9 Best Charities That Promote Health and Well-Being (Complete 2022 List)
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The terms health and well-being refer to more than just the absence of disease. Well-being combines mental health and physical health to reflect a person’s general outlook on life. Positive well-being is associated with benefits such as increased longevity and productivity. However, negative well-being and health can lead to depression, isolation, and eating disorders. So, we had to ask: What are the best charities promoting health and well-being?
The best charities that promote health and well-being are Action for Healthy Kids and Meals on Wheels America. Charities such as World Vision and Food for the Hungry help impoverished communities improve their health and well-being by providing vital resources and promoting economic empowerment.
Whether you want to ensure that children develop healthy nutritional habits, help special athletes achieve their dreams, or support a lonely senior citizen, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities for promoting health and well-being are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to make a contribution.
Here’s What All the Best Charities That Promote Health and Well-Being Have in Common
The charities on this list were chosen based on their mission, impact and transparency ratings, and achievements. The majority of these charities are based in the US but many also work internationally to promote health and well-being.
Many of these charities work to improve the mental health of individuals. Others focus on physical activity as a means to promote health and well-being. Some seek to uplift entire communities through economic empowerment, while others provide children with unique opportunities to build healthy habits at an early age. Yet they all share a common goal: to promote health and well-being.
These Are the 9 Best Charities That Promote Health and Well-Being
Below are our favorite charities that promote health and well-being:
- Action for Healthy Kids
- Meals on Wheels America
- World Vision
- Food for the Hungry
- SeekHer Foundation
- Special Olympics
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- Fresh Air Fund
- Child Mind Institute
(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)
Action for Healthy Kids: Fighting Childhood Obesity
Action for Healthy Kids was founded in 2002 by Dr. David Satcher to alleviate the childhood obesity epidemic in the US. Today, they are a national organization connecting schools and families to ensure the physical and emotional health of children in underserved communities.
“All kids deserve to be healthy – in body and mind.”Action for Healthy Kids
What they do: Action for Healthy Kids brings schools and families together and equips them with the tools and resources they need to promote children’s health and well-being. For example, through their family-school partnership model, they bring together school staff and district leaders to identify the specific needs of the community, to develop and implement effective solutions. They specifically focus on three key program areas: food access and nutrition education (NourishED), physical activity and active play (EnergizED), and social-emotional health and risk behavior prevention (ConnectED). They also award grants to schools to help them accomplish student wellness goals.
What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the Action for Healthy Kids Network has positively impacted the health and well-being of over 20 million children across more than 55,000 schools, with the help of their 140,000 volunteers. Since 2009, they have awarded $9.3 million in grants to schools and districts across the US. Furthermore, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they awarded additional grants to fund emergency meal equipment and more effective meal distribution to 44 school districts. As a result, they served more than 20 million meals to children during the 2020-2021 school year.
Meals on Wheels America: Delivering More than Meals
Meals on Wheels America was founded in 1976 by John Marick to support pre-existing community-based programs providing meals and companionship to senior citizens in their homes. Today, they are a network of over 5,000 programs combatting senior isolation and hunger in virtually every community in the US.
“Together, we can deliver.”Meals on Wheels America
What they do: Meals on Wheels America supports the physical and social well-being of seniors by delivering nutritious meals, friendly visits, and safety checks. Volunteers bring meals to individual seniors in their homes and provide socialization to those who may be isolated otherwise. They also assess the health and living conditions of at-risk seniors to identify and report health concerns. Additionally, they facilitate meal delivery to congregate nutrition sites such as senior centers, which provide additional opportunities for socialization.
What they’ve achieved: Meals on Wheels America delivers more than 221 million meals to over 2.4 million seniors every year. For example, in 2020, they responded to increased isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by scaling their efforts to serve 47% more seniors and distributing 77% more meals than pre-pandemic. Furthermore, according to a 2015 study by Brown University, the charity’s services improved several measures of well-being for seniors, including mental health, physical health, and social health.
World Vision: Bringing Hope to Children Around the World
World Vision was founded in 1950 by Robert Pierceto to support Christian mission services for families impacted by crises in East Asia. Today, the charity is the largest international non-governmental organization committed to improving the health and well-being of impoverished children in Asia and beyond.
“Pulling up the roots of poverty and planting the seeds of change.”World Vision
What they do: World Vision promotes the health and well-being of people living in poverty by economically empowering underserved communities. They do this by focusing on improving the economic well-being of individual households by educating parents and community leaders on sustainable financial practices and by providing resources for economic development. For example, they provide microloans to entrepreneurs in impoverished communities to start or grow their businesses. The money used to pay off those loans is funneled back into the community to fund more loans.
What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, World Vision has improved the health and well-being of millions of families living in poverty. For example, in 2021, they disbursed $613 million in microloans to 1 million people in 28 countries, impacting 1.6 million jobs and improving the lives of 5.2 million children. In the same year, they provided 163,172 metric tons of food supplies to help nourish children and families, and supported and trained over 184,000 community health workers in 46 countries. Within 10 years, they equipped 28.4 million people with lasting access to clean water.
Food for the Hungry: Strengthening Communities to End Poverty
Food for the Hungry was founded in 1971 by Dr. Larry Ward to help children dying of starvation. Today, they work in over 20 countries, providing vital resources such as food, clean water, and medical aid to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable communities.
“Turning adversity into impact.”Food for the Hungry
What they do: Food for the Hungry promotes the health and well-being of impoverished communities by working with them to create and implement sustainable solutions to poverty. In addition to providing life-saving resources such as food, medical aid, clean water, and sanitation to children and families directly, they also set communities up to thrive once they leave. They provide vocational and agricultural training, promote financial literacy, and help establish savings groups so entrepreneurs can borrow money. They also help communities learn to respond to and withstand crises such as natural disasters and conflict through their Shared Resilience Approach.
What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Food for the Hungry has remained dedicated to ending poverty in some of the hardest-to-reach places on earth. For example, in 2021, their development programs impacted 10,369,755 people in 5,241 communities around the world. In the same year, they responded to 25 disaster events and humanitarian crises in 15 countries, helping 3,137,399 people access vital resources.
Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Food for the Hungry through their website. You can also support the charity by sponsoring a child or by purchasing items from their gift catalog, such as hygiene kits and livestock.
SeekHer Foundation: Bridging the Gender Gap of Mental Health
The SeekHer Foundation was founded in 2021 by Monica Mo. After suffering a mental breakdown, Mo recognized the need for an organization that focused on mental health issues unique to women. Today, the foundation supports women’s mental health and well-being through advocacy and empowerment.
Their impact and transparency ratings: The SeekHer Foundation is a charitable project supported by the Social Good Fund, which receives a 94% rating for Finance and Accountability from Charity Navigator. The fund also holds the Silver Seal for Transparency from GuideStar.
“When we power more women, we power more good.”The SeekHer Foundation
What they do: The SeekHer Foundation promotes the health and well-being of women by pinpointing challenges that impact their mental health and identifying actionable solutions through advocacy campaigns, research, and funding support. For example, their body image campaign involves collaboration with health care providers, educators, and mentors to promote body inclusivity among young women. Their self-care advocacy campaign provides resources for women to prioritize their health and well-being.
What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the SeekHer Foundation has provided mental health resources and self-care tools to over 3,600 students and connected over 212,000 women with wellness resources. For example, in 2021, they launched SeekHer Shift, a survey initiative that engaged over 1,100 women across the US. It identified the most pressing challenges to women’s mental health to guide future support efforts.
Special Olympics: Empowerment Through Athleticism
The Special Olympics was founded as Camp Shriver by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1963 after her friend expressed frustration at the lack of recreational programs for her son with a disability.
Today, the charity is a global movement, highlighting ability over disability and empowering special athletes of all ages.
“Changing the world through sport.”Special Olympics
What they do: Special Olympics promotes the physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and adults with disabilities by providing year-round sports training and athletic events. Participation in the Special Olympics gives athletes opportunities to build confidence and develop relationships through physical fitness. In addition to national and international events, athletes can also participate in regional activities in their local communities.
What they’ve achieved: Globally, the Special Olympics hosts more than 115,000 competitions annually, reaching more than 6.7 million athletes with disabilities. Furthermore, their Healthy Athletes initiative has performed more than 2 million screenings, addressing the physical needs of athletes that might otherwise go untreated. The initiative has also trained close to 300,000 health professionals and students to treat people with disabilities.
Ways to contribute: You can make monetary donations to The Special Olympics via their website. You can also get directly involved by volunteering as a coach, event staff, official or unified partner in your local community.
National Alliance on Mental Illness: Destigmatizing Mental Health
The National Alliance on Mental Illness was founded in 1979 by a small group of families to offer support and promote the well-being of people suffering from mental illness. Today, the organization works to raise awareness and provide support to those in need in communities across the US.
“Changing the mental health conversation, together.”National Alliance on mental Illness
What they do: The National Alliance on Mental Illness supports the health and well-being of those with mental illness and their families through advocacy, education, support, and public awareness. For example, their education program features classes for people with mental illness as well as stakeholders such as family members, significant others, and providers. They also provide peer support to those seeking guidance and resources via their 24-hour HelpLine.
What they’ve achieved: The National Alliance on Mental Illness supports the health and well-being of people suffering from mental health issues through their network of over 600 affiliates and 49 state organizations across the US. For example, in 2021, they distributed $3.5 million in grants to support more people in need. In the same year, their annual fundraiser, NAMIWalks Your Way, raised $13.1 million across 122 events with over 40,000 participants nationwide. The charity was also cited by federal legislators more often than any other mental health organization in 2021.
Ways to contribute: You can donate to the National Alliance on Mental Illness via their website. You can also contribute by registering to participate in NamiWalks Your Way, or by volunteering to work on the HelpLine.
Fresh Air Fund: Bringing the Outdoors to City Kids
The Fresh Air Fund was founded in 1877 by Reverend Willard Parsons to give impoverished New York City children a vacation in the country. Today, they continue to provide life-changing summer experiences to youth to improve the well-being of children from impoverished communities.
“Because a summer can last a lifetime.”Fresh Air Fund
What they do: The Fresh Air Fund promotes the social, emotional, and physical well-being of inner city children by providing them with free summer experiences in the outdoors that are not typically accessible due to socioeconomic status. For example, their sleepaway camps offer a fully immersive summer camp experience in a country setting. Moreover, their Fresh Air Summer Spaces program hosts supervised activities such as obstacle courses and arts and crafts at outdoor locations within New York City. In addition, their Fresh Air Family Wellness program allows families to bond on overnight trips outdoors.
What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the Fresh Air Fund has improved the health and well-being of more than 1.8 million children. In 2021 alone, 90% of participants reported that the Fresh Air Fund helped them feel more active and healthy, and 85% felt more confident. In the same year, 99% of Fresh Air Family Wellness participants reported feeling more connected as a family after their experience.
Child Mind Institute: Mental Health in the Developing Brain
The Child Mind Institute was founded in 2009 by Dr. Harold Koplewiscz to increase access to diagnosis and treatment for children with mental health and learning challenges, after he experienced poor mental health treatment as a child. Today, they are the leading independent non-profit in children’s mental health and well-being.
“Reaching struggling kids wherever they are.”Child Mind Institute
What they do: The Child Mind Institute promotes the health and well-being of children with mental health and learning challenges through three initiative areas: care, education, and science. Their care initiative offers evaluation and treatment for a wide variety of mental health and learning concerns. Their education initiative includes the Family Resource Center and School and Community Programs, which provide families and communities with resources to promote children’s mental health. In addition, their science initiative drives research into causes of mental health and learning challenges in developing brains and adapts treatments accordingly.
What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the Child Mind Institute has treated more than 13,110 patients, over 75% of whom received services for free or at a reduced cost. Their Healthy Brain Network has included more than 5,510 participants and the data has been cited in more than 1,289 research articles. Furthermore, In 2021 alone, more than 17 million people visited the organization’s website for free, evidence-based resources on children’s mental health.
How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?
The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities that promote health and well-being. 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. Familiarise 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.
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 promoting health and well-being – based on the causes that matter most to you.
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:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Well-Being Concepts
- Action for Healthy Kids: Home
- Action for Healthy Kids: Who We Are
- Action for Healthy Kids: What We Do
- Charity Navigator: Action for Healthy Kids
- GuideStar: Action for Healthy Kids
- Action for Healthy Kids: NourishED
- Action for Healthy Kids: EnergizED
- Action for Healthy Kids: ConnectED
- Action for Healthy Kids: Grants and Support
- Action for Healthy Kids: At a Glance
- Action for Healthy Kids: School Grant Program Report
- Action for Healthy Kids: Donate
- Action for Healthy Kids: Events
- Action for Healthy Kids: Fundraise
- Meals on Wheels America: Home
- Charity Navigator: Meals on Wheels America
- GuideStar: Meals on Wheels America
- Meals on Wheels America: What we Deliver
- Meals on Wheels America: Health
- Meals on Wheels America: COVID-19 Response
- Meals on Wheels America: Infographic
- Meals on Wheels America: Donate
- Meals on Wheels America: Volunteer
- World Vision: Our History
- Forbes: World Vision
- Charity Navigator: World Vision
- GuideStar: World Vision
- World Vision: Economic Empowerment
- World Vision: 2021 Annual Report
- World Vision: Donate
- World Vision: Funa a Microloan
- World Vision: Sponsor a Child
- Food for the Hungry: Home
- Food for the Hungry: History
- Charity Navigator: Food for the Hungry
- GuideStar: Food for the Hungry
- Food for the Hungry: About
- Food for the Hungry: Resilience
- Food for the Hungry: 2021 Annual Report
- Food for the Hungry: Give
- Food for the Hungry: Sponsor a Child
- Food for the Hungry: Gift Catalog
- SeekHer: About Us
- SeekHer: 2021 Annual Report
- Social Good Fund: Home
- Charity Navigator: SeekHer
- GuideStar: SeekHer
- SeekHer: Body Image
- SeekHer: Self-care Advocacy
- SeekHer: SeekHer: Shift Report
- SeekHer: Donate
- SeekHer: Ways to Give
- SeekHer: Apply to Become a SeekHer Scholar
- Special Olympics: History
- Special Olympics: Mission
- Special Olympics: Sports
- Special Olympics: Events
- Special Olympics: Unified Sports
- Special Olympics: Healthy Athletes
- Charity Navigator: Special Olympics
- Guidestar: Special Olympics
- Special Olympics: Ways to Give
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: Home
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: Who We Are
- Charity Navigator: National Alliance on Mental Illness
- GuideStar: National Alliance on Mental Illness
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: Peer to Peer Education
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: Family Education
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: Provider Education
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: HelpLine
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: 2021 Annual Report
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: NAMIWalks Your Way
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: Donate
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: Get Involved
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: Volunteer Opportunities
- Fresh Air Fund: Home
- Charity Navigator: Fresh Air Fund
- GuideStar: Fresh Air Fund
- Fresh Air Fund: Programs
- Fresh Air Fund: Sleepaway Camps
- Fresh Air Fund: Summer Spaces
- Fresh Air Fund: Family Wellness
- Fresh Air Fund: Our Impact
- Fresh Air Fund: 2021 Annual Report
- Fresh Air Fund: Donate
- Fresh Air Fund: Volunteer
- Fresh Air Fund: Events
- The Child Mind Institute: About Us
- Charity Navigator: Child Mind Institute
- GuideStar: Child Mind Institute
- The Child Mind Institute: Care
- The Child Mind Institute: Education
- The Child Mind Institute: Resources
- The Child Mind Institute: School and Community
- The Child Mind Institute: The Center for the Developing Brain
- The Child Mind Institute: Healthy Brain Network
- The Child Mind Institute: Autism Center
- The Child Mind Institute: Our Impact
- The Child Mind Institute: 2021 Annual Report
- The Child Mind Institute: Donate
- The Child Mind Institute: Sponsorship