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The 39 best environmental charities

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Chad Riley // The Conservation Fund

The 39 best environmental charities

On Sept. 20, 2019, millions of students around the world stepped out of their classrooms and into the streets to demand more climate action. This movement, dubbed “Fridays for Future” or “School Strike for Climate” and inspired by the work of youth activist Greta Thunberg, captured headlines on the day of the big strike. But when world leaders had the opportunity to act at the U.N. Climate Summit a few days later, they largely fell back on old platitudes and delays.

This political inaction is indicative of a larger knowledge gap about climate change for many Americans. The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication’s 2018 Climate Opinion Maps demonstrates that although the vast majority of Americans support funding research into renewable energy sources, we do not regularly discuss global warming with friends and family or read about it in our habitual news sources.

At the same time, nonprofit organizations across the country are working to fill this gap by broadening public understanding of climate change. Such organizations at a national level include the National Audubon Society, which seeks to conserve and restore natural ecosystems with a focus on birds, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, which brings together scientists and concerned citizens in education and advocacy projects. From small towns to college campuses, local and regional groups are getting the word out as well.

In this story, Stacker seeks to highlight the work of 39 such organizations. We searched Charity Navigator’s comprehensive charity evaluation database to identify 39 charities in the “Environment: Environmental Protection and Conservation” category which are rated 4 out of 4 stars and work on a national level. All of these charities’ mission statements and rankings were pulled directly from this database.

Read on to learn about 39 noteworthy charities working to increase awareness of our environment and conserve America’s wild places.

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Courtesy of Beyond Pesticides

#39. Beyond Pesticides

- Location: Washington D.C.
- Goal: Because freedom from pesticides is everybody's right
- Overall score: 90.35 (Financial: 86.36, Accountability and transparency: 100)
- Program expense ratio: 95.3%
- Mission: Founded in 1981, Beyond Pesticides (formerly National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides) works with allies in protecting public health and the environment to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides. Beyond Pesticides has historically taken a two-pronged approach to the pesticide problem by identifying the risks of conventional pest management practices and promoting non-chemical and least-hazardous management alternatives. The organization's primary goal is to effect change through local action, assisting individuals and community-based organizations to stimulate discussion on the hazards of toxic pesticides, while providing information on safer alternatives.

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NationalPublicLandsDay-6051- NEEF/ Bethany Birnie

#38. National Environmental Education Foundation

- Location: Washington D.C.
- Goal: Knowledge to live by
- Overall score: 90.4 (Financial: 86.43, Accountability and transparency: 100)
- Program expense ratio: 83.9%
- Mission:
OUR PURPOSE: To cultivate an environmentally conscious and responsible public
OUR VISION: That people's everyday actions are guided by an understanding and concern for the well-being of people and the planet
OUR MISSION: To make the environment more accessible, relatable, relevant, and connected to the daily lives of all Americans

Visit www.neefusa.org for more info. 

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Unsplash

#37. Environmental Defense Fund

- Location: New York, NY
- Goal: Finding the ways that work
- Overall score: 90.57 (Financial: 87.29, Accountability and transparency: 96)
- Program expense ratio: 77.4%
- Mission: Environmental Defense Fund's mission is to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends. What distinguishes EDF from others is the combination of what we protect and how we protect it. We work to solve the most critical environmental problems facing the planet, focusing on mitigating climate change, restoring the ocean's bounty, protecting wildlife and their habitats, and safeguarding our health. Since these topics are intertwined, our solutions take a multidisciplinary approach. We work in concert with other organizations-as well as with business, government and communities-and avoid duplicating work already being done effectively by others.

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Courtsey of Green America

#35. Green America (tie)

- Location: Washington D.C.
- Goal: The nation's leading green economy organization
- Overall score: 90.71 (Financial: 87.22, Accountability and transparency: 97)
- Program expense ratio: 87.7%
- Mission: Green America's mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. Since 1982, Green America's programs and campaigns have used economic strategies to build the green marketplace, stop egregious corporate social and environmental practices, help millions of people green their lives and purchases, and create a green economy.

We organize our national network of consumers, investors, activists, and businesses around four interrelated issue areas: 1) Clean Energy & Climate Action, 2) Regenerative Agriculture, 3) Fair Labor & Social Justice, and Responsible Finance & Better Banking. Our three strategic hubs include our: 1) Consumer & Corporate Engagement Programs, 2) Green Business Network, and 3) Center for Sustainability Solutions. Green America is also the nation's trusted source for green living and buying resources.

 

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Paul Wiegman // New Buildings Institute

#35. New Buildings Institute (tie)

- Location: Portland, OR
- Goal: To promote energy efficiency in buildings
- Overall score: 90.71 (Financial: 86.87, Accountability and transparency: 100)
- Program expense ratio: 82.8%
- Mission: New Buildings Institute is working to improve the energy performance of commercial buildings. We work collaboratively with commercial building market players- governments, utilities, energy efficiency Columbia Gorge advocates and building professionals- to remove barriers to energy efficiency, including promoting advanced design practices, improved technologies, public policies and programs that improve energy efficiency. We also develop and offer guidance to individuals and organizations on designing and constructing energy-efficient buildings through our Advanced Buildings suite of tools and resources.

[Pictured: Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh, Penn.]

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Photo by Side A Photography, courtesy Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

#34. Rails-To-Trails Conservancy

- Location: Washington D.C.
- Goal: Inspiring movement
- Overall score: 90.82 (Financial: 87.37, Accountability and transparency: 97)
- Program expense ratio: 75.8%
- Mission: The mission of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is to create a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people. Since its beginning in 1986, RTC has supported the tremendous growth and development of rail-trails. Today, there are more than 1,500 preserved pathways that form the backbone of a growing trail system that spans communities, regions, states and, indeed, the entire country. We remain dedicated to the creation of a nationwide network of trails. Further, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is committed to enhancing the health of America's environment, transportation, economy, neighborhoods and people - ensuring a better future made possible by trails and the connections they inspire.

[Pictured: Baltimore Greenway Trails Network in Baltimore, Md.]

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DJ Glisson, II // Land Trust Alliance

#33. Land Trust Alliance

- Location: Washington D.C.
- Goal: Together, conserving the places you need and love.
- Overall score: 90.85 (Financial: 89.83, Accountability and transparency: 92)
- Program expense ratio: 80.2%
- Mission: The Land Trust Alliance works to save the places people love by strengthening land conservation across America. Founded in 1982, we work with the national land conservation community—comprised of 1.5 million dedicated land conservation professionals, volunteers and supporters—to quickly, effectively and permanently save our most valued natural places across America. The Land Trust Alliance believes that if we focus our combined efforts to increase the pace, quality and permanence of conservation, we can turn the tide and ultimately change the way that land development takes place in America. Today, the result of our work has been the creation of a vibrant, national movement of 1,700 organizations which has now conserved over 37 million acres.

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Mark Byzewski // Flickr

#32. Property and Environment Research Center

- Location: Bozeman, MT
- Goal: Improving environmental quality through markets
- Overall score: 90.88 (Financial: 87.46, Accountability and transparency: 97)
- Program expense ratio: 73.5%
- Mission: The Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) is a 40-year-old conservation research institute dedicated to harnessing incentives and markets to create long-lasting conservation solutions. Located in Bozeman, Montana, PERC’s brand of conservation—free market environmentalism—relies on voluntary exchange that results in positive environmental outcomes for both private and public resources. We believe that when conservation makes economic sense, it is more sustainable. PERC works with conservationists, policymakers, landowners, scientists, and thought leaders to understand the root of environmental conflicts and move toward mutually beneficial solutions. We advance conservation that is voluntary and cooperative, rather than divisive and regulatory, ensuring it will last beyond changing administrations and across political parties.

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Unsplash

#31. American Rivers

- Location: Washington D.C.
- Goal: Rivers Connect Us
- Overall score: 91.28 (Financial: 88.05, Accountability and transparency: 97)
- Program expense ratio: 78.2%
- Mission: American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America's Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington D.C., American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers. Through our river conservation work we are ensuring clean drinking water supplies, revitalizing fish and wildlife, improving recreation, and leaving a legacy of healthy rivers for future generations.

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Unsplash

#30. Environmental Working Group

- Location: Washington D.C.
- Goal: The power of information
- Overall score: 91.51 (Financial: 88.68, Accountability and transparency: 96)
- Program expense ratio: 80.4%
- Mission: Founded in 1993, the mission of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment. Our team of scientists, engineers, policy experts, lawyers and computer programmers pores over government data, legal documents, scientific studies and our own laboratory tests to expose threats to your health and the environment, and to find solutions. Our research brings to light unsettling facts that you have a right to know. It shames and shakes up polluters and their lobbyists. It rattles politicians and shapes policy. It persuades bureaucracies to rethink science and strengthen regulation. It provides practical information you can use to protect your family and community.

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Dr. Michael Webster // Coral Reef Alliance

#29. Coral Reef Alliance

- Location: Oakland, CA
- Goal: Uniting communities to save coral reefs
- Overall score: 91.55 (Financial: 88.05, Accountability and transparency: 100)
- Program expense ratio: 78.2%
- Mission: The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) is a non-profit, environmental NGO that is on a mission to save the world’s coral reefs. We work collaboratively with communities to reduce direct threats to reefs in ways that provide long-term benefits to people and wildlife. In parallel, CORAL is actively expanding the scientific understanding of how corals adapt to climate change and applying this information to give reefs the best chance to thrive for generations to come. This combined expertise uniquely positions us to achieve our mission by rallying the conservation around scalable and effective solutions for coral reefs. 

 

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Pacific Southwest Region USFWS Follow // Flickr

#28. Union of Concerned Scientists

- Location: Cambridge, MA
- Goal: Citizens and scientists for environmental solutions
- Overall score: 91.85 (Financial: 88.48, Accountability and transparency: 100)
- Program expense ratio: 79.7%
- Mission: The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future. UCS members are people from all walks of life: parents and businesspeople, biologists and physicists, teachers and students. Our achievements over the decades show that thoughtful action based on the best available science can help safeguard our future and the future of our planet.

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National Park Service

#26. Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics (tie)

- Location: Boulder, CO
- Goal: From your backyard to your backcountry
- Overall score: 91.9 (Financial: 89.28, Accountability and transparency: 96)
- Program expense ratio: 82.5%
- Mission: The award-winning Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people of all ages how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, and is the most widely accepted outdoor ethics program used on public lands. As the leader in sustainable recreation practices, the Center is training a nation of outdoor advocates to put Leave No Trace principles into action. Through relevant and targeted education, research and outreach, the Center will ensure the long-term health of our natural world.

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Courtesy of the Garden Conservancy

#26. The Garden Conservancy (tie)

- Location: Garrison, NY
- Goal: Saving and Sharing Outstanding American Gardens
- Overall score: 91.9 (Financial: 88.55, Accountability and transparency: 100)
- Program expense ratio: 79.2%
- Mission: The mission of the Garden Conservancy is to save and share outstanding American gardens for the education and inspiration of the public. Working with private garden owners as well as public organizations across the country, we help private gardens become public and help restore, rehabilitate, and protect public gardens. Since our founding in 1989, we have worked with more than eighty gardens, many of them historic landmarks. The Garden Conservancy's signature Open Days program also provides access to hundreds of America's finest private gardens. Our educational programs, documentation projects, and garden-study tours offer further sources of contemporary gardening ideas and historic highlights. Through all of our programs, the Garden Conservancy champions the vital role gardens play in our culture, history, and quality of life.

[Pictured: Blithewood Garden, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.]

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Courtesy of Stroud Water Research Center

#25. Stroud Water Research Center

- Location: Avondale, PA
- Goal: Dedicated to the study of streams and rivers
- Overall score: 91.98 (Financial: 88.67, Accountability and transparency: 100)
- Program expense ratio: 71.6%
- Mission: Since 1967, Stroud Water Research Center has been focused on one thing—fresh water. We are dedicated to understanding the ecology of streams, rivers, and their watersheds—both pristine and polluted. The health of freshwater ecosystems is our first line of defense in preserving clean water—and clean water is essential to all life. Our freshwater research, environmental education, watershed restoration, and stewardship programs enable businesses, policymakers, landowners, and individuals to make informed decisions that affect water quality and availability around the world.

[Pictured: Stroud Center scientists in White Clay Creek]

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Linda Dyer Kennedy/Audubon Photography Awards

#24. National Audubon Society

- Location: New York, NY
- Goal: Protecting our great natural heritage
- Overall score: 92 (Financial: 89.1, Accountability and transparency: 97)
- Program expense ratio: 81.3%
- Mission: The mission of the National Audubon Society is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the Earth's biological diversity. Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences. Audubon is making progress protecting habitat on-the-ground, while its public policy office in Washington D.C. connects Audubon with Congress, the executive branch, courts, and mass media to ensure our great natural heritage endures for generations.

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Bob Wick // Conservation Lands Foundation

#23. Conservation Lands Foundation

- Location: Durango, CO
- Goal: Protecting America's Heritage
- Overall score: 92.21 (Financial: 99.57, Accountability and transparency: 89)
- Program expense ratio: 83.5%
- Mission: As the only nonprofit in the country solely dedicated to protecting the National Conservation Lands, our mission is to protect, restore and expand the National Conservation Lands through education, advocacy and partnerships. Visit www.conservationlands.org for more info. 

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Unsplash

#22. Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

- Location: Washington D.C.
- Goal: Guaranteeing You a Place to Hunt and Fish
- Overall score: 92.27 (Financial: 89.08, Accountability and transparency: 100)
- Program expense ratio: 81.0%
- Mission: In order to guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) strengthens laws, policies, and practices affecting fish and wildlife conservation by leading partnerships that influence decision makers.

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Courtesy of Environmental Law and Policy Center

#21. Environmental Law and Policy Center

- Location: Chicago, IL
- Goal: Protecting the Midwest's environment and natural heritage
- Overall score: 92.34 (Financial: 89.94, Accountability and transparency: 96)
- Program expense ratio: 81.0%
- Mission: The Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) is the Midwest's leading public interest environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization. We develop and lead successful strategic environmental advocacy campaigns to improve environmental quality and protect our natural heritage. We are public interest environmental entrepreneurs who engage in creative business deal making with diverse interests to put into practice our belief that environmental progress and economic development can be achieved together. ELPC's multidisciplinary staff of talented and experienced public interest attorneys, environmental business specialists, public policy advocates, and communications specialists brings a strong and effective combination of skills to solve environmental problems and improve the quality of life in our Midwestern communities.

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Courtesy of Waterkeeper Alliance

#20. Waterkeeper Alliance

- Location: New York, NY
- Goal: The voice for the world's waters
- Overall score: 92.61 (Financial: 90, Accountability and transparency: 97)
- Program expense ratio: 92.9%
- Mission: Waterkeeper Alliance's mission is to strengthen and grow a global network of grassroots leaders protecting everyone's right to clean water. Today, Waterkeeper Alliance is made up of over 300 Waterkeeper Organizations and Affiliates protecting rivers, lakes and coastal waterways on 6 continents. They are the largest and fastest-growing nonprofit solely focused on clean water and their goal is swimmable, drinkable and fishable water everywhere. They accomplish this by holding polluters accountable and connecting local Waterkeeper organizations worldwide.

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Danielle Brigida // USFWS

#19. Natural Resources Defense Council

- Location: New York, NY
- Goal: The Earth's best defense
- Overall score: 93.34 (Financial: 91.48, Accountability and transparency: 96)
- Program expense ratio: 82.6%
- Mission: The Natural Resources Defense Council's (NRDC) purpose is to safeguard the Earth: its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends. We work to restore the integrity of the elements that sustain life—air, land, and water—and to defend endangered natural places. We seek to establish sustainability and good stewardship of the Earth as central ethical imperatives of human society. NRDC affirms the integral place of human beings in the environment. We strive to protect nature in ways that advance the long-term welfare of present and future generations. We work to foster the fundamental right of all people to have a voice in decisions that affect their environment.

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Candice Nyando // Flickr

#18. Environmental and Energy Study Institute

- Location: Washington D.C.
- Goal: Ideas. Insights. Sustainable Solutions.
- Overall score: 93.52 (Financial: 90.84, Accountability and transparency: 100)
- Program expense ratio: 85.4%
- Mission: EESI is dedicated to promoting environmentally sustainable societies.

Environmental and Energy Study Institute (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 creates new opportunities for American entrepreneurs and creates good jobs.

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Photo by Austin Price, courtesy of the National Forest Foundation

#17. National Forest Foundation

- Location: Missoula, MT
- Goal: Engage Americans in promoting the health and public enjoyment of our National Forests.
- Overall score: 93.66 (Financial: 91.98, Accountability and transparency: 96)
- Program expense ratio: 86.1%
- Mission: Our National Forests span 193 million acres from Alaska to Puerto Rico. Truly "The People's Lands," these forests, grasslands, deserts, and snow-capped mountains are our most cherished outdoor spaces that offer unparalleled recreation opportunities. They also support local economies, provide critical natural resources, clean our water and air, and host wildlife. The National Forest Foundation is the only conservation organization solely dedicated to improving these public lands for today's and future generations. Our efficient, effective, and creative approaches to conservation reach millions of Americans annually. We accomplish our work through signature conservation initiatives, tree planting, grant programs as we empower communities to work together and inspire millions of Americans to care for their backyard National Forests.

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Courtsey of As You Sow

#16. As You Sow

- Location: Berkeley, CA
- Goal: Promoting environmental and social corporate responsibility
- Overall score: 93.98 (Financial: 92.5, Accountability and transparency: 96)
- Program expense ratio: 87.1%
- Mission: As You Sow (AYS) promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, innovative legal strategies, and online mutual fund scorecard tools. AYS engages in dialogue with selected companies, files shareholder resolutions, mobilizes investor coalitions, conducts unique shareholder solicitation initiatives to raise awareness and promote more responsible corporate behavior, and helps investors align their investments with their values. Their efforts are targeted at creating large-scale systemic change by establishing sustainable and equitable corporate practices.

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Courtesy of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy

#15. Appalachian Trail Conservancy

- Location: Harpers Ferry, WV
- Goal: Join the journey
- Overall score: 94.19 (Financial: 95.7, Accountability and transparency: 93)
- Program expense ratio: 78.7%
- Mission: The Appalachian Trail Conservancy's mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail—ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come.

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Unsplash

#14. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

- Location: Silver Spring, MD
- Goal: Protecting employees who protect our environment
- Overall score: 94.27 (Financial: 91.9, Accountability and transparency: 100)
- Program expense ratio: 90.5%
- Mission: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals, law enforcement officers, land managers, and other professionals dedicated to upholding environmental laws and values. We organize a broad base of among employees within local, state, and federal resource management agencies. We monitor these agencies by serving as a watch dog for the public interest and inform the administration, congress, other officials, media, and the public about substantive environmental issues. We defend and strengthen the legal rights of public employees who speak out about issues concerning natural resource management and environmental protection, providing free legal assistance when necessary.

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Courtsey of Earthjustice

#13. Earthjustice

- Location: San Francisco, CA
- Goal: Because the earth needs a good lawyer
- Overall score: 94.61 (Financial: 93, Accountability and transparency: 97)
- Program expense ratio: 78.0%
- Mission: Founded in 1971, Earthjustice fights to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, protect people's health, advance clean energy, and combat climate change. As the premier nonprofit environmental law organization, we take on the biggest, most precedent-setting cases across the country. We have more than 100 attorneys in 13 regional offices and satellites, an international program, and communications and policy teams. We partner with hundreds of organizations, tribes, and communities—whom we represent free of charge—to take on the critical environmental issues of our time and bring about positive change.

[Pictured: Abbie Dillen, Earthjustice VP of Litigation for Climate & Energy]

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Benurs - Learning and learning. // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Friends of the Earth

- Location: Washington D.C.
- Goal: Championing a healthy and just world
- Overall score: 94.64 (Financial: 97.12, Accountability and transparency: 93)
- Program expense ratio: 83.7%
- Mission: Friends of the Earth and our network of grassroots groups in 77 countries fight to create a more healthy, just world. Our current campaigns focus on clean energy and solutions to global warming, protecting people from toxic and new, potentially harmful technologies, and promoting smarter, low-pollution transportation alternatives. Friends of the Earth U.S. is also a part of Friends of the Earth International, the world's largest grassroots environmental network. Our dedicated staff fights to protect the rights of all people to live in a safe and healthy environment, both at home or in countries around the world. Our campaigns demonstrate our belief that the fight for justice and the movement to protect the health of the planet are part of the same struggle.

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Tyler Franz // River Network

#11. River Network

- Location: Boulder, CO
- Goal: Connecting people, saving rivers
- Overall score: 94.78 (Financial: 93.8, Accountability and transparency: 96)
- Program expense ratio: 80.8%
- Mission: River Network empowers and unites people and communities to protect and restore rivers and other waters that sustain all life. We envision a future with clean and ample water for people and nature, where local caretakers are well-equipped, effective and courageous champions for our rivers. We believe that everyone should have access to affordable, clean water and healthy rivers.

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Rocky Mountain Institute

#10. Rocky Mountain Institute

- Location: Basalt, CO
- Goal: Creating a clean, prosperous and secure low-carbon energy future™
- Overall score: 95.12 (Financial: 93.11, Accountability and transparency: 100)
- Program expense ratio: 78.4%
- Mission: Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)'s mission is to transform global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future.

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Unsplash

#9. Sierra Club Foundation

- Location: Oakland, CA
- Goal: The Foundation for a Healthy Planet
- Overall score: 95.21 (Financial: 93.94, Accountability and transparency: 97)
- Program expense ratio: 85.2%
- Mission: The Sierra Club Foundation promotes climate solutions, conservation, and movement building through a powerful combination of strategic philanthropy and grassroots advocacy. We partner with individual and institutional donors to align financial resources with strategic outcomes, provide flexible funding for innovation, build capacity in the environmental movement, and create partnerships with a broad spectrum of allied organizations around shared values and goals. As the fiscal sponsor of the charitable programs of the Sierra Club, we provide resources to it and other nonprofit organizations to support scientific, educational, literary, organizing, advocacy, and legal programs that further our goals.

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Courtesy of Environmental Research and Education Foundation

#8. Environmental Research and Education Foundation

- Location: Raleigh, NC
- Goal: Lighting a path to sustainable waste management practices
- Overall score: 95.61 (Financial: 93.8, Accountability and transparency: 100)
- Program expense ratio: 80.8%
- Mission: Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF) is a 501(c)3 class charity that funds and directs scientific research and educational initiatives for waste management practices to benefit industry participants and the communities they serve. For more complete information on EREF funded research, its scholarship program and how to donate to this great cause, visit www.erefdn.org.

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Courtesy of AMC

#7. Appalachian Mountain Club

- Location: Boston, MA
- Goal: Promoting the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the outdoors.
- Overall score: 95.87 (Financial: 95, Accountability and transparency: 97)
- Program expense ratio: 85.1%
- Mission: Founded in 1876, the Appalachian Mountain Club promotes the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the mountains, forests, waters, and trails of the Northeast region. We believe these resources have intrinsic worth and also provide recreational opportunities, spiritual renewal, and ecological and economic health for the region. Because successful conservation depends on active engagement with the outdoors, we encourage people to experience, learn about, and appreciate the natural world. Our 16,000 volunteers, 500 full time and seasonal staff, and 285,000 constituents are central to our mission. Our staff offers outdoor experiences and programs through our Northeast and Mid-Atlantic lodging destinations; our 12 volunteer-led chapters located from Maine to Washington D.C. offer local outdoor activities and skills workshops. Staff and volunteers maintain over 1,800 miles of trails, support our conservation policy and research efforts, and get rural, urban and at-risk youth outdoors.

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Courtesy of PATH Foundation

#6. PATH Foundation

- Location: Atlanta, GA
- Goal: Building trails, building community
- Overall score: 96.23 (Financial: 94.67, Accountability and transparency: 100)
- Program expense ratio: 96.2%
- Mission: Founded in 1991, The PATH Foundation is an organization with a mission to develop a system of interlinking greenway trails through metro Atlanta for commuting and recreating. In just fifteen years, PATH has developed more than 100 miles of trails throughout northern Georgia and has become a nationally recognized model for trail-building success. PATH's linear parks have become part of the landscape in urban and rural areas, in affluent and impoverished communities. PATH trails are bringing people together from all races, ages, income levels and cultural backgrounds.

[Pictured: a spot on PATH Parkway in Atlanta]

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Jerry Monkman // The Conservation Fund

#5. The Conservation Fund

- Location: Arlington, VA
- Goal: Conservation Working for America
- Overall score: 96.46 (Financial: 95, Accountability and transparency: 100)
- Program expense ratio: 98.0%
- Mission: At The Conservation Fund, we believe that conservation should work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. We have the highest program allocation—putting 97% of our resources toward mission—and lowest fundraising costs in our field and continue to outperform for our efficiency and effectiveness. Since 1985 we have protected more than 7.5 roughly 8.5 million acres of land, working in all 50 states; we've preserved forests, deserts, parks, waterways and every type of landscape in between. From historic places that tell the story of America to helping communities grow smarter, greener cities, our work benefits all Americans.

 

 

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Pixnio

#4. Ceres

- Location: Boston, MA
- Goal: Sustainability is the bottom line.
- Overall score: 96.52 (Financial: 97.15, Accountability and transparency: 96)
- Program expense ratio: 83.8%
- Mission: Formed in 1989, Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization leading the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. Through our powerful networks and advocacy, we tackle the world's biggest sustainability challenges, including climate change, water scarcity and pollution, and human rights abuses. Ceres' mission is to transform the economy to build a sustainable future for people and the planet. Ceres' vision is of a world in which business and capital markets promote the well being of human society and the protection of the earth's biological systems and resources. Ceres advances its vision by bringing investors, environmental groups and other stakeholders together to encourage companies and capital markets to incorporate environmental and social challenges into their day-to-day decision-making.

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Courtesy of Clean Ocean Action

#3. Clean Ocean Action

- Location: Highlands, NJ
- Goal: Making waves to save our seas
- Overall score: 99.87 (Financial: 99.82, Accountability and transparency: 100)
- Program expense ratio: 84.4%
- Mission: Founded in 1984, Clean Ocean Action (COA) is a broad-based coalition of over 115 active boating, business, community, conservation, diving, environmental, fishing, religious, service, student, surfing, and women's groups. COA works with these Ocean Wavemakers to clean up and protect the waters of the New York Bight from Montauk, N.Y., to Cape May, N.J. With continuous, relentless efforts COA uses research, education, and citizen action to empower people and convince our elected officials to protect our marine resources for today and for future generations.

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Courtesy of Acadia Center

#1. Acadia Center (tie)

- Location: Rockport, ME
- Goal: Advancing the Clean Energy Future
- Overall score: 100 (Financial: 100, Accountability and transparency: 100)
- Program expense ratio: 90.0%
- Mission: Acadia Center is a non-profit organization committed to advancing the clean energy future. Through research and advocacy, it works to empower consumers and offer real-world solutions to the climate crisis for all.

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Courtsey of Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA

#1. Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (tie)

- Location: Pittsboro, NC
- Goal: Dedicated to sustainability, equity and diversity in agriculture
- Overall score: 100 (Financial: 100, Accountability and transparency: 100)
- Program expense ratio: 86.7%
- Mission: The Rural Advancement Foundation International—USA (RAFI-USA) cultivates markets, policies and communities that support thriving, socially just and environmentally sound family farms. While focusing on North Carolina and the southeastern United States, we also work nationally and internationally. RAFI is creating a movement among farm, environmental and consumer groups to ensure that: family farmers have the power to earn a fair and dependable income; everyone who labors in agriculture is respected, protected, and valued by society; air, water and soil are preserved for future generations; the land yields healthy and abundant food and fiber that is accessible to all members of society; and that the full diversity of seeds and breeds, the building blocks of agriculture, are reinvigorated and publicly protected.

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