9 Best Charities That Promote Fitness Programs (Complete 2024 List)

9 Best Charities That Promote Fitness Programs (Complete 2024 List)

By
Eniola Adeeko

Read Time:21 Minutes

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Being physically active improves a person’s mental health and reduces the risk of diseases, such as certain types of cancer. Yet only 19.3% of the US adult population engages in regular exercise. As a result, many non-profit organizations are working to raise awareness about the importance of fitness and help more people become physically fit. So we had to ask: What are the best charities that promote fitness programs?

The best charities that promote fitness programs are Good Sports and Special Olympics. Charities like the Women’s Sports Foundation, Girls on the Run International, and Achilles International help young girls and people living with disabilities to lead healthy, active lifestyles.

Whether you want to empower girls and women through sports, help disadvantaged youths to become more physically fit, or provide opportunities for those with disabilities to participate in athletic programs, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities that promote fitness programs are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to make a contribution.

Here’s What All the Best Charities That Promote Fitness Programs Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their mission and impact in helping people become physically active and healthier.

They operate worldwide, from the US to further afield, encouraging people to participate in fitness activities.

Some of these charities focus on providing free sporting equipment to disadvantaged people. Others run athletic events to help more girls, women, and those with disabilities get into sports.

Yet they all share the same goal of promoting fitness programs.

These Are the 9 Best Charities That Promote Fitness Programs in 2024

Below are our favorite charities that promote fitness programs (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

Good Sports: Play For All

Logo for Good Sports
Cost Should Not Be A Barrier

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

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

“The benefits of sports and physical activity in a child’s life are well documented. Good Sports exists to make sure cost doesn’t keep kids on the bench.”

Good Sports

⚒️

What they do:

Good Sports supports young people who cannot participate in fitness programs due to inadequate financial resources. They do this by working directly with the sporting goods industry to obtain various athletic gear, apparel, and footwear. Then, they distribute these brand-new sporting items to youth organizations to encourage more youth to become physically active. In addition, they operate the She Who Plays initiative to assist young girls who want to participate in sports by making sporting equipment and clothes available to them at no cost.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, Good Sports has distributed over $81 million in sports equipment across the US to increase access to fitness programs for over 8 million children in need. For example, in 2021, they donated over $16 million worth of sporting gear, with over $3.8 million for girls-focused equipment. They also supplied nearly 750,000 pieces of sports equipment to over 490,000 children in the US.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to Good Sports through their website. You can also support them by volunteering or starting a fundraiser. In addition, you can donate sporting equipment or join one of their boards as a strategic thought partner.

2

Special Olympics: Choose to Include

Logo for Special Olympics
Challenge Expectations 💯

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

Special Olympics has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. Several affiliates of Special Olympics, including Special Olympics Illinois, hold a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“We want to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in various Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities to help them develop physical fitness.”

Special Olympics

⚒️

What they do:

Special Olympics supports people with intellectual and physical disabilities through sports, health, education, and community building. For example, through their Olympic-style individual and team sports, they provide meaningful training and competition opportunities for persons with intellectual disabilities. They also run Special Olympics Unified Schools, which offer sports activities and training to equip young people with the interpersonal skills to foster confidence and acceptance. In addition, they organize a Young Athletes program for children with and without intellectual disabilities.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Special Olympics has supported over 6 million athletes and worked with 1 million coaches and volunteers to assist those with disabilities. They organize more than 100,000 competitions annually and 32 Olympic-type sports through programs in over 190 countries. For example, in 2019, they assisted nearly 1.9 million people with and without intellectual disabilities to play and interact with each other through about 115,000 sporting events worldwide. In addition, they trained over 36,000 people on the best ways to support those with intellectual disabilities.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the Special Olympics through their website. You can also assist them by becoming a coach or by volunteering. In addition, you can start a local club or program in your community.

3

Women’s Sports Foundation: All Girls. All Women. All Sports.

Logo for Women’s Sports Foundation
Women's Sports Foundation Brand Anthem

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

The Women’s Sports Foundation has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“We want to enable all girls and women to reach their potential in sports and life.”

Women’s Sports Foundation

⚒️

What they do:

The Women’s Sports Foundation is committed to helping women and girls enjoy lifelong health benefits through sports. They do this through their Sports 4 Life program, which improves girls’ overall health and development through community funding and leadership training. They also organize an Athlete Ambassador Program, which connects amateur female athletes with professional Olympic athletes to serve as role models for them. In addition, they research ways to advance women’s sports and encourage greater participation.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, the Women’s Sports Foundation has invested over $100 million to expand access and opportunities for all girls and women to reach their potential in sport and life. They have awarded over $2.4 million in grants to over 1,500 athletes and teams. In addition, they have funded 170 organizations across 35 states, providing $1.7 million in grants to 69,000 girls participating in over 34 sports. Furthermore, through their Athlete Ambassador Program, they have held over 50 events connecting elite and collegiate athletes with over 25,000 girls.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the Women’s Sports Foundation through their website. You can also support them by starting a fundraiser or joining their advocacy campaign, The Equity Project.

4

Girls on the Run International: About Much More Than Running

Logo for Girls on the Run International
We are Girls on the Run

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

Girls on the Run International has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which integrates running.”

Girls on the Run International

⚒️

What they do:

Girls on the Run International is dedicated to empowering young girls in the US and Canada. They do this by facilitating lessons that combine fitness programs with life skill development to boost all-round development. They run programs for girls in the 3rd to 5th grades and those in the 6th to 8th grades. At the end of the program, all the participants complete a 5K run. They also organize a week-long camp to help girls build new friendships and engage in physical activities. In addition, they provide resources and tools for parents and guardians to strengthen their girls’ emotional and physical health.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Girls on the Run International has empowered over 2 million children, helping them to stay physically active and mentally healthy. For example, in 2022, they distributed over $1.5 million in funds to help operate their branches across North America. They also supported almost 144,000 young girls in North America to participate in fitness activities and confidently pursue their dreams through their programs.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to Girls on the Run International through their website. You can also contribute to the charity by volunteering or becoming a coach. In addition, you can support them by making a purchase from their online shop.

5

Achilles International: Promoting Physical Fitness Among People With Disabilities

Logo for Achilles International
The Achilles Spirit

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

Achilles International has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“We transform the lives of people with disabilities through athletic programs and social connection.”

Achilles International

⚒️

What they do:

Achilles International supports people with disabilities by providing opportunities to participate in athletic programs and social interaction. They do this by holding Achilles Chapter workouts at all of their branches worldwide. They also operate the Achilles Freedom Team, which serves wounded military personnel and veterans. In addition, they run Achilles Kids, which provides training, race opportunities, and an in-school program for children with disabilities. Their TriAchilles Team also expands their running program into biking and swimming. Furthermore, they organize the Hope & Possibility race for people with disabilities, which takes place in several cities worldwide.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Achilles International has empowered over 150,000 athletes of all ages and abilities to participate in endurance events in 66 chapters in 18 countries. For example, in 2022, they supported 10,000 athletes with disabilities. They also completed 3,100 workouts for those with disabilities across their chapters. In addition, they empowered 100 veterans with disabilities from the Achilles Freedom Team to cross marathon finish lines. They also launched an international scholarship program to support even more athletic goals.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to Achilles International through their website. You can also support them by joining their fundraising program or by making a purchase from their online shop.

6

Challenged Athletes Foundation: Empowering Lives Through Sports\

CAF Surprises 21 Year Old Will with a Hand Cycle

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

The Challenged Athletes Foundation has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.

“We provide opportunities and support to people with physical challenges, so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics.”

Challenged Athletes Foundation 

⚒️

What they do:

The Challenged Athletes Foundation assists people with disabilities to become more physically active. They do this by facilitating fitness programs and athletic events worldwide for those with disabilities. They also provide grants to support individuals with permanent disabilities pursuing an active lifestyle. In addition, they organize camps and clinics to provide support and coaching to individuals with physical disabilities to develop the confidence they need to reach their personal and fitness goals. Furthermore, they run a High School Adaptive Sports Program to increase awareness of school parasport competitions and provide coaching for students with physical disabilities in middle and high school.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, the Challenged Athletes Foundation has raised over $147 million to support athletes with physical disabilities to participate in 104 sports in 70 countries. They have also awarded over 40,000 grants to promote an active lifestyle for those with physical impairments. For example, in 2021, they provided 3,038 grants totaling $5.1 million across 94 sports. They also supported 100 young athletes across the US through their High School Adaptive Sports Program.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the Challenged Athletes Foundation through their website. You can also support them by volunteering or starting a fundraiser.

7

Stride Adaptive Sports: Leveling the Playing Field for All

Logo for Stride Adaptive Sports
“All About STRIDE”

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

Stride Adaptive Sports holds a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“We want to educate and empower individuals with special needs in life-changing sport and recreation programs to sustain healthy, active and fun lifestyles.”

Stride Adaptive Sports

⚒️

What they do:

Stride Adaptive Sports offers sports and recreation lessons to families and people living with disabilities. For example, their fitness programs emphasize individual lifetime sports and use specialized equipment and teaching aids to encourage physical activity among individuals with disabilities. They also run a Wellness Wednesday program to help families have fun with fitness activities. In addition, their Respite Program gives families and caregivers free time while they provide activities and dinner for youth with special needs. Moreover, their Wounded Warrior Program provides adaptive sports and recreation activities to men and women of the armed forces who have been injured in combat.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, Stride Adaptive Sports has provided over 17,000 free and low-cost sports and recreation lessons to families and individuals with disabilities. Today, they work with over 350 skilled sports instructors and volunteers and offer programs in 18 sports/activities in 23 locations in 3 states in the US. For example, in 2021, they served over 1,700 families to help them become more physically active. They also assisted 90 veterans through their Wounded Warrior program in achieving their fitness goals. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to Stride Adaptive Sports through their website. You can also support them by volunteering or organizing a fundraising event. In addition, you can give to their scholarship fund to support families who want to participate in their fitness programs actively.

8

Lift for Life Gym: We Lift Weights. You Lift Us.

Logo for Lift for Life Gym
Enrich. Encourage. Elevate.

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

Lift for Life Gym has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.

“We want to offer at-risk St. Louis city children a safe, enriching environment to strengthen their bodies, enrich their minds, develop healthy, social relationships, and learn to make positive life choices.”

Lift for Life Gym

⚒️

What they do:

Lift for Life Gym runs an after-school youth activity center offering services that alleviate poverty and build a sense of resiliency in kids. They take the kids through fitness activities, including Olympic-style youth weightlifting, powerlifting, and strength and conditioning. They also run summer camps for youth to help them stay physically active and build friendships.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, Lift for Life Gym has served more than 440 youth through over 30 programs annually. They have also produced about 55 national youth weightlifting champions through their programs. For example, in 2019, they helped to improve 27 members’ reading or math skills by at least a grade after completing a 10-week tutoring program organized by the non-profit organization.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to Lift for Life Gym through their website. You can also contribute to their efforts by fundraising or volunteering.

9

Bent on Learning: Uplifts Youth Through Yoga in the Classroom.

Logo for Bent on Learning
Bent on Learning brings yoga into the classroom

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

Bent on Learning scores 73% for Finance and Accountability from Charity Navigator.

“Through yoga, we teach kids that they have everything they need—their body, mind, and breath—to cultivate physical, mental and emotional well-being.”

Bent on Learning

⚒️

What they do:

Bent on Learning makes yoga and mindfulness a part of the school day for Pre-K through 12th-grade students. They do this through their Yoga for Schools program, which pairs yoga teachers with schools throughout New York City. Their classes are tailored to meet the specific needs of the students and staff, and they also offer community classes for staff and parents. In addition, they train a diverse team of teachers through their Children’s Yoga Teacher Training program to ensure there is a yoga teacher in every school.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, Bent on Learning has assisted over 22,000 students and 76 schools through their fitness programs. They have also trained over 134 teachers through their Children’s Yoga Teacher Training program.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to Bent on Learning through their website. You can also support them by volunteering or becoming a yoga teacher.

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

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

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarise yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing 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 promoting fitness programs – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

Illustration of a signature for Eniola

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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