10 Gifts To Give That Will Change The World

Leigha Staffenhagen / Insteading

Every time the holidays come around, do you find yourself wondering what in the heck you’re going to get for all those special people on your list? Chances are you have at least one relative or friend who literally never wants anything. And if you love the tradition of spoiling your loved ones during the holidays, then buying something for that person may seem impossible.

But what about not buying them a thing, but rather, a present that will actually make a difference? Nowadays, the holiday season feels more about the sale of the day rather than gathering and spending time with loved ones. Many eco-minded people are giving an alternative gift—a donation to a worthy cause in their loved one’s name.

We’ve compiled a list of 10 of our favorite eco-conscious charities that you should consider donating to for this year’s holiday present.

1. Environmental Defense Fund

glacier national park
Glacier National Park. Leigha Staffenhagen / Insteading

The Environmental Defense Fund, or EDF for short, is one of the largest environmental organizations in the world with nearly 2 million members and 700 employees. EDF’s mission is to “preserve the natural systems on which all life depends.” They work to address the biggest environmental issues facing us today including climate change, overfishing of our oceans, sustainable ecosystems, and pollution.

By 2025, the Environmental Defense Funds plans to “stabilize the global climate, build defenses against extreme weather, ensure food security and abundant oceans, and reduce exposure to air pollution and toxic chemicals”.

Donate to the Environmental Defense Fund

2. Sierra Club

sierra club
Charlie Kaijo / Flickr (Creative Commons)

The Sierra Club is a nationwide, grassroots environmental organization that is 3.5 million members strong. With a variety of chapters throughout the United States, the Sierra Club was founded by mountaineer John Muir and a group of friends in 1892. Their goal was to ensure that the Pacific Coast Trail would be protected and available to everyone.

There are three issues in particular that the Sierra Club is concerned with:

Since 1892, the Sierra Club has been able to establish 439 parks and monuments and retire 276 coal plants. The club was even able to aid in fulfilling Muir’s dream of establishing the National Park Service after advocating for the need for a bureau to oversee national parks. Can’t donate? No problem. There are plenty of events you can participate in at your local Sierra Club chapter.

Donate to The Sierra Club

3. National Park Foundation

yellowstone pool
Yellowstone National Park. Leigha Staffenhagen / Insteading

The National Parks Foundation is the official charitable partner of the National Park Service and is celebrating their 50th anniversary. Their goal is to preserve and maintain some of the United States’ most breathtaking and beautiful places while connecting people with nature. Through special programs, campaigns, and initiatives, NPF works to protect our country’s heritage, leaving it for future generations to explore.

If you’ve ever stepped foot in a national park, you know exactly how special they are and how important it is for us to preserve them.

Donate to The National Parks Foundation

4. Environmental Working Group

Through breakthrough research and education, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) works to empower people to live healthier lives. EWG is non-profit and non-partisan and focuses on informing the public about harmful chemicals, GMOs, and other additives that affect the products, food, and water supply that we rely on every day.

This holiday season, when you donate $135 to EWG, you receive this holiday box featuring a variety of lunch supplies and other goodies.

Donate to the Environmental Working Group

5. Surfrider Foundation

surfrider foundation

Through activism, the Surfrider Foundation works to protect the world’s oceans and beaches from a variety of threats. Those threats include beach access, coastal preservation, clean water, ocean protection, and plastic pollution. With 190 chapters and clubs nationwide, currently, the Surfrider Foundation has 122 active campaigns. Just a few of their past accomplishments include banning plastic bags in California and protecting the Atlantic from off-shore drilling.

You can either donate directly to the Surfrider Foundation, or you can purchase shirts, hats, and more from their online shop.

Donate to the Surfrider Foundation

6. Polar Bears International

polar bear in snow
@darkroomsg / Unsplash

The only organization dedicated entirely to wild polar bears, Polar Bears International is managed by a small group of conservationists, scientists, and volunteers. Their mission is to “conserve polar bears and the sea ice they depend on” through media, science, and advocacy.

Polar Bears International takes cash donations, or you can adopt a polar bear and teach the children in your life about the importance of advocating for these wonderful creatures.

Donate to Polar Bears International

7. Earth Day Network

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Earth Day Network is an organization that works every day (not just Earth Day) to solve climate change, reduce plastic pollution, protect endangered species, and facilitate the environmental movement across the globe.

Donate to Earth Day Network

8. Bat Conservation International

bats flying
Serrah Galos / Unsplash

Though you may not consider bats to be an important part of our ecosystem, they definitely are. Bats are one of the most misunderstood creatures in the animal kingdom, and without bats, the world would be a much different place. Not only are bats great at pest control, but they’re important pollinators, too. Bats are also prolific seed dispersers, promoting a regeneration of clear-cut forests.

Bat Conservation International engages in a variety of initiatives in six different regions. Those initiatives include the following:

  • Prevent Extinctions
  • Protect Mega-Populations
  • Preserve Bat Hot Spots
  • Address Serious Threats
  • Launch a Global Bat Database
  • Award Grants and Scholarships

BatCon accepts cash donations, though, you can adopt a bat on behalf of your loved one, as well!

Donate to Bat Conservation International

9. Cool Earth

One of the biggest environmental concerns facing us today is deforestation of our rainforests. Cool Earth is working to combat deforestation by partnering with rainforest communities to halt the process by putting those local people in control of what happens to their forests. Each village that Cool Earth works with sets up a bank account and the community decides on what they need most and how the funds are spent, whether that be clean water, new classrooms, or cacao harvests.

To learn more about Cool Earth’s mission and initiatives, check out the video below:

Donate to Cool Earth

10. GlobalGiving

Perhaps you want to provide your loved one with the opportunity to choose what organization they want to support. GlobalGiving is a non-profit crowdfunding community that connects grassroots organizations with donors. Since 2002, they’ve raised over $363 million dollars for a variety of organizations all over the globe. This includes 21,705 projects in 170 countries.

If you want to provide your loved ones with the option to decide where their gift goes, consider purchasing a GlobalGiving gift card. From there they can explore different projects and decide what they’re most interested in supporting.

Donate to GlobalGiving

Written by Leigha Staffenhagen

Leigha Staffenhagen is our managing editor. When she isn’t writing and editing for Insteading, she’s reading, going to Mariners games, practicing yoga, tap dancing, weeding in her grandma's garden beds, and attempting to grow her own apartment garden.

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