10 Best Charities That Support Lonely Elderly (Complete 2024 List)

10 Best Charities That Support Lonely Elderly (Complete 2024 List)

By
Diana Stancu

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Loneliness is a rapidly spreading epidemic. In recent years, around 50% of individuals over 60 have become at risk of social isolation and one-third reported feeling a lack of companionship most of the time. What’s more, prolonged social isolation increases all-cause mortality by 32% and is as harmful to overall health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Fortunately, charities are fighting to provide critical emotional and social support to seniors struggling with solitude and re-engage them back into society. So we had to ask: What are the best charities that support lonely elderly?

The best charities that support lonely elderly are The Oasis Institute, Friends and Co, and Senior Friendship Centers. Other charities, like For All Ages and Pets for the Elderly, alleviate late-life isolation through connection with younger people and pet adoption.

Whether you want to support older adults to form meaningful connections, decrease the social stigma around their loneliness, or advance intergenerational bonds for the benefit of both seniors and youngsters alike, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities that support lonely elderly are all about, how they work, and what would be your best way to make a contribution.

Here’s What All the Best Charities That Support Lonely Elderly Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their impact, mission, and level of support against elder loneliness.

They mainly operate in North America and the UK, helping senior citizens find reliable social networks.

Most of the charities below work to pair isolated elderly with friendly volunteers who offer at-home visitations and other long-distance options for connections, such as calls or lettering. In addition, these charities organize group activities that range from artmaking to restaurant outings to create cohesive relationships among elders.

They also provide classes on diverse subjects of interest to promote friendship-building through learning experiences. Furthermore, they teach internet literacy and organize intergenerational activities to unite older adults with youngsters and alleviate loneliness on both sides.

Yet, all these charities share the same goal of lifting seniors out of loneliness and into connection.

These Are the 10 Best Charities That Support Lonely Elderly in 2024

Below are our favorite charities that support lonely elderly (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

The Oasis Institute: Getting Older, Growing Stronger

Logo for The Oasis Institute
Lifelong Learning with Oasis Institute

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Their transparency & ratings:

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

“Our vision is to see that adults aged 50 and older across the country have opportunities to pursue vibrant, healthy, productive and meaningful lives.”

The Oasis Institute

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What they do:

The Oasis Institute provides resources and advice to seniors looking to improve their social lives. For instance, they run Social Connectedness programs led by trained facilitators who guide conversations on different topics, from older adults’ struggles to fun memories. They also organize round table discussions focused on current events, politics, or book clubs. Moreover, they teach internet literacy to elders in order to keep them connected with friends and family. In addition, the charity creates community volunteering projects and tutoring opportunities between seniors and primary school children to foster intergenerational bonds. 

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What they’ve achieved:

To date, The Oasis Institute has supported nearly 600,000 elders through lifelong learning, active lifestyles, and volunteer engagement. In this way, they have provided more than 13.7 million volunteer hours to local communities and tutored over 525,000 students through the Intergenerational Tutoring Program. For example, in 2022, they helped 86,000 seniors supply 200,000 volunteer hours to 1,117 communities from 23 US states. In the same year, they paired over 6,000 elders and children across 412 schools nationwide. Furthermore, they invested nearly $1.6 million in their educational and social programs to bring the joy of connection to older adults.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Oasis Institute on their website. In addition, you can support them by subscribing to their blog and newsletter or following their Twitter profile. 

2

Friends and Co: Meaningful Connections for Older Adults

Logo for Friends and Co
Dignity of Friendship

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Their transparency & ratings:

Friends and Co has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator

“We celebrate aging through community-led service that fosters lasting connections for everyone involved.”

Friends and Co

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What they do:

Friends and Co helps older adults who feel isolated and lonely to bring the joy of companionship back into their lives by having regular home visits with friendly volunteers. In addition, the charity offers telephone call services for reclusive seniors who prefer to form long-distance friendships with their volunteers. Furthermore, they provide a free “Coffee Talk” hotline to connect elders with their staff for a one-to-one friendly conversation in the morning hours. In addition, they run social gatherings such as Let’s Do Lunch Café and Let’s Do Coffee to bring together older LGBTQ+ community members for free snacks and social connection.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Friends and Co has continued to provide meaningful interactions to older adults in need of connection. For example, in 2022, they reached 10,000 seniors through 12,300 hours of one-to-one and group-based activities. In the same year, they directly served 656 elders with the help of 1,180 volunteers to enrich their lives and give them a sense of belonging and social cohesion. Furthermore, they launched the “Friends & Co to Go” van, which travels across towns and cities to host community events and engage with seniors to solidify their local communities. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Friends and Co on their website. You can also support them by becoming a volunteer or following their Twitter and Instagram profiles. 

3

Senior Friendship Centers: The Power Of Connection

Logo for Senior Friendship Centers
Senior Friendship Centers

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Their transparency & ratings:

Senior Friendship Centers has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“We believe that isolation and loneliness are the malnutrition of aging. We want to empower older adults to make meaningful connections and improve all aspects of health.”

Senior Friendship Centers

⚒️

What they do:

Senior Friendship Centers helps lonely older adults by providing learning classes and organizing holidays together to strengthen a sense of community. They also help seniors connect within groups in order to foster connections with inventive activities like art creation or dance and exercise. Furthermore, they pair elders who have limited mobility with friendly volunteers to socialize at home and have phone calls to improve their emotional wellness. In addition, their Day Care helps seniors socialize and create bonding opportunities through art or pet therapy. Moreover, they have an Elder Helpline and run support groups for isolated grieving spouses. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, Senior Friendship Centers has continued to support lonely elders seeking connection. For example, in 2020, they invested over $12 million to serve 10,000 seniors by organizing 20,000 hours of supporting activities. In the same year, they aided homebound older adults with 7,500 telephone reassurance calls and 3,000 in-person visits from 412 volunteers to create meaningful relationships. Furthermore, they totaled 3,400 hours of emotional support and learning opportunities in their group activity centers

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Senior Friendship Centers on their website. You can also join their public events or contribute by donating your vehicle or volunteering

4

For All Ages: Because Every Age Matters

Logo for For All Ages
The Bear Fair - For All Ages

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Their transparency & ratings:

For All Ages holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“We know that older adults have acquired wisdom and experience that are often untapped. And we believe that uniting them with younger generations has the power to change lives and entire communities.”

For All Ages

⚒️

What they do:

For All Ages supports lonely elderly to connect with younger generations in order to improve their well-being and belongingness. For instance, they organize outdoor programs and intergenerational art events to foster kindness and artistic creativity in groups. Furthermore, their community walks and luminary nights connect adults of all ages to exercise in healthy, outdoor spaces. In addition, their Tea at 3 program connects younger and older adults for a weekly phone call and 2 community-wide events each spring and fall. Moreover, they run fishing derbies which unite generations to teach fishing skills and compete for prizes. 

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, For All Ages has continued to help seniors tackle loneliness and foster friendships. For example, in 2023, they united 11,200 people of all ages across their community-wide programs. In the same year, they supported seniors from 78 towns to connect across 9,000 hours of interactive activities. Furthermore, they ran 2,500 hours of outdoor activities such as fishing and walking together. In addition, they delivered 13,000 Christmas letter cards to isolated elders and helped 3,300 seniors learn about the importance of social health through 8 educational programs

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to For All Ages on their website. You can also buy their merchandise or volunteer. In addition, you can join their corporate educational programs for all ages.

5

Age UK: Helping Every Older Person Who Needs Us

Logo for Age UK
Age UK. Know what to do. Winter 60" | Age UK

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Their transparency & ratings:

According to their financial report, Age UK has spent 60% of their total income on charitable activities and 40% on fundraising costs. 

“We envision a world where everyone can love late life. We stand up and speak for all those who have reached seniorhood, and also protect the long-term interests of future generations.”

Age UK

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What they do:

Age UK designs programs for adults of older age struggling with loneliness. For instance, they organize social activities ranging from arts & crafts to photography clubs and tea dances to inspire elders to connect and thrive in group settings. They also provide lunch clubs and drop-in cafes to create friendly and relaxed places for older people to get together over a drink or a home-cooked meal. Moreover, their Day Centers help seniors engage in daily social interaction with their peers and form lasting relationships. In addition, they pair volunteers with elders to connect at home or via telephone to end social isolation. They also run a free non-stop hotline to help seniors spark conversations more easily. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, Age UK has continued to support senior citizens seeking social connections. For example, in 2022, they answered nearly 200,000 calls through their non-stop hotline to provide older people with friendship, conversation, and support. In the same year, 93% of the seniors participating in their programs said that their well-being improved after forming new connections through the charity. Furthermore, their volunteers made more than 250,000 friendship calls and visits to isolated older people and referred 4,300 elders to their Telephone Friendship Services.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Age UK on their website. You can also support them by volunteering, fundraising, or starting a corporate partnership

6

u3a: Learn, Laugh, Live

Logo for u3a
Do Something Brilliant Today | u3a uk

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Their transparency & ratings:

According to their financial report, u3a spent 70% of their total income on charitable expenses and 30% on administrative costs. 

“We run local interest groups that provide a wide range of opportunities for seniors to come together to learn for fun.”

u3a

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What they do:

u3a helps seniors connect while expanding their knowledge and interests. For example, they run Subject Networks to unite like-minded members to learn from each other within a subject of interest. In addition, their community of members can access online learning events, as well as other groups and courses from the comfort of their homes, to improve their skills and create new friendships. Furthermore, they run national artistic competitions ranging from photography to painting and poetry to promote group learning. Also, they organize outdoor group activities and other specialized learning programs to build robust bonds among elders. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, u3a has become a UK-wide movement that invests over $1 million each year to help 430,000 lonely seniors socialize and share skills across 1,000 local branches. For example, they have created 103 online learning groups to increase interactions and knowledge across 8 global themes, from science to foreign languages. Moreover, their learning groups have helped specialize 90 Subject Advisers who taught news skills to older adults across 81 topics of interest. They have also provided 12 online platforms for older people to connect around common passions. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to u3a on their website. In addition, you can help them by fundraising or buying their Third Age Matters magazine

7

Pets for the Elderly: New Companions for Lonely Seniors in Need

Logo for Pets for the Elderly
PETS FOR THE ELDERLY

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Their transparency & ratings:

Pets for the Elderly has a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold the Silver Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“We create real-life stories of unconditional love, companionship, and limitless snuggles.”

Pets for the Elderly

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What they do:

Pets for the Elderly works to pair lonely seniors with pets living in shelters and help throughout the entire adoption process. In this way, they fight later life isolation and save the lives of companion animals in shelters that might be otherwise euthanized. Their program includes support for pre-adoption veterinary exams and neutering, as well as practical preparation for the seniors involved. Furthermore, the charity helps with further veterinary and retention services, along with food shortage support or other struggles of first-time animal adopters.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, Pets for the Elderly has continued to fund adoption fees so that both the elderly and pets have companionship. For example, they have expanded their network to collaborate with 56 animal shelters across 32 US states to create adoption opportunities nationwide. In addition, since 2002, they have successfully paired over 100,000 companion animals with senior adopters. Moreover, they have published and collected nearly 50 research articles demonstrating the healing effects that pets can have on lonely older adults.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Pets for the Elderly on their website. You can also support them by subscribing to their newsletter or following their Instagram and Twitter profiles.

8

DOROT: Bringing Generations Together

Logo for DOROT
Celebrating Generations of Volunteers at DOROT's Annual Benefit 2023

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Their transparency & ratings:

DOROT has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“Our mission is to mobilize volunteers of all ages to improve the lives and health of older adults, addressing the challenges of an aging society.”

DOROT

⚒️

What they do:

DOROT unites lonely elders with volunteers who provide at-home visits and uplifting activities, from tech coaching to package deliveries and home-cooked meals. In addition, the charity’s volunteers connect through telephoning, video calls, or lettering with seniors to create long-lasting bonds. Moreover, they organize online group programs for elders, such as GENuine Connections and Onsite@Home, that unite generations in activities ranging from creative writing to chess and art, to create dynamic learning and enrichment. The charity also runs in-person group activities of craft making and local outings to strengthen friendships among seniors.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, DOROT has stayed committed to giving isolated elders new opportunities for connection. For instance, in 2022, they served 5,600 older adults from 37 US states with the help of 6,400 volunteers. In this way, they offered 84,000 hours of activities for social enrichment. In the same year, they connected 2,700 seniors across 1,000 virtual video calls to engage in 20 types of cultural activities. Furthermore, their volunteers gave friendly visitations and calls to almost 1,000 lonesome elderly and helped them prepare nearly 40,000 nutritious meals to mix social engagement with new healthy habits. In addition, they provided 1,075 individual tech coaching sessions to 181 seniors to better connect with friends and family via the Internet. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to DOROT on their website. You can also get involved by applying for a job or volunteering from home or on-site

9

Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly Chicago: Celebration of Life for the Elderly

Logo for Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly Chicago
TRANSPORTATION + FRIENDS = CONNECTION

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly Chicago has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator

“Social interaction is critical to the human spirit — we believe that nurturing the soul is as important as feeding the body.”

Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly Chicago 

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What they do:

The Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly Chicago fights to remind older adults that they are not alone and forgotten. They do this by pairing volunteers with lonely homebound elders to make visits and foster friendships. They also organize social gatherings to build relationships among elders through coffee clubs and craft-making group projects. In addition, they teach elders to interact with newer technology to be more connected with the world at large. Moreover, the charity organizes parties for Christmas and other holidays, along with birthday parties, to unite isolated seniors in times of need. They also run summer vacations and getaways to help elders connect with nature. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly Chicago has continued to offer emotional and social support to lonesome seniors. For example, in 2022, they served 1,009 older adults with the help of 1,732 volunteers who shared 19,300 personal interactions with participating seniors. In this way, they invested over 13,400 volunteer hours across one-to-one and group activities. In the same year, they offered almost 12,000 in-person visits and phone calls to 1,300 lonely seniors. Moreover, they organized 24 summer vacations for 410 older adults and delivered 1,600 food bags to struggling elders. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly Chicago on their website. You can also get involved by becoming a volunteer for driving necessities and home visitations, among other opportunities. 

10

b:friend: Let’s End Loneliness Together. Let’s Befriend.

logo for b:friend
Dorothy & Jane | b:Friend

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Their transparency & ratings:

According to their financial report, b:friend spent 99.5% of their total income on charitable activities and 0.5% on fundraising expenses. 

“Loneliness exists and we want to help end it. We do community support in its most authentic form.”

b:friend

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What they do:

b:friend helps socially isolated elders by connecting them with volunteer befrienders for long-term visits of one hour each week to chat and share a coffee or tea. They do this by pairing the participants based on location and compatibility while maintaining regular support to ensure they are both benefiting from the project. Furthermore, they run weekly Social Clubs for elders to engage in interactive activities in a community setting and create new friendships. In addition, they ensure their group sessions provide inclusivity and positive outcomes for all involved by offering a wide range of activities, from mandala art and Zumba to drumming and dancing lessons. 

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, b:friend has supported 3,600 lonely seniors and helped 2,500 friendships among pairs to last more than a year from their first meeting. For example, in 2022, they united 627 volunteer befrienders and isolated elders to organize over 38,500 supportive at-home meetings. In the same year, they organized 528 Social Club sessions and served 33,500 volunteering hours to support older people in need of connection. Furthermore, they funded over $350,000 across their one-to-one and community events.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to b:friend on their website. You can also contribute by starting a corporate partnership or volunteering. In addition, you can buy their b:tasty cookbook from their befriender community. 

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities that support lonely elderly. 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 supporting lonely elderly—based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

Illustration of a signature for Diana

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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