As we wind down the year, another holiday season appears. Time spent with family and friends is compounded with thoughts of love, remembrance, appreciation, and thankfulness. This is also the time of year for giving.

Mom says that pets provide unconditional love and happiness. Not only is this true but the feeling is mutual - just ask me or any animal. Being embraced with love is better than any ball, bone, frisbee, or treat. Love indeed is the greatest gift you can give anyone.

Loving nature brings happiness to me and my family. For this reason, we do what we can to give to those non-profit organizations that support the environment, wildlife, and pet rescues. There are so many worthy charities it is challenging to choose where to share your money or volunteer time.

My Mom directs a non-profit public health organization and has extensive knowledge about charitable contributions. Not all charities are created equally so my Mom highly recommends vetting the organization before you contribute. Below my Mom provides some vetting tips to help you get the most out of your charitable contributions. Additionally, I provide a list with links to some of my favorite charities.

In addition to giving lots of love to your family and friends, we hope you will consider sharing some with the many wonderful charitable organizations working hard to protect and preserve our wildlife, environment, and planet. ADDED BONUS: if you give to a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization before December 31, you may be able to claim your donation as a tax deduction.

Happy Holidays and THANK YOU for supporting nature!

Mabel's Mom's Charitable Organization Vetting Tips

  1. Is the organization a valid 501(c)(3) charitable, non-profit organization? This is important because 501 (c)(3) charities must be accountable to their donors and the IRS. Many people contribute through GoFundMe for various causes for people or animals with seemingly worthy needs. However, not all of these causes are legal charities.
    Choice in giving is a wonderful thing - it provides people with options on how and where they may give. However, a word of caution. If you give to causes that are not legally accountable, there is a higher risk for fraud.

  2. Discover who is on the organization’s Board. This will tell you a lot about the organization. Mom will only work for nonprofit organizations where the volunteer Board members are directly impacted by the mission of the organization and not controlled by other corporate interests. Conflicts of interest may negatively influence the mission of the organization. Would you give to an environmental non-profit organization that has fossil fuel executives on their Board? Mom would not because she knows the likely reason such a figurehead is on the Board – to influence the mission and accomplishments.

  3. Learn where the money goes. Request the organization's 990 IRS tax form, which is available to the public. It will identify their funds received and expenses. Determine how they apply charitable funds; specifically, how much is spent on programs and how much is allotted to overall administration of the organization. By the way, my Mom says that administration should not be viewed as a negative – the greatest resource a non-profit organization has are its staff, which is an administration cost; however, the amount allotted should not be extravagant.

  4. Identify the organization’s affiliations. Moms says the old saying: “birds of a feather, flock together” always seems to ring true. For example, Mom told me about one national organization that claims to support wildlife. They produce slick materials with wildlife photos that tug at your heartstrings. Mom vetted the organization and discovered one of their statewide affiliates, which just happens to be in Arizona, supports a famous trophy hunting organization. No genuine environmental organization would have their statewide affiliate support the slaughtering of threatened and endangered species! This same organization has fossil fuel executives on its Board.

Mabel’s Favorite Charities

There are so many worthy non-profit organizations that support nature. Here are a few of our favorites – please click on their names to learn more about the organizations:

*NOTE: The organizations above are all 501(c)(3), charitable, non-profit organizations.