9 Best Charities for Down Syndrome Support (Complete 2022 List)

9 Best Charities for Down Syndrome Support (Complete 2022 List)

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Carla Shaik

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Down syndrome is one of the most prevalent chromosome disorders, with an estimated 6,000 babies born with the condition every year in America. Yet, it is still one of the most misunderstood and under-funded disorders in the world. Charities are now striving to raise awareness of the needs of people with Down syndrome. So we had to ask: What are the best charities for Down syndrome support?

The best charities for Down syndrome support are the Arc and the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. Charities such as PATH International and the STAR Institute do amazing work providing individualized care for children with Down Syndrome, to aid their development. 

Whether you want to ensure all people with Down syndrome are given equal human rights, help fund research into the disorder, or simply ensure children with Down syndrome receive the love and care they deserve, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities for down syndrome support are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to make a contribution.

Related: Did you know that you can make Amazon donate 0.5% of your purchases to a charitable organization of your choice. Sign up at smile.amazon.com, select the charity you want your donations to go to, and make Amazon donate a part of your purchases to your chosen charity at no extra cost to you.

Here’s What All the Best Charities for Down Syndrome Support Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their mission, impact and transparency ratings, and achievements. They operate all over the world, from North America to Europe, providing life-changing assistance to individuals with Down syndrome.

Many of the charities on this list focus their efforts on raising awareness, understanding, and acceptance of people with Down Syndrome. Others focus their attention on providing life-long individual care so people with Down syndrome can reach their full potential. Yet they all share the same goal – to ensure all people with Down syndrome feel included, valued, and respected.

These Are the 9 Best Charities for Down Syndrome Support

Below are our favorite charities for down syndrome support:

  • The Arc
  • Global Down Syndrome Foundation
  • Reece’s Rainbow
  • Easterseals
  • Down Syndrome International
  • Down Syndrome Network
  • National Down Syndrome Society
  • STAR Institute
  • PATH International

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

The Arc: Respect. Dignity. Inclusion

The Arc was founded in 1953 by a group of parents of children with special needs, to raise awareness of developmental disabilities, including Down syndrome. The charity is now the largest national community-based organization advocating for the rights of the disabled. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: According to their financial report, the Arc spent 82.7% of its income on program services and 6.3% on fundraising. 

“We fight every day so no person with a disability gets left behind.”

The Arc

What they do: The Arc uses the power of advocacy to create real change for people with intellectual and developmental disorders such as Down Syndrome. Their main focuses are shutting down mental institutions and ensuring there is funding available for people with disabilities to live in their own homes. Through their employment service and disability awareness training programs, the charity works with companies to help them remove barriers and become more inclusive.  

What they’ve achieved: Today, the Arc runs over 600 individual chapters across 49 states and has launched over 1,000 national community programs for people with developmental disabilities. In 2020, the charity provided 620,000 people with daycare and education support, and reached 3.9 million people through their media awareness campaigns. Thanks to the continued advocacy of the charity, 3.6 million people with developmental disorders now live in their own homes. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Arc through their website. You can also assist the charity by supporting their campaigns or by fundraising

Global Down Syndrome Foundation: Improving the Lives of People with Down Syndrome

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation was founded in 2009 by Michelle Sie Whitten after she found out that only a small percentage of the NIH budget goes towards Down Syndrome Research. Today, the charity advocates for the rights of Down syndrome sufferers and raises vital funds for research into the condition. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Global Down Syndrome Foundation holds the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. The charity has yet to be scored by Charity Navigator. 

“To significantly improve the lives of people with Down syndrome through research, medical care, education, and advocacy.”

Global Down Syndrome Foundation

What they do: The Global Down Syndrome Foundation invests critical funds into Downs syndrome research. They also raise awareness of the condition through their numerous programs and events, including their renowned annual Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show. In addition, they heavily support the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, which is the only establishment in America dedicated solely to research and medical care for people with Down syndrome. 

What they’ve achieved: To date, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation has awarded 224 live-saving grants and invested $876,181 in their local Down syndrome member organizations. This work has reached an estimated 14,000 families across 40 states and 5 countries. Their Be Yourself Be Beautiful Fashion Show is now the single-largest annual fundraiser benefiting people with Down syndrome. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Global Down Syndrome Foundation through their website. You can also support the charity by volunteering or through their sponsorship opportunities initiative. 

Reece’s Rainbow: Special Needs Adoption Support

Reece’s Rainbow was founded in 2004 by Andrea Roberts as an outreach project to promote the adoption of children with Down syndrome. Today, the charity advocates and fundraises for the international adoption of orphans with special needs. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Reece’s Rainbow holds the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. The charity also has a 100% Encompass rating for finance & accountability from Charity Navigator.

“Advocating and finding families for orphans internationally with Down syndrome and other special needs.”

Reece’s Rainbow

What they do: Reece’s Rainbow offers adoption grants for children with special needs and provides funding to foster families through their Family Sponsorship Program. The charity also provides numerous online resources to educate the public on the needs of children with Down syndrome and raises awareness through their Warrior Program

What they’ve achieved: Since its inception, Reece’s Rainbow has placed 2290 special needs children with loving families. They have also dispersed $17.5 million in adoption grants to families in 26 countries. In 2020, the charity raised over $130,000 for 105 special needs children through their Miracle of Adoption Christmas Campaign.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Reece’s Rainbow through their website. You can also support the charity by sponsoring a child in need, financially supporting a family, or by joining their Miracle of Adoption Christmas Campaign.

Easterseals: Leading the Way to 100% Inclusion, Equity, and Access

Easterseals was founded in 1919 by Edgar Allen after he tragically lost his son to a streetcar accident. While at the hospital, he was shocked to learn that children with disabilities were often hidden from public view so he decided to make a difference. Today the charity is the largest non-profit healthcare organization in America. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Easterseals holds the Silver Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. The charity also has a 100% Encompass rating for finance & accountability from Charity Navigator.

“Committed to ensuring that the needs of children and adults with disabilities, veterans and older adults are met with services and support to help them live, learn, work and play in their communities.”

Easterseals

What they do: Easterseals utilizes their team of therapists, support professionals, and health care experts to meet the needs of people with disabilities across America, including those with Down syndrome. Through their therapy programs, the charity offers early intervention services for children, as well as employment training, and health programs for adults. In addition, Easterseals runs several recreation and camp services for disabled people across America.

What they’ve achieved: Every year, Easterseals supports 1.5 million people with disabilities, such as Down syndrome, through their network of 67 affiliates nationwide. This includes 75,000 people assisted through their employment and training programs, and 81,040 children reached through their early intervention program.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Easterseals through their website. You can also support the charity by joining a Walk With Me event to raise awareness or by volunteering.

Down Syndrome International: Promoting Equal Rights

Down Syndrome International was founded in 1993 by Jo Mills, Penny Robertson, and Sylvia Escamilla, as a result of a shared desire to improve the lives of people with Down syndrome. Today, the charity is an international disabled people’s organization dedicated to promoting equal rights for those with Down syndrome. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: According to their financial report, Down Syndrome International spent 29% of its expenditure on policy, advice, and support, 33% on network development and training, and 23% on campaigning.  

“People with Down syndrome living healthy and meaningful lives in the community.”

Down Syndrome International

What they do: Down Syndrome International works with a diverse network of organizations to run global awareness campaigns for Down Syndrome. Through their employment advocacy project, the charity publishes guidelines for employers to ensure that people with Down Syndrome receive equal access to employment opportunities, and provide training on human rights in 5 countries. They are also supporting the development of the very first Rwanda Down Syndrome Organization through their Rwanda Support Project.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Down Syndrome International has grown into a network of over 1000 members that have contacts in 146 countries worldwide. In 2020, the charity directly assisted 1013 people with Down syndrome through their numerous projects and provided 654 people with human rights training. Since 2012, Down Syndrome International has had 136 speakers with Down syndrome at their United Nations events.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Down Syndrome International through their website. You can also support the charity by volunteering or by setting up a fundraising event

Down Syndrome Network: Connecting Families Affected by Down Syndrome 

Down Syndrome Network was formed in 2002 by a group of parents of children with Down Syndrome because they were frustrated at the lack of comprehensive guidance available. Today, the charity acts as a one-stop information source to consolidate resources for people living with Down Syndrome. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Down Syndrome Network holds the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. According to their financial report, the charity spent 82% of its income on program services, 10% on fund development, and 8% on management. 

“A community that embraces, supports, and inspires individuals with Down syndrome to live healthy, self-determined and fulfilling lives.”

Down Syndrome Network

What they do: Down Syndrome Network supports people with Down Syndrome from birth to adulthood. They do this by running numerous activity clubs at their center in Arizona. They also run DSConex workshops to help connect families who are living with Down Syndrome. In addition, the charity’s website provides support and information packs for new parents of children with the condition. 

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Down Syndrome Network has strived to educate, support, and advocate for families touched by Down syndrome. In 2020, the charity reached 2,500 families and individuals with their support and guidance programs. In the same year, they trained 105 self-advocates and professionals in the needs of people with Down syndrome through their educational workshops. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Down Syndrome Network through their website. You can also support the charity by purchasing items from their online store or through volunteering

National Down Syndrome Society: Advocating for Change

The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) was founded in 1979 by Barton and Betsy Goodwin after their own child was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Today, the charity is the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The National Down Syndrome Society holds the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar and a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.  

“A world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to enhance their quality of life, realize their aspirations, and become valued members of welcoming communities.”

National Down Syndrome Society

What they do: The National Down Syndrome Society campaigns for the Down syndrome community at a federal level, to improve their lives and education prospects. They also offer numerous resources such as resume guidelines and employment tips, to ensure every person with Down syndrome can achieve their dreams. In addition, the charity offers local support to people affected by Down syndrome and offers advice on a national level through their helpline

What they’ve achieved: Today, the National Down Syndrome Society runs over 300 local support centers for people with Down syndrome. Their National Buddy Walk program is now considered to be America’s premier advocacy event to raise awareness of Down syndrome. In 2021, thanks to the advocating efforts of the National Down Syndrome Society, the senate introduced Charlotte’s bill, which prevents disability discrimination in cases of organ transplants. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the National Down Syndrome Society through their website. You can also support the charity by purchasing items from their online shop or by joining one of their numerous Down syndrome awareness events

STAR Institute: Experts in Sensory Health

The STAR Institute was founded in 2016 as a merger between the STAR Center and the SPD Foundation. Today, the charity supports and treats children with sensory processing disorders, which are common in children with Down syndrome. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The STAR Institute holds the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. The charity also has an 85% Encompass rating for finance & accountability from Charity Navigator.  

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

STAR Institute

What they do: The STAR Institute provides individualized treatments at their center in Denver, for children suffering from Sensory Processing Disorder, Down syndrome, and ADHD among others. The charity also provides a diverse variety of online courses for professionals working with these children. In addition, they offer research mentorship programs for scientists working in the field of sensory integration, as well as conducting their own research at their research center.

What they’ve achieved: Today, the STAR Institute treats families in over 38 countries and 49 states. They have also reached over 12,750 parents and professionals through their SPD-focused educational events. Their research center is now considered to be the premier institute for sensory processing disorders worldwide. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the STAR Institute through their website. You can also support the charity by shopping on AmazonSmile or by volunteering.

PATH International: Changing Lives Through Equine-Assisted Therapies

PATH International (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) was founded in 1969 by 23 passionate individuals, to develop the horse therapy industry for people with special needs, including Down Syndrome. Today, the charity is a national accreditation organization with thousands of members around the world.  

Their impact and transparency ratings: PATH International holds the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. The charity also has a 100% Encompass rating for finance & accountability from Charity Navigator.

“To ensure universal recognition of professional equine-assisted services and their transformative impacts that enrich lives.”

PATH International

What they do: PATH International promotes the benefits of equine-assisted therapies for children and adults with disabilities (including Down syndrome) by training, testing, and accrediting horse centers in equine therapies. In addition, the charity runs regular educational workshops for its members as well as university-level courses to train the next generation of equine-assisted therapy experts. 

What they’ve achieved: Today, PATH International has accredited 873 member centers as well as 8,000 individual certified instructors around the globe. These members assist almost 69,000 children and adults with special needs every year, including those with Down syndrome. In 2019, the charity also accredited 883 Mental Health and Learning Equine Specialists to assist those who face developmental and emotional challenges in everyday life.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to PATH International through their website. You can also support the charity by sponsoring their vital work or by signing up to join one of their educational courses through the PATH International online store.

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities for down syndrome support. 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. 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.
  • Donate a percentage of your online purchases. If you bought anything on sites like Amazon lately, you’d find a prompt asking you to donate to your favorite charities through their Amazon Smile program. You can set this up so that your chosen charities will get a fraction of your online purchases.
  • 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 down syndrome support – 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:

Sources

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Carla Shaik

Carla is passionate about animal welfare and our natural environment and is on a mission to give you the knowledge you need to help protect our planet and all of its inhabitants. She holds a bachelor's of science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare, is a teaching support officer at the College of West Anglia, and also works as a cat sitter in her local community. Aside from writing, she has a love of music, teaching her daughter how to play piano, and enjoys getting creative with craft activities.

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