Shine: Holiday Spotlight

I’m all about giving by giving back. Consider expanding your giving this holiday season to include these Shine-worthy charities that may be new to you. Are there any non-profits near and dear to your heart not on this list? Please share in the comments!

Arbor Day Foundation inspires people to plant and nurture trees. They have planted 25 million trees in the past 20 years with a large network of volunteers who help areas devastated by wildfires and other natural disasters. $10 plants 10 trees in areas such as Alabama leveled by tornadoes earlier this year.

Best Friends is working toward a time when there are no more homeless pets. You regular readers know that last year I made the trip of a lifetime to the Best Friends no-kill sanctuary in Utah –  home to about 2,000 dogs, cats, bunnies, birds, horses and more. Through a grassroots effort they place pets who were considered “unadoptable” into good homes and reduce the number of unwanted pets through effective spay and neuter programs.  No animal is ever turned away because of medical needs and those who come will have a home for life if they need it. It’s a place where dreams come true.

Create Now serves at-risk youth in Southern California in five program areas: music, art, writing, performing arts and cultural excursions. The kids learn to express themselves in a positive manner while developing their talent and interests. Just $3 funds a field trip to a museum or concert for one youth.

Cell Phones for Soldiers provides free cell phones and pre-paid phone cards to troops deployed overseas to call home. Since their inception in 2004, they have mailed more than 1.5 million calling cards to U.S. troops. Donate your gently used phone at one of their drop-off sites or donate funds to be used for calling cards.

Doctors Without Borders has so many wonderful outreach programs I can’t list them all here. They offer medical assistance in more than 60 developing countries to people whose survival is threatened due to armed conflict, malnutrition, natural disasters or epidemics. Just $6 provides measles vaccines to 15 children.

Dress for Success promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help them gain steady employment. Founded in NYC in 1997, each year they reach more than 50,000 women in the U.S., Australia, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, and more. They accept monetary donations as well as work attire.  Volunteers can donate their time ti help with resume/interview coaching.

First Book provides access to new books for children in need. To date, they have distributed more than 85 million books and educational resources to children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada. They work through existing community programs, literacy efforts and schools to issue an ongoing supply of new books and reading materials. A donation of $10 buys 4 books for children.

The Jane Goodall Institute contributes to the preservation of great apes and their habitats by combining education with conservation. The Institute has also created the Roots and Shoots program – a worldwide network of youth who care for the environment and animal community. I was fortunate to meet Dr. Jane Goodall at an event a few years ago. She is an inspiration, and she travels around the world 300 days a year – at age 77! – on behalf of the environment, great apes and animals in general.  A donation of $10 feeds two chimpanzees orphaned by poachers at the Institute’s Tchimpounga Rehabilitation Center in Republic of Congo.

This video shows how chimps learn from each other which I find fascinating. Watch how Gaia shows her little sister how to fish for termites using the correct tool.


Kiva works with microfinance institutions on five continents to provide business loans to people without access to traditional banking systems. Help an entrepreneur of your choice—from a fisherwoman in Samoa to a grocer in Haiti.
One hundred percent of your loan is sent to these microfinance institutions, who administer the loans in the field. Each loan you make is pooled with other lenders from around the world. The borrower repays you over time – with an average repayment rate of 98.8% – and the money is redeposited into your account to be loaned to another person.

How Kiva Works from Kiva on Vimeo.

Meals on Wheels has a goal to end hunger for senior citizens in America by 2020. This year they have provided more than 1 million meals to seniors around the country through various programs, including people who are homebound or living in senior centers. A donation of $35 helps provide meals for 5 people.

Not Home Alone is an organization I learned about recently through super foster friends right here in NYC. Not Home Alone is an educational initiative sponsored by the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals to help pet owners prepare for emergency situations. This issue was brought home after 9/11 and especially Hurricane Katrina when people often couldn’t get to their pets. But this initiative doesn’t only cover disaster situations. Poor patients, often elderly, whose pets may be the only family they have, spend hours, perhaps days, of worrying about the fate of their pet. Not Home Alone offers hospitals a way to assist the patients who depend on them and the animals who depend on the patients.

Nothing But Nets has issued more than 4 million nets around the world to protect people from mosquitoes carrying malaria. They work with UN partners like UNICEF, the UN Refugee Agency, and the World Health Organization to purchase nets, transport them to Africa, and distribute them to families. Nearly 1 million people worldwide die from malaria each year. A donation of $10 buys a net to keep a family safe.

Oceana is  the largest international organization working solely to protect the world’s oceans by stopping pollution, promoting responsible fishing, protecting marine life, and preserving coastal areas. Oceans cover 71 percent of the globe and they are as important to us as they are vast. Oceana’s goal is to make our planet’s oceans as rich, healthy and abundant as they once were.

Save Japan Dolphins was formed to put an end to the Japanese drive fishery slaughter of dolphins (particularly in Taiji Cove, Japan) and stop the capture and live trade of dolphins to zoos and aquariums around the world. In 2007, 13,107 dolphins and whales were slaughtered in the waters off the coast of Japan. About 1,800 of these are killed in the so-called dolphin drive hunt in Taiji, also known as “drive fishery,” where they force the dolphins into small coves to make it easier to kill them.  The work of program director Ric O’Barry and the Save Japan Dolphins team was featured in the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove. 

School on Wheels was founded in 1993 by Agnes Stevens, a retired teacher. She began tutoring homeless kids in a park in Santa Monica, California, encouraging them to stay in school and participate in school activities. Today, hundreds of volunteers work one-on-one with children whose homelessness prevents them from getting the academic stability and help they need.

World of Good helps you put  socially and environmentally responsible gifts under your tree. Their goal is to provide shoppers with complete transparency about how and where the products are made. It was founded by two thirty-somethings who had an idea   to link talented artists with people looking for unique, handmade and responsible items.
I’d love to hear more about the non-profit groups that you support. Please share in the comments. 



  1. What a great list Jacquelin and many of those organisationsa were new to me. My favourite as you will know from reading my blogs is the hospice and another is the Ronald McDonald House. Here in Wellington the House is being rebuilt and so there is much fund raising going on. Thanks for this list.


    1. I’m all about getting the information to the people, SIG! Glad I could share some of these wonderful non-profits and spread the news.


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