9 Best Charities That Promote Sustainability (Complete 2024 List)

9 Best Charities That Promote Sustainability (Complete 2024 List)

By
Eniola Adeeko

Read Time:22 Minutes

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Stay impactful,

The increase in biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions pose a significant danger to sustainability globally. There is an urgent need for sustainable development efforts in the country and worldwide. Charities are working hard to protect the environment and promote the preservation of natural resources. So we had to ask: What are the best charities that promote sustainability?

The best charities that promote sustainability are the Environmental Working Group and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Charities like Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Environmental Defense Fund protect the environment and promote a healthy society for all people.

Whether you want to fight climate change, get justice for communities affected by pollution, or campaign against harmful environmental policies, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities that promote sustainability 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 Sustainability Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their transparency ratings and achievements in promoting sustainability efforts worldwide.

They partner with individuals, companies, governments, and other environmental networks to ensure the environment is protected from degradation.

Many of these charities also work to grant more people access to clean air and water, safe food, and cleaner transportation options. Others focus on preserving wildlife and forest communities globally.

Yet they all share the same goal; to create a more sustainable world for both humans and nature.

These Are the 9 Best Charities That Promote Sustainability in 2024

Below are our favorite charities that promote sustainability (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

Environmental Working Group: Know Your Environment. Protect Your Health.

Logo for Environmental Working Group
We are EWG

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Environmental Working Group has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“Our mission is simple: To empower you with breakthrough research to make informed choices and live a healthy life in a healthy environment.”

Environmental Working Group

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What they do:

The Environmental Working Group is dedicated to keeping the environment safe and promoting public health. Their team of lawyers, scientists, policy, data, and communication experts focus on reforming the agricultural and chemical safety laws in the US through advocacy. They also research harmful chemicals and toxins in drinking water to provide up-to-date information to help people protect their health and their family’s health. In addition, they use expert analysis and data-driven resources to create awareness about the importance of clean energy to improve environmental and public health. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Environmental Working Group has remained dedicated to raising awareness of harmful, unsustainable practices. For example, they created the first online guide that rates over 2000 household cleaners for disclosure of contents and ingredients to help consumers find safer products. Also, their food database and mobile app contain ratings and information for over 80,000 foods from about 1,500 brands to help people eat healthier. In addition, their cosmetic database containing over 90,000 products and 2000 brands has helped individuals protect themselves from potentially toxic chemicals in personal care and beauty products. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the Environmental Working Group through their website. You can also support them by joining their Sun Safety Campaign or by attending an EWG Verified event in a city close to you.

2

Union of Concerned Scientists: We Use Science to Make Change Happen.

Logo for Union of Concerned Scientists
Progress Won’t Be Stopped

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Union of Concerned Scientists has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“Our mission is to use rigorous, independent science to solve our planet’s most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.”

Union of Concerned Scientists

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What they do:

The Union of Concerned Scientists uses 5 distinct programs to address specific global needs. Their Climate and Energy program comprises 70 professionals working to prevent the worst effects of climate change. Their Clean Transportation program works to transform the US transportation sector into a cleaner and more affordable system. Also, their Global Security program aims to decrease the risk of nuclear use by changing US policies. Their Food and Environment program is dedicated to providing healthy and affordable food to people in the US. Furthermore, their Center for Science and Democracy promotes democratic reforms and addresses environmental injustices to create a sustainable world.

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What they’ve achieved:

The Union of Concerned Scientists uses science and advocacy to create solutions to urgent environmental and social problems. For example, in 2021, the US Environmental Protection Agency released new federal car emission standards based on the Union’s official recommendations to reduce the harmful effects of greenhouse gas emissions. They have also helped 9 states and Washington DC to create a regional program that makes the transportation system cleaner, safer, and more functional. In addition, they released a scorecard evaluating 40 companies on their commitment to deforestation and convinced 12 global companies to go deforestation-free.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the Union of Concerned Scientists through their website. You can also support them by joining their Online Disinformation campaign or their Fair Food for Consumers campaign.

3

Earthjustice: Because the Earth Needs a Good Lawyer.

Logo for Earthjustice
50 years of Environmental Impact

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Their transparency & ratings:

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

“We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change.”

Earthjustice

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What they do:

Earthjustice uses the power of the law to protect and get justice for communities harmed by the fossil fuel industry. They also work toward creating a world entirely powered by clean energy by retiring the US coal fleets and stopping the creation of new gas plants. In addition, they address environmental injustices by fighting for the enforcement of laws promoting clean water and clean air in court. Furthermore, they promote a safe, healthy, and equitable food system that protects the environment and supports farmworkers, rural community members, and consumers.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Earthjustice has won several landmark cases to protect the environment. For example, in Palila (Loxioides bailleui) v. Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources, they secured victory for endangered species, setting a precedent for criminalizing the destruction of wildlife habitats. They also established the Coal Program and succeeded in retiring or scheduling the retirement of over 200 coal plants. In addition, they enforced the Roadless Rule at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and DC District Court to safeguard vital habitats for 1.500 species of wildlife and drinking water supplies.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to Earthjustice through their website. You can also support them by joining their campaign to restore the mercury and air toxics standards or electrify the postal service.

4

Natural Resources Defense Council: Earth’s Best Defense

Logo for Natural Resources Defense Council
The NRDC Story

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Natural Resources Defense Council has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold a Bronze Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“The Natural Resources Defense Council works to safeguard the earth – its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which life depends.”

Natural Resources Defense Council

⚒️

What they do:

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) works to ensure the rights of all people to clean air, safe water and to live in a healthy, thriving community. For example, they fight climate change by reducing carbon pollution and promoting the use of clean energy across communities. They also push for higher standards for polluting power plants and advocate clean, renewable energy policies. In addition, they promote reforms that remove the most harmful pesticides from the market to ensure safe food. The NRDC also helps implement laws that protect coastal communities from offshore drilling, ban destructive fishing practices, and conserve ocean treasures.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Natural Resources Defense Council has helped to pass critical environmental and health laws to protect our natural environment. For example, they succeeded in passing the Clean Water Act, which makes it possible for people to sue polluters contaminating waterways. They also helped to pass amendments tackling loopholes in the Clean Air Act and requiring states to create programs that reduce air pollution. In addition, due to their pressure, advocacy, and litigation, every country in the world has signed the 1987 Montreal Protocol to reduce the depletion of the ozone layer. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the Natural Resources Defense Council through their website. You can also support them by joining their Equitable Climate Legislation campaign or their Get the Lead Out of Our Water campaign.

5

Environmental Defense Fund: Building a Better Future Together

Logo for Environmental Defense Fund
Our vision: Good news

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Environmental Defense Fund has a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“Environmental Defense Fund’s mission is to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends. Guided by science and economics, we find practical and lasting solutions to the most serious environmental problems.”

Environmental Defense Fund

⚒️

What they do:

The Environmental Defense Fund is committed to fighting climate change, protecting people, and saving the environment from degradation. They do this by partnering with manufacturing companies, labor unions, and regulators to accelerate the transition to clean transportation in the US. In addition, they operate an innovative fund to prevent deforestation and finance large-scale tropical forest protection, as well as support the indigenous people who live in them.

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What they’ve achieved:

Today, the Environmental Defense Fund comprises over 3 million activists working to tackle the most critical environmental challenges in 28 countries worldwide. Through their summer fellowship program, Climate Corps, they have deployed over 1,200 young climate leaders to over 540 organizations to support sustainability efforts. They have also encouraged over 100 countries to sign the Global Methane Pledge to reduce methane emissions by at least 30% in 10 years. In addition, their deforestation coalition raised over $1 billion for tropical forest protection.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the Environmental Defense Fund through their website. You can also support them by hosting a Climate Corps fellow to design practical ways for your company to boost energy efficiency and sustainability.

6

Friends of the Earth: A Bold Voice for Justice and the Planet

Logo for Friends of the Earth
Introducing FoEI in 60 seconds

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Their transparency & ratings:

Friends of the Earth has a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“Friends of the Earth strives for a more healthy and just world. We understand that the challenges facing our planet call for more than half measures, so we push for the reforms that are needed, not merely the ones that are politically easy.”

Friends of the Earth

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What they do:

Friends of the Earth is a founding member of Friends of the Earth International, the largest environmental federation committed to building a sustainable world. They advocate for change and fight for justice for the environment by campaigning against unjust policies, such as fossil fuel subsidies. They also collaborate with larger environmental protection networks to build political power and influence governments and corporate organizations to adopt sustainability policies.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Friends of the Earth has remained dedicated to creating a more sustainable world. For example, they convinced some of the largest garden retailers, such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, and over 135 others, to phase out bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides. They also pressured social media companies, such as Twitter, to adopt policies that promote credible information on climate science. In addition, they secured permanent protection from the US government for the Tongass National Forest after a campaign signed by over 111,000 Friends of the Earth members.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to Friends of the Earth through their website. You can also support them by campaigning against funding fossil fuel projects overseas.

7

The Nature Conservancy: Protecting Nature. Preserving Life

Logo for The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy - 60 Years of Conservation

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Nature Conservancy has a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“The Nature Conservancy is a global environmental nonprofit working to create a world where people and nature can thrive.”

The Nature Conservancy

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What they do:

The Nature Conservancy works to conserve land and water for everyone. They do this by advocating for policies that sustain healthy natural systems in the US and other parts of the world at local, national, and global levels. They also partner with corporate organizations to align conservation with their business goals and practices. In addition, they support indigenous communities in conserving their lands, waters, and way of life by empowering them to fight against external development pressures.

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What they’ve achieved:

Today, the Nature Conservancy has over 1 million members and over 400 scientists working to impact conservation globally. To date, they have created 37 direct conservation projects and 39 collaborative conservation projects in 76 countries and territories. They also operate over 100 marine conservation projects to protect ecosystems in water bodies worldwide. In addition, they have saved over 125 million acres of land globally.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the Nature Conservancy through their website. You can also support them by volunteering or attending any of their events in a community close to you. In addition, you can show your support by joining their campaign to save the Florida panther.

8

Rainforest Alliance: Creating a Sustainable World

Logo for Rainforest Alliance
The Rainforest Needs You

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Rainforest Alliance scores 100 out of 100 for Finance and Accountability on Charity Navigator. They also hold a Silver Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

The Rainforest Alliance is creating a more sustainable world by using social and market forces to protect nature and improve the lives of farmers and forest communities.”

Rainforest Alliance

⚒️

What they do:

The Rainforest Alliance protects forests and biodiversity, fights climate change, and safeguards the rights and livelihoods of rural people. They do this by partnering with farmers and forest communities to promote land management practices that protect nature and boost rural livelihoods, such as climate-smart agricultural training and the implementation of global sustainability standards. They also work with civil society organizations and governments to advocate for sustainable policies locally and internationally. In addition, through their supply chain services, they provide customized support to help companies define and achieve their sustainability commitments.

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What they’ve achieved:

Today, the Rainforest Alliance consists of millions of individuals, corporations, governments, farmers, and forest communities working on 66 projects in over 70 countries worldwide. To date, they have impacted over 4 million farmers and workers through their rigorous programs on land management practices and the improvement of rural livelihoods. They have also certified over 6 million hectares of farmland using their global sustainability standards. In addition, they have accredited products in over 175 countries, marking them as safe for consumption.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the Rainforest Alliance through their website. You can also support them by choosing to book your next holiday with one of their certified hotels and tour operators in the Caribbean and Latin America to support local communities and wildlife. In addition, you can help them by purchasing their merchandise.

9

Conservation International: Fighting to Protect Nature for People

Logo for Conservation International
About Conservation International

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Their transparency & ratings:

Conservation International has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.

“Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, Conservation International empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the well-being of humanity.”

Conservation International

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What they do:

Conservation International helps indigenous and local communities protect their lands by empowering them to withhold consent for developmental projects. They also enable private investment in forest protection initiatives and partner with businesses and governments in forest protection efforts by helping them account for their impacts on forests. Furthermore, their researchers work with companies to source commodities like coffee and cotton in more sustainable ways and set scientific targets for reducing the environmental impacts of their production.

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What they’ve achieved:

To date, Conservation International has helped protect over 2.3 million square miles of land and sea across 70 countries. They have also protected over 32.5 million hectares of coastal and territorial ecosystems worldwide. In addition, they have supported sustainability efforts in over 40 coastal community fisheries in 12 countries. Over 38 million people have now benefited from their ecosystem services on lands and seas in 17 projects globally.

Ways to contribute:

You can make a single donation or monthly donation to Conservation International through their website. You can also support them by starting a fundraiser.

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities that promote sustainability. 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 promoting sustainability – 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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