Something about the smell of pine, the cooler temps, and the Salvation Army bells ringing in the air bring out a sense of goodwill in most folks. Hey, even Mr. Scrooge eventually came around! Seeing as how 30% of all annual charitable donations take place in December, end-of-year giving campaigns are often one of the most important pushes a nonprofit can make. Sometimes, though, determining where you’d like to see your dollars go and which organizations align with your personal values can be difficult.
Giving back doesn’t always have to come from your pockets, however. Your time is valued as well! Start locally with food pantries, shelters, and other community organizations. Inquire with nonprofits in your area what their volunteer needs are this season (and beyond). Getting involved is also a great way to plug into a new community after a PCS.
If you’re looking to give to a national organization, there are countless options to choose from! Military families love supporting organizations in their community, and there are over 45,000 military- and veteran-serving nonprofits in America, making it pretty overwhelming to choose one or a few to support.
Here’s a list of organizations, in no particular order, along with a bit of their mission statements. These organizations have longstanding reputations in the military community and proven track records. To vet them yourself, which is encouraged, go to GuideStar.org. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a great place to start!
Military Family Advisory Network: The Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN) is the authentic voice of the modern military family and the bridge that connects military families to the resources, people, and information they depend on to successfully navigate all phases of military life.
National Military Family Association: NMFA is the voice of military families because, for 50 years, they have proven that they stand behind service members, their spouses, and their children.
Hiring Our Heroes: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative launched in March 2011 as a nationwide effort to connect veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses with meaningful employment opportunities.
The Code of Support Foundation: Code of Support Foundation (COSF) provides essential and critical one-on-one assistance to struggling service members, veterans, and their families (SMVF) who have the most complex needs.
Military Spouse JD Network: In 2011, MSJDN was formed to serve as a bar association and networking body for military spouse attorneys, with the goal of improving the lives of military families.
Warriors at Ease: Warriors at Ease’s mission is to increase awareness about the power of yoga and meditation and educate a network of professionals qualified to share evidence-based practices through programs that support the health and healing of service members, veterans, and their families.
Military Child Education Coalition: MCEC’s mission is to ensure inclusive, quality educational opportunities for all military- and veteran-connected children affected by mobility, transition, and family separation.
Sesame Workshop: Sesame Workshop is a nonprofit on a mission that keeps them focused, passionate, and moving forward. There are so many ways to help kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder, and Sesame Workshop is doing everything they can to meet kids’ needs in more than 150 countries.
Military Officers Association of America: MOAA is dedicated to preserving the earned benefits of all members of the uniformed services and their families and survivors and to maintaining a strong national defense.
Give an Hour®: Give an Hour®\’s mission is to develop national networks of volunteer professionals capable of responding to both acute and chronic conditions that arise within our society. Since 2005, they have focused on providing free and confidential mental health care to those who serve, veterans, and their families.
Team RWB: Team RWB\’s mission is to enrich the lives of America\’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.
Team Rubicon: Team Rubicon serves communities by mobilizing veterans to continue their service, leveraging their skills and experience to help people prepare, respond, and recover from disasters and humanitarian crises.
USO: The USO strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home, and country throughout their service to the nation.
Fisher House: Fisher House Foundation builds comfort homes where military service members’ and veterans’ families can stay free of charge while a loved one is in the hospital.
DAV: DAV is dedicated to a single purpose—empowering veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity.
TAPS: The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) offers compassionate care to all those grieving the loss of a loved one who died while serving in our Armed Forces or as a result of his or her service.
United Through Reading: United Through Reading connects military families who are separated —for deployment or military assignment—by providing the bonding experience of shared story time.
Operation: Job Ready Veterans: Operation: Job Ready Veterans™ (OJRV) is a Midwest-based nonprofit organization dedicated to positively impacting the lives of veterans, service members, their families, and their communities by providing transitional, career development, and employment services.
Homes for Our Troops: Their mission is to build and donate specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 veterans, to enable them to rebuild their lives.
Operation Homefront: Operation Homefront is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to build strong, stable, and secure military families so they can thrive—not simply struggle to get by—in the communities they have worked so hard to protect.
Merging Vets & Players: MVP\’s mission is to match up combat veterans and former professional athletes together—after the uniform comes off—to give them a new team to tackle the transition together.
Operation Gratitude: Their mission is to forge strong bonds between Americans and their military and first responder heroes through volunteer service projects, acts of gratitude, and meaningful engagements in communities nationwide.
Elizabeth Dole Foundation: The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is the preeminent organization empowering, supporting, and honoring our nation\’s 5.5 million military caregivers—the spouses, parents, family members, and friends who care for America\’s wounded, ill, or injured veterans.
Did you discover a new organization on the list? What is missing that you’d like to shine a light on?