protect Endangered Species
Have you ever dreamed of scuba diving with Whales or spotting rhinos on an African safari? If so, animal conservation is likely a cause that concerns you. Our planet’s wildlife is in jeopardy, but the World Wildlife Fund is devoted to protecting it.
For more than 50 years, the people at WWF have made it their mission to find solutions that save the marvelous array of life on our planet by applying the best science available and working closely with local communities. Why is this important? Humans are responsible for the current rate of species extinction, which is at least 100–1,000 times higher than nature intended.
WWF’s recent Living Planet Report found that wildlife populations of vertebrate species—mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish—have declined by 52% over the last 40 years. So there’s no better time than now to contribute toward their cause.
Remember Giving Tuesday!
For those who may have forgotten, Giving Tuesday is the charitable world’s answer to the consumer-driven Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
This year, on November 29th, we encourage everyone to consider making a donation to the non-profit of your choice. Choose an issue that speaks to you or weighs on your heart or mind, and do something about it!
Many organizations are willing to match donations on this day. So be sure to check out the charities you’re interested in supporting to see if, by donating on #GivingTuesday, you can make an even larger impact. –Sara McDaniel
BIO: Sara McDaniel is a San Diego-based educator who uses her summers to explore the world, often alongside her students! In addition to writing for The Volunteer Traveler, she has directed international programming for various travel organizations. When she’s not writing or researching, she can often be found swimming in the ocean, eating all of the delicious foods she can find, and teaching in San Diego State University’s College of Education.