10 Best Charities for Autism (Complete 2024 List)

10 Best Charities for Autism (Complete 2024 List)

By
Carla Shaik

Read Time:23 Minutes

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It’s estimated that about 1% of the world’s population has autism, with the condition costing affected families around $60,000 per year. Despite being widespread, autism is still poorly understood. Autism charities around the world are dedicating themselves to making the lives of people with autism easier and work tirelessly to raise awareness of the condition. So we had to ask: What are the best charities for autism?

The best charities for autism are Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism and the Organization for Autism Research. Charities such as the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network and the STAR Institute provide support and guidance to individuals and families impacted by autism.

Whether you want to help a child with autism reach their full potential and become a fully integrated member of society or you want to aid scientists in finding a cure for the condition, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities for autism are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to make a contribution.

Here’s What All the Best Charities for Autism Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their mission, impact and transparency ratings, and achievements.

They all strongly advocate for people with autism to be given the same respect and opportunities as everyone else and invest heavily in autism research in the hope of finding a cure.

Some of the charities on this list focus solely on research, whereas others focus on providing assistance and guidance for families impacted by autism.

Yet, they all share the same goal; to ensure that every person with autism reaches their full potential and are considered valuable members of their communities. 

These Are the 10 Best Charities for Autism in 2024

Below are our favorite charities for autism (you can click on their link to directly jump to their section in this article):

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

1

Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation For Autism: Helping People Affected By Autism

Logo for Doug Flutie Jr Foundation for Autism
Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism - Awareness

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Their transparency & ratings:

Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation For Autism has a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator. According to their financial report, the charity spent 71% of its income on family grants and 23% on camp scholarships.

“A world where people with autism lead productive lives where they are included, respected, and actively engaged in their communities.”

Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation For Autism

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What they do:

The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation For Autism helps families living with autism by providing financial assistance through their Joey’s Fund Grant Program and the Spectrum For Hope Fund. They also offer camp scholarships for people with autism through their Fun in the Sun water sports programs in Massachusetts and Florida. Their Safe and Secure Program distributes free SafetyNet tracking devices to carers of children with autism, to ensure that public safety agencies can rescue individuals with cognitive conditions who are prone to wandering off.

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What they’ve achieved:

To date, the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation For Autism has distributed over $14 million to schools, families, and community organizations across the US. Each year, the charity offers 150 camp scholarships to people with autism and financially assists over 10,000 families affected by autism. In addition, their Safe and Secure Program has kept 500 children with autism safe through the use of SafetyNet Tracking Systems.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism through their website. You can also host your own fundraising event to support the charity or volunteer at one of their many annual awareness events. 

2

Organization For Autism Research: Applying Research To The Challenges Of Autism

Logo for Organization For Autism Research
Helping Families... Changing Lives

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Organization For Autism Research has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and holds the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“Raise Money. Fund research: Change Lives.”

Organization For Autism Research 

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What they do:

The Organization For Autism Research funds research studies that can be applied to help families, educators, and individuals deal with the daily impacts and struggles that autism brings, including innovative teaching methods and communication tools. They also offer scholarship programs to autistic children attending post-secondary education. In addition, the charity has published numerous online resources and guidebooks to provide guidance on how to deal with everyday tasks and to educate children on the symptoms and difficulties that come with autism.  

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What they’ve achieved:

To date, the Organization For Autism Research has funded over $4.7 million in autism research and has awarded $1,522,500 in scholarships to 503 individuals pursuing further education. In 2018, they launched Operation Autism which is a web-based resource designed to assist and support military families impacted by autism. Furthermore, they have introduced the Kit for Kids peer education that has reached over 213,000 students across the US and has been translated into 5 languages

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the Organization For Autism Research through their website. There are also numerous volunteer opportunities with the charity including blog contribution and youth education leadership roles. 

3

Autism Society Of America: A Friend For Life

Faces of Autism

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Autism Society of America holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. According to their financial report, the charity spent 31% of its income on education and advocacy, 51% on core services, and 12% on fundraising. 

“Envisioning a world where individuals and families living with autism are able to maximize their quality of life, and live in a society in which their talents and skills are valued.”

Autism Society of America

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What they do:

The Autism Society of America provides a national Monday-Friday contact center and helpline service through their toll-free number 800-3 AUTISM run by trained staff and referral specialists. They also have an Autism Source Database which is the most comprehensive database of its kind, providing over 35,000 listings of credible information and reliable resources surrounding all aspects of autism. In addition, the charity supports people with autism by providing financial support, fundraising assistance, and advocacy

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Autism Society of America, alongside their 79 affiliates, have remained committed to serving the autistic community in the US. For example, in 2021, they served over 1.2 million people with their educational resources. In the same year, 204,295 people attended their awareness events around the country and they saw a 30% rise in calls and emails as more people turned to them for support and guidance. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the Autism Society of America through their website, or you can purchase items from their online Autism Society store.

4

The Autism Community In Action: Providing Education, Support, And Hope

Logo for The Autism Community In Action
Take Action. Make a Difference.

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Autism Community In Action has a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator and holds the Bronze Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“For every individual diagnosed with autism to lead an independent life.”

The Autism Community In Action

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What they do:

The Autism Community In Action provides education programs and support services to people with autism, through regular seminars, meetings, and family events held across the US via their individually run chapters. They also run online educational webinars on various autism-related topics and online support groups, as well as a Parent Mentor Program where new parents are matched with trained TACA Parent Mentors for one-one support and guidance.  

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What they’ve achieved:

To date, The Autism Community In Action has supported 48,322 individuals and families living with autism through their initiatives and support network. They have also awarded $207,000 in medical scholarships to families in need and educated 22,376 individuals through their webinars and social media channels. In 2021, the Autism Community In Action matched 525 new parents with TACA mentors through their Parent Mentor Program.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the Autism Community In Action through their website. You can also support the charity by setting up a fundraising event, volunteering at one of their events, or by purchasing items from their online shop

5

Autism Research Institute: Making A Difference Through Research

Logo for Autism Research Institute
Autism Research that Makes a Difference

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Autism Community In Action has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“Working to support the health and well-being of people affected by autism.”

Autism Research Institute

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What they do:

The Autism Research Institute awards research grants to scientists studying the underlying causes of, and treatments for, Autism Spectrum Disorders. They also offer a variety of free online support services to people and families impacted by autism, including educational webinars, as well as autism screening and assessment tools.  

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What they’ve achieved:

Over the last decade, the Autism Research Institute has awarded more than $2.9 million in over 87 research grants. In 2020, the charity facilitated over 40,000 autism treatment evaluation checklists which are now available in 24 languages. In 2022, the charity awarded more than $450,000 in grants to promising research into the autism spectrum. Furthermore, in the same year they ran over 142,942 learning hours through educational webinars that reached over 140,000 families and professionals.  

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the Autism Research Institute through their website. If you are a parent of a child with autism you can also sign up to be part of one of their research studies.

6

Autism Science Foundation: Supporting Autism Research

Logo for Autism Science Foundation
About the Autism Science Foundation

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Autism Science Foundation has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“Supporting scientists and organizations conducting, facilitating, and publicizing autism research.”

Autism Science Foundation

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What they do:

The Autism Science Foundation provides grants for research focusing on discovering the genetic mechanisms that trigger autism, as well as research studies surrounding early intervention and diagnosis methods for people with autism. The charity also acts as an online information resource for families impacted by autism and provides access to autism toolkits designed to assist people with autism overcome challenges in their daily lives.

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What they’ve achieved:

To date, the Autism Science Foundation has funded over $5 million to autism research, including funding two new baby sibling research sites to study early signs of autism in the offspring of siblings of people with autism. Moreover, in 2020, the charity partnered with Autism Navigator to launch a virtual video-based community to teach families intervention strategies to deal with the challenging behaviors exhibited by children with autism. In addition, they supported the launch of the National Council for Severe Autism and produced 50 award-winning science podcasts on autism that were downloaded 87,000 times

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the Autism Science Foundation through their website. You can also attend one of their many annual events to raise funds and awareness of autism spectrum disorders, or sign up to participate in a research study 

7

Asperger/Autism Network: Empowering Individuals. Building Community

Logo for Asperger Autism Network
AANE

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Asperger/Autism Network has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“To work with individuals, families, and professionals to help people with Asperger profiles build meaningful, connected lives.”

Asperger/Autism Network

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What they do:

The Asperger/Autism Network offers a range of programs and services for individuals and families impacted by autism or Asperger Syndrome, including an interview preparation program, adult and teen support groups, and their LifeNet Independent Living Program. The charity also has a comprehensive online database of Asperger/autism diagnosticians and offers training programs for professionals working with clients who have autism.

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What they’ve achieved:

The Asperger/Autism Network now consists of over 45,000 individuals and families across 50 states and 79 countries around the world. For example, in 2022, they reached more than 12,240 people with their AANE programs and offered over 45 support groups every month. Furthermore, they dealt with over 600 monthly calls for information and consultation requests surrounding aspergers and autism. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the Asperger/Autism Network through their website. You can also volunteer for the charity or set up a fundraising event to raise money and awareness.

8

Autistic Self Advocacy Network: Empowering the Autistic Community

Logo for Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Welcome To The Autistic Community

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. The charity has yet to be rated by Charity Navigator. 

“We believe that the goal of autism advocacy should be a world in which autistic people enjoy equal access, rights, and opportunities.”

Autistic Self Advocacy Network

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What they do:

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network works to make our society more inclusive for autistic people through advocacy, leadership training, and education. For example, they offer advocacy tools and educational resources , such as their ‘Easy Read’ guidelines that use pictures and easy-to-understand language to help autistic people understand their needs and speak out about policies that affect their lives. Moreover, they run numerous projects to improve the lives of the autistic community, like the Disability Community Day of Mourning and Autism Acceptance Month, which help to raise awareness of the issues facing autistic people.    

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network has remained committed to improving the lives of the autistic community. For example, they have trained 189 self advocates at their Autism Camp Inclusion Leadership Academy since 2011. Furthermore, in 2022, they held 33 vigils across the US and Canada for their 11th Disability Day of Mourning to commemorate the lives of disabled victims of filicide and to demand equal protection for all people with disabilities, including those with autism. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network through their website. You can also support the charity by volunteering to help distribute their resources

9

Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network: Neurodiversity is For Everyone

Logo for Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network
Amethyst speaks about the Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network has a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“To provide community support and resources for Autistic women, girls, transfeminine, and transmasculine nonbinary people, and all people of marginalized genders or no gender. We are committed to recognizing and celebrating diversity.”

Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network

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What they do:

The Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network provides vital support and resources to disabled and autistic BIPoC (black, indigenous and other people of color) and LGBTQIAP+ people. For example, they provide direct support and reparations for people of color’s independence, survival, and empowerment through their Autistic People of Color Fund. In addition, they offer Solidarity Aid to cover the cost of meals, moving expenses, and healthcare for minority populations and support various community initiatives that empower disabled and autistic people in their fight for justice.  

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network has financially and emotionally supported marginalized communities, including those with autism and people of color. For example, in 2020, they launched their #LiberatingWebinars series featuring a range of healers, artists, and activists to start inspiring and important conversations around equality. These received 3,839 registrants in 2021. Today, the charity shares stories of inclusion and empowerment to over 86,000 Facebook followers, 43,500 Twitter followers, and 6,000 Instagram followers

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network through their website. You can also keep up to date with the latest news and successes from the charity by signing up to receive their newsletter

10

STAR Institute: Sensory Health And Wellness

Logo for STAR Institute
Learn About Treatment at STAR Center

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Their transparency & ratings:

The STAR Institute holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. According to their financial report, the charity spent 86.4% of its income on treatment and education programs, and 3.3% on fundraising. 

“To impact quality of life by developing best practices for sensory health and wellness through treatment, education, and research.”

STAR Institute

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What they do:

The STAR Institute provides assessments and individualized treatments at their treatment center in Denver, for children suffering from Sensory Processing Disorder, autism, ADHD, and OCD among others. They also provide an extensive array of online courses for professionals working with children suffering from sensory disorders, and offer research mentorship programs for scientists working in the field of sensory integration. The charity also conducts their own research at their research facility.

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What they’ve achieved:

To date, 12,750 families and professionals have attended educational events run by the STAR Institute. In 2019, they supported and treated 742 clients at their treatment center and certified over 40 new professionals across the US, through their STAR Proficiency Certification program. Due to the expansion of their global reach, the charity now treats families from over 38 countries and 49 states

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the STAR Institute through their website. Alternatively, you can volunteer for the charity or support the charity financially by buying or selling items through Ebay For Charity.

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities for autism. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarize yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing the progress a charity makes in reaching its targets, the chances are not making positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. The charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is just up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to autism – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

The way we think about charity is dead wrong | Dan Pallotta

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