The solutions to our local and global problems lie in action. Not just any action though, well planned and strategic actions. I have been working with nonprofits for over a decade now and there are a few defining factors I use to decide whether to work them them.
Their work focuses on the roots of the problems, in order to be a longterm solution, rather than continuously chopping away at the branches and leaves that will continue to grow. This requires an organization to have a deep understanding of the issue and work with people experienced in the field.
They value the resources and funds they have and use them wisely. Many large NGO’s are highly inefficient with their resources and put a small portion of their funds into the problems they are working to alleviate or solve. I generally choose to work with grassroots movements that can make a big difference with a very little amount of money. Often a $1,000 donation to a small organization is the equivalent of giving ten times that amount to a large NGO. Working with small movements allows the money to more easily get directly to the people we are trying to be of service to.
They are in it for the right reason. Many nonprofits are based in ego or personal financial gain. I choose to work with organizations that truly care and are transparent with their practices. I can more easily assure this by working with smaller organizations.
On this page I share organizations that I recommend. I have created two sections. Section 1 is grassroots nonprofits that I have personal involvement with. I deeply trust and endorse these organizations. Sections 2 is nonprofits that I recommend, but have not had personal involvement with and don’t have the ability to give my full endorsement of.
There are thousands upon thousands of amazing organizations on Earth. This list represents just a small selection of them and is just some of the amazing nonprofits that have come across my radar. As an activist, I have found it impossible to be involved in every issue or solution that I would like to be. I have kept this list to issues that I am most involved and experienced in and left off the issues in which my knowledge is not as strong. This allows me to properly vet and recommend organizations. I have also tried to keep this list to organizations that are generally applicable to the general public and have chosen to omit some niche nonprofits working on super-localized issues.
The Story of Stuff changed my life and largely lead me to the examined life I live today. The Story of Stuff Project’s journey began with a 20-minute online movie about the way we make, use and throw away all the Stuff in our lives. Five years and 40 million views later, they are a community of more than a million change makers worldwide, working to build a more healthy and just planet.
You’ve got to watch all 8 of these videos!
WWOOF is a world wide network of organic farms and growers who are looking for volunteers to work on their land. In return for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles. By being a part of this organization you can travel the world, gaining infinite education about farming and living off the land without hardly spending a penny on food or lodging!
“Honor the Earth uses indigenous wisdom, music, art, and the media to raise awareness and support for Indigenous Environmental Issues. We leverage this awareness and support to develop financial and political capital for Indigenous struggles for land and life.”
Meet the team, including Winona LaDuke – Executive Director”
Winona’s Hemp and the Anishinaabe Agricultural Institute are working to restore foodways, rematriate seeds, and make a new economy; one based on local food, energy and fiber.”
“IEN is an alliance of Indigenous peoples whose mission it is to protect the sacredness of Earth Mother from contamination and exploitation by strengthening, maintaining and respecting Indigenous teachings and natural laws.”
Learn more about the network
“NAFSA is dedicated to restoring, supporting and developing Indigenous food systems through best practices and advocacy that place Indigenous peoples at the center of national, Tribal and local policies and natural resources management to ensure food security and health of all future generations.”
Meet the team including Rowen White – Coordinator Indigenous Seed Keepers Network and Founder of Sierra Seeds
“Navdanya means “nine seeds” (symbolizing protection of biological and cultural diversity) and also the “new gift” (for seed as commons, based on the right to save and share seeds. In today’s context of biological and ecological destruction, seed savers are the true givers of seed. This gift or “dana” of Navadhanyas (nine seeds) is the ultimate gift – it is a gift of life, of heritage and continuity. Conserving seed is conserving biodiversity, conserving knowledge of the seed and its utilization, conserving culture, conserving sustainability. Navdanya is a network of seed keepers and organic producers spread across 22 states in India. Navdanya has helped set up 122 community seed banks across the country, trained over 900,000 farmers in seed sovereignty, food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture over the past two decades, and helped setup the largest direct marketing, fair trade organic network in the country. Navdanya is a women centered movement for the protection of biological and cultural diversity.”
Founded by Vandana Shiva
“Permaculture Women’s Guild is cultivating global abundance for a new generation, through interactive education, regenerative leadership, and social systems design. We’re here to build personal and professional connections between women who teach, practice, write about, and live on the permaculture path.”
Meet the team
“Promoting Alternative Housing, Education, Energy, and Food Sovereignty For Indigenous Families.”
Founded by Christinia Elea
1% for the Planet has not only inspired me to use business for good, but also to be a good person. They are a growing global movement of over one thousand companies that donate one percent of their sales to environmental organizations worldwide. One of my top recommendations to anyone who owns a business is to join this movement! It’s absolutely simple and even an absolute great business move both for yourself and the earth.
Watch a video on them!
The 1 to 1 Movement is based out of San Diego and headed up by Jonathan Zaidman, a good friend of mine. They really get sustainability and are truly unique in their means to affect positive environmental and social change. They exist to inspire and simplify sustainability in daily life. They’re helping each person find their own way to save the world and do this both through education and engagement.
The Stamp Stampede is the creation of two idols of mine, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. The Stampede is over 50,000 thousand Americans legally stamping messages on our Nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As the amount of stamped money grows, so does the movement to amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens United. These activists have come up with a fun and effective way of getting money out of politics!
Watch a video on them!
I’ve been involved with Guitars in the Classroom for a few years now and am fully supportive of their mission. They are dedicated to training, equipping and empowering Pk-12 teachers to enrich academic learning across the curriculum in Title 1 schools by infusing music-making into lessons and activities throughout each school day. Their work brings the power of music to enthrall students straight to the heart of learning, boosting their engagement, participation, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication skills. By providing free ongoing training and access to guitars and ukuleles, we help schools strengthen the presence of music during and after school. They also use music to inspire teachers and children to live in harmony with our planet through songs in The Green SongBook. Simply put they teach every day teachers how to use music in their every day lessons. To help the kids on every wonderful level that music can bring beauty, development, and education into life.
ioby (short for in our back yards) brings neighborhood projects to life, block by block. They mobilize neighbors who have good ideas to become powerful citizen leaders who plan, fund and make positive change in their own neighborhoods. ioby is creating a future in which our neighborhoods are shaped by the powerful good ideas of our own neighbors. They have funded over 550 neighborhood environmental projects so far!
Watch a video on them!
The Reuse Alliance is the voice of the reuse community, helping the United States get closer to zero waste. They represent over one hundred reuse organizations that employ 250,000 people. Their community diverts 9.1 million pounds of waste from landfills every day. One of my favorite reuse organizations that belong to the community is Materials for the Arts.
350.org is a global grassroots movement to deal with climate change. The number 350 means climate safety: to preserve a livable planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 400 parts per million to below 350 ppm. 350.org believe that a global grassroots movement can hold our leaders accountable to the realities of science and the principles of justice. That movement is rising from the bottom up all over the world, and is uniting to create the solutions that will ensure a better future for all.
Falling Fruit is an urban harvesting map that brings together community and city datasets from all over the internet. We’re talking about a map that shows you where wild edibles are growing in your community and around the country and where you can add your finds as well. There’s even a dumpster map!
Food is Free is a project that I am absolutely elated to be involved with. The Food is Free Project grows community and food, while helping gain independence from a broken agricultural system. The Food is Free Project is a community building and gardening movement that teaches us how to connect with our neighbors and line your street with front yard community gardens which provide free harvests to anyone. I’ve spent time on one of the blocks they transformed and it was unlike any other community I’ve ever been in. I highly encourage following them on Facebook.
Watch the Story of Food is Free
Community Cycles is a bicycle advocacy nonprofit based in Boulder Colorado. I think they are an excellent model for anyone that wants to get more cyclists on the road in their community. I love their Earn-A-Bike program that has gotten over 1,000 low-income friends and neighbors on bikes since 2006!
The Warm Showers Community is a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists. I’ve stayed with a few dozen hosts on my bicycle tours across the USA and it has always been a great experience. As a cyclist it is such a wonderful thing to have like minded people around the world who will put you up for the night for no other reason than good company and to be of service to fellow cyclists.
I was so excited when I learned about the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance. Their simple method of putting solar panels on low income homes provides hugely beneficial environmental and social solutions at once. RREAL is dedicated to making solar energy accessible to communities of all income levels, and has been pioneering the use of solar energy to address fuel poverty throughout the nation. RREAL accomplishes its mission primarily through its Solar Assistance program which provides residential solar energy systems to low-income families on public energy assistance as a lasting, clean and domestic solution to fuel poverty. RREAL’s Solar Assistance program has been an empowering solution to chronic fuel poverty for over ten years, and as an alternative to conventional energy assistance, our existing program has the potential the change the way in which our nation delivers energy assistance in cold climates.
“There’s no shortage of information about the serious challenges facing our planet – and although most people say they would like to do more, they don’t know where to start.
That’s where we come in.
For 20 years, NWEI has helped make change more possible, more social, and yes, more fun by helping people connect with their communities and take action, together.”
I really recommend getting involved in their EcoChallenge. In fall of 2017 over 12,000 people took part in the EcoChallenge, making positive changes in the life. It’s a fun way to work together to motivate and inspire positive change. Of over 600 teams, my team took 2nd place in the 2017 EcoChallenge.
Food Waste is an issue that I work on more than any other. With 50 million Americans being food insecure while we produce enough food to feed nearly two entire American populations it’s a huge social issue. But with agriculture being far and away our most environmentally impactful activity and industry food waste is also one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time. The next six non-profits all work on food waste and hunger.
“Feedback is an environmental organization that campaigns to end food waste at every level of the food system. We catalyze action on eliminating food waste globally, working with governments, international institutions, businesses, NGOs, grassroots organizations and the public to change society’s attitude toward wasting food.”
Watch a video on them!
“Food Shift works collaboratively with communities, businesses and governments to develop long-term sustainable solutions to reduce food waste and build more resilient communities. We believe thousands of people can be employed in the recovery, redistribution and processing of excess food. By reducing food waste, we can feed the hungry, create jobs, combat climate change and cultivate more sustainable communities.”
“Boulder Food Rescue is a non-profit organization whose goal is to create a more just and less wasteful food system. We facilitate the sustainable redistribution of food “waste” to agencies that feed hungry, homeless, and low-income populations while educating communities about food justice. To date, we have saved nearly 750,000 pounds of good food from ending up in landfills and instead redirected it to hungry bellies in the city of Boulder.” One of the things that excites me the most about them is they’ve created a guide on how to start your own bike-powered food rescue.
Food Recovery Network is the largest student movement against food waste and hunger in the United States. Students start a chapter at their own school and take the good food that would have been wasted by their cafeteria and donate it to people in need.
“Our mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger. Feeding America is a nationwide network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs that provides food and services to people each year. Together, we are the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization. Our network serves virtually every community in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico.”
Watch Ron’s TED Talk
“The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The OCA deals with crucial issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children’s health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability and other key topics. We are the only organization in the US focused exclusively on promoting the views and interests of the nation’s estimated 50 million organic and socially responsible consumers.” They are highly involved in working towards labeling GMO’s and fighting against the corruption of Monsanto.
All at Once believes that an individual action, multiplied by millions, creates global change. I couldn’t agree more. All At Once is Jack Johnson’s social action network where you can make a positive change in your local and world community: connect with non-profit groups, take environmental action, and receive rewards. All At Once promotes Sustainable Local Food Systems and Plastic Free Initiatives.
Watch a video on them!
Films for Action is a community-powered news center and learning library for people who want to change the world. I could spend days on here just soaking up knowledge through thousands of great films.
B Lab is the organization that certifies businesses as B Corps. B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk. B Corps are certified to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Today, there is a growing community of more than 1,000 Certified B Corps from 33 countries and over 60 industries working together toward 1 unifying goal: to redefine success in business.
Watch a video on them!
The awesome activism through Greenpeace inspires me so much! Greenpeace is the leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.
Watch a video on them!
Founded in 2014, Project Drawdown® is a nonprofit organization that seeks to help the world reach “drawdown”—the future point in time when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline.
The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.
United Plant Savers’ mission is to protect native medicinal plants of the United States and Canada and their native habitat while ensuring an abundant renewable supply of medicinal plants for generations to come.
Fibershed is a non-profit organization that develops equity-focused regional and land regenerating natural fiber and dye systems. Their work expands opportunities to implement climate beneficial agriculture, rebuild regional manufacturing, and connect end-users to the source of their fiber through direct educational offerings.
“Soul Fire Farm is an Afro-Indigenous centered community farm committed to uprooting racism and seeding sovereignty in the food system. We raise and distribute life-giving food as a means to end food apartheid. With deep reverence for the land and wisdom of our ancestors, we work to reclaim our collective right to belong to the earth and to have agency in the food system. We bring diverse communities together on this healing land to share skills on sustainable agriculture, natural building, spiritual activism, health, and environmental justice. We are training the next generation of activist-farmers and strengthening the movements for food sovereignty and community self-determination.”
Bioneers is an innovative nonprofit organization that highlights breakthrough solutions for restoring people and planet. Founded in 1990 in Santa Fe, New Mexico by social entrepreneurs Kenny Ausubel and Nina Simons, they act as a fertile hub of social and scientific innovators with practical and visionary solutions for the world’s most pressing environmental and social challenges.
Humans Who Grow Food features stories of home gardeners, farmers and community gardens across borders and cultures. Our mission is to ignite passion in people for gardening and growing good food and contribute to a greener planet.
Women’s Earth Alliance (WEA) is a 15-year global initiative that trains, resources and catalyzes grassroots women-led efforts to protect our environment and build healthy, safe, and just communities now and into the future.
I use Native Energy for my carbon offsets when flying. I spent many hours researching the best place to do this and believe that Native Energy is a solid choice. Through them I am able to support projects that truly offset my carbon and are certified and verified through The Gold Standard.
The Environmental Working Group’s mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. With breakthrough research and education, we drive consumer choice and civic action. They are a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. They help us to make informed consumer decisions.
Watch a video on them!
Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, nonprofit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and free market for industrial hemp, low-THC oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to grow the crop. Our ultimate goal is having hemp grown on a commercial scale in the U.S. once again and for the crop to be able to be processed here as well. We educate people on the issues surrounding hemp, register voters and build coalitions to fulfill our mission.
5 Gyres is dedicated to a planet free of plastic pollution.
“Earth First! formed in 1979, in response to an increasingly corporate, compromising and ineffective environmental community. It is not an organization, but a movement. There are no “members” of EF!, only Earth First!ers. We believe in using all of the tools in the toolbox, from grassroots and legal organizing to civil disobedience and monkeywrenching. When the law won’t fix the problem, we put our bodies on the line to stop the destruction. Earth First!’s direct-action approach draws attention to the crises facing the natural world, and it saves lives.
Guided by a philosophy of deep ecology, Earth First! does not accept a human-centered worldview of “nature for people’s sake.” Instead, we believe that life exists for its own sake, that industrial civilization and its philosophy are anti-Earth, anti-woman and anti-liberty. Our structure is non-hierarchical, and we reject highly paid “professional staff” and formal leadership. To put it simply, the Earth must come first.”
Fair Trade goods are just that. Fair. From far-away farms to your shopping cart, products that bear our logo come from farmers and workers who are justly compensated. We help farmers in developing countries build sustainable businesses that positively influence their communities. We’re a nonprofit, but we don’t do charity. Instead, we teach disadvantaged communities how to use the free market to their advantage. With Fair Trade USA, the money you spend on day-to-day goods can improve an entire community’s day-to-day lives.
The Breast Cancer Fund really excites me because they are really working on the roots of this issue. “The Breast Cancer Fund works to connect the dots between breast cancer and exposures to chemicals and radiation in our everyday environments. We translate the growing body of scientific evidence linking breast cancer and environmental exposures into public education and advocacy campaigns that protect our health and reduce breast cancer risk. We help transform how our society thinks about and uses chemicals and radiation, with the goal of preventing breast cancer and sustaining health and life.”
“New Dream seeks to cultivate a new American dream—one that emphasizes community, ecological sustainability, and a celebration of non-material values, while upholding the spirit of the traditional American dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We envision a society that pursues not just “more,” but more of what matters—and less of what doesn’t.” Watch a video on them!
NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable. Criminal marijuana prohibition is a failure. Over 20 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana offenses since 1965. NORML believes that the time has come to amend criminal prohibition and replace it with a system of legalization, taxation, regulation, and education.
“As the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, the Human Rights Campaign represents a force of more than 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide — all committed to making HRC’s vision a reality. HRC envisions a world where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.”
I believe that all people should have access to free birth control and I think Planned Parenthood is doing an excellent job of this. “A trusted health care provider, an informed educator, a passionate advocate, and a global partner helping similar organizations around the world, Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide. For nearly 100 years, Planned Parenthood has promoted a commonsense approach to women’s health and well-being, based on respect for each individual’s right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning.”
Also check out these lists of resources that have had a positive influence on me:
33 Facebook pages I recommend
50 people I recommend paying attention to
23 of my favorite YouTube channels
23 films that changed my life
Healthy Music for a Healthy Life