What is the single most important environmental charity?
January 9, 2022 2:20 PM   Subscribe

I want to save the planet, the ozone layer, the oceans, and all the animals therein (including humans, I guess, though sometimes that feeling goes away).

What would you say is the SINGLE most significant non-profit to donate to, to help the environment generally?

I know there are organizations devoted to a specific area or species, but I'm looking more holistically. Is an American non-profit better than one in, say, Brazil, the home of the rainforest?

I already give to multiple orgs, some of them quite niche, but I was wondering if there was to stretch my dollars and make a bigger, more immediate impact.
posted by Flying Saucer to Science & Nature (12 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I worked in the environmental NGO field for almost two decades. There are so many ways to answer this question, and a lot will depend on your own values. For instance, if there's a great nonprofit in your own community doing really effective work, I think that's the place to start.

Personally, I value grassroots organizing strength combined with policy expertise, and a focus on climate change, so I would say Sierra Club, which is old and stable and very effective, but which has also made a huge effort over the past decade+ to modernize and shift from a focus on conservation (which is important, but which can be very myopic) to climate change. There have been a lot of growing pains with these changes, but I think they've weathered them well. I DID used to work for them but I would not make this recommendation for all of the groups I used to work for.
posted by lunasol at 4:13 PM on January 9, 2022 [7 favorites]

Best answer: One contender is EarthJustice. They partner with many small community based orgs in the US and internationally to amplify and coordinate their efforts, and don't have some of the problems I see with other national level big environmental nonprofits like Sierra Club (that has many problematic local chapters), WWF (connected with human rights abuses), Nature Conservancy (weirdly cozy with big business), etc...
posted by latkes at 4:31 PM on January 9, 2022 [3 favorites]

Oh here are some of the victories they claim.
posted by latkes at 4:37 PM on January 9, 2022

I also favor Earth Justice and did some (small) amount of research on them awhile back. Since donating I get their email newsletter, which I sometimes open, and it does seem like they are doing good work - and you know, I like the fact that they focus on the law given that we will only get out of this mess through structural change.
posted by coffeecat at 7:41 PM on January 9, 2022

Best answer: If you've seen "Don't Look Up" then you know why I am suggesting the B612 Foundation
posted by Sophont at 2:32 AM on January 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you see fighting climate change as a hearts-and-minds kind of thing, especially with an emphasis on younger people, you might favor Sunrise Movement.
posted by box at 5:50 AM on January 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

FYI, EarthJustice was founded as Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund - their mission specifically is to use legal methods in the fight against climate change and in defense of the environment. So if you're looking for a group that funds specific programs - EarthJustice isn't them. If you're looking for attack dogs who will use every legal tool available to achieve their goals - they're your group.
posted by scolbath at 6:59 AM on January 10, 2022 [3 favorites]

Can you provide a link to show how WWF is "connected with human rights abuses," latkes?
posted by Scout405 at 12:16 PM on January 10, 2022

(I'm not latkes, but this previous AskMe might be of interest.)
posted by box at 12:56 PM on January 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

I like the fact that they focus on the law given that we will only get out of this mess through structural change.

I think EarthJustice would be the first to say that what they are doing is not necessarily changing structures but using existing structures (ie, laws) to win environmental victories. I worked very closely with them when I was at Sierra Club and have nothing but respect for them, so this is not a slam or an anti-recommendation, to be clear.

posted by lunasol at 1:50 PM on January 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has a fairly focused mission, conserving wildlife and the environment in Kenya, while supporting local people as staff and collaborating with other environmental organizations. It’s my own nonprofit of choice because of the heart, soul and creativity and commitment that shines through their frequent communications and photos. Their orphan adoption program just blows my mind - nothing more endearing than a baby elephant.
posted by mmiddle at 4:07 PM on January 10, 2022

WWF human rights abuses.
posted by latkes at 5:04 PM on January 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

« Older When was Van Halen’s 1984 album released?   |   Cold War Kid Toys Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.