9 Best Charities for Native Americans (Complete 2024 List)

9 Best Charities for Native Americans (Complete 2024 List)

By
Olivia Lopez

Read Time:20 Minutes

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The US is home to several Native American tribes, many of which have been around for centuries. Today, numerous Native American organizations are working to preserve the customs and culture of these communities, while also giving a voice to Native American people. And with so many charities working on behalf of Native American communities, we had to ask: What are the best charities for native Americans?

The best charities for Native Americans are the Native American Heritage Association, First Nations Development Institute, and Association on American Indian Affairs. These charities promote Native American rights and equality through programming, public advocacy, and awareness-raising campaigns. 

Whether you want to advocate for Native Americans’ rights, volunteer with a Native American organization, or fundraise for their causes, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities for native Americans 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 Native Americans Have in Common

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

They operate across the US and assist various tribes, indigenous communities, and people with Native American heritage. 

These charities also carry out advocacy work to enhance the rights of all Native Americans. They strive to raise awareness of the issues affecting Native Americans, including access to healthcare, social services, and education.

Yet, they all share the same goal of empowering Native American communities. 

These Are the 9 Best Charities for Native Americans in 2024

Below are our favorite charities for native Americans (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

Native American Heritage Association: Delivering Essentials to Native American Communities 

Logo for Native American Heritage Association
NAHA 3min

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Native American Heritage Association holds an impressive 4-star rating and perfect Accountability and Transparency score of 100 out of 100, both from Charity Navigator. They also have a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar 0 the highest rank possible. For example, they spend approximately 97% of their yearly income on their programs and services. 

Helping Native American families in need living on Reservations in South Dakota and Wyoming.

Native American Heritage Association

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What they do:

The Native American Heritage Association provides food essentials and resources to Native American communities across reservations in South Dakota and Wyoming. They also deliver toys, clothing, and emergency vouchers to assist children and families during the holiday seasons, or when they’re in dire need of extra support.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Native American Heritage Association has successfully delivered thousands of pounds of food to Native American communities in 5 reservations. For example, they regularly distribute 350,000 pounds of food monthly. They supply about 25,000 pounds of clothing every month, and provide approximately 1,500 holiday dinners to Native American families during holiday seasons.

Ways to contribute:

You can contribute to the Native American Heritage Association by donating directly through their website. 

2

First Nations Development Institute: Enhancing Economic Security for Native American Communities

Logo for First Nations Development Institute
First Nations Development Institute

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Their transparency & ratings:

The First Nations Development Institute holds an impressive 4-star rating and an Accountability and Transparency score of 97 out of 100, both from Charity Navigator. They also have a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. For example, in 2021, 90% of their income was spent on their programs and services.

To strengthen American Indian economies to support healthy Native communities.

First Nations Development Institute

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What they do:

The First Nations Development Institute aims to eliminate economic insecurity by providing financial support and resources to Native American communities. They achieve this through their food, health, housing, and youth programs. They also work to financially empower and strengthen Native communities through tailored programs and outreach.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the First Nations Development Institute has reached over 73,000 people with their programs. For example, in 2021, they issued 40 scholarships to Native American students, and carried out 128 capacity-building trainings, webinars, and convenings. In the same year, they also gave over 400 grants to Native-run and controlled non-profits and Tribal government programs.

Ways to contribute:

You can contribute to the First Nations Development Institute by donating through their website.

3

Association on American Indian Affairs: Educating and Empowering Native American Communities 

Logo for Association on American Indian Affairs
Envisioning Our Future

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Association on American Indian Affairs has an Accountability and Transparency score of 96 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. They also have a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

To lead the grassroots fight to protect Native American cultural sovereignty by preserving culture, educating youth, protecting sovereignty, building capacity.

American Association on Indian Affairs

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What they do:

The Association on American Indian Affairs carries out a range of programs to educate and empower youth with Native heritage. They achieve this through public education, scholarships and summer camps, and child welfare programs. They also work to preserve Native American cultures and traditions by identifying sacred and culturally significant items, and overseeing their return to the relevant Tribes. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Association on American Indian Affairs has reached more than 500 youth with their Native Youth Summer Camps. In 2019, they provided 27 academic scholarships to students from over 5 Tribes across the US. In the same year, they also issued 63 Auction Alerts to help identify potentially sensitive cultural or sacred items belonging to various Tribes. Of those Auction Alerts, approximately 3,721 items were identified in total. 

Ways to contribute:

You can contribute to the Association on American Indian Affairs by donating through their website. You can also show your support by volunteering with them, as they welcome volunteers with public affairs, legal, accounting, and project-specific expertise. 

4

American Indian Science and Engineering Society: Promoting Native Inclusion in STEM Fields

Logo for American Indian Science and Engineering Society
American Indian Science and Engineering Society

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Their transparency & ratings:

The American Indian Science and Engineering Society has an Accountability and Transparency score of 96 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. They also have a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

Increasing the representation of Indigenous peoples of North America and the Pacific Islands in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) studies and careers.

American Indian Science and Engineering Society

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What they do:

The American Indian Science and Engineering Society strives to create more Native American representation in STEM fields. They achieve this by offering academic scholarships to students with Native heritage, and breaking down barriers that prevent access to higher education. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society has supported hundreds of Native students across the US. For example, in 2020, they distributed emergency relief to over 300 students needing assistance. In the same year, they delivered more than $13 million in academic scholarships to students. They have also utilized their resources to promote more representation of Native Americans in STEM faculty positions, having already supported 100 scholars in academic institutions throughout the country. 

Ways to contribute:

You can contribute to the American Indian Science and Engineering Society by donating directly through their website. 

5

Native American Advancement Foundation: Providing Academic Support to Native American Students

Logo for Native American Advancement Foundation
NAAF Program Short Clip

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Native American Advancement Foundation holds an impressive Finance and Accountability score of 96 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. They also have a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. For example, in 2019, they spent nearly 82% of their income on their programs and services. 

To strengthen Native American communities by building brighter futures.

Native American Advancement Foundation

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What they do:

The Native American Advancement Foundation works to eliminate barriers to education for students living in the GuVo District of the Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona. They strive to uplift students and promote community collaboration, while preserving the cultural practices of the region.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Native American Advancement Foundation has helped more than 65 students annually with academic programming. They’ve promoted field-based STEM learning for another 35 youth, and offer adult secondary education certifications to more than 5 students annually. They have also worked with 68 community elders on language preservation. 

Ways to contribute:

You can contribute to the Native American Advancement Fund by donating via their website. You can also show your support by volunteering with them.

6

National Indian Child Welfare Association: Defending the Rights of Native American Children

Logo for National Indian Child Welfare Association
Why NICWA

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Native American Child Welfare Association holds a Finance and Accountability score of 88 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. They also have a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. For example, in 2019, they spent approximately 55% of their income on their programs. 

To support the safety, health, and spiritual strength of American Indian and Alaska Native children along the broad continuum of their lives.” National Indian Child Welfare Association

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What they do:

The Native American Child Welfare Association works to increase protection for Native American and Native Alaskan children in the US. They achieve this through capacity-building programs to help prevent child abuse and neglect. They also work with child welfare professionals by training and assisting them to better support the needs of Native children.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, the Native American Child Welfare Association has amassed over 150 tribal and organizational members to support their work. They also have a presence in over 40 US states, and 5 Canadian provinces. Their extensive network allows them to refer over 1,000 families annually to necessary resources and information. 

Ways to contribute:

You can contribute to the National Indian Child Welfare Association by donating through their website. You can also show your support by taking a course on the Child Welfare Act of 1978, or purchasing some merchandise from their online shop to support the development of Native American children. 

7

Native American Rights Fund: Advocating for the Legal Rights of Native Americans

Logo for Native American Rights Fund
Battlefield - 2015 NARF Public Service Announcement

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Native American Rights Fund has an impressive Accountability and Transparency rating of 97 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. They also hold a Gold Star of Transparency from GuideStar.

Asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, organizations, and individuals nationwide.

Native American Rights Fund

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What they do:

The Native American Rights Fund promotes the rights of Native American Indians through treaty reinforcements, and by challenging discriminatory laws and practices that harm Native American people. They also raise awareness on social and economic issues that affect Native American communities and provides advocacy to combat stereotypes and stigmas. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Native American Rights Fund has been dedicated to ensuring Indian children have the same access to education and health services as their non-native counterparts. For example, in 2020, the organization awarded grants to 10 tribes in West Virginia and Oklahoma to provide school funding for Native American students. The grants were able to reach over 1,000 Indian students needing education opportunities. In the same year, the organization also represented parties in 5 separate litigation cases concerning Native Americans and voter discrimination. 

Ways to contribute:

You can contribute to the Native American Rights Fund by donating through the organization’s website, or sending in a donation via mail. You can also shop their online store and invest in some branded merchandise that shows your support for Native Americans’ rights and racial equality. 

8

American Indian College Fund: Creating Higher Education Opportunities for Native Americans

Logo for American Indian College Fund
Indigenous People are the Future

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Their transparency & ratings:

The American Indian College Fund has an Accountability and Transparency score of 97 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. They also have a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. For example, approximately 72% of their income is regularly spent on their programs.

The American Indian College Fund invests in Native students and tribal college education to transform lives and communities.

American Indian College Fund

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What they do:

The American Indian College Fund provides educational opportunities for students with Native American and Alaska Native heritage. They achieve this by offering scholarships, partnering with academic institutions to enrich students’ learning opportunities, and by supporting students seeking higher education. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, the American Indian College Fund has distributed more than 3,600 scholarships. For example, in 2020, they provided scholarships to over 2,900 students. In the same year, they also hosted more than 50 students in their internships and research projects, and reached another 1,500 students with their career coaching services. 

Ways to contribute:

You can contribute to the American Indian College Fund by donating directly through their website. 

9

Native American Disability Law Center: Advancing Equality for Native Americans With Disabilities

Logo for Native American Disability Law Center
Understanding and Acknowledging Disabilities from a Native Perspective

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Native American Disability Law Center has a perfect Finance and Accountability score of 100 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. They also hold a Silver Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. For example, in 2016, they spent approximately 66% of their income on their programs and services. 

To advocate so that the rights of Native Americans with disabilities in the Four Corners area are enforced, strengthened and brought in harmony with their communities.

Native American Disability Law Center

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What they do:

The Native American Disability Law Center promotes equal rights and protection for Native American people with disabilities. They offer legal representation, advocacy, and support to people in the Four Corners, which consists of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.

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What they’ve achieved:

Every year, the Native American Disability Law Center carries out a range of services to educate and empower Native American communities, especially those with disabilities. For example, in 2020, they aimed to offer training and support to 50 people with disabilities looking to return to work. In the same year, they strived to empower the families of 25 students with disabilities, and worked to provide representation to another 30 children in school settings. 

Ways to contribute:

You can contribute to the Native American Disability Law Center by donating through their website. 

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities for native Americans. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarize yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing a charity’s progress in reaching its targets, the chances are they’re not making a substantial positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. The charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • 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 native Americans – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

Illustration of a signature for Brittany



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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