Krista Kurth, Ph.D.
The Climate Action Gift that Keeps on Giving
Updated: Dec 9, 2020
This holiday give to one or more of these 30 Non-Profits working on climate solutions
As the end of the year approaches, many of us are thinking about what gifts we want to give our loved ones over the holidays. If we have financial means, we may also be looking at charities to which we want to give year-end contributions. Why not combine the two and give a donation in someone’s name to a non-profit working on climate solutions?
For the past five years or more, my husband and I have been doing just that. In honor of our 20 nieces and nephews, we give donations to organizations working on creating a sustainable world in which the next generations can thrive.
To make it easier for you to find and select climate-solution focused organizations that resonate with you, I’ve compiled a list of 30 organizations I think are doing great work. Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all organizations working on the climate crisis. However, Charity Navigator rates most of the ones I’ve listed very highly (a few are not yet rated). I’ve organized the list into categories to help you identify ones that best fit your climate action focus areas.
Climate Communication Focused Organizations
1. The Climate Reality Project catalyzes global solutions to the climate crisis by making urgent action a necessity across every level of society. They aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions and speed the global shift to renewables, and demanding world leaders strengthen and honor their Paris Agreement commitments by empowering everyday people to become activists. They equip them with the tools, training, and network to fight for solutions and drive change planetwide.
2. The Carbon Underground is an umbrella organization responsible for communicating and educating the world about the power of healthy soil to combat climate change and to facilitate the transition of enough farms and grasslands globally to restore a healthy climate. They focus on five key areas: Corporate Impact, Education & Training, Policy, Communications, and Adopt-a-Meter.
3. World War Zero, co-founded by John Kerry, the new U.S. climate envoy, fights climate change by enlisting, engaging, and mobilizing scientists, entrepreneurs, four-star generals, youth activists, global leaders, artists, Democrats, and Republicans. They have been rolling out an all-out communication blitz to neutralize disinformation and redefine the narrative on climate change and the economy. They provide innovative tools and solutions that help conserve the planet and create the prosperous future everyone deserves.
Removing Carbon Focused Organizations
4. Project Drawdown seeks to help the world reach “Drawdown” — the future point when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start steadily to decline. Since the 2017 publication of Drawdown, the organization has emerged as a leading resource for information and insight about climate solutions. They continue to develop that resource by conducting rigorous review and assessment of climate solutions, creating interesting communications across mediums, and partnering with efforts to speed up climate solutions globally. They aim to support the growing constellation of efforts to move climate solutions forward and move the world toward Drawdown—as quickly, safely, and equitably as possible.
5. Pachamama Alliance is a global community that offers people the chance to learn, connect, engage, travel and cherish life to generate a critical mass of conscious commitment to a thriving, just and sustainable way of life on Earth. They commit to transforming human systems and structures that separate us, and to transforming our relationships with ourselves, with one another, and with the natural world. In 2019 they launched the Drawdown Initiative; a series of workshops that support individuals in finding their unique contribution to reversing global warming.
Environmental Justice Focused Organizations
6. Center for Race, Poverty, and the Environment is a national environmental justice organization providing legal, organizing, and technical help to grassroots groups in low-income communities and communities of color. They focus on sustainable agriculture, climate justice, toxic free communities, and forgotten voices.
7. The Dream Corps closes prison doors and opens doors of opportunity. We bring people together across racial, social, and partisan lines to create a future with freedom and dignity for all. They advance solutions that inspire climate action and build a green economy for all, reform criminal justice, and create equity in tech.
8. Earthjustice is a nonprofit public interest environmental law organization. They wield the power of the law and strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy and to combat climate change. Dedicated to litigating environmental issues, they represent their clients pro bono (thanks to the continued support of individuals and foundations).
9. Indigenous Environmental Network (Indigenous Educational Network of Turtle Island) is a network of indigenous, grassroots environmental justice activists, primarily based in the United States. Their activities include building the capacity of Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, health of both our people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities. They convene local, regional and national meetings on environmental and economic justice issues, and provide support, resources and referral to Indigenous communities and youth throughout primarily North America–and in recent years–globally.
Forest Focused Organizations
10. Coalition for Rainforest Nations is an intergovernmental organization of over 50 rainforest nations around the world, from Ecuador to Bangladesh to Fiji. Since 2005, it’s partnered directly with governments and communities to protect their rainforests. They played a key role in securing an agreement on forestry in the Paris agreement have championed the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) mechanism.
11. Nature Conservancy is a global environmental nonprofit working to create a world where people and nature can thrive. They impact conservation in 79 countries and territories across six continents. Their priorities are to tackle climate change, protect land and water, provide food and water sustainably, and build healthy cities. They have a Plant a Billion Trees campaign where you can give the gift of trees.
12. Rainforest Foundation US works to protect the rainforests of Central and South America by partnering directly with folks on the front lines: indigenous people in Brazil, Peru, Panama, and Guyana, who are deeply motivated to protect their lands. The foundation supplies them with legal support and technological equipment and training so they can use smartphones, drones, and satellites to monitor illegal loggers and miners, and take action to stop them.
13. Restore the Earth Foundation’s mission is to restore the Earth’s essential forest and wetland ecosystems. They “envision the Earth in balance — its original vitality and natural abundance available to all, for generations to come.” They leverage private funding to access public funding for maximum impact. Since 2008, Restore the Earth has secured over $40 million in private, federal/state funding to reforest over 50,000 acres along the Gulf Coast damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
14. 350.org is an international movement of ordinary people working to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy for all. Their goal is to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide to 350ppm from the current level of over 400 ppm. They work in almost every country in the world on campaigns like fighting coal power plants in India, stopping the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S., and divesting public institutions everywhere from fossil fuels.
15. Conservation International works to protect the nature we all rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods. Since their inception, they’ve helped to protect over 6 million square kilometers (2.3 million square miles) of land and sea across over 70 countries. Building on a firm foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, they help communities adapt to the effects of climate change that are already happening. They also work to prevent further climate change by reducing emissions, enhancing carbon storage, and other natural solutions like forest protection and ocean conservation.
16. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has been using science and collaborative partnerships to make the environment safer and healthier for us all for over 50 years. They work on issues like global warming, ecosystem restoration, oceans, and human health, and advocates using sound science, economics, and law to find environmental solutions. They aim to reduce the pollution and slow global warming, with strategies including overhauling U.S. energy systems, protecting the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s limits on pollution, training new climate/energy leaders, and slowing the deforestation in Brazil and the Amazon rainforest.
17. Greenpeace is a global, independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future. They have offices in over 39 countries and a general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. They use direct action, lobbying, and research to achieve their goals and campaign on worldwide issues such as climate change, deforestation, and overfishing.
18. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) works to safeguard the earth—its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. They combine the power of more than three million members and online activists with the expertise of some 700 scientists, lawyers, and policy advocates across the globe to ensure the rights of all people to the air, the water, and the wild. Their programs focus on clean air, global warming, transportation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, electric-industry restructuring, and more.
19. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) collaborates with people around the world to develop and deliver innovative solutions that protect communities, wildlife, and the places in which they live. They work to help local communities conserve the natural resources they depend upon; transform markets and policies toward sustainability; and protect and restore species and their habitats. They have over five million supporters worldwide, working in over 100 countries. They support around 1,300 conservation and environmental projects focused on climate, food, forests, freshwater, oceans, and wildlife.
20. World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research organization working in over 60 countries to move human society to live in ways that protect Earth’s environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future generations. They use a threefold approach (Count it, Change it, Scale it) to work with governments, business and communities to address seven urgent global challenges to reduce poverty, grow economies and protect natural systems: Climate, Energy, Food, Forests, Water, Sustainable Cities, and Oceans.
Ocean Focused Organizations
21. The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) is on a mission to save the world’s coral reefs. They 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 is applying this information to give reefs the best chance to thrive for generations to come.
22. Oceana works only to protect and restore the oceans on a global scale. They work to achieve measurable change by conducting specific, science-based policy campaigns with fixed deadlines and articulated goals. Since its founding, Oceana has won more than 225 victories and protected nearly 4 million square miles of ocean.
23. Ocean conservancy works to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. They focus on solving some of the greatest threats facing our ocean today. From the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico, they bring people, science and policy together, to champion innovative solutions and fight for a sustainable ocean. For over forty years they’ve worked to protect vital ecosystems, defend critical legislation, enforce accountability of leaders and legislators, and rally the world’s largest effort to remove trash from our beaches. Because a healthy ocean means a healthy planet.
24. Waterkeeper Alliance preserves and protects water by connecting local Waterkeeper groups worldwide that work to ensure drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. They currently unite over 300 Waterkeeper groups that are on the front lines of the planetary environmental crisis, patrolling and protecting over 2.5 million square miles of rivers, lakes, and coastal waterways on six continents. Whether they’re on the water tracking down polluters, in courtrooms enforcing environmental laws, advocating in town meetings or teaching in classrooms, Waterkeepers speak for the waters they defend—with the collective strength of Waterkeeper Alliance and the backing of their local communities.
U.S. Focused Organizations
25. Green America harnesses economic power in the United States—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. They focus on four areas for system transformation, insisting on social justice and environmental health across all sectors: climate and clean energy, sustainable food and agriculture, responsible investing, and fair labor.
26. Sierra Club champions solutions to the climate crisis; works for clean air, safe water, land protection, and a vibrant natural world; fights for environmental and social justice; and believes in getting people outside to enjoy the outdoors.
27. U.S. Climate Action Network is a network of 175+ organizations actively working together to meet and exceed the US targets outlined in the Paris Agreement. They work to address climate change in a just and equitable way. They have action teams working on coordinating policy to affect broader change; building power from the grassroots up; organizing, mobilizing and winning elections with social distancing; and working towards a socially and economically just response and recovery.
Women Focused Organizations
28. Global Greengrants Fund is a global network of activists and donors that support grassroots-led efforts to protect the planet and work toward a more equitable world. They put resources directly in the hands of the best stewards of our environment — local people. They focus on climate justice; healthy eco-systems and communities; local livelihoods; right to land, water, and resources; women’s environmental action, and the right to defend the environment.
Youth Focused Organizations
29. Power Shift Network is a network of over 90 organizations working to mobilize the collective power of young people to mitigate climate change and create a just, clean energy future and resilient, thriving communities for all. They focus on combatting climate and environmental injustice, stopping dirty energy projects, divesting from fossil fuels, fixing democracy, and building the just, clean energy powered future young people need. They understand that these issues deeply interconnect and believe they can better tackle them as a coordinated network.
30. The Sunrise Movement is a network of hubs working to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs. They’re building an army of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people.
Which of these organizations grab your attention? How many might you give donations to as gifts this year? Set a budget for yourself and give to as many as you can.
I wish you all the best in your holiday giving.