22 Charities To Donate To Before 2016

It's easy to get caught up in the rush of the holidays and not stop to consider why you're spending so much money on gifts for friends and family. Does your Aunt Linda really need another scented candle? Or could you be using that $19.95 toward a better cause?

This is a good time of year to consider donating to a worthy organization — some might argue it's a more thoughtful way to spend your money than on more useless stuff that will clutter homes (and eventually, landfills). It's also worth pointing out that there are some financial benefits to giving to a charity you care about. Donations to approved nonprofits can be written off come tax time. (It might not seem like a lot of money, but you can't really argue with the idea that you can do good and save on taxes in one fell swoop.)

To get a sense of how much you could actually save, TurboTax has a really handy ItsDeductible™ calculator, where you plug in a few numbers and it estimates how much you'll save in taxes by making a donation. For example, in my tax bracket, my yearly $100 donation to National Public Radio nets me around $25 in savings. Just make sure you get a receipt for your donation; it's essential when making the deduction.

Ahead, we've rounded up 22 charities that you should consider donating to this December (many are women-focused and were suggested by the R29 community). In many cases, you can make the donation in the name of a friend or family member — and who wouldn't love such a thoughtful gift rather than another pair of novelty socks?

Is there a worthy charity you love to support? Share in the comments!

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Photo: Courtesy of Women For Women.
Women For Women International

Offering year-long social and economic empowerment classes for women across the globe, Women For Women International creates positive change in communities affected by conflict. Knowing that education leads to powerful changes, Women for Women helps marginalized women move from crisis to self-sufficiency. Through a one-time gift or a monthly sponsorship, donations provide skills and training that will help a woman rebuild not only her life, but her community.

Donate here.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Women's Media Center.
The Women's Media Center

Founded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem in 2005, The Women's Media Center wants to ensure that women's stories are being told. White men overwhelmingly dominate the media, film, television, and gaming industries. WMC aims to change that through education and advocacy.

Donate here.
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Photo: Courtesy of She's The First.
She's The First

The benefits of educating girls are numerous. A young woman who completes her secondary education is more likely to delay marriage and childbirth, avoid domestic violence, and find higher-paying jobs. She's The First makes this a reality by providing scholarships to girls in low-income communities across the globe, with the goal of creating first-generation graduates who are able to become the next generation of global leaders.

Donate here.
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Photo: Courtesy of Make It Work.
Make It Work

Make It Work is a three-year campaign aimed at changing the conversation about work and family life in this country, so women and men no longer feel like they have to make sacrifices. MIW shines a spotlight on equal pay, affordable childcare, and paid family leave, in hopes of making these issues central to the 2016 presidential campaign.

Donate here.
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Photo: Courtesy of Puppies Behind Bars
Puppies Behind Bars

The mission of Puppies Behind Bars (PBB) is to train inmates to raise service dogs to be used by wounded veterans, as well as explosive-detection canines for law enforcement. Puppies receive around-the-clock training from inmates from eight weeks to 12-to-24 months, when they are placed with a family. To date, PBB has provided dogs to hundreds of individuals each year.

Donate here.
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Photo: Courtesy of Girls On The Run.
Girls On The Run

Girls On The Run works with third to eighth graders to encourage confidence, physical fitness, and achieving goals through running. Girls also work with their running buddies on a community service project, and the program concludes with a 5k race. As one participant put it, Girls On The Run taught her that she was "the boss of [her] own brain."

Donate here.
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Amref Health Africa

Amref Health Africa provides health services to over 30 countries, using African-based solutions and healthcare workers to address the continent's most pressing healthcare concerns, including maternal and child health, clean water, and prevention of infectious diseases. In the past year alone, Amref reached nearly 7 million people through its programs.

Donate here.
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Photo: Courtesy of Kiva.
Kiva

Creating long-term economic change through microloans, Kiva helps donors alleviate poverty worldwide by allowing them to provide loans directly to people who don't have access to traditional banking systems. With nearly a 99% repayment rate, you can choose to take back your loaned money or reinvest it in a new project, continuing the cycle of long-term economic sustainability.

Donate here.
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Photo: Courtesy of Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood

One in five U.S. women has visited a Planned Parenthood to recieve sexual and reproductive health care. Despite threats from Congress and extremists, Planned Parenthood has remained unwavering in its mission to provide these vital services to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. Your donation will help Planned Parenthood continue to provide life-saving health screenings and birth control access even as its mission and work remain under attack.

Donate here.
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Photo: Courtesy of Saving Innocence.
Saving Innocence

Using a three-pronged approach, Saving Innocence works with law enforcement, social workers, and educators to prevent, rescue, and restore young victims of sex trafficking, a group that is too often invisible at their most vulnerable.

Donate here.
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Photo: Courtesy of Ms. JD.
Ms. JD

Ms. JD is a non-partisan non-profit dedicated to helping female law students and recent graduates succeed in the legal profession through its online community, resources, and networking events.

Donate here.
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Photo: Courtesy of the Malala Fund.
The Malala Fund

Cofounded by Malala and Ziauddin Yousafzai, the Malala Fund was created with the goal of ensuring that girls around the world receive 12 years of quality education. The organization's mission is to amplify the voices of young women, invest in their education, and advocate for better resources and policy changes to ensure a "better, safe education for children everywhere" — no matter their gender.

Donate here.
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Image: Courtesy of Appalachian Voices.
Appalachian Voices

Appalachian Voices works with community members to protect the air, land, and water of the Appalachian Mountains. Its campaigns include ending the damaging process of mountaintop coal removal throughout the Southeast and addressing the harmful threat of fracking. Its efforts seek to improve the health of the environment, the economy, and the residents of one of America's most beautiful and at-risk regions.

Donate here.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Mountain Fund.
The Mountain Fund

The Mountain Fund partners with local communities in mountain regions across the globe to address various needs, from health care and education to environment and economic opportunity. Through working with local communities on long-term, sustainable projects, The Mountain Fund aims to create real change that improves human rights in some of the most remote places in the world.

Donate here.
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Photo: Peter Biro/Courtesy of The International Rescue Committee.
International Rescue Committee

The International Rescue Committee seeks to respond to the worst humanitarian crises in the world with comprehensive humanitarian aid, working to restore long-term safety and well-being to areas devastated by war and natural disaster. Founded in 1933 in response to a call for better international aid from Albert Einstein, the IRC "leads the way from harm to home" in 40 countries and 25 U.S. cities.

Donate here.
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Photo: Courtesy of Circle Of Women.
Circle of Women

Run by full-time student volunteers, Circle of Women works to increase access to education for young girls and women through partnering with communities to find "innovative, sustainable, localized solutions," creating long-term improvements in the lives of women and communities worldwide. To date, Circle of Women has built schools in India, Kenya, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Donate here.
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Photo: Courtesy of Family Values At Work
Family Values At Work

Family Values at Work represents a broad, non-partisan coalition of community groups advocating for — and winning — policy change around paid sick and family leave. Championing for these measures across the country, Family Values At Work believes a better workplace standard for today's families means "better individual and public health, and greater financial security for families, businesses, and the nation."

Donate here.
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English In Mind Institute

The average Haitian lives on less than $2 a day. But for many Haitians, the problem isn't shortage of jobs; it's lack of education. Founded in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, English In Mind (EIM) is a Haitian-led iniative to increase access to jobs and economic gain through education. Graduates of EIM will be able to apply to jobs once closed to them in hotels, restaurants, and offices that require English fluency, thus opening the door to better long-term employment.

Donate here.
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Image: Courtesy of EMILY's List.
EMILY's List

Since 1985, EMILY's List has helped elect pro-choice Democratic women to congress to help create the next generation of leaders who will ignite positive change at the legislative level. It has also become one of the largest financial resources for minority women seeking federal office, creating a more diverse government at the local, state, and federal levels.

Donate here.
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Grace Institute

Grace Institute has been providing tuition-free job training and placement assistance to women in New York City for over 100 years. With classes in professional skills from office technology to problem-solving and leadership, Grace Institute aims to create long-term change in the lives of its students, with a full year of job-search and retention training provided after the women graduate the program. To date, over 100,000 women have received training through the Grace Institute.

Donate here.
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Image: Courtesy of Bill Marble Dreams.
Blue Marble Dreams

Blue Marble dreams started in 2008, when the founders of Brooklyn's Blue Marble ice cream partnered with women in Butare, Rwanda to create the town's first ice cream shop. Today, Inzozi Nziza (Sweet Dreams) is a self-sustaining operation that provides job training and income to women in the community, as well as a source of income to local farmers and producers. Today, Blue Marble Dreams is working with women in Port au Prince, Haiti, to create the second Sweet Dreams, Bel Rev.

Donate here.
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Photo: Courtesy of Bright Scholars.
Bright Scholars

Bright Scholars provides need- and merit-based scholarships for youth in Pakistan. 100% of donations go to education; the founders of the organization cover overheads on their own. As little as $20 a month can pay for school tuition and books for a child or young adult with a "thirst for knowledge, drive to achieve their very best, and desire to change their circumstances."

Donate here.
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