You know the holiday season – and shopping season – is upon us when you hear the familiar sound of the Salvation Army ringing bell. The Salvation Army is one of thousands of organizations that offer programs and services that support the military community. When you’re feeling charitable, though, it’s nice to know exactly where your money is going and avoid donating to bogus charities.
Charity Navigator and Charity Watch are great resources that provide large databases of non-profit organizations, and their respective ratings based on efficacy. Before donating to any military charities this holiday season, research the charity beforehand to determine whether your hard-earned money will legitimately help the military and desired cause.
Here’s a list of some top-rated non-profit organizations that support active duty military, military families, and veterans:
Armed Services YMCA
This branch of the YMCA is headquartered in Woodbridge, Virginia. They provide specialized programs and support services to military personnel and their families, with an emphasis on men and women on the front lines. Childcare, food services, and support for deployed and wounded service members are some of the many programs available at the Armed Services YMCA. Learn more or donate at https://www.asymca.org/.
Homes For Our Troops
Since 2004, this publicly funded 501(c)3 nonprofit has been building specially adapted homes for new veterans with physical impairments who need help transitioning into their lives as civilians. Every home built by Homes For Our Troops is mortgage free, and nearly 90 cents in every dollar spent goes directly to program services for veterans. Volunteer, donate or learn more at https://www.hfotusa.org/.
National Military Family Association
This military charity was founded in 1969 by a small group of military wives who wanted to make sure their widowed friends were properly cared for. The National Military Family Association offers a wide range of programs, resources, and support for military families of all branches, including education and employment for spouses of military service members, family retreats, and free summer camp for children. Learn more or donate at https://www.militaryfamily.org/.
Navy Seal Foundation
This 501(c)3 organization offers a comprehensive menu of programs and services that support the Naval Special Warfare Community. Navy SEALs spend up to 270 days per year away from home in service to America executing dangerous missions in unforgiving environments and sacrificing their lives and time with family to protect our freedom. Learn more or donate at www.navyseal.org.
Founded in 2003, this organization focuses on raising the morale of military service members by sending individually-addressed care packages to those who are deployed or providing disaster relief. Every year, Operation Gratitude sends more than 300,000 individually addressed care packages filled with snacks, entertainment, handmade goods, and personal letters of support. Write a letter, donate, or learn more at https://www.operationgratitude.com/.
For more than 15 years, this national 501(c)3 nonprofit has provided programs and services revolving around financial assistance, transitional and permanent housing, and caregiver support for active, injured, and disabled military service members. The mission of Operation Homefront is to build military families that are strong, stable, and secure so they can thrive in their everyday lives. Donate or learn more at https://www.operationhomefront.org/.
Paralyzed Veterans of America
Paralyzed Veterans of America has served as an advocate for severely wounded veterans for 70 years. Founded by World War II vets who returned from combat with spinal cord injuries, PVA continues its work to help paralyzed veterans and their families live full, productive lives. PVA also helps paralyzed veterans navigate the benefits and access needed resources. Donate or learn more at www.pva.org.
Semper Fi Fund
The Semper Fi Fund provides urgently needed financial support to critically ill, wounded, or catastrophically injured U.S. Armed Forces members and their family members. This top-rated charity connects post-9/11 veterans with all the resources they need to experience a safe recovery and transition back into life as a civilian. Volunteer, donate or learn more at https://semperfifund.org/.
The Fisher House
The Fisher House Foundation provides military families with travel assistance and housing located near loved ones being hospitalization for an illness, disease, or injury. This foundation also offers scholarships for military children, spouses, and survivors of fallen service members. Donate or learn more at www.fisherhouse.org.