Top 12 Environmental Organizations Who Use Their Donations Well

With all the recent concern about the environment, people want to see their money going to a good cause, but also used to better the planet. There are a myriad of environmental organizations out there, but which is the best one to donate to?

Who’s going to put your money to good use? If you’re considering donating to an environmental organization, but are not sure which one to support, ask yourself these questions:

  • What sort of causes do they support? What do you agree with?
  • Are they non-profit or governmental? If they’re a governmental organization, then chances are you’re already supporting them by paying taxes. Non-profit organizations are supposed to use their money for their causes and activism.
  • How many different ways can you support them? Do they just want money or do they allow you to get involved in the cause?
  • What is their reputation? How much do they spend on their foundation and on fundraising? They should spend 80% minimum of their revenue on their causes and they should spend as little as possible on fundraising methods. Organizations do have to spend money to make money, but how much they make through fundraising should be much, much greater than what they spend.

We’ve compiled a list of twelve well-known environmental organizations that do the best job in handling their fundraising and supporting their causes. After all, when you put your money into something, you want it to pay off, and when it comes to the environment, you want to make sure that your personal beliefs and causes are being adequately supported.


1. World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

The World Wildlife Fund is perhaps one of the best-known organizations for the protection of endangered species and their habitats around the world. They have been around for over 45 years and their goal is to conserve 19 of the world’s most important natural places by 2010. They focus on several campaigns to make sure that they are making the biggest impact that they can. Currently, the WWF is urging its members to help lions and snow leopards, choose good wood and save forests, and eat sustainable seafood.

The organization’s financial information is readily available on its website and according to that information, you can be sure that your money is being used wisely. In 2006, WWF got 56% of their revenue from contributions, 20% from government grants and contracts, 18% from in-kind and other earned revenues, and 6% from their network revenues.

That same year, they used 83% of their money on program expenses, 11% on fundraising, and 6% on finance and administration. They boast that 83 cents of every dollar has gone to their conservation programs, which actually is quite impressive.

If you choose to donate to the WWF, you can do so in one of several ways. You can donate through their website worldwildlife.org, join their organization as a member, or adopt an animal through their online adoption center.

You can also choose to be a monthly supporter. In return, the WWF will send you a free gift and put your donation to good use.

2. Greenpeace International

If you haven’t heard of Greenpeace, you must have been living under a rock for the last few years, because the members of this environmental organization have been fighting for the preservation of the earth since 1971.

They pride themselves on their method of “bearing witness” to environmental crimes in a non-violent manner, and although some people find them annoying, they have done a lot of good in the world. They are best known for their protests on ships. They support ocean conservation, climate change prevention, forest preservation, and the protection of endangered species.

On the Greenpeace USA website greenpeace.org, pie charts show that in 2005, their revenue breakdown was as follows: over 64% was used on their campaigns, 23% was used in fundraising costs, approximately 10% was used as grants to their Greenpeace Affiliates, and the rest was used for administration costs. Although the fundraising costs are a little high, it’s obvious that this organization uses most of its money for its cause.

If you want to donate to Greenpeace, you can choose to join the organization as a member or make a donation over their website. You can choose to give monthly or make a one-time donation. Greenpeace also appreciates activism and getting involved, so if you really want to support them, join their next rally!

3. National Geographic Society

National Geographic is well-known for their magazine and for their specials on TV. Through their eyes, we have seen the world in a million different facets, and realized the importance of saving the planet we have.

The organization itself is one of the longest-running in the world – they’ve been around since 1888. They focus on exploration and conservation of forests, oceans, habitats, species and societies. Also, National Geographic has a strong basis in history – they pride themselves on their exploration of ancient civilization and culture.

Donations are shifted to one of five areas in the society – education, research and exploration, conservation, cultures and public outreach. You can choose to donate through the website nationalgeographic.com, buy something at their online store, or order a magazine subscription.

4. Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Earth is one of the largest environmental networks, with over 70 national member groups and 5000 local activist groups on all continents. Friends of the Earth USA has been around since 1969 and has supported campaigns in climate change, forests, fair trade, proper use of taxes, and the banning of genetically-modified organisms. They support biodiversity, environmental rights, and repayment of ecological debt by rich countries to those that they have exploited.

With over €2.8 million in revenue in 2006, Friends of the Earth spent much of that money on specific campaigns and staff and volunteer expenses. They ended the year with a balance of €15,388, which is better than last year, when they had a balance of -€25,091.

They gathered €1.6 million from their membership support fund, and much of that was spent on international representation, communications, publications and translations, and specific campaigns and projects.

If you want to donate to Friends of the Earth, you can do so through their website foei.org or buy something in their online shop. You can also volunteer for any of their causes, because like most organizations, Friends of the Earth relies on their volunteers.

5. National Wildlife Federation

Founded officially in 1937, the National Wildlife Federation strives to protect wildlife at all costs. They protect wolves, salmon, bison, whooping cranes, and more – and they’re always striving to do more. They also have campaigns in global warming and environmental education. In fact, they believe that education is the best way to help the environment – the more you know, the more you can protect the world we live in.

According to the NWF’s website, 85% of donations went to conservation and educational programs, while the other 15% went to supporting services. NWF assures its members and supporters that SmartMoney magazine has ranked them among the USA’s top three conservation groups for effectiveness in their use of their money.

Donations to the NWF can be made through their website nwf.org or through one of their many options, like matching gifts, workplace giving, or memorial donations.

6. EcologyFund.com

Like its counterparts The Hunger Site and The Breast Cancer Site, EcologyFund.com is run on user clicks. Advertisers buy ad space on the site and donate money every time someone clicks. The money goes to buy endangered wilderness land to protect it from companies who would destroy it.

So far, EcologyFund.com has bought land in the African National Park, Amazon Basin Rainforest, Canadian Wild Lands, Mexican Wildlife, and more.

The best thing about this site is that you don’t have to donate any money – all you have to do is click. If you want to save more land, you can shop online at the site ecologyfund.com.

The organization is run by a for-profit company called CharityUSA, which allows the site to keep running. EcologyFund.com is working on becoming a self-sufficient organization as of this time.

7. National Audubon Society

If you’re a birdwatcher, then this is the environmental organization for you. The National Audubon Society has been around for years and focuses on the protection of birds and other wildlife. They also try to conserve national ecosystems and habitats so that species won’t become extinct. They publish a magazine and are one of the best-known charities in the USA.

Financial information is published according to each chapter of the society. If you are curious as to how your local chapter is using your donations, you can contact them and find out. Also, if you want to be involved in a chapter of the Audubon Society, you can contact your local members and see what you can do to help.

If you want to donate to the Audubon Society as a whole, you can do so through their websites or magazine subscriptions. The website audubon.org also offers gift memberships and gifts that also help to support the organization.

8. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

If you live in the UK, this is a charity for you. Founded in 1860, the society was originally formed to save the great crested grebe, an almost-extinct bird in Britain and Ireland at the time. Now, it protects millions of species of birds in the United Kingdom and is considered one of the most influential organizations in conservation and preservation of the environment.

The RSPB owns 200 nature reserves which are home to 80% of rare, threatened bird species. They rely on their volunteer efforts and their donations. Of the £88,294 generated in 2006, £63,757 was spent on their campaigns, much of it on nature reserves.

If you want to donate to the RSPB, you can go through their website rspb.org.uk and either make a voluntary one-time donation, buy something at their online shop, or donate through your corporation, will or other methods.

9. Center for a New American Dream

Everyone’s after the American Dream – the Center for a New American Dream helps Americans realize the need for protection of the Earth’s resources and natural habitats.

The charity urges people to live consciously and to think green, as well as donate their time and money to stop climate change, animal extinction, and other environmental hazards. Their credo is that if we all do our part, we’ll create a positive impact for our children and our future.

Of the money the organization made last year, they spent much of it on public education, green cars, their responsible purchasing network and lighthouse project. Only $103,025 was spent on fundraising – the rest went to the cause and management of the company.

If you want to donate to the Center, you can do so through their website newdream.org.

10. David Suzuki Foundation

Canadians and everyone else around the world know that David Suzuki is one of the foremost scientific voices in the fight against climate change and environmentalism. You can help support his efforts by helping him solve global warming, protecting human health, conserving the oceans and building a sustainable economy.

Almost $1.3 million was spent on climate change programs last year, with communications and river conservation coming in a close second. Of the $6 million earned, $1 million was spent on fundraising – that’s approximately 16%, which is a little higher than other organizations.

If you want to donate to the David Suzuki foundation, you can do so through the website davidsuzuki.org or become a member.

11. Ducks Unlimited

The protection of the fast-dwindling wetlands is this organization’s biggest priority, and with good reason – with rare waterfowl disappearing from the skies, we could be looking at a lot of extinction.

Ducks Unlimited works to stop that from happening and to this day, has a myriad of habitats where ducks and other wildlife live happily.

According to the website, 83 cents of every dollar went to the habitat conservation mission. The annual report states that the organization raised more than $162 million for the birds in 2006.

If you want to donate to this organization, you can do so through their website ducks.org or become a member. You can also make a tax-deductible contribution.

12. Nature Canada

This organization’s slogan is “building the nature nation” and that’s exactly what Nature Canada tries to do. They focus on endangered species and forest conservation, and have a large network that includes its many volunteers.

For 2007, Nature Canada has over $2.4 million in assets. They spent most of it on their campaigns and a portion on fundraising. They are not in debt as of 2007.

If you want to donate to this organization, their website is naturecanada.ca. As well, you can volunteer and become a member through their online forums.

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