Some of the best environmental charities to donate to that are tax deductions: Not everyone can afford to be J.K. Rowling. Giving to people and causes that matter to you is a great feeling. But most of us can only handle so much philanthropy. So giving to a tax-deductible organization is a much easier way to find your inner giver.
There are two crucial pieces of information that you need to know before donating your money.
- Will the organization will use the money well? To answer this question, we’ll consult their overall rating at CharityNavigator.org
- Will your charitable donation be tax-deductible? Surprisingly, many non-profits don’t qualify as for a deduction on your taxes, so to answer this, we’ll do some homework for you!
First, What Makes A Donation to an Organization Tax-Deductible?
The two classifications of charity organizations are 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4).
- 501(c)(3): Organizations classified as a 501(c)(3) have an exempt purpose. These include religious, educational, or scientific purposes. They NOT permitted to lobby the government or participate in political campaigns or causes, and their profits can’t benefit any specific individual. Donations to these organizations are tax-deductible.
- 501(c)(4): Organizations classified as 501(c)(4) benefit social welfare and employee associations. They can lobby for causes or political campaigns that benefit that organization’s purpose. Donations to these institutions are not tax-deductible.
For more clarification on which charities and non-profits are a tax deduction, see our tips for making sure your charitable donations are tax deductible.
Our List of the Best Environmental Charities
There are some great non-profit organizations out there helping to protect our fragile environment, and fighting global threats like global warming, pollution, and deforestation. When considering which one to make a donation to, I personally like the added benefit of my donation being tax deductible. Here’s our list of 8 of the best environment charities that you can claim as a tax deduction:
Friends of the Earth
- Friends Of The Earth: A top environmental charity
- Charity Navigator Rating: 97.8%
- Mission: Defends the environment and champions a healthy and just world.
Friends of the Earth is a branch of an international organization comprised of 74 different countries. The US-based FOE champion many important causes including sustainability, climate change, deforestation, agriculture, and economic policies. Their focus is on creating a healthy world by doing what’s necessary to tackle the planet’s major issues. FOE has an impressive score of 97.8% on Charity Navigator, and donations to Friends of the Earth are tax deductible.
The Sierra Club
- Sierra Club Foundation: One of the best-rated environmental charities to donate money to
- Charity Navigator Rating: 94% | Charity Watch Grade: A
- Mission: To help educate, inspire and empower humanity to preserve the natural and human environment by providing resources for charitable programs that protect and restore the environment.
This organization provides financial support to charities that share their vision, including the Sierra Club itself. They give support to scientific research, education and awareness, advocacy, and legal strategies.
Their goals include helping climate change by promoting a move away from fossil fuels, protecting public land and water, and furthering the environmental movement in politics. The Sierra Club Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charity, so donations to the Sierra Club are tax-deductible.
- Earth Justice: Best rated environmental charities
- Charity Navigator Rating: 93.5% – Charity Watch Grade: A
- Mission: Uses the law to protect natural heritage, safeguard health, and promote a clean energy future
Their tagline says it all: “the earth needs a good lawyer.” EJ began as a project of The Sierra Club. Now, they employ over a hundred attorneys. These attorneys take on large battles that would leave others feeling powerless. They focus on major world issues such as wildlife, health, clean energy, and climate. Donations to Earth Justice are tax-deductible.
Union of Concerned Scientists
- Union of Concerned Scientists: One of the best environmental charities
- Charity Navigator Rating: 88.5% – Charity Watch Grade: A-
- Mission: Puts rigorous independent science to work to solve the most pressing problems of our planet.
USCUSA is dedicated to finding effective yet functional solutions to Earth’s most prominent issues. Their work includes developing sustainable sources of power and food, fighting global warming and misinformation, and a wealth of other goals. USCUSA is a respected and reputable environmental cause based on scientific analysis. Donations to this program are tax-deductible.
Natural Resources Defense Council
- Natural Resources Defense Council: Another top-rated environmental charity to donate to
- Charity Navigator Rating: 96.4 | Charity Watch Grade: A-
- Mission: To safeguard the Earth: Its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends.
With hundreds of scientists, lawyers, and activists at their disposal, the NRDC fights to safeguard several important environmental causes. They fight from both legislative and judicial positions. Their focuses include climate change, preserving oceans, and saving endangered wildlife. The New York Times once called it “One of the nation’s most powerful environmental groups.” It has an A- score on Charity Watch, and it is a tax-deductible organization.
- Rainforest Alliance: One of the best environment and nature charities to donate to
- Charity Navigator Rating: 85.7 | Charity Watch Grade: A-
- Mission: To conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior.
This nonprofit works to preserve biodiversity in nature and support sustainable living. They work with farmers and entrepreneurs so they can earn steady incomes with the least impact on the earth.
They provide manufacturers and goods who meet their strict criteria with their symbol – a little green frog – so that consumers can choose to make environmentally conscious purchases. Products they certify include tea, coffee, chocolate, and bananas. Donations to the Rainforest Alliance are tax-deductible.
Greenpeace Fund, Inc
- Greenpeace Fund: A top-ranked environmental charity, but read below for tax tips
- Charity Navigator Rating: 88%
- Mission: “To protect and preserve the environment through the funding of grants to other organizations.”
When it comes to whether donations to Greenpeace are tax deductible, things get a little tricky. The title “Greenpeace” actually covers TWO organizations. Each one has their own roles in achieving the same goal. Both charities work towards bringing awareness to environmental problems on a global scale, and supporting green, feasible solutions to those problems.
- Greenpeace Inc. is a 501(c)(4) charity, focused on campaigning and lobbying for Greenpeace causes. Donations to them are NOT tax-deductible.
- Greenpeace Fund Inc. however, financially supports research, charity, and education. It is classified as a 501(c)(3) and so donations ARE tax-deductible.
So both organizations work towards the same worthy goal, but if you plan on claiming your donation on your taxes, make sure your donation is to Greenpeace Fund Inc.
- Ocean Conservancy: One of the best environmental / ocean charities to give to
- Charity Navigator Rating: 90.9%
- Mission: Ocean Conservancy is working with you to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges.
“Start a sea change.” Ocean Conservancy works to protect oceans and their wildlife from the biggest global concerns. They fund science-based research into sustainability, and they advocate for policy changes.
Their focuses include protecting marine habitats & nature, reducing human impact on oceanic ecosystems, and promoting sustainable fishing practices. It is one of the few charities to focus on marine ecosystems and wildlife. Donations to Ocean Conservancy are tax-deductible.
Donating to the Best Environmental Charities & Non-Profits: A Generous Act + Tax Deduction!
When you give to an environmental conservation organization, you want to make sure that your money is going to be used well. These environment charities are respectable, reliable, and transparent in their work.
Best of all, donations to these programs can be claimed as a write-off on your taxes. This way you can be generous and frugal at the same time!
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When you file your taxes with popular software like TurboTax, TaxAct, and H&R Block, they walk you through the process and help you claim every deduction including properly itemizing donations to top charities like these. *Note: Free tax software is for simple taxes only, and may miss deductions from charitable donations.