10 Best Charities for Military Families (Complete 2024 List)

10 Best Charities for Military Families (Complete 2024 List)

By
Diana Stancu

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Having one parent deployed, wounded, or killed in action affects military families deeply, increasing rates of mental health, trauma, and related problems in spouses and their children. What’s more, they can experience financial burdens, from not affording academic tuition to not being able to buy enough food. They also relocate 10 times more often than civilian families – or around every 2 to 3 years, which negatively affects their social networks. Fortunately, charities across the US are working to improve the wellness of military and veteran families. So we had to ask: What are the best charities for military families?

The best charities for military families are the Fisher House Foundation and Blue Star Families. Other charities, like the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and the Armed Services YMCA, provide financial and social resources to increase the quality of life for military families. 

Whether you want to support military families to have the financial resources to thrive, ensure that they have a successful academic future, or help them stay connected and fulfilled despite their challenges, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities for military families are all about, how they work, and what would be your best way to make a contribution.

Here’s What All the Best Charities for Military Families Have in Common

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

They operate across the US and their worldwide military branches to help families of military personnel overcome their struggles. 

Most of the charities below support military families with financial assistance and education to help them overcome financial crises and achieve self-sufficiency. In addition, they offer educational scholarships to military children and spouses to help them advance their careers. 

Furthermore, they provide rent-free homes for transitional stays to aid military families while experiencing unemployment or a military-related injury. 

Yet, all the charities share the same goal of empowering military families so they can thrive.

These Are the 10 Best Charities for Military Families in 2024

Below are our favorite charities for military families (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

Fisher House Foundation: Because a Family’s Love Is Good Medicine

Logo for Fisher House Foundation
25 Years of Service

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Fisher House Foundation has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“We are a home away from home for military families who have a service member struggling with their health in a hospital.”

Fisher House Foundation

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What they do:

The Fisher House Foundation owns properties nationwide close to local hospitals, where military families stay for free in private suites to support their service members when they are hospitalized. Their houses also have laundry and kitchen facilities, and staff provide transportation to and from the hospital. In addition, they provide hotel rooms for military families if their Houses are all full. Moreover, they offer financial assistance for plane tickets to soldiers and their families when they are ill or wounded and require hospital care away from home. Furthermore, they provide scholarships to spouses and children of active duty or killed soldiers.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, the Fisher House Foundation has saved military and veterans’ families $610 million in out-of-pocket costs for lodging and transportation. They have also served 500,000 families in their 97 houses across 35 states and 3 countries, totaling over 12 million days of lodging. Today, they have a daily housing capacity of 1,300 families. Furthermore, they have provided over 70,000 airline tickets worth $105 million to service members and their families in need. In addition, they have funded $35 million in academic scholarships to more than 15,000 military children and spouses

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Fisher House Foundation on their website. You can also get involved by donating your vehicle or fundraising.

2

Blue Star Families: We Are What Military Family Support Looks Like

Logo for Blue Star Families 
Blue Star Families Story

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Their transparency & ratings:

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

“We fight to ensure that wherever American military families go, they can always feel connected, supported and empowered to thrive – in every community, across the nation, and around the globe.”

Blue Star Families

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What they do:

Blue Star Families runs peer-to-peer support networks and other informal gatherings in their nationwide chapters to build a sense of community among military families and ease their life struggles. In addition, they connect military families with social events such as outdoor activities, museum outings, or group readings. They also have specialized, uplifting programs for adult caregivers and their military children to increase their life quality. Moreover, they offer grants and product resources to military families who struggle with their finances or face food insecurity. Furthermore, their Military Spouse Employment Initiative offers career development resources and coaching to underserved military spouses.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Blue Star Families has distributed almost $160 million in benefits to struggling military families across the country. Today, they operate in 12 US chapters and 284 communities worldwide and serve over 1.5 million military families each year while giving nearly 300,000 books to military children. For example, in 2022, they reached 115,000 military spouses with community-building events and funded 700,000 museum outings for military children. In the same year, they started career coaching for 2,725 military spouses and helped them grow their bilingual careers pipeline by 600%

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Blue Star Families on their website. You can also support them by volunteering, starting a Facebook fundraiser, or offering employer-matching gifts

3

Operation Homefront: Giving Stability and Security to Military Families

Logo for Operation Homefront
Operation Homefront 2023: Empowering Military Families and Strengthening Communities

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Their transparency & ratings:

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

“Our mission is to build strong, stable, and secure military families so they can thrive, not simply struggle to get by, in the communities – OUR communities – they have worked so hard to protect.”

Operation Homefront

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What they do:

Operation Homefront provides financial assistance for veterans families to cover basic necessities like mortgage, overdue bills, and groceries. In addition, they have rent-free apartments in Transitional Villages for unemployed veteran families. They also offer housing for veteran families as they begin civilian life through single-family homes, for two to three years, while giving financial counseling and community support. Moreover, they connect military families with caseworkers to improve their financial independence and receive mortgage-free homes from the charity. They also run events for military families and children to celebrate their resilience and patriotism. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, Operation Homefront has funded $103 million in home equity to 720 veteran families through their Permanent Homes, with 680 of them becoming the owners of the house. In addition, they have provided over 550,000 backpacks with school supplies to military children, worth $55 million in total. What’s more, they have given over $41 million to 56,000 veterans in relief payments during personal financial crises. Furthermore, they provided over 6,700 months of transitional rent-free housing, saving 2,500 veterans more than $7.6 million in rent and utility costs

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Operation Homefront through their website. You can also donate to their Urgent Needs program or volunteer. In addition, you can support their United We Stand campaign to secure the future of military families. 

4

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society: We’re Here to Help Military Families

Logo for Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society
NMCRS Our Mission

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“We fight to provide service members and their families with urgent financial assistance, home visits and telehealth options from our Visiting Nurses, and so much more.”

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society

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What they do:

The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society serves Marine families with interest-free loans or grants to help with everyday living expenses such as rent, food, or medical costs. They also offer financial education courses to help military families better navigate their financial future. In addition, they cover emergency travel costs and aid families of military personnel who encounter natural disasters. Furthermore, they provide scholarships and interest-free loans to help Navy and Marine Corps families pursue their academic goals. Moreover, their Budget for Baby workshop coaches military families to make a financial plan before having a child. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society has continued to serve the financial needs of military families. For example, in 2023, they provided $50 million in financial assistance to nearly 200,000 soldiers and spouses in need. In the same year, their nurses supported 12,000 new mothers from military families with medical care and infant-related education through 280 classes and 250 support groups. In addition, they served 5,800 families of soldiers with budgeting assistance and resources to enhance their financial knowledge. Moreover, they provided financial education workshops to 3,800 expectant parents and funded 359 academic scholarships for military spouses and children. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society on their website. You can also contribute through volunteering or joining their team by applying for a job

5

Armed Services YMCA: Ensuring No Military Family Is Left Behind

Logo for Armed Services YMCA
Strengthening Military Families

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Armed Services YMCA Foundation has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“We empower military families, no matter who they are or where they’re from, by ensuring access to resources and opportunities for all to learn, grow, and thrive.”

Armed Services YMCA

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What they do:

The Armed Services YMCA serves vulnerable military families by providing food and basic necessities to combat food insecurity and help reduce financial stress. In addition, they give financial assistance to active-duty soldiers to travel home for the holidays. Moreover, they run childcare and preschool programs for young military kids to help prepare them for the future. They also run an early childhood education and bonding program for military parents and their children and a free after-school program for struggling military kids. In addition, they create social bonding opportunities for military children through annual camps.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Armed Services YMCA has continued to help soldiers and their families to thrive. For example, in 2022, they provided over 2 million pounds of food supplies to 67,000 military families. In the same year, they ran 423,000 childcare services for 31,000 military kids of all ages. In addition, they served 44,000 children and parents with youth development and education programs across 548,000 points of service. Furthermore, they invested $26 million in their supportive programs for military families across 52,000 volunteering hours.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Armed Services YMCA on their website. In addition, you can support them by becoming a volunteer or doing door-to-door fundraisings

6

National Military Family Association: Together We’re Stronger

Logo for National Military Family Association 
Our Mission + Impact: The National Military Family Association

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Their transparency & ratings:

The National Military Family Association has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“We are on a mission to stand up for, support, and enhance the quality of life for every military family through bold advocacy, innovative programming, and dynamic solutions.”

National Military Family Association

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What they do:

The National Military Family Association offers recreational experiences to help military families reconnect in outdoor environments. They also give military kids a free week of summer camp either in-person or virtually, with activities and resources to improve their wellbeing, build connections, and equip them to thrive despite their challenges. Furthermore, they provide scholarship opportunities for military spouses to fund their tuition and professional licenses, as well as certifications and additional courses. In addition, they connect and empower military teens worldwide to better understand their struggles and improve their life outcomes. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the National Military Family Association has awarded more than $8.2 million in scholarships to 8,260 military spouses, with each scholarship ranging from $500 to $2500. Moreover, they have served over 68,000 military kids through summer camps worldwide and involved 5,500 children in other summertime group experiences. Also, in 2023, they researched and surveyed the unique military-related challenges of 2,000 teens to raise awareness of their struggles. In the same year, their advocacy efforts helped fund the first full Survivor Benefit Plan payment and improved childcare options for military families

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the National Military Family Association on their website. You can also contribute by donating your vehicle or buying from their online shop.

7

VFW National Home: Finding Refuge From Crisis

Logo for VFW National Home 
VFW National Home History Video

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Their transparency & ratings:

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

“We are honoring our nation’s veterans and active-duty military by providing help and hope for their children and families.”

VFW National Home

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What they do:

The VFW National Home runs a small-town community for military families who risk homelessness where they can live for up to four years in free-of-charge homes. Here, they work with a case manager to accomplish major life goals through a strengths-based approach to improve resilience and self-esteem. Also, the case managers provide support during times of need and encourage accountability to achieve independence. In addition, the charity offers free daycare facilities and recreation programs to tend to the needs of military children and strengthen familial bonds through team sports. They also provide educational services from preschool to college with libraries and labs for science or IT resources.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the VFW National Home has continued to serve military families facing crises. For example, they have extended their network to 42 single-family homes that share a chapel and a water treatment plant. Moreover, in 2022, the charity welcomed 15 new families to their community and invested over $1.7 million in direct and indirect care for their military residents to meet daily needs and help them achieve independence. In the same year, they helped veterans and active soldiers overcome their struggles with PTSD as their children continued their education with the charity’s academic services.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to VFW National Home on their website. You can also support them by funding products from their Amazon Wish List, or by creating a personalized brick to decorate their community center. 

8

Support The Enlisted Project: Honoring Patriotism and the Service to Country

Logo for Support the Enlisted Project (STEP)
Support The Enlisted Project - STEP

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Their transparency & ratings:

Support The Enlisted Project has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“Every military family leaves us with a better understanding of their financial situation and a personalized plan to achieve their goals.”

Support The Enlisted Project

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What they do:

Support The Enlisted Project offers emergency financial assistance and grants to military families who experience financial crisis or imminent eviction. Furthermore, they connect the family with specialized social workers to develop an individualized path to financial self-sufficiency. They also run interactive workshops to help develop financial goals and a concrete plan to achieve them. Moreover, they host car giveaways and monthly distributions of basic goods such as food, diapers, and clothes to the military community. In addition, they host an annual education fair to help military families improve their academic future. 

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Support The Enlisted Project has distributed over $2.5 million in financial grants and assistance to 7,400 military and veteran families. In this way, they prevented over 1,000 imminent evictions and car losses. In addition, 94% of participants in their financial workshops improved their financial well-being and did not require additional assistance. For instance, in 2023, they reached 118,000 military families across their supportive programs and offered financial assistance to 1,131 families from 38 states. In the same year, they distributed basic goods to 7,000 families and provided 11,500 volunteering hours to the military community. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Support The Enlisted Project on their website. You can also get involved by donating products, volunteering, or starting a Facebook fundraiser

9

Project Sanctuary: Changing How Military Families Heal

Logo for Project Sanctuary
2018 Project Sanctuary Hope & Healing

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Their transparency & ratings:

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

“We believe that when one person serves, the whole family serves. We strive to create multi- generational change toward positive healthy habits for at-risk military families.”

Proj

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What they do:

Project Sanctuary hosts therapeutic retreats for military families and couples, designed by Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists and social workers. In this way, family members reconnect, navigate communication challenges, and learn to work together in challenging times to restore family cohesion. Furthermore, the retreat provides classes, therapeutic activities, and outdoor exercises in nature to empower the entire family toward healing. In addition, their Family Support program helps military families plan their financial resources and navigate crises to make better short and long-term goals.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, Project Sanctuary has organized nearly 300 retreats where they advanced relational healing for 2,500 families, thus impacting the lives of over 9,000 family members. For example, between 2021 and 2023, their Licensed Counselors spent 1,670 hours in family-wide sessions of therapeutic help during the retreats. Furthermore, in 2023, they held 20 retreats in 7 states where they helped 600 family members from 37 states to mend their relationships and build a better future together. In the same year, they distributed grants worth over $10,000 to provide financial assistance to military families. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Project Sanctuary on their website. In addition, you can support them by fundraising, volunteering, or donating as you buy from online stores

10

Coast Guard Foundation: Honoring Heroes and Empowering Families

Logo for Coast Guard Foundation
Coast Guard Foundation Mission Spotlight: Supporting Families

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Coast Guard Foundation has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“Every day, Coast Guard members risk their lives to protect our country. When we stand together and show them our appreciation, we can ensure they remain always ready—no matter what.”

Coast Guard Foundation

⚒️

What they do:

The Coast Guard Foundation enhances the morale and wellness of military families and creates communities for military families to give a support network. For instance, they fund family-wide outdoor sports trips such as kayaking or fishing to help them bond despite their unique challenges. Furthermore, they offer financial and psychological support to families when a member is critically injured on active duty or loses their life. They also provide grants to cover personal loss and basic needs when military families encounter natural disasters. In addition, they fund scholarships for children and spouses of active duty Coast Guard members or for children of fallen soldiers.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, the Coast Guard Foundation has continued to offer critical support to soldiers’ families. For example, in 2022, they funded over $900,000 in 179 scholarships to Coast Guard children and 253 educational grants for spouses of Coast Guard soldiers. In the same year, they provided more than $340,000 in disaster relief grants to 171 Coast Guard families who lost homes and property to hurricanes. In addition, they offered 215 extracurricular grants to military children to attend summer camps and create a sense of community. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Coast Guard Foundation on their website. You can also contribute by buying their merchandise or joining their corporate partnership opportunities

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities for military families. 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 military families—based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

Illustration of a signature for Dennis



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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