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Top-rated charities for 27 major causes for this holiday season

  • skeeze // Pixabay
    1/ skeeze // Pixabay

    Top-rated charities for 27 major causes for this holiday season

    The holiday season has arrived and on top of sipping eggnog, baking gingerbread, and listening to endless rounds of “Jingle Bells," it's the time to engage in the old-fashioned spirit of giving. However, picking out the right cause can be daunting.

    You have to first decide what type of charity to support: With dozens out there including environmental organizations, human right groups, animal welfare causes, and more, the choices can be overwhelming. You also have to feel confident that your money is going to the right place and benefiting the cause.

    To help you make a decision, Stacker has gathered the top-ranking charities in every category listed on Charity Navigator, a charity assessment organization that analyzes the financial documents and accountability metrics of nonprofit groups throughout the United States. It examines charities in 27 different categories including wildlife conservation, public policy research, homeless services, advocacy and education, social services, and more.

    Stacker has compiled the top-ranking charity in every category, according to the overall scores, for every four-star charity working at a national level. Read on to find the group that best fits your mission.

    ALSO: 82 top-rated charities for supporting the military, veterans, and their families

  • Sonia Su // Flickr
    2/ Sonia Su // Flickr

    Animal rights, welfare, and services: Last Chance for Animals

    Overall score: 98.23
    Financial score: 97.5
    Accountability score: 100


    Mission statement: Founded in 1984, Last Chance for Animals (LCA) recognizes that animals have the ability to experience pain, and as such they deserve certain basic rights protecting them from pain caused by humans. LCA believes that non-human animals should not be subjected to suffering and exploitation by humans because alternatives exist for nearly every traditional usage of animals. LCA opposes the use of animals for scientific curiosity, entertainment, clothing, and food. LCA recognizes the use of non-human animals in medical experimentation as both immoral and of questionable scientific validity due to the tremendous biological difference between species. LCA's work advocates conscious and informed lifestyle decisions, and LCA is committed to disseminating truthful information about societal animal abuse to improve the treatment of animals.

  • None // Maxpixel
    3/ None // Maxpixel

    Wildlife conservation: Turtle Island Restoration Network

    Overall score: 96.91
    Financial score: 96.84
    Accountability score: 97


    Mission statement: Turtle Island Restoration Network's (TIRN) mission is to take swift and decisive action to protect and restore marine species and their habitats, and to inspire people in communities all over the world to join us as active and vocal marine species advocates. Our Sea Turtles Restoration Project provides public education, action, and hands-on conservation to protect endangered sea turtles and marine biodiversity worldwide. Our GotMercury project works to educate the public about the impacts of consuming mercury tainted seafood. Our Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN) works to protect California's largest remaining run on endangered Coho salmon through research, restoration, public education and policy change.

  • American Battlefield Trust // Flickr
    4/ American Battlefield Trust // Flickr

    Libraries, historical societies and landmark preservation: American Battlefield Trust

    Overall score: 96.94
    Financial score: 96.9
    Accountability score: 97


    Mission statement: The American Battlefield Trust (formerly known as the Civil War Trust) seeks to preserve our nation's hallowed battlegrounds and educate the public about what happened there and why it matters today. We permanently protect these battlefields for future generations as a lasting and tangible memorial to the brave soldiers who fought in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. Through the generosity of our dedicated members, we have preserved nearly 50,000 acres of significant battlefield land in 24 states. We also educate the next generation about the sacrifices made to secure the freedoms we enjoy today. History education is the foundation of good citizenship and is key to developing the leaders of tomorrow. Battlefields are outdoor classrooms, and we bring to life the history of America's turbulent first century through outstanding educator resources, our award-winning magazine, cutting-edge digital productions, and engaging social media.

  • chummels // Pixabay
    5/ chummels // Pixabay

    Public broadcasting and media: Moving Picture Institute

    Overall score: 97.87
    Financial score: 100
    Accountability score: 97


    Mission statement: The Moving Picture Institute believes that film, more effectively than any other medium, can bring the idea of freedom to life. In keeping with that belief, we are working to ensure that film becomes a center of genuinely democratic art in the coming years. Our goal is to guarantee that film's unique capacity to give shape to abstract principles-to make them move and breathe-is used to support and promote liberty. Toward that end, we fund films from development through post-production, support up-and-coming filmmakers, and serve as a high-level intern placement service.

  • Wce // Wikimedia Commons
    6/ Wce // Wikimedia Commons

    Housing and neighborhood development: Enterprise Community Partners

    Overall score: 98.67
    Financial score: 98.12
    Accountability score: 100


    Mission statement: Making well-designed homes affordable—as a proven and powerful nonprofit, Enterprise improves communities and people's lives by making well-designed homes affordable. We bring together nationwide know-how, partners, policy leadership and investment to multiply the impact of local affordable housing development. Our mission: To create opportunity for low- and moderate-income people through affordable housing in diverse, thriving communities. Over more than 30 years, Enterprise has created nearly 380,000 homes, invested $28.9 billion and touched millions of lives.

  • Wkg1974 // Wikimedia Commons
    7/ Wkg1974 // Wikimedia Commons

    Scholarship and financial support: Central Scholarship

    Overall score: 96.95
    Financial score: 95.69
    Accountability score: 100


    Mission statement: Central Scholarship is devoted to helping individuals achieve a better life through higher education. We believe that education is a right, not a privilege and that scholarships are an investment, not an expense. Founded in 1924, we award scholarships and interest-free loans to students pursuing higher education. Through Central Scholarship, students are able to afford tuition and fulfill their potential.

  • Save the Dream // Flickr
    8/ Save the Dream // Flickr

    Youth education programs and services: Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO)

    Overall score: 100
    Financial score: 100
    Accountability score: 100


    Mission statement: SEO was founded in 1963 with a mission to provide talented and motivated young people from underserved and underrepresented communities with access to superior educational and career opportunities. Today, SEO runs three programs: SEO Scholars is an eight-year academic program that gets low-income public high school students to and through college-with a 95% college graduation rate; SEO Career is the nation's premier summer internship and training program for underrepresented college students, specializing in banking, private equity, corporate leadership, law, and nonprofit; and SEO Alternative Investments provides education, exposure, training and mentoring opportunities to talented professionals traditionally underrepresented in the alternative investments sector.

  • Travis M. Burns // Wikimedia Commons
    9/ Travis M. Burns // Wikimedia Commons

    Special education: Eye to Eye

    Overall score: 96.75
    Financial score: 97.74
    Accountability score: 96


    Mission statement: Eye to Eye's mission is to improve the life of every person with a learning disability. We fulfill our mission by supporting and growing a network of youth mentoring programs run by and for those with learning differences, and by organizing advocates to support the full inclusion of people with learning disabilities and ADHD in all aspects of society. Our vision is simple, yet bold: to create a world in which people with LD/ADHD are fully accepted, valued, and respected—not just by society, but also by themselves—and that they live free from second thoughts or worry, ready, able, and eager to apply their unique strengths to whatever they encounter in life.

  • Gardenschool1961 // Wikimedia Commons
    10/ Gardenschool1961 // Wikimedia Commons

    Early childhood programs and services: Readworks

    Overall score: 95.87
    Financial score: 95
    Accountability score: 97


    Mission statement: ReadWorks is committed to solving America's reading comprehension crisis and student achievement gap. Driven by cognitive science research, ReadWorks creates world-class content, teacher guidance, and integrated tools that improve teacher effectiveness and student achievement. Vision: Every child in the United States can read well with deep comprehension because all educators teach reading effectively with the superb reading content and curriculum they need.

  • U.S. Army // Flickr
    11/ U.S. Army // Flickr

    Education policy and reform: The Parent-Child Home Program

    Overall score: 97.17
    Financial score: 100
    Accountability score: 96


    Mission statement: The Parent-Child Home Program's (PCHP) international network of program sites provides low-income families with the necessary skills and tools to ensure their children achieve their greatest potential in school and in life. The National Center assists underserved communities in replicating and expanding PCHP's proven school readiness program that builds early parent-child verbal interaction and learning at home. Together we are strengthening families and communities, and preparing the workforce of the future.

  • Aberdeen Proving Ground // Flickr
    12/ Aberdeen Proving Ground // Flickr

    Scholarship and financial support: Folds of Honor

    Overall score: 98.23
    Financial score: 97.5
    Accountability score: 100


    Mission statement: Since 2007, the Folds of Honor has carried forth this singular, noble mission: to provide educational scholarships to spouses and children of America's fallen and disabled service-members.

  • Sungmin Yun // Wikimedia Commons
    13/ Sungmin Yun // Wikimedia Commons

    Youth education programs and services: The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation

    Overall score: 95.8
    Financial score: 94.07
    Accountability score: 100


    Mission statement: Founded in 1996, The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation (MHOF) donates musical instruments to underserved schools nationwide, in an effort to give youngsters the many benefits of music education, help them to be better students and inspire creativity and expression through playing music. MHOF was inspired by the acclaimed motion picture "Mr. Holland's Opus," the story of the profound effect a dedicated music teacher had on generations of students. The film's composer, Michael Kamen, founded MHOF in 1996 as his commitment to the future of music education.

  • Oregon Department of Transportation // Wikimedia Commons
    14/ Oregon Department of Transportation // Wikimedia Commons

    Environmental protection and conservation: Environmental and Energy Study Institute

    Overall score: 100
    Financial score: 100
    Accountability score: 100


    Mission statement: EESI is dedicated to promoting environmentally sustainable societies. EESI advances innovative policy solutions that set us on a cleaner, more secure and sustainable energy path. Our perspective: The climate crisis is urgent. The solution is achievable. A healthy climate and a healthy economy go hand-in-hand. Energy prices must reflect their true costs. U.S. leadership is essential. EESI was founded by a bipartisan Congressional caucus in 1984. EESI serves as a trusted source of credible, non-partisan information on energy and environment solutions. EESI carries out: policymaker education; technical assistance that enables energy upgrades without upfront costs; innovative policy development; work in coalition; transforming energy infrastructures, transportation systems, land use management practices, and community designs. Together this creates new opportunities for American entrepreneurs.

  • NIAID // Flickr
    15/ NIAID // Flickr

    Diseases, disorders, and disciplines: Cystic Fibrosis Research, Inc.

    Overall score: 100
    Financial score: 100
    Accountability score: 100


    Mission statement: The Cystic Fibrosis Research, Inc. (CFRI) works to fund research, provide educational and personal support, and spread awareness of cystic fibrosis (CF), a life-threatening genetic disease. CF is an inherited chronic disease that affects the respiratory, digestive and reproductive systems. As we work to find a cure for cystic fibrosis, CFRI envisions informing, engaging, and empowering the CF community to help all who have this challenging disease attain the highest possible quality of life. Our committees include: the Research Advisory Committee, which administers, reviews and offers guidance on what cystic fibrosis research to fund; the Events Committees, which organize and coordinate many popular events throughout the year; and the Newsletter Committee, which produces our award-winning monthly newsletter, with over 15,000 subscribers.

  • The Photographer // Wikimedia Commons
    16/ The Photographer // Wikimedia Commons

    Medical research: National Pediatric Cancer Foundation

    Overall score: 100
    Financial score: 100
    Accountability score: 100


    Mission statement: Founded in 1991, the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation exists to raise money to fund pediatric cancer research. Our focus is to fund research, which will lead to the elimination of pediatric cancer worldwide. In addition to funding valuable seed grants throughout the state of Florida, the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation has developed The Sunshine Project. This is an innovative collaboration of the nation's top doctors and researchers with one goal: to fast-track new treatments and increase the survival rate of children battling cancer. Since 2005, we have implemented the groundwork necessary to introduce less toxic, more targeted drugs into clinical trials. New compounds are currently being tested in these trials and hold great promise for children who have not experienced positive results under the standard treatment protocol.

  • Travis Wise // Flickr
    17/ Travis Wise // Flickr

    Patient and family support: Give Kids The World Village

    Overall score: 98.62
    Financial score: 98.06
    Accountability score: 100


    Mission statement: Give Kids The World Village exists exclusively to fulfill the wishes of all critically ill children—and their families—who want to experience a cost-free, dream vacation in the theme park capital of the world: Orlando, Florida. Working with wish-granting organizations from around the world, the Village hosts almost 8,000 critically ill children and their families each year at its 84-acre, nonprofit resort in central Florida. Thanks to the generosity of individual and corporate donors, the Village provides accommodations, meals, transportation, daily entertainment, and free access to Orlando's world-famous theme parks and other attractions. Since its founding in 1986, Give Kids The World has hosted more than 165,000 children and families from all 50 states and more than 75 countries.

  • NIHClinicalCenter // Flickr
    18/ NIHClinicalCenter // Flickr

    Treatment and prevention services: The Jed Foundation

    Overall score: 96.91
    Financial score: 95.64
    Accountability score: 100


    Mission statement: JED is a nonprofit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation's teens and young adults. We're partnering with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention programs and systems. We're equipping teens and young adults with the skills and knowledge to help themselves and each other. We're encouraging community awareness, understanding and action for young adult mental health.

  • U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class William Selby // Wikimedia Commons
    19/ U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class William Selby // Wikimedia Commons

    Advocacy and education: Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation

    Overall score: 100
    Financial score: 100
    Accountability score: 100


    Mission statement: The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation was founded in 1999 by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, which consists exclusively of the living Medal of Honor recipients. The mission of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation is to perpetuate the Medal of Honor's legacy through outreach and collaborative efforts, raise funds for initiatives that promote what the Medal of Honor represents, operation of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society headquarters and the public service activities of the Society's exclusive membership, and to promote American values and the qualities of courage, sacrifice and patriotism through increased awareness, education, behavior and example.

  • Daniel R. Mennuto // Wikimedia Commons
    20/ Daniel R. Mennuto // Wikimedia Commons

    Social services: Navy SEAL Foundation

    Overall score: 100
    Financial score: 100
    Accountability score: 100


    Mission statement: The Navy SEAL Foundation's mission is to provide educational and motivational support, promote health and welfare programs for the Naval Special Warfare Community, and perpetuate the history and heritage of the U.S. Naval Commandos. Our Foundation is strong, our leadership is dedicated, and our mission is noble. The Navy SEAL Foundation is proud to serve the Naval Special Warfare community including the U.S. Navy SEALs, SWCC, NSW Support Personnel, and their families. Our programs center around three pillars: health and welfare, including tragedy assistance and family events; education and motivation, including scholarships and tuition assistance; and history and heritage, including the funding of monuments and memorials.

  • Airman 1st Class Kristine M. Gruwell // U.S. Air Force
    21/ Airman 1st Class Kristine M. Gruwell // U.S. Air Force

    Youth development, shelter, and crisis services: After-School All-Stars

    Overall score: 95.3
    Financial score: 94.08
    Accountability score: 97


    Mission statement: After-School All-Stars provides comprehensive after-school programs that keep children safe and help them succeed in school and life. For more than 20 years, we have offered free, high-quality programs to at-risk youth across the country. Our goals for our All-Stars are that they grow up safe and healthy, graduate high school and go on to college, find careers they love and give back to their communities. We achieve these goals by fueling our students' passions, tying their interests to academic support, enrichment activities and health and fitness programs that instill the confidence and resilience they'll need for success in school and in life. At ASAS, learning is disguised in hands-on, student-directed projects that engage students' imaginations and extend the classroom to their playing fields, neighborhoods, and homes. We help our All-Stars gain the confidence and skills they need to lead their communities.

  • Office of Public Affairs // Flickr
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    Multipurpose human service organizations: Concerns of Police Survivors

    Overall score: 96.9
    Financial score: 96.82
    Accountability score: 97


    Mission statement: Organized in 1984, Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) provides resources to assist in the rebuilding of the lives of surviving families and affected co-workers of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty as determined by federal criteria. Furthermore, COPS provides training to law enforcement agencies on survivor victimization issues and educates the public of the need to support the law enforcement profession and its survivors. COPS programs for survivors include the National Police Survivors' Conference, scholarships, peer-support at the national, state, and local levels, COPS Kids counseling reimbursement program, the COPS Kids Summer Camp, COPS Teens Outward Bound, special retreats for spouses, parents, siblings, adult children, and in-laws, trial and parole support, and other assistance programs.

  • Ed Yourdon // Flickr
    23/ Ed Yourdon // Flickr

    Homeless services: Family Promise

    Overall score: 97.03
    Financial score: 95.8
    Accountability score: 100


    Mission statement: Family Promise develops community-based affiliate programs that serve children and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness and provides ongoing support for these affiliates to empower families to achieve and maintain their sustainable independence. Family Promise provides technical assistance and expertise to a national network of more than 200 affiliates in 43 states, mobilizing 180,000 volunteers, and serving approximately 70,000 homeless family members each year. Our programs address the range of issues affecting low-income families and families experiencing homelessness to help them rebuild their lives and find independent, sustainable housing.

  • U.S. Army // Flickr
    24/ U.S. Army // Flickr

    Children's and family services: My Stuff Bags Foundation

    Overall score: 100
    Financial score: 100
    Accountability score: 100


    Mission statement: Founded in 1998, My Stuff Bags Foundation provides comfort and a message of hope to abused and neglected children entering crisis and foster care through its unique program, My Stuff Bags. More than 300,000 children across America must be rescued each year from dangerous home environments. Traumatized by the events leading to their rescue, these children often arrive without any of their own belongings. The Foundation's mission is to provide powerful advocacy on behalf of abused, abandoned and neglected children across the United States. The Foundation rallies widespread involvement through the My Stuff Bags program, to address the needs of these children and support the organizations caring for them. The foundation's ultimate goal is to provide a My Stuff Bag to each of the over 300,000 children entering crisis and foster care each year.

  • Isles Yacht Club // Wikicommons
    25/ Isles Yacht Club // Wikicommons

    Multipurpose human service organizations: USTA Foundation

    Overall score: 95.87
    Financial score: 95
    Accountability score: 97


    Mission statement: The mission of the USTA Foundation is to bring tennis and education together to change lives. Using this powerful combination, we help serve up dreams for under-resourced youth. USTA Foundation is the National Charitable Foundation of the United States Tennis Association, Inc. USTA Foundation is a not-for-profit entity that is dedicated to improving the quality of life among our nation's youth. USTA Foundation encourages children to pursue their goals and highest dreams by succeeding in school and becoming responsible citizens. USTA Foundation supports organizations that use tennis as a vehicle to help at-risk children finish high school and qualify for college scholarships.

  • Andrew Skudder // Flickr
    26/ Andrew Skudder // Flickr

    Religious activities: Bill Glass Behind the Walls

    Overall score: 96.66
    Financial score: 97.5
    Accountability score: 96


    Mission statement: Bill Glass BEHIND THE WALLS was founded in 1969 with one mission: to assist the Church by equipping and igniting Christians to share their faith in Jesus Christ with the "least of these." Each year thousands of volunteers join our prison ministry to lead tens of thousands of inmates to life-changing decisions for Jesus. In the first 40 years, more than 1 million of these decisions were recorded. For a great number of the volunteers our event was the first experience in sharing the gospel with others, and has since emboldened them to step out of the "comfort zone" to be more active in sharing their faith. By learning to share faith in prison you are tapped into a unique training opportunity with eternal significance with a proven impact on society.

  • skeeze // Pixabay
    27/ skeeze // Pixabay

    Non-medical science and technology research: Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

    Overall score: 96.66
    Financial score: 97.5
    Accountability score: 96


    Mission statement: Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences investigates the microbial drivers of global ocean processes through basic and applied research, education, and enterprise. What we are learning will be essential to the conservation and responsible use of the ocean and the many valuable services it provides. Research at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is organized around three core themes of Blue Biotechnology, Ocean Biogeochemistry and Climate Change, and Ocean Health. The Laboratory's 60,000 square-foot, shore-based campus is located in East Boothbay, Maine, on the Damariscotta River estuary.

  • U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development // Flickr
    28/ U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development // Flickr

    Social and public policy research: Partnership for Public Service

    Overall score: 96.46
    Financial score: 95
    Accountability score: 100


    Mission statement: The Partnership for Public Service works to revitalize our federal government by inspiring a new generation to serve and by transforming the way government works. Building, energizing, and maintaining a high-quality workforce is the key to success for any organization—and the federal government is no exception. We believe that by strengthening the civil service, we help government work better to serve the needs of all 310 million Americans. As a nonprofit, nonpartisan, mission-driven organization, we bring unique characteristics to that effort, including third-party credibility, continuity, a strong ability to convene across sectors and a passion for change.

     

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