9 Best Charities That Combat Brain Injuries (Complete 2024 List)

9 Best Charities That Combat Brain Injuries (Complete 2024 List)

By
Alycia O'Dell

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Every 9 seconds, someone in the US sustains an acquired brain injury. Furthermore, research shows that a brain injury can evolve into a life-long health condition that impairs the brain and other organ systems, leading to social isolation, cognitive impairment, physical disability, and even death. And, with an estimated 5.3 million Americans living with a permanent brain injury-related disability, improving detection, prevention, and treatment is crucial. Fortunately, organizations around the world are working to improve outcomes for people impacted by brain injury. So we had to ask: What are the best charities that combat brain injuries?

The best charities that combat brain injuries are the Brain Injury Association of America and Brain Injury Services. Charities such as the American Brain Foundation and the Barrow Neurological Institute focus on research to improve outcomes for people impacted by brain injury.

Whether you want to help a young athlete recover from a concussion, ensure a permanently disabled brain injury survivor has access to inclusive community resources, or educate at-risk adults on how to prevent a ruptured brain aneurysm, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities that combat brain injuries are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to contribute.

Here’s What All the Best Charities That Combat Brain Injuries Have in Common

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

They operate primarily throughout the US and Canada, but some combat brain injuries internationally.

Many of these charities focus on funding research to better understand and treat brain injuries, while others work to improve the current quality of patient care. Some cater to specific causes of brain injury like stroke, tumors, and traumatic brain injury. Others take a more holistic approach, focusing on the entire brain to address a variety of brain injuries.

Some of the charities below focus on providing support to those living with a brain injury as they navigate the healthcare system, while others focus on advocacy and policy change.

Yet, they all share the same goal of combating brain injuries.

These Are the 9 Best Charities That Combat Brain Injuries in 2024

Below are our favorite charities that combat brain injuries (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

Brain Injury Association of America: Fighting for Quality of Life After Brain Injury

Logo for Brain Injury Association of America
Brain Injury Association of America: The Voice of Brain Injury

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Brain Injury Association of America holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

Our mission is to advance awareness, research, treatment, and education that improves the quality of life for all people affected by brain injury.

Brain Injury Association

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What they do:

The Brain Injury Association of America combats brain injury by advancing prevention, awareness, treatment, education, and advocacy. For example, their National Brain Injury Information Center provides comprehensive information about brain injuries, including types of brain injury, the diagnosis process, and treatment. They also offer social support services to survivors of brain injury and their caregivers through their community resources, such as virtual support groups, personal stories, and the Caregiver Information Center. Furthermore, they raise awareness of brain injury by leading the nation in observing Brain Injury Awareness Month and through campaigns like My Brain Injury Journey. Moreover, they advocate for greater access to care and expanded brain injury research.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Brain Injury Association of America has helped thousands of people impacted by brain injury enhance their quality of life. For example, in 2022, they received almost 5,000 requests for information through their National Brain Injury Information Center. In the same year, they launched a new legislative Public Policy and Action Center to help advocates contact their congressional representatives, and offered 22 educational webinars on topics like self-advocacy, emotional and behavioral changes following brain injury, and concussion care.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Brain Injury Association of America via their website. You can also support the organization’s mission by purchasing items from their Virtual Shop or attending an event.

2

Brain Injury Services: A Community of Support

Logo for Brain Injury Services
Brain Injury Services: What We Do

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Their transparency & ratings:

Brain Injury Services holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

Our mission is to advance awareness, research, treatment, and education that improves the quality of life for all people affected by brain injury.

Brain Injury Services

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What they do:

Brain Injury Services offers free, community-based services aimed at empowering those impacted by brain injuries to lead fulfilling lives. For example, they provide Case Management services to adults, children, and teens, allowing them to work one-on-one with a case manager to develop a personalized action plan throughout the recovery process. As another example, their ComPASS program focuses on helping brain injury survivors regain abilities and develop practical skills for everyday living. They also offer Friendship Programs, which facilitate one-to-one friendships between adult brain injury survivors and community volunteers, and Support Groups, which bring survivors and caregivers together in solidarity. And, their Veterans Program provides specialized support to veterans with brain injuries.

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What they’ve achieved:

Each year, Brain Injury Services helps thousands of people move forward in their recovery from brain injury. For example, in 2022 alone, they provided services to almost 2,300 individuals, over half of whom utilized their Case Management services. Moreover, in 2001, they became one of only three community-based brain injury programs in the nation to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities for their Case Management services, and they continue to maintain accreditation today.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Brain Injury Services via their website. You can also support the organization’s mission by purchasing branded merchandise or volunteering.

3

American Brain Foundation: Holistic Research to Heal Injury

Logo for American Brain Foundation
About The American Brain Foundation

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Their transparency & ratings:

The American Brain Foundation holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

Cure one, cure many.

American Brain Foundation

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What they do:

The American Brain Foundation combats brain diseases and disorders, including brain injury, by investing in research on the entire brain, enabling them to bridge gaps between diseases and pioneer groundbreaking applications. For example, their Next Generation Research Grants fund innovative investigations by early-career researchers to support the next generation of neuroscience researchers. As another example, their Cure One, Cure Many Program, awarded once every 3 years, supports breakthrough research in brain disease by providing large-scale catalyst funding to the world’s top researchers. Moreover, the organization provides comprehensive resources on a variety of brain injuries, including traumatic brain injury, brain aneurysm, and stroke.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the American Brain Foundation has funded innovative research in all areas of the brain, brain diseases, and disorders. For example, their Next Generation Research Fund has awarded approximately $42 million to nearly 300 researchers, over 85% of whom have gone on to secure funding from NIH and other national funders. As another example, in 2023, their Cure One, Cure Many Award granted $10 million to researchers investigating neuroinflammation to better understand the role it plays in nearly all brain diseases, even those as apparently different as Alzheimer’s disease and long COVID-19.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the American Brain Foundation via their website. You can also support the organization’s mission by becoming a brain donor or attending an event.

4

Barrow Neurological Foundation: Research, Patient Care, and Education for Healthier Brains

Logo for Barrow Neurological Foundation
To Infinity and Barrow Beyond

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Barrow Neurological Foundation holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

With Barrow, there is reason to believe.

Barrow Neurological Foundation

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What they do:

As the philanthropic arm of the Barrow Neurological Institute, the Barrow Foundation combats brain disorders and injuries by funding research programs, improving patient care, and educating the next generation of neurologists. For example, the Brain Injury and Sports Neurology Center provides treatment for patients with concussion and traumatic brain injury while also operating outreach and education programs for young athletes, while their Petznick Stroke Center ensures that every stroke patient receives expert vascular neurology care. Furthermore, the Franke Global Neuroscience Education Center improves access to brain healthcare in developing countries by educating, training, and supporting physicians and nurses at partnering sites

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Barrow Neurological Foundation has changed the lives of millions of people living with brain disorders and injury through direct treatment, research, and education. For example, in 2023 alone, they treated over 58,000 individual patients and performed more than 5,800 spine and brain surgeries. In the same year, they elevated the field of neuroscience through 724 clinical trials and research studies and published more than 200 articles in scientific journals. Moreover, the Petznick Stroke Center treats over 1,100 stroke patients every year.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Barrow Neurological Foundation via their website. You can also support the organization’s mission by launching your own fundraiser or attending an event.

5

Brain Aneurysm Foundation: Reducing Fatalities and Helping Survivors Heal 

Logo for Brain Aneurysm Foundation
Stop the Pop! Spreading Brain Aneurysm Awareness

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Brain Aneurysm Foundation holds a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator.

The Brain Aneurysm Foundation aspires towards a life without death or disabilities caused by brain aneurysm ruptures.”

Brain Aneurysm Foundation

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What they do:

The Brain Aneurysm Foundation combats brain aneurysms, one of the most common brain disorders leading to brain injury, through research, education, social support, and advocacy. For example, their website provides comprehensive information and guidance on brain aneurysms from basic brain aneurysm facts to choosing a rehabilitation facility. They also provide resources and social support for anyone impacted by a brain aneurysm, including survivors and their caretakers, as well as those mourning the loss of a loved one. Furthermore, the charity raises awareness of brain aneurysm detection and prevention through campaigns like Stop the Pop, and funds research to better understand and prevent fatal brain aneurysms.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Brain Aneurysm Foundation has become the largest private funder of brain aneurysm research, funding more than $5 million in grants since 1997. For example, in 2023 alone, they funded 17 research projects aimed at developing a better understanding of the underlying biology of aneurysms, as well as improving treatment methods. They are also a leader in brain aneurysm advocacy, fighting for legislation like Ellie’s Law, which secures funding for ongoing research.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation via their website. You can also support the organization’s mission by joining their advocacy efforts or volunteering at an event.

6

American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association: Leveraging Heart Health to Prevent Stroke

logo for American Stroke Association
The American Stroke Association: 20 Years of Progress

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives the American Heart Association a 4-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum Seal of Transparency. 

To be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.

American Stroke Association

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What they do:

The American Stroke Foundation combats stroke-related brain injury through research, advocacy, and education. For example, their website is a one-stop shop for stroke information, with topics like warning signs, prevention, and recovery. They also provide guidance for healthcare professionals, including information on cryptogenic stroke, EMS routing, and secondary prevention. Furthermore, their Strategically Focused Research Networks bring together researchers from top institutions to collaborate on specific topics, like hemorrhagic stroke. They also advocate policies that support their mission, like expanding Medicaid coverage of preventative benefits, creating inclusive and coordinated STEMI and Stroke facility designations, and designing communities that encourage active living.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the American Heart Association has invested more than $5.7 billion across over 49,000 research projects to improve the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular health of millions of people around the world, including those with brain injuries. For example, they have funded the work of 15 Nobel Prize-winning scientists, and their efforts have contributed to a 15.1% reduction in deaths from heart disease and a 13.6% reduction in deaths from stroke since 2018.

Ways to contribute:

You can make a one-time donation to the American Heart Association via their website, or you can register to give monthly. You can also support the charity by volunteering or participating in an event in your local community.

7

Brain Research Foundation: Funding Hope through Research

Brain Research Foundation logo
BRF 60th Anniversary Highlight Video

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Brain Research Foundation holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

Innovate, explore, discover.”

Brain Research Foundation

⚒️

What they do:

The Brain Research Foundation combats brain disorders, including those caused by injury, by funding a broad scope of projects that explore a wide range of neurological diseases. For example, they award innovative researchers who are new to the field with the “seed money”, or startup money, they need to fund their boldest ideas. For example, in 2017, they awarded a seed grant to better understand the link between traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer’s. As another example, in 2023, they provided seed grant funding to investigate the impact of breast milk on helping babies born with preterm white matter injury increase myelin production in their brains.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, the Brain Research Foundation has awarded over $47 million in grants across 691 projects, including $14 million in seed grants since the program’s launch in 1981. And, for every dollar awarded, grantees secure an average of $25 in future funding from other grant programs to continue their research.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Brain Research Foundation via their website. You can also support the organization’s mission by participating in Neuroscience Day or by joining their Brain Donor Project.

8

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital: Fighting for Brains Injured by Tumors

Logo for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Because of St. Jude

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Their transparency & ratings:

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Silver Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

No child should die in the dawn of life.”

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

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What they do:

St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital combats pediatric brain injury resulting from tumors through research initiatives and direct treatment. For example, they created the Pediatric Translational Neuroscience Initiative in 2020 to accelerate the development of novel therapies for pediatric brain disorders and injuries, particularly those with no existing effective treatment. Furthermore, their Center for Pediatric Neurological Disease Research, a program of the Pediatric Translational Neuroscience Initiative, investigates the role of genetics in childhood brain disorders and the development of brain tumors. Moreover, they have one of the world’s leading brain tumor programs devoted exclusively to children.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has contributed to improved outcomes for millions of children, including those suffering from brain injury caused by tumors. For example, as the only pediatric brain tumor program that works in direct collaboration with a research department in developmental neurobiology, they have created more clinical trials for their patients than any other children’s hospital in the US. Moreover, their investment in research has contributed to some of the most significant developments in the treatment of pediatric diseases. For example, in 1996, St. Jude doctor Peter Doherty was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine for his research on viral infections and organ transplants.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital via their website. You can also participate in a fundraiser or volunteer at a chapter in your community.

9

Brain & Behavior Research Foundation: Brain Disorders and Mental Health

Logo for Brain and Behavior Research Foundation
Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Overview

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

Funding cutting-edge research to find cures for mental illness.

Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

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What they do:

The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation funds innovative research to better understand how brain disorders and injury impact mental health issues and develop new treatments. For example, their Young Investigator Grant supports the most promising young scientists conducting neurobiological research and their Independent Investigator Grant helps investigators during the period between initial research and sustained funding. Furthermore, their Distinguished Investigator Grant funds experienced investigators conducting neurobiological and behavioral research. Furthermore, the organization produces the Emmy-Nominated series Healthy Minds with Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, which features experts sharing cutting-edge information, including new approaches and next-generation therapies in the field of Brain and Behavior disorders.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has awarded more than $450 million to fund more than 6,500 grants to over 5,400 scientists around the world. Their funding has directly contributed to some of the biggest breakthroughs in brain and behavioral health, including the first fast-acting antidepressants, non-invasive brain stimulation, and computer-guided early diagnosis of mental illness. And, in 2024, 2-time Young Investigator Grant recipient Nolan R. Williams published results from his exploratory research that suggests the psychoactive compound ibogaine could safely treat a variety of mental illnesses related to traumatic brain injury.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation via their website. You can support the organization’s mission by creating your own Team Up for Research fundraiser or attending an event.

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities that combat brain injuries. 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 a charity’s progress in reaching its targets, the chances are they’re not making a substantial 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. 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 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 combatting brain injuries—based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

Illustration of a signature for Alycia

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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