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Top-Rated Animal Charities

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Each year,
GreatNonprofits releases its list of Top-Rated Charities based on thousands of reviews from the people who work directly with the nonprofits—the donors, volunteers, and clients served. Our 2016 Top-Rated Awards highlight charities in 40+ different categories that are working to improve the lives and communities of those they serve. From the arts to health care, human services, veterans’ issues, and more, hundreds of nonprofits have been honored this year for their outstanding service. But one sphere in particular received outsized representation: animal charities. GreatNonprofits gave 186 top-rated awards to animal charities, the most of any category.

  • According to the ASPCA, there are roughly 13,000 animal shelters in the U.S.
  • Every year, roughly 7.6 million animals enter U.S. shelters, 3.9 million of which are dogs and 3.4 million cats
  • 35% of dogs entering shelters are adopted, 26% returned to their owners, and 31% euthanized
  • 37% of cats entering shelters are adopted, 41% are euthanized, and less than 5% are returned to owners

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Food-Related Community Nonprofits

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Despite the U.S.’s status as one of the wealthiest countries in the world, nearly one out of every six Americans faces hunger. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines a food-insecure household as one that has limited access to foods that are safe and nutritionally adequate, or in which the ability “to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways . . . (that is, without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing, or other coping strategies)” is severely limited.

  • 13.1 million children and 42.2 million Americans of all ages lived in food-insecure households in 2015, according to FeedingAmerica.org
  • 20% of people who lived in food-insecure houses in 2015 were children
  • 12.7% of households in the U.S. are food-insecure, with 5% of households suffering from very low food security, according to the USDA

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Top 10 Top-Rated Nonprofits

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Every year,
GreatNonprofits highlights the work of outstanding charities that are going above and beyond to provide vital, life-changing services to their communities. The 2016 Top-Rated Awards feature nonprofits that have received the highest scores from the people who work directly with them—volunteers, donors, and clients served. The awards honor charities from cities all over the world working to improve lives by addressing issues in 40+ different categories.

Among the hundreds of nonprofits honored this year, 10 charities stand out for receiving the most positive feedback. These are our top 10 top-rated charities:

  1. Veteran Tickets Foundation in Tempe, Ariz.

With 2,020 reviews, the Veteran Tickets Foundation has received more feedback than any other top-rated nonprofit on our site. The Arizona-based veteran’s charity provides free tickets to sporting events, concerts, and family events to service members and former members of the armed forces.

  1. Erowid Center in Grass Valley, Calif.

The Erowid Center is dedicated to providing objective, accurate, and nonjudgemental information about plants, chemicals, and other substances that humans ingest or come in contact with in medical or everyday contexts. Their goal is to put together as objective a database as possible about a variety of products and substances, compiling information from scientists, medical and legal experts, and other academic authorities.

  1. Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, Ariz.

The Center for Biological Diversity is committed to securing the future of all living species by supporting scientific research, policies that protect threatened species, legal efforts to prevent the destruction of wildlife, and media campaigns that raise awareness. LA Weekly has described the environmental nonprofit as “pound for pound, dollar for dollar, the most effective conservation organization in the country.”

  1. Bikers Against Drunk Drivers in Ormond Beach, Fla.

Bikers Against Drunk Drivers is a nonprofit that seeks to spread awareness about the dangers of drunk driving and the potentially lethal consequences it can have for drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bikers. They set up displays in high traffic areas, conduct social media campaigns, and hold rallies to increase visibility.

  1. Soldiers’ Angels in San Antonio

Volunteers “adopt” members of the armed forces and help ease the burdens of deployment through individualized assistance; if a soldier wants a phone card to call members of their family, needs help financially, or has other urgent needs, the nonprofit does its best to accommodate them. It also provides homemade treats, handmade gifts, and other gestures of appreciation.

  1. Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies in Santa Cruz, Calif.

This California-based nonprofit is committed to promoting the careful medical use of psychedelics and marijuana through research, the development of prescription medicines, the  training of therapists to monitor the use of these substances, and the establishment of a network of treatment centers.

  1. Charity Cars in Longwood, Fla.

Charity Cars provides free donated vehicles to struggling families to help them reach self-sufficiency. Their goal is to provide a reliable mode of transportation to a variety of recipients in need, including domestic violence survivors, families in the midst of a medical crisis, victims of natural disasters, families transitioning back to employment, people living in shelters, the working poor, nonprofits, and military families. Since it was established in 1996, the nonprofit has donated more than 4,500 cars.

  1. Global Village Champions Foundation in Sarasota, Fla.

Global Village is committed to providing nutrition all over the world to as many hungry people as possible. Since it was established 20 years ago, the foundation has provided more than 900 million meals to people in need, along with basic necessities to children in extreme poverty.

  1. Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary in St. Pauls, N.C.

The Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary focuses on saving the lives of cats that would be put to death because they are blind, leukemia-positive, or FIV-positive. It educates the public about cats with these health issues and sponsors spay and neuter programs that benefit hundreds of cats per year.

  1. Youthlinc in Salt Lake City

Youthlinc is a program that fosters humanitarian principles in young people through mentoring, refugee programs, humanitarian awards, and service directories that put kids in touch with nearby organizations. Every year, Youthlinc participants contribute more than 15,000 hours of service to organizations in their home state of Utah and raise nearly $400,000 to donate to worthy programs abroad.

These inspiring organizations are addressing a wide range of social issues in order to make the world a better place. Consider sharing this page on your social networks to raise awareness of their important work, and if you feel motivated to take action, peruse our 2016 Top-Rated Charities page to discover organizations that are addressing causes you care about or serving your local community. GreatNonprofits compiles information on nonprofits near you, so you can feel confident donating your time or money to ones that will use it well.

U.S. Cities with the Most Top-Rated Nonprofits

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This year, 1,683 charities received Top-Rated Awards from GreatNonprofits.org. Top-rated nonprofits were selected in 40 different categories based on reviews written by the people who work directly with the charities. Our 2016 Top-Rated Awards compiled feedback from donors, clients, and volunteers, highlighting the amazing work done by charities in the arts, the environmental and social justice spheres, health care, and more! (more…)

2016 Top-Rated Awards: States with the Most Nonprofits

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GreatNonprofits.org
has released its 2016 Top-Rated Awards, a celebration of outstanding charities that are making a difference in the spheres of healthcare, housing, the arts, education and more! GreatNonprofits evaluates charities based on feedback from the people who work with them directly—donors, volunteers, and clients served—in  order to give the most accurate assessment of an organization’s mission and the extent to which that mission is being fulfilled. This year, every U.S. state is represented on our top-rated list, so we decided to take a closer look at the data and pick out some emerging trends in different parts of the country.
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Message from Perla Ni, Founder of GreatNonprofits

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No matter the circumstances, nonprofits have stood strong for their commitment to a more sustainable and equitable world. Nonprofits are needed today, more than ever, to bridge the inequality divide, provide education and health services, conserve our environment, create dialogue, and protect our civil rights. It’s community organizations that are transforming Detroit into livable spaces. In Flint, it’s nonprofits that are helping residents affected by the poisonous water.

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Local Community Nonprofit

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While big-name nonprofits often dominate our pocketbooks, the news, and our newsfeeds, thousands of local community nonprofits are quietly making changes that will impact the people they serve for years. Community nonprofits provide educational opportunities, enrichment programs, and other vital services directly to the communities they serve, but that also means they rely more heavily on people who live nearby. We compiled some statistics on small and local nonprofits that illustrate just how important it is to support local nonprofits:

  • 61% of nonprofits have less than $100,000 in yearly revenue, according to the Nonprofit Finance Fund
  • New nonprofits, which often pop up in response to an urgent need within a local community, are especially vulnerable to the vagaries of the economy: a study from the National Center on Charitable Statistics found that 12% of nonprofits exit within five years and 17% within 10 years
  • According to a study by the New Economics Foundation in London, when people buy produce at a local farmer’s market instead of supermarket, twice as much money stays within their community

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How to Find Local Volunteer Opportunities


Many of us are passionate about wanting to take the opportunity to volunteer and give back to our local community. It’s not always easy to find the best way to get involved with volunteering or to follow through once you’ve decided how you want to help. Luckily, we’re here to help you navigate your way to a rewarding experience.

What inspires you to volunteer?.

“Three years ago, on my 3rd visit to Panajachel, Guatemala, I decided to sponsor a 3 year old girl through Mayan Families so she could attend preschool, get 2 meals per day, a daily vitamin, and learn Spanish in preparation for public school. I I wanted make a difference in [her] life, hoping to give her a chance for an education and a better future.

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Health Benefits of Giving

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A 2013 study in the journal BMC Public Health examined the effect of formal volunteering on one’s physical and mental health. The study found that giving your time has favorable effects on depression as well as other mental health disorders. The warm feeling associated with helping others has long been documented anecdotally, but in the past few decades, researchers have made strides documenting the positive effects of giving inside the lab.

  • According to statistics from Charity Navigator, people donated an estimated $373 billion to charity in 2015
  • Charitable giving has increased by more than 10% in 2014 and 2015, adjusting for inflation
  • Giving has increased for six years straight, and the second record-setting year

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Veterans Day: Addressing Mental Health Issues Faced by Veterans

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One of the major challenges facing those who serve overseas is the adjustment back to civilian life. As many as
31% of Vietnam veterans, for example, suffer from PTSD over the course of their lifetime, according to VeteransandPTSD.com, with many soldiers reporting symptoms years after returning from deployment. An estimated 50% of soldiers experiencing PTSD do not seek treatment.

Although there is a long history of pets and veterans working together to cope with trauma, the Department of Veterans Affairs encourages vets who are struggling with mental health issues to turn to pets in addition to traditional forms of therapy. There are a multitude of reasons why dogs may help servicepeople cope with PTSD. Among the reasons they cited: animals can bring out feelings of love, they can help reduce stress, they encourage owners to get outside for runs or walks, they help veterans meet new people, and, intriguingly, their ability to take orders well when trained can provide a healthy outlet for veterans who were used to giving orders in the military.

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Veterans Day: Veterans’ Employment and Housing Nonprofits

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According to DoSomething.org, the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans is 6.2%, or a full 1.2% higher than the national average for the overall population. And in another estimate cited by the same website, roughly 50% of veterans suffer from some form of mental health issue such as PTSD, which may make it even more difficult to hold down a job. Despite the tremendous sacrifices veterans have made for our country, they continue to suffer disproportionately high rates of homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, mental health issues, and unemployment. We put together a list highlighting some of the most startling statistics:

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What Makes Donors Tick

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Photo by: http://www.123rf.com/photo_31654094_unique.html


Nonprofits are inherent storytelling engines. They’re inspirational entities that improve communities, advocate for change and fill gaps no other organization can. And they do it with incredible efficiency by expertly leveraging dollars and talent.

It would seem natural that most nonprofit stories would both captivate and motivate prospective donors. You might be surprised that research shows that donors are fickle about the storyteller.

What does psychology have to do with it?

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Adoption Nonprofits

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Adoption Nonprofits

According to a PBS Fact Sheet, about 2% of the total U.S. population is adopted, with 2.5% of the child population currently living with adopted families. These adoptions range from local, domestic adoptions from a public agency, to private, international, and independent adoptions. Americans are especially enthusiastic about international adoptions, with as many as 13,000 children from 103 different countries adopted per year, according to the most recent available data.

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Facts About Bullying and Teen Suicide

 

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Photo by: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_tatyanagl’>tatyanagl / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found a close relationship between bullying and teen suicide-related behavior. While bullying is not necessarily the cause of suicidal thoughts or actions, youth who report any involvement in bullying behavior, whether as the victim or the aggressor, are more likely to report that they have thought about or attempted suicide. This relationship takes on special significance when you acknowledge the huge number of students who report bullying or being victimized by a bully. According to the anti-bullying website DoSomething.org, more than 3.2 million students report being bullied every year, and approximately 17% of American students report being bullied two to three times per month or more.

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Halloween Fundraising Opportunities

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In 1950 a group of Philadelphia schoolchildren decided to raise money for the United Nations Children’s Fund (
UNICEF) by going door-to-door on Halloween and collecting donations in decorated milk cartons. The tradition caught on, and now UNICEF’s Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF program encourages kids to take full advantage of the fall festivities by raising money for other children in need.

While the holiday season tends to be a strong time for nonprofits to fundraise—a 2012 study found that 50.5% of organizations received the majority of their donations between October and December—UNICEF’s focus on Halloween instead of Christmas, Hanukkah, or Thanksgiving allows it to engage with potential donors before the chaos of the holiday season kicks into full gear. And as an organization dedicated to serving children, it makes sense that UNICEF would want to take advantage of the trick-or-treat tradition, a custom that typically revolves around kids. (more…)

Facts About Breast Cancer

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According to NationalBreastCancer.org, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. With an estimated 246,660 American women diagnosed with the disease per year, and an estimated 2.8 million American breast cancer survivors alive in the U.S. today, almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by it. We compiled some important facts about the cancer that affects so many lives:

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5 Evidence-Based Tips For Raising Money

Here are some simple, practical and research-based tips to help nonprofits raise more donations. Behavior and Charitable Giving, from Ideas42, summarizes the research on fundraising. For a downloadable version of the report, click here.

 

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The Unexpected Moments That Touch Your Heart: The Most Memorable Part of My Vacation to Greece

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The air was acrid from the smoke of burned garbage. The neighborhood, 30 minutes outside of Athens, was industrial with large factories. The elementary school was surrounded by small, makeshift houses with garbage piled up around them. Small classrooms with bars on their windows surrounded the schoolyard.

I was visiting Greece for a conference, but also to tour Athens and visit the beach.

A friend heard that I was going to Athens and invited me to see a nonprofit program that provides food to hungry kids.

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How Our Brains Connect through Stories

Powerful stories can drive us to action. They can move us to do good in the world—to donate, to volunteer, to reach out to someone in need, or to campaign for something like girls’ rights to 12 years of free, safe, high-quality education.