9 Best Charities for Protecting the Amazon Rainforest (Complete 2023 List)
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Around 21% of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed – a loss the size of Israel! The Amazon is the world’s largest carbon sink with an estimated 390 billion trees that provide homes for 10% of the world’s biodiversity. Charities around the world are now fighting to save this iconic rainforest and protect all of its inhabitants. So we had to ask: What are the best charities for protecting the Amazon rainforest?
The best charities for protecting the Amazon rainforest in terms of overall impact are the Rainforest Trust and Amazon Conservation. Charities such as Survival International and the Amazon Conservation Team campaign heavily for the rights of indigenous Amazon peoples.
Whether you want to fight for the rights of indigenous Amazon communities, campaign against the industries that are causing catastrophic deforestation, or simply ensure the Amazon rainforest is around for future generations, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities for protecting the Amazon rainforest 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 Protecting the Amazon Rainforest Have in Common
The charities on this list were chosen based on their mission, impact and transparency ratings, and achievements. They operate across the 6.9 million (km2) of the Amazon rainforest, providing support to indigenous communities and setting up vital protected areas.
Many of the charities on this list focus their efforts on working alongside local communities to formulate effective land management plans. Others focus their attention on utilizing cutting-edge technologies to monitor the rainforest and prevent further destruction. Yet they all share the same goal – to ensure the Amazon rainforest is protected so it can thrive for generations to come.
These Are the 9 Best Charities for Protecting the Amazon Rainforest in 2023
Below are our favorite charities for protecting the Amazon rainforest:
- Rainforest Trust
- Amazon Conservation
- Cool Earth
- Rainforest Foundation
- Rainforest Action Network
- Survival International
- The Amazon Conservation Team
- Rainforest Alliance
- Amazon Watch
(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)
Rainforest Trust: Protecting Rainforests for Species, Climate, and People
The Rainforest Trust was founded in 1988 by Byron Swift to create new wildlife parks and reserves in the tropics, including the Amazon. Today, the charity is dedicated to safeguarding critical habitats in the world’s most biodiverse areas.
“Saving endangered wildlife and protecting our planet by creating rainforest reserves.”Rainforest Trust
What they do: The Rainforest Trust purchases and protects areas of the most threatened tropical forests, including the Amazon. The charity focuses their attention on areas that face immediate threats from deforestation and areas that are considered to be permanent refuges for endangered species. Through their Amazon Conservation Corridor initiative, the charity is working in Peru to secure land that will create a fully safe wildlife corridor from the Amazon to the Peruvian Andes.
What they’ve achieved: Today, the Rainforest Trust protects 37 million acres of rainforest around the world, including 16.3 million acres of the Amazon rainforest. Their vital work in the Peruvian Amazon has prevented an estimated 3,199,997,217 metric tons of carbon from entering our atmosphere and protected 554 threatened species.
Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Rainforest Trust through their website. You can also support the charity by leaving a legacy in your will or by purchasing items from their online marketplace.
Amazon Conservation: Advancing Conservation in the Most Diverse Place on Earth
Amazon Conservation was founded in 1999 by conservationists Adrian Forsyth and Enrique Ortiz in response to the destructive plight of the Amazon Basin. Today, the charity is dedicated to understanding the conservation needs of the Amazon rainforest to ensure it is protected for generations to come.
“We envision a thriving Amazon that sustains the full diversity of life.”Amazon Conservation
What they do: Amazon Conservation works to improve conservation efforts in the Amazon rainforest by applying cutting-edge technologies, such as their real-time deforestation monitoring system. In addition, the charity works to empower local communities by helping them develop sustainable forest products and protect their land from illegal logging practices. The charity also works with governments to establish protection for key vital wildlife habitats in the Amazon.
What they’ve achieved: To date, Amazon Conservation has protected over 8.15 million acres of the Amazon rainforest and invested $50 million in conservation projects. This has prevented an estimated 3.17 billion tons of harmful carbon from entering our atmosphere and protected the habitats of 349 endangered species.
Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Amazon Conservation through their website. You can also support the charity by becoming a Wild Keeper or by booking a holiday at one of their Ecolodges in the Amazon rainforest.
Cool Earth: Working with Local Communities to Protect Rainforests
Cool Earth was founded in 2007 by Johan Eliasch and Lord Field as the result of a shared desire to halt deforestation. Today, the charity is committed to protecting the world’s rainforests (including the Amazon) by giving control back to the people who live in them.
Their impact and transparency ratings: Cool Earth holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. The charity has yet to be scored by Charity Navigator.
“We champion the relationship between people, rainforest, and climate.”Cool Earth
What they do: Cool Earth provides cash funds to indigenous rainforest communities so they can tackle the root causes of deforestation and run sustainable education programs to protect vital carbon sinks, such as the Amazon. The charities’ Rainforest Firefighters Campaign raises money to investigate how forest fires start in the Amazon so they can develop effective management plans for the future.
What they’ve achieved: To date, Cool Earth has protected 105 million trees around the world, including the Amazon. This has prevented an estimated 48 million tons of carbon from entering our atmosphere. The charity has also launched 40 people-powered projects from the Amazon to New Guinea, to fight deforestation. Thanks to the work of the charity, 85,747 hectares of land in the Amazon are now under local community control.
Rainforest Foundation: Protecting Nature and Human Rights
The Rainforest Foundation was set up in 1988 by Sting and Trudie Styler after Chief Raoni of Brazil’s indigenous Kayopa people asked them to help him protect the tribe’s traditional lands and culture. Today, the charity is the biggest non-profit organization working on rights-based forest protection worldwide.
“To support indigenous and traditional peoples of the world’s rainforests in their efforts to protect their environment and fulfill their rights.”Rainforest Foundation
What they do: The Rainforest Foundation partners with indigenous communities in the Amazon to protect critical rainforest ecosystems and address climate change. They do this by assisting local communities in building land management plans and by helping them obtain legal representation to secure their land rights. Through their Rainforest Alert initiative, the charity provides training and technological tools for indigenous communities to monitor, map, and protect their land.
What they’ve achieved: Since their inception, the Rainforest Foundation has continued to fight for the rights of indigenous communities in the Amazon rainforest. In 2020, they trained over 100 indigenous forest patrollers in satellite-based land monitoring techniques and helped protect over 6 million hectares of indigenous territory. The charity now supports more than 40 tribes in the Peruvian Amazon through their Rainforest Alert program.
Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Rainforest Foundation through their website. You can also support the charity by joining their Treehouse network. In addition, there are numerous ways kids can get involved in fundraising on the charity’s website.
Rainforest Action Network: A Global Movement for Rainforests
The Rainforest Action Network was founded in 1985 by Randy Hayes and Mike Roselle to challenge the corporate businesses that were destroying rainforests, such as the Amazon. Today, the charity is a global network that campaigns heavily against the industries driving deforestation and climate change.
“Preserving forests, protecting the climate, and upholding human rights by challenging corporate power and systematic injustice.”Rainforest Action Network
What they do: The Rainforest Action Network provides Community Action Grants to indigenous rainforest communities in areas that are targeted by profit-driven deforestation, such as the Amazon. The communities then use the money to defend and protect their land. The charity also utilizes peaceful pressure tactics to expose corporate companies that are driving deforestation and encourage them to develop more sustainable policies.
What they’ve achieved: To date, the Rainforest Action Network has distributed over $5,000,000 to frontline and indigenous communities. Through their Conflict Palm Oil campaign, 142,219 people have taken action to stop large stores from selling palm oil products. The charity has also blocked $100 million from being invested into destructive industries such as palm oil plantations and paper production through their Forests & Finance campaign.
Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Rainforest Action Network through their website. You can also support the charity by signing one of their petitions or by financially protecting an acre of land.
Survival International: A Global Movement for Tribal Peoples’ Rights
Survival International was founded in 1969 by a group of passionate individuals who were opposed to the tragic genocide of Amazon Indians. Today, the charity is the only organization that champions tribal peoples around the world.
Their impact and transparency ratings: Survival International holds the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. The charity also has a 100% Encompass Rating for finance and accountability from Charity Navigator.
“Fighting for a world where tribal peoples are respected as contemporary societies and their human rights protected.”Survival International
What they do: Survival International acts as a platform for tribal peoples to speak out about the genocidal violence, slavery, and racism they face. Through their Decolonize Conservation initiative, the charity campaigns against the violent exclusion of indigenous tribes in areas such as the Amazon rainforest, under the false claim that they are a hindrance to the creation of protected areas. They are also working to stop Factory Schools that remove indigeneous children from their homes and abuse them in the name of education.
What they’ve achieved: Since their inception, Survival International has supported over 100 indigeneous tribes around the world, including approximately 35 in the Amazon rainforest. Thanks to the work of the charity, the 38,000 Yanomami people in Brazil now safely live in the largest area of rainforest under indigeneous control in the world. Their tribal voice initiative has given hundreds of tribal peoples the opportunity to speak about their horrific experiences via online videos.
Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Survival International through their website. You can also support the charity by purchasing items from their online Survival shop or by sharing their Tribal Voice videos to raise awareness.
The Amazon Conservation Team: Protecting the Forest. Protecting the Future
The Amazon Conservation Team was founded in 1996 by conservationists Liliana Madrigal and Mark Plotkin to give conservation control of the Amazon back to its indigenous communities. Today, the charity applies the power of innovation and traditional practices to save the Amazon rainforest.
“Partnering with indigenous and other local communities to protect tropical forests and strengthen traditional culture.”The Amazon Conservation Team
What they do: The Amazon Conservation Team works closely with local communities to monitor and care for their surrounding Amazon ecosystems. Through their Land initiatives, the charity works with local governments to secure and expand indigenous reserves. In Brazil, the charity is supporting the 14 Waura tribes to develop a sustainable food supply and use innovative technologies to track the area’s large mammals.
What they’ve achieved: To date, the Amazon Conservation Team has established 193,000 acres of national parks in the Amazon rainforest in collaboration with 103 local communities. There are now 1,876,559 acres of land under indigenous control. In total, the charity now has 5,881,108 acres of land under improved sustainable management in the Amazon rainforest.
Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Amazon Conservation Team through their website. You can also support the charity by shopping through AmazonSmile or by signing up to receive their newsletter.
Rainforest Alliance: Fighting Deforestation
The Rainforest Alliance was founded in 1987 by environmental activist Daniel Katz to halt deforestation in critical areas such as the Amazon. Today, the charity is dedicated to protecting rainforests by making responsible and sustainable business the new normal.
Their impact and transparency ratings: According to their financial report, the Rainforest Alliance spent 79% of their expenditure on program services, 17% on management, and 4% on fundraising.
“We envision a world where people and nature thrive in harmony.”Rainforest Alliance
What they do: The Rainforest Alliance protects rainforests from deforestation by utilizing global marketing strategies to create a more sustainable world. They also train farmers and forest communities in sustainable agriculture methods in critical areas such as the Amazon. Their Rainforest Alliance Certification Program helps consumers make smart shopping decisions because the certification seal is only placed on products that have been made using sustainable methods.
What they’ve achieved: To date, the Rainforest Alliance has certified 2.3 million farmers worldwide. You can now purchase Rainforest Alliance certified products in over 100 countries to protect our forests from destruction (including the Amazon). The charity also raised over $1.2 million to provide essential fire fighting equipment and supplies after the catastrophic fires that engulfed the Amazon in 2019.
Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Rainforest Alliance through their website. You can also support the charity by ensuring you only purchase products with the green frog certification seal or by choosing a Rainforest Alliance Certified hotel for your next holiday.
Amazon Watch: Protecting the Amazon and the Rights of Indigenous Communities
Amazon Watch was founded in 1996 by Atossa Soltani to protect the Amazon rainforest and halt climate change. Today, the charity is dedicated to exposing the harmful industries that are destroying the Amazon and work to protect the rights of indigenous tribes.
“Protecting the rainforest and our climate in solidarity with indigenous peoples.”Amazon Watch
What they do: Amazon Watch partners with like-minded environmental organizations and indigenous communities in the Amazon Basin to campaign for the human rights of local people. They do this by providing funds to indigenous tribes, as well as technical support and training, to promote clean living technologies. The charity also utilizes in-depth research to expose fossil fuel companies and mining industries that are destroying the lives of indigenous tribes in the Amazon.
What they’ve achieved: Since their inception, Amazon Watch has continued to fight for human rights and for the preservation of the Amazon’s ecological systems. In 2020, the charity distributed $1.4 million in solidarity grants through their Amazon Defenders Fund. The charity also financially supported the participation of indigenous women in the National Women’s March in Ecuador. Their indigenous human rights petition during the march received 250,000 signatures across 168 countries.
How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?
The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities for protecting the Amazon rainforest. 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.
- Donate a percentage of your online purchases. If you bought anything on sites like Amazon lately, you’d find a prompt asking you to donate to your favorite charities through their Amazon Smile program. You can set this up so that your chosen charities will get a fraction of your online purchases.
- Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
- Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
- Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.
Now it is up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to protecting the Amazon rainforest – based on the causes that matter most to you.
PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:
- National Geographic: Deforestation explained
- Mongabay: 10 Facts about the Amazon Rainforest in 2021
- Live Science: Facts about rainforests
- Rainforest Trust: Home page
- GuideStar: Rainforest Trust
- Charity Navigator: Rainforest Trust
- Rainforest Trust: Our Approach
- Rainforest Trust: Global Scope
- Rainforest Trust: Stopping deforestation at the edge of the Bolivian Amazon
- Rainforest Trust: Save species from extinction
- Rainforest Trust: Securing the cornerstone of Andes-Amazon conservation corridor
- Rainforest Trust: Amazon Basin
- Rainforest Trust: 2020 Annual Report
- Rainforest Trust: Donate
- Rainforest Trust: Ways to give
- Rainforest Trust: Marketplace
- Amazon Conservation: Home page
- GuideStar: Amazon Conservation
- Charity Navigator: Amazon Conservation
- Amazon Conservation: Put science and technology to work
- Amazon Conservation: Empower people
- Amazon Conservation: Threats to the Amazon
- Amazon Conservation: Protect wild places
- Amazon Conservation: On the ground in Peru and Bolivia
- Amazon Conservation: Mission and vision
- Amazon Conservation: Our results
- Amazon Conservation: Donate
- Amazon Conservation: Wild Keepers
- Amazon Conservation: Our ecolodges
- Cool Earth: Home page
- GuideStar: Cool Earth
- Cool Earth: Cash giving
- Cool Earth: A campaign to fight fires
- Cool Earth: People powered projects
- Cool Earth: Annual Review 2018/19
- Cool Earth: Donate
- Cool Earth: Start fundraising
- Cool Earth: Shop
- Rainforest Foundation: Home page
- Rainforest Foundation: About us
- GuideStar: Rainforest Foundation
- Charity Navigator: Rainforest Foundation
- Rainforest Foundation: Partners
- Rainforest Foundation: Approach
- Rainforest Foundation: Rainforest Alert
- Rainforest Foundation: 2020 Annual Report
- Rainforest Foundation: Donate
- Rainforest Foundation: Treehouse
- Rainforest Foundation: Kids
- Rainforest Action Network: Home page
- GuideStar: Rainforest Action Network
- Charity Navigator: Rainforest Action Network
- Rainforest Action Network: Community Action Grants
- Rainforest Action Network: Global forests
- Rainforest Action Network: From Indonesia to the US: put people and planet over profit
- Rainforest Action Network: Mission, vision, and values
- Forests and Finance: Home page
- Rainforest Action Network: Annual Report 2020-2021
- Rainforest Action Network: Donate
- Rainforest Action Network: Take action
- Rainforest Action Network: Protect an acre
- Survival International: Home page
- Survival International: Our history
- GuideStar: Survival International
- Charity Navigator: Survival International
- Survival International: Tribal Voice
- Survival International: Decolonize conservation
- Survival International: Factory schools
- Survival International: What we do
- Youtube: Tribal Voice
- Survival International: Donate
- Survival International: Survival shop
- The Amazon Conservation Team: Home page
- GuideStar: The Amazon Conservation Team
- Charity Navigator: The Amazon Conservation Team
- The Amazon Conservation Team: Columbia
- The Amazon Conservation Team: Brazil
- The Amazon Conservation Team: Our impact
- The Amazon Conservation Team: Donate
- AmazonSmile: Home page
- The Amazon Conservation Team: Support us
- Rainforest Alliance: Home page
- Rainforest Alliance: 2020 Annual Report
- Rainforest Alliance: Forests
- Rainforest Alliance: Our approach
- Rainforest Alliance: What does “Rainforest Alliance Certified” mean?
- Rainforest Alliance: Our impacts
- Rainforest Alliance: Amazon fires: crisis mobilization update
- Rainforest Alliance: Donate
- Rainforest Alliance: Find the frog
- Rainforest Alliance: Green your vacation
- Amazon Watch: Home page
- GuideStar: Amazon Watch
- Charity Navigator: Amazon Watch
- Amazon Watch: Protecting the Amazon and our climate by supporting indigenous peoples
- Amazon Watch: Linked fates
- Amazon Watch: July 2019 – June 2020 Annual Report
- Amazon Watch: Donate
- Amazon Watch: Take action
- Amazon Watch: Store