The Best Charities to Donate to: Trustworthy & Lasting Impact

Giving to those in need is one of the most generous things you can do, but you don’t want to accidentally support a charity that’s wasting your money. Unfortunately, plenty of charity scams also take advantage of people who want to support others. If you’re looking to donate, regardless of the type of charity you’re interested in, there are a few steps you should follow to donate safely.

Plenty of organizations work hard to make your donations count. Yet, with so many out there, it can be hard to choose a worthy cause. You probably don’t have time to personally research every non-profit fund out there. That’s why I put together this guide for when you want to find a great charity that will make a lasting impact with your donation.

How to Choose a Charity to Give Effectively and Responsibly

1. Identify a Cause You Want to Support

You might have certain issues or matters that are close to your heart. Whether it’s animals, children, refugees, or the environment, for example, you’ll find plenty of causes working in these and other areas.

If you don’t have a specific cause in mind, try to think of issues you heard of recently that could use your support. Otherwise, look for causes that currently have the most need.

2. Look Up Well-Rated Charities with Charity Evaluators

You can go through the trouble to vet various non-profits yourself, but that takes a lot of time and… well, you don’t have to. Organizations like CharityWatch, Charity Navigator, and Animal Charity Evaluators have done all the hard work of vetting charities for you. That way, you can search up the charities or causes you want to support and see whether they are spending funds responsibly.

Screenshot of the Animal Welfare Institute page on CharityWatch providing graphs on the charity's spending  

Evaluators like GiveWell also have a Maximum Impact Fund you can donate to instead. GiveWell then does an assessment of the needs of their top 9 funds’ and sends the money where it will have the biggest impact. CharityWatch also has a Top-Rated list of organizations that meet their governance standards and are transparent about their spending.

3. Find Charities With Data-Backed Strategies

Part of making your donation count is picking a charity that gives based on research principles that show their influence is making a real impact. Giving to a charity that provides computers to children in need when they don’t even have electricity, for example, won’t help them.

Great charities provide studies on the positive effects of their assistance. When non-profit organizations back up their work with research-based evidence, you can see exactly how your money is spent cost-effectively.

4. Choose Organizations with a Significant Need

People tend to think large non-profits receive more publicity and aid while smaller charities always struggle to gather funds. Despite that distinction, most charities face dry spells and recent years have seen a shift in giving towards smaller grassroots organizations. That means a charity’s size or prominence isn’t necessarily an indicator of whether its fund reserves are at a healthy level.

Your donation can do the most good where it’s most needed, which can depend on multiple factors like whether the charity:

    • 👉 Receives regular funding.
    • 👉 Received large donations recently.
    • 👉 Started or finished a new project.
    • 👉 Plans a costly expansion.
    • 👉 Has seasonally-dependent necessities.

Your donation could make a big difference with a charity that’s just started a new program and hasn’t gathered a lot of funds. But it might not have as much of an impact with a charity that just finished a big donation drive.

Charity recommenders like Animal Charity Evaluators also provide a “How much money could they use?” section. That indicates how much funding the charity is trying to collect at the moment and what the funds are for.

5. Consider When to Give Money Instead of Goods

Donating physical goods like clothes and food feels good because you’re giving something tangible that you know will make an instant difference. While that type of donation certainly helps, sometimes money can do more good.

For example, if you live far away and the need is urgent, your donation might take too long to reach its recipients. Your recipients also know their own needs better than you do, and giving them money lets them spend those funds where it’s most needed.

Beware of Charity Scams

It’s unfortunate that this is necessary, but you need to be on the lookout for scams when you decide to donate to anyone. Charity scams come in all shapes and sizes, from a person lying about their situation to criminal syndicates posing as non-profit organizations.

Before giving, you should to do some research about the person or organization you want to donate to.

If you don’t have a specific charity fund in mind yet, keep these tips in mind to avoid fraud:

    • 🎯 Avoid links that were sent to you or posted on social media. Enter the URL yourself, as many scam organizations use websites and URLs that look very similar to the real thing.
    • 🎯 Don’t give out personal information like your address, birth date, social security number, or online passwords. If a fund is asking for this type of information, it’s likely a scam.
    • 🎯 Don’t donate to a charity via email, social media, or text without confirming it’s the organization’s real contact details.
    • 🎯 Be wary of anyone asking for donations via cryptocurrencies, gift cards, or cash. Donating with a credit card or check is safest.
    • 🎯 Keep track of your banking records after donating to make sure funds aren’t withdrawn from your account without your permission.

Why Giving to Organizations is Usually Better

Giving your money to a person living on the street, for example, feels rewarding because you can see the person you’re helping. That might not be the best way to help them, though, as it’s not always a sustainable way of giving. Organizations are equipped to help people meet their most urgent needs first. They also know how to spend funds in a way that stretches your money further.

Many charities use evidence-based strategies that are meant to break the cycle of need instead of funding it indefinitely. Instead of helping one person for a day, you can help many more to change their lives by donating to an organization.

How to Help Individuals

It’s hard to see those around you suffer, whether from poverty, illness, or bad circumstances and it’s natural to want to help them. If you want to give to someone in need, it’s important that you exercise due diligence to make sure you’re actually helping.

Unfortunately, simply giving money to someone isn’t a guarantee that they’ll use that money to take care of their needs. If you’re concerned the person might misuse your donation, you can give physical items like food & clothes instead.

If you’re considering donating to a stranger’s fundraiser, like on GoFundMe, try to verify their story. Research the fundraiser or recipient to see whether they’re real people. It also helps if you can find any family or friends vouching for their cause on social media. If someone is fundraising on behalf of someone else, try to find the recipient and give directly to them instead if possible.

Whenever possible, try to direct a person to a local charity that focuses on their needs and can help them long-term.

How to Start a Fundraiser for a Cause

Image depicting fundraising as a metaphor for spreading love and growing.  

If none of the available charities resonate with you, or you have a very specific cause at heart, you can start your own fundraiser. Keep in mind that starting your own non-profit fund may not be as effective as supporting an existing organization. Unless the recipient of the fundraiser is someone you know personally.

The easiest way to set up a fundraiser is to use an online crowdfunding tool like GoFundMe or Facebook Fundraiser. Just fill in the details on the form and can start sharing your fundraiser with friends and family. Please be aware that platforms like GoFundMe have fees that take a percentage of the funds you receive.

Here are some tips to get your new fundraiser going:

  1. Pick a platform to promote your fundraiser–keep the platform’s fees, sharing options, and reputation in mind.
  2. Set a clear and attainable fundraiser goal.
  3. Provide a detailed and honest campaign message where you outline your cause.
  4. Give measurable outcomes for how donations will be used.
  5. Share your fundraiser on social media.
  6. Ask your employer to match donations to your fund, as many companies are known to match funds when employees personally raise money.
  7. Thank donors for their support and provide updates about the fundraiser.

How to Protect Your Personal Data While Giving Money via Online Transactions

When you donate to organizations online, you’ll likely use an instant payment to send the funds. You might even set up a monthly deduction that gives the charity direct access to your banking details. Neither situation is a problem, but it does increase your risk of being targeted by threat actors.

If you’re donating to charities (or doing anything that involves online banking), you should take steps to protect your financial data. Keep these things in mind to protect your digital privacy from criminals:

    • 🔐 Use unique and strong passwords that aren’t easily guessable. Store them in a password manager if you have trouble remembering them all.
    • 🔐 Set up two-factor authentication for all your accounts.
    • 🔐 Activate pins, passcodes, or biometric access to prevent people from accessing your devices without permission.
    • 🔐 Install CyberGhost VPN to encrypt your network connection and prevent outsiders from hijacking or spying on your browsing session.
    • 🔐 Register for alerts with your bank so you can instantly see when money is taken out of your account.
    • 🔐 Go through your financial records every month to check for strange activity. Make sure to immediately report any unfamiliar deductions to your bank.

Despite all these warnings, giving to a great cause shouldn’t be a stressful experience. Don’t want to spend too much time on research? Get a jump start on your new altruistic venture with my list of suggestions below.

The Best Charities to Donate to Responsibly

I wanted to create a list of non-profit organizations you can quickly consult when you decide you want to make a donation. This is a general catalog and not connected to any specific causes.

I created my list by consulting major charity evaluators and non-profit funds. Keep in mind this list isn’t meant to represent every worthy cause or non-profit currently in need of funding.

Cause Charity Details
Relief Funds Effective Altruism Funds Provides 4 main funds for donors to choose between based on different causes. Uses a strong set of criteria managed by funding experts.
GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund Funds are granted quarterly based on criteria like a charity’s funding gap and the cost-effectiveness of the funding.
Animal Charity Evaluators’ Recommended Charity Fund Animal Charity Evaluators distribute these funds twice per year to their current Top Charities and Standout Charities.
International Relief GiveDirectly Provides cash transfers to those in need, who buy the things they need most and spend money to improve their lives. A GiveWell Top Charity.
International Medical Corps Provides emergency medical services, as well as healthcare training and development programs, to those affected by disaster, disease, or conflict. Recommended by Giving What We Can.
Against Malaria Foundation Provides insecticide-treated mosquito nets to at-risk, low-income communities. Recommended by Giving What We Can and GiveWell.
The Rotary Foundation This charity tackles issues like poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition with sustainable solutions. Recommended by Charity Navigator.
Animal Welfare Faunalytics Connects animal advocates with information relevant to advocacy by cоnducting and publishing independent research. Recommended by Giving What We Can and ACE.
The Humane League Funds campaigns to improve animal welfare & grantmaking to build up animal advocacy movements. Recommended by Giving What We Can and ACE.
Mercy For Animals Works to strengthen the animal advocacy movement and improve animal welfare standards. Funds initiatives to increase the availability of animal-free products. Recommended by ACE.
Environmental Activism Carbon 180 An insider policy advocacy organization that focuses on accelerating the development of carbon removal technologies and practices. Recommended by Giving What We Can and Giving Green.
World Resources Institute Drives sustainable solutions in climate, energy, food, forests, water, and cities and transport. Recommended by Charity Navigator. Forges international environmental movements at the grassroots level and connects climate activist groups for projects. Recommended by Charity Navigator and CharityWatch.
Mental Health Awareness Mental Health America Advocates mental health at the national, state, and local levels. They work to protect the rights of people with mental illness and to promote better services. Recommended by Charity Navigator.
To Write Love on Her Arms Provides help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. Recommended by Charity Navigator.
The Trevor Project Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services and a peer support network to LGBTQ people. Recommended by Charity Navigator.

If you’re looking for a wider range of causes to support, you can check in with charity recommenders to find more non-profits listed on their websites. These charities are currently relevant and require funding, but needs can change drastically.

Natural events, war, and economic impact can quickly create new challenges that require immediate action. Charities normally do their best to adapt, like the incredible outreach to help Ukraine, but need extra funding during those times.

Give Safely and With Confidence

Your decision to help others by donating shouldn’t lead to frustrating roadblocks and make you worry about your personal data. Some organizations are trying to make this process easier. For example, Charity Navigator has the Giving Basket that lets you donate to multiple non-profits at a time. It also lets you decide how much of your personal information gets shared with them.

That’s wonderful, but also uncommon. It’s hard work to sift through and evaluate individual non-profits without help while avoiding charity scams. Most of the time, you’re also risking your personal information and financial data being stolen, whenever you make online payments.

You can put your personal safety first while giving responsibly. CyberGhost VPN protects your online privacy by encrypting your connection and redirecting it through secure servers to change your IP address.


What is the most trustworthy charity?

No one can recommend a single most trustworthy charity, but plenty of trustworthy charities deserve your support. Charity evaluators like Charity Navigator,, and provide deep insights into non-profit spending and the sustainability of their methods. You can use these evaluators to make an informed decision.

Make sure you also protect your personal information while sending money online by encrypting your connection with CyberGhost VPN. That way, cybercriminals can’t see what you do online. Stay safe, give responsibly!

What charity gives the most to their cause?

Plenty of charities work hard to stretch their funds so they can get more value out of every dollar. Charity evaluators like CharityWatch provide detailed breakdowns of how listed nonprofits spend their funds. You can use these as a guideline before you decide to donate.

You should also protect your own financial data by using CyberGhost VPN when donating. We secure your connection with 256-bit AES encryption and protect your privacy by changing your IP address. Don’t let charity scams and online threat actors take advantage of your altruism.

What are the best platforms to start a charity fundraiser?

Online platforms like GoFundMe, OneCause, and Donorbox are popular and provide a great place to start your new fundraiser. Make sure to follow our best practice tips for creating a persuasive and credible charity fundraiser.

Keep in mind that, if your account gets hacked, cybercriminals may be able to steal your hard-won funds. Protect your account on these platforms by installing CyberGhost VPN on your device and saving your password on a secure password manager. We support every popular platform, including Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux.

How can I safely donate online?

Whenever you spend money online, whether to donate, shop, or pay bills, you risk outsiders stealing your financial or personal data. You can donate safely by vetting the charity first to make sure it’s a legitimate non-profit. Follow our tips on how to choose a charity to find a cause you can safely support.

Get CyberGhost VPN to protect your connection while donating online. Our secure encryption also keeps you safe when you’re browsing or working on the web. Get in touch with our 24/7 customer support to learn more.

How does a VPN help prevent online fraud?

When you enter your personal information into websites or pay via online banking, you take the risk that someone will steal your data. They can use that information, as well as your financial credentials, to commit identity fraud.

A VPN helps prevent online fraud by encrypting your connection, which scrambles your data into an unreadable mess. Outsiders can’t steal your information if they can’t read it. When you use CyberGhost VPN, you also get access to our secure password manager and private browser free of charge. Test it out with our 45-day money-back guarantee and see how well it works.

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