9 Best Charities for Helping Elephants (Complete 2021 List)

9 Best Charities for Helping Elephants (Complete 2021 List)

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Dennis Kamprad

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Elephants are a cornerstone species in our environment. But unfortunately, their numbers have drastically decreased globally. So we had to ask: Which are the best charities for helping elephants?

The best charities for helping elephants include Elephant Voices, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, International Elephant Foundation, and the Nature Conservancy. These have helped to provide a safe habitat for elephants, protect them from poaching and human conflicts, and grow back their numbers.

Whether you want to save elephant habitats, end poaching and the demand for ivory, or even secure a baby elephant’s future by adopting them, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities for international aid 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 Helping Elephants Have in Common

The charities we have chosen work closely with grassroots organizations, governments, and other conservation parties to ensure the safety of elephants across the world. As much as collaboration is necessary for elephant conservation, these charities also base their efforts and activities on researching one of the most intelligent species out there. These charities ensure their efforts also cater to the behavioral needs of these brilliant beings.   

While some of these charities run programs based across the world from Kenya to India to the United States, they are united in their goal of helping elephants. They have clear goals and initiatives that work towards securing a brighter future for elephants. 

These Are the 9 Best Charities for Helping Elephants

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

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

Elephant Voices: Promoting Ethical Care For Elephants Through Research

The couple Peter Granili and Joyce Pole founded Elephant Voices in 2012 after having forty years of experience researching cognitive behavior and reproductive communication among elephants. Their research noticed the unique way elephants communicate with each other and the need to customize elephant care according to elephant behavior. Elephant Voices now operate in North America and Africa (Kenya and Mozambique). 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Elephant Voices have an 80% score on Charity Navigator with a majority independent board and 90% of their expenditure going towards their programs. 

“To inspire wonder in the intelligence, complexity and voices of elephants, and to secure a kinder future for them.” 

Elephant Voices

What they do: To promote protection and kinder treatment for elephants worldwide, Elephant Voices categorizes their programs under their CARE acronym. Through Conservation, Advocacy, Research, and Education, they offer insight into elephant protection and authority on research-based Elephant care. 

What they’ve achieved: Through their conservation program (which started in 2011), they have increased the presence of elephants from 120 to 800 in the Mozambique Gorongosa national park. Moreover, Elephant Voices are key witnesses in appealed legal cases advocating for elephants to be recognized as legal persons to curb the solitary confinement they experience. 

Ways to contribute: The best way to support this initiative is through donations, and if you are skilled in writing, Elephant Voices encourages you to write opinion pieces for your local newspaper, blog, or school article. You never know who your writings may touch and move to action. 

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust: Rescuing and Rehabilitating Orphaned Infant Elephants

Inspired by her husband’s work as a founder warden in Tsavo National Park, Daphne Sheldrick established The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in 1997. Driven by one family’s love for wildlife, the Trust works closely with the Kenyan Wildlife Trust to safeguard natural habitats. It is a pioneer in wildlife rehabilitation and environmental conservation in East Africa. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: With a 96% score on Charity Navigator and a platinum rank in transparency by GuideStar, the Sheldrick wildlife trust spends 92% of its finances on the program and its services. You can also check their annual field reports and newsletters detailing all their work.

“Embraces all measures that complement the conservation, preservation and protection of wildlife and habitats.”

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

What they do: With their main operations in Kenya, the Trust has a range of programs that aim to decrease poaching, safeguard the environment, increase community awareness and outreach plus provide veterinary services to wildlife in need. They are a global leader in elephant adoption services, enabling them to rescue infant orphaned elephants and work on rehabilitating them back into the wild. 

What they’ve achieved: The David Sheldrick Trust has successfully raised over 200 elephant orphans, and through their mobile veterinary units, they have attended to the medical needs of 2,885 elephant cases. The Trust is committed to raising community by collaborating with local schools to organize field trips to the orphanage and opens its facilities to the public daily from 11 am to noon. 

Ways to contribute: Support this organization’s efforts by making a direct donation or go the extra mile and organize a fundraiser. The best part is, you do not need to live in Kenya to adopt your very own orphan infant elephant for as little as $50 a year. You can also partake in any of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s upcoming events or increase you and your peers’ knowledge by engaging in their education programs.

International Elephant Foundation: Refining Elephant Human Relations Through Research

The International Elephant Foundation was inspired by the frustration of its founder Michael Fouraker, the Fort Worth Zoo director, in 1998 (and established in 1999). Exasperated by the lack of available funding for elephant research and conservation efforts at the time, he called together nine representatives from zoos, circuses, private elephant facilities, and a university to Fort Worth to the International Elephant Foundation to promote elephant conservation efforts. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The charity has a platinum seal of transparency from GuideStar. And according to their public statements, none of the board members receive any form of payment from the organization but rather make annual contributions to support their efforts. 

“Create a sustainable future where elephants thrive by linking people and elephants for their mutual long-term benefit.”

International Elephant Foundation

What they do: The International Elephant Foundations invests in formulating resources based on research that supports elephant conservation, education, research, and management. Their primary focus is to raise awareness on the issues and proper care needed for elephants globally.

What they’ve achieved: Since its inception, they have provided approximately $6.7million to elephant research and conservation programs while supporting 150 elephants in these programs. They have also produced one of the most recognized documents on elephant management, ‘The 2004 Elephant Husbandry Guide.

Ways to contribute: You can support this international non-profit charity through donations to purchase official merchandise or direct your funds towards a specific program. Also, through their partnership with Tsavo Trust, you can sponsor your very own elephant.

The Nature Conservancy: Promising African Elephants A Safe and Healthy Habitat

Starting as the Ecological Society of America in 1915, this elephant charity is the collaboration of scientists and leaders interested in ecology and conversations. They formed the building blocks for The Nature Conservancy, how it was then named when it was officially formed in 1950 in New York. Nowadays, they operate in over 70 countries in a bid to provide a safe and healthy habitat for elephants – and to tackle environmental challenges along the way. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: With a guaranteed gold seal of transparency from GuideStar. According to their 2019 annual report, 71.2% of their expenditure went towards their conservation programs expenses and purchases plus conservation land and easements.

“Taking holistic approaches to save wild African Elephants.” 

The Nature Conservancy

What they do: The Nature Conservancy collaborates with grassroots initiatives and government wildlife services to implement initiatives that secure healthy, safe habitats for African Elephants. All initiatives and programs are founded in research and data records. 

What they’ve achieved: Elephant human conflict is still a significant issue in many African societies, and rogue elephants can destroy farms and end up severely injured when farm owners try to protect their crops. Through their collaboration with Honeyguide, the Nature Conservancy has established a conflict tool kit that uses fireworks filled with flashlights and chili powder that is 70% efficient in removing elephants from crops and 90% efficient in deterring them from farms. These fireworks act as elephant alarm systems and keep elephants off crops without hurting them

Ways to contribute: One of the best ways to help the Nature Conservancy is by making a donation. You can also join their #SaveElephants program and share their published materials concerning grassroots initiatives and partnerships.

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee: Giving Elephants The Freedom They Deserve

Established in 1995, the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee has provided refuge for elephants retired from entertainment and exhibition. Through this non-profit, elephants that once lived in captivity now get the opportunity to interact with a herd and live out the rest of their lives in a protected natural habitat that spans 2,700 acres.

Their impact and transparency ratings: This elephant sanctuary was rated four stars on Charity Navigator and held a platinum seal of transparency from GuideStar; 89% of their expenditure is allocated to their sanctuary program and its services.

“Provide captive elephants with individualized care and the opportunity to live out their lives in a safe haven.” 

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee

What they do: From providing a home that offers rest, refuge, and a herd for previously captive elephants, the Elephant Sanctuary also provides individualized care to each elephant. They also give their elephants the space to overcome their complex behavioral issues from their time in captivity. They pride themselves on being a true safe haven for elephants. Their facilities are not open to the public – but you can watch live footage of the elephants through the EleCam

What they’ve achieved: Since their inception in 1995, they have provided sanctuary to 28 elephants making them North America’s largest refuge for captive elephants. Their facilities include heated barns, spring-fed lakes, pastures, and woodlands. Moreover, they have established short, accessible courses for children from pre-kindergarten to 6th grade on the importance of elephants and their conservation through their distance learning program. 

Ways to contribute: One of the best ways to help the Elephant Sanctuary is through their Join the Herd donation program, which provides you with the option to become a member, adopt an elephant or help feed an elephant. Besides donations, you can take action by pledging to support the plight of elephants or join their EleAmbassador volunteer program.

Save the Elephants: Stopping The Killing Of Elephants And Trafficking Of Their Ivory

This UK-registered charity based in Kenya was founded in 1993 by Ian Douglas-Hamilton. Ian established Save the Elephants based on research and conservation out of the need to foster tolerable relations between elephants and humans in community reserves to curb poaching. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: According to Save The Elephants, 90% of all their funding is directed towards projects in the field. They release annual reports detailing all their projects and expenditures. They are committed to transparency, and you can also find all their scientific publications on the research they have conducted. 

“Secure a future for elephants and to sustain the beauty and ecological integrity of the places they live.” 

Save The Elephants

What they do: Save The Elephants works in research and monitoring through their GPS tracking system, elephant protection by funding partners, and grassroots organizations committed to anti-poaching through their Elephant Crisis Fund. Moreover, the charity provides information on how humans and elephants can coexist fully, raising awareness of the species’ importance to the African ecosystem. 

What they’ve achieved: To date, they have established a partnership with 95 elephant conservatory groups and are financially supporting the initiative of 339 projects in 42 countries, all committed to elephant protection and conservation. 

Ways to contribute: You can save an elephant today by donating to the charity, by getting involved by spreading the word, or even by applying for one of their internship opportunities

Elephant Aid International: Providing Education and Hand on Assistance to End The World Wide Suffering of Elephants

Carol Buckey founded Elephant Aid International in 2006. She has over forty years of experience in the retirement, rehabilitation, and welfare of captive-held elephants. Since its inception, the organization has been hands-on teaching elephant trainers compassionate elephant care; they currently operate in North America and Asia. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The charity has a platinum seal of transparency from GuideStar and directs 88% of its finance to its programs and the services they provide. 

“Making a better world, one elephant at a time.”

Elephant Aid International

What they do: Their work involves collaborating with elephant trainers (called mahouts), NGOs, tourist facilities, and elephant welfare groups to enact change by improving the treatment of captive elephants in Asia while raising awareness in North America. 

What they’ve achieved: Besides their extensive training programs in Asia, Elephant Aid International has established a North American Elephant Sanctuary. Their Elephant Refuge North America is located in Georgia, spanning 850 acres of lush pastures, and is home to ten female elephants retired from zoos and circuses. 

Ways to contribute: You can support by donating to the organization or purchasing an item on their wishlist that will help in their new elephant refuge. On top of that, you can participate in one of Elephant International Aid’s global campaigns or sign up for a volunteer opportunity. 

Save The Asian Elephants: Pressuring States and Politicians to Adopt Policies That Protects Asian Elephants

During his first visit to India, Duncan McNair was stunned and appalled by the mistreatment and violence inflicted on elephants within the tourism industry – especially the way of making baby elephants more compliant by capturing and torturing them in small inhumanely cages. This experience sparked him to start Save The Asian Elephants (STAE), an association of professionals, experts, and campaigners who exert their influence on governments and the tourism industry to adopt solutions for the welfare of Asian elephants. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: STAE is still a rather young organization that has not received a rating from either of the charity rating players. But they have racked up respectable accreditations from the organizations they work with. And they also communicate their efforts through their Twitter handle.

“Working to end the terrible cruelty and brutal conditions suffered by this wondrous and ancient species.”

Save The Asian Elephants

What They do: STAE works with experts and campaigns to advocate for Asian Elephants underrepresented in the global elephant wildlife conservation efforts. They work to inform tourists on captive elephants kept for entertainment purposes, formulate policies, and present petitions to the UK and Asian governments. 

What they’ve achieved: The organization has been behind numerous global petition movements that influence government policy. In 2017 their petition and letter to UK prime minister Theresa May urging the abolishment of the UK ivory trade resulted in the government’s proposed ban known as the Ivory Act

Ways to contribute: There are numerous ways to support this non-profit organization. First, make donations; you can also worldwide petition for change, and they encourage visiting genuine sanctuaries only. You can also get in on the action and write an email to your (or India’s) government officials urging them to adopt policies favoring the Asian elephant. 

World Wide Fund Kenya: Reducing Poaching and Retaliatory Elephant Killings

The World Wide Fund Kenya is the Kenyan branch of the WWF, working in the country since 1962 to stop the diminishing of the country’s natural resources and elephant wildlife and curb the effects of rising human footprint. In addition to reducing elephant poaching, they also work in several sectors involving environment conservation, from marine life to forestry, climate change, and nature. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: According to the World Wide Fund for Nature 2018 report, 95% of their funding is restricted and channeled towards their program’s expenditure. They also regularly release publications detailing all their research, projects, and their impacts. 

“To stop degradation of our planet’s natural environment and build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.”

World Wide Fund Nature

What they do: Under their Africa Elephant Conservation Action Plan, the World Wide Fund works on mitigating human-elephant conflict, improving livelihoods, reducing poaching, and retaliatory killings of elephants that result from human-elephant conflict. They also work with the Kenyan wildlife service to secure and expand elephant ranges. 

What they’ve achieved: World Wide Fund supports four community ranger units through their African Elephant Project. By supporting these units, they strengthen wildlife monitoring and welfare and reduce poaching on communal land. Through these programs, over 200 poachers have been arraigned since 2017 for wildlife-related crimes – and numerous elephants saved in the process

Ways to contribute: One of the best ways to support this charity is to donate, and you can go the extra mile and advance the children in your life knowledge base by having them join the panda family where they will get access to exclusive digital content, events, online panels and biweekly webinars with conservation experts on elephant and wildlife conservation.

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities for helping elephants. 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 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.
  • 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

Whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that our intelligent friends will immensely appreciate your support. It is just up to you to select the one that resonates most with you.

Hopefully, the information within this article will make the selection process a bit easier for you when supporting charities dedicated to helping elephants. 

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:

Stay impactful,



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