01Environmental Defense Fund: Best Environmental Nonprofit Overall
The Environmental Defense Fund focuses on ecological issues that affect people worldwide: clean energy, sustainable fishing, restoring ecosystems, and pollution. They use a multidisciplinary approach to tackle these environmental problems and avoid duplicating efforts already done by others. Today, the organization has two million members and a staff of 700 scientists, policy experts, economists, and professionals around the world. The Environmental Defense Fund primarily relies on donations from members for funding. EDF encourages those who want to get involved in taking action by voting and contacting policy leaders on their website.
02The Nature Conservancy: Best Nonprofit with Land and Water Campaigns
Since their founding in 1951, The Nature Conservancy has protected over 120 million acres of land and thousands of miles of rivers worldwide. The Nature Conservancy has more than one million members and more than 600 scientists on staff. The organization has an impressive reach; they protect habitats in all 50 U.S. states and more than 30 countries.
To achieve their mission of conserving land and water, The Nature Conservancy works with governments, partner organizations, and other influencers to make a change in conservation. The bulk of their revenue consists of contributions, gifts, and grants, followed by federated campaigns. Those wanting to volunteer for The Nature Conservancy in the U.S. can join a local TNC chapter; there’s one in each of the fifty states.
03Sierra Club Foundation: Best Nonprofit for Grassroots Involvement
One of the most enduring environmental organizations in the U.S., the Sierra Club, has been working to protect the environment and its people since 1892. The Sierra Club helped pass the Clean Air and Endangered Species Acts, initiated the creation of numerous National Parks, and worked to move hundreds of coal plants towards clean energy. The organization relies on their community of over three million volunteers and grassroots activists for support, as well as their donations (almost 100 percent of their funding came from contributions, gifts, and grants in 2016.) The Sierra Club also famously offers environmentally friendly wilderness excursions to encourage people to get outdoors. Those interested can take an international trip to study wildlife in Cuba, for example, or go on a smaller outing to learn about local wildlife and ecosystems.
04Rocky Mountain Institute: Best Nonprofit Working Towards Clean Energy
As one of the newer organizations on our list, Rocky Mountain Institute has made notable achievements in its comparatively short history. In 2017, RMI worked with India’s leadership and government to plan for 100 percent vehicle electrification by 2030. They also provided research that resulted in new U.S. fuel-efficiency standards for trucks, projected to cut over one billion tons of CO2 emissions. Rocky Mountain Institute is showing no signs of slowing down; their five-year plan to accelerate low-carbon energy transition was published in early 2018. By expanding their organization’s reach and increasing their impact, RMI plans to help businesses, governments, and markets embrace clean energy and slow global warming over the next five years. Almost 100 percent of RMI’s donations come from nearly 2,000 donors representing 28 different countries around the world.
05National Parks Conservation Association: Conserving Environmental History
The National Parks Conservation Association has worked to protect and preserve America’s national parks since 1919. The organization uses contributions from their million-plus members and fundraising events to fund their initiatives. Visitors to their website are encouraged to take action on various initiatives, such as unethical hunting practices, conservation funding, clean air in certain national parks, and more. Those wanting to learn more can also check out their detailed and informative blog posts, many of which expand on current environmental regulations and what it means for the future of national parks.
06Greenpeace: Best Nonprofit Focusing on Safeguarding Our Oceans
Though Greenpeace tackles many environmental problems such as deforestation and sustainable food, it has worked to address issues with oceans for decades: plastic pollution, offshore drilling, saving the Arctic, and more. Greenpeace has grown from a small group of activists protesting nuclear testing in 1971 to an international organization with offices in over fifty countries. Greenpeace relies solely on individual contributions from their 2.8 million members worldwide for funding. They do not endorse political candidates nor do they solicit donations from corporations or government. Current initiatives include protesting the use of palm oil, which aids in the destruction of rainforests and reducing the use of plastic to stop pollution.
07Center for Biological Diversity: Best Nonprofit Protecting Earth’s Species
Founded in 1989, the Center for Biological Diversity is the youngest nonprofit on our list but scored the highest in Charity Navigator regarding finances, accountability, and transparency. The Center for Biological Diversity uses biological data, legal expertise, and citizen petitions to obtain new protections for plants, animals and their habitats. Their track record is impressive––93 percent of their lawsuits result in favorable outcomes––and they continue to grow by expanding their territory, staff, and outreach. Like Greenpeace, the Center’s initiatives are funded solely through donor contributions, gifts, and grants. CBD’s current initiative urges supporters to sign their petition to protect wolves, essential predators to their ecosystems, from expulsion and neglect by the U.S. government.
Best Nonprofits Protecting the Environment in 2018
If you’re an outdoor adventurer, animal lover or passionate environmentalist, you might have a few go-to nonprofit organizations you feel good about supporting. Alternatively, maybe you’re unsure which environmental cause to choose, but you know issues like clean energy, preservation of ecosystems, and protection of endangered species matter to you.
Whether you’re an experienced donor or a newbie looking for their first nonprofit to support, we’ve got a list of nonprofits for you to check out.
We have looked at different environmental nonprofits’ mission, history, funding, and initiatives to find the ones doing the best work in 2018. From there, each nonprofit’s focus for the year was taken into account. They were awarded their titles based on the great work they’re doing (and continue to do) in different environmental arenas.
Here are the top environmental nonprofits making an impact in 2018: