When you’re looking for a wildlife charity, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. A quick Internet search brings up a list of nonprofit organizations that includes countless animal charities, from small local nature centers to well-known national and international organizations with hundreds of programs. You’ll find organizations aimed at helping just one species or family of species, others that try to help all wildlife, and numerous land trusts that help wildlife by permanently protecting habitat. Here are a few tips on sorting through your options and deciding how to channel your hard-earned dollars to a worthy cause (or two or three) to achieve your goals for wildlife conservation.
Does the size of the wildlife charity matter?
You may have a preference for large organizations for the seeming security of a long track record. The World Wildlife Fund comes easily to mind, perhaps because of the endearing logo of a cute panda. But there are many other organizations devoted to wildlife conservation, too, like the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International, and Defenders of Wildlife, among others. Maybe you’d like to support an organization with a special focus, such as Bat Conservation International or the Xerces Society (think butterflies, moths, Xerces Society , and other tiny creatures). Or, maybe there’s a new local wildlife charity with a mission that excites you. Whether you choose large or small, when creating your short list of nonprofit organizations, the animal charities you consider should make the following key information easily available to you:
- Founding date and story
- Mission statement and goals
- Noteworthy achievements
- Current projects and plans
- Status as a 501(c)3
- Leadership profiles
- Financial overview
- Percentage of donor dollars that goes to programs
Keeping in touch
Another key thing to consider is how an organization keeps its supporters informed of progress and plans. Will you receive an annual report? Quarterly or monthly updates? Weekly emails? Do they frequently update their website so you have a window into the work they’re doing as a wildlife conservation society or organization? Do they provide ways for donors to get involved as wildlife conservation advocates or volunteers?
Because wild animals are amazingly photogenic, you’ll want to look beyond the beautiful, heart-warming pix you’ll see in print and online. Get to the nitty gritty of what each of the organizations are actually doing for wildlife!