A directory of VIOLET-approved charities for gifts that truly do keep on giving.
Written By Jess Basser Sanders
While we certainly can’t pass up a good holiday present—especially that ZIIP we’ve been lusting after—we also know that giving back is the season’s real raison d’être. In that spirit, we’ve put together a list of worthy—and effective—charities of all stripes. From donations to volunteer opportunities to long-term mentoring programs, all these exceptional organizations and companies offer gifts in the greatest sense of the word. For additional philanthropic opportunities, visit Charity Navigator, an independent nonprofit evaluator, for worthy (and extensively vetted) options. 
WHO: Founded in 2005 by Brandon McGuinness, a surfer and skater diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, F Cancer is a serious nonprofit—with a lighthearted attitude—dedicated to supporting cancer patients and their families. 

WHAT: A big part of F Cancer’s work is its Dyin 2 Live initiative, a wish-granting program for adults. The organization also focuses on awareness and early detection education, with the ultimate aim of reducing cancer-related deaths.

HOW TO HELP: Make a financial contribution, or donate assets (like your Dodgers box seats) to help grant a Dyin 2 Live wish.
WHO: UNAIDS has been working since 1996 to halt the spread of HIV worldwide, and has recently announced its intention to end the epidemic by 2030.
WHAT: Programs tackle HIV transmission, providing access to treatment and battling the stigma and discrimination that accompany the disease.

HOW TO HELP: In solidarity with the cause, fashion designer and Global Goodwill Ambassador Victoria Beckham designed a T-shirt to benefit UNAIDS; direct donations are also welcome.
WHO: Cycle for Survival raises money for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s groundbreaking research on rare cancers. 

WHAT: Every cent of your donation goes to research at Memorial Sloan Kettering, funding clinical trials and leading to improved treatments for patient with rare cancers, which make up almost 50 percent of diagnoses in the United States.

HOW TO HELP: Consider recruiting a team for one of the cycling events. If biking’s not your thing, make a monetary contribution through the website.
WHO: Supermodel Christy Turlington Burns’ maternal health care charity works in developing countries and the United States to make pregnancy and childbirth safer for women around the world.

WHAT: The organization provides supplies, transportation, and education to expectant mothers in order to help eliminate preventable obstetric complications. 

HOW TO HELP: This season, L.A. handbag designer Clare V., designed this mother-loving tote bag, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting the organization—or donate to the charity directly.
WHO: This Los Angeles–based organization, founded by Kelly Sawyer Patricof and Norah Weinstein, helps provide low-income children with the basic necessities—diapers, clothing, cribs, formula, baby-proofing materials, and more.

WHAT: Baby 2 Baby works with children’s hospitals and shelters in nineteen cities to deliver essentials to families in need. 

HOW TO HELP: Send a check—or, if you’re in the L.A. area, volunteer at weekly sessions to sort through donated goods and assemble gift bags.
WHO: This culture-driven nonprofit commissions contemporary artists to spruce up children’s hospitals and health care facilities.

WHAT: The organization enlists names like Jeff Koons, who painted walls at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Illinois, and the Keith Haring Foundation, which produced a mural for La Rabida Children’s Hospital in Chicago. Also on board are Urs Fischer, Laura Owens, and Sam Falls, all of whom are producing art for the ceilings of Cedars-Sinai’s Children’s Health Center in Los Angeles.

HOW TO HELP: Donate to a specific project or to the charity’s operations, or become a Friend of RxArt to enjoy access to art fairs, exhibitions, and special events.
Keith Haring, Untitled, 1986 | RxArt | Charitable Gifting | The Violet Files | @violetgrey


WHO: This longstanding medical charity sends physicians to provide health care services in war and disaster zones that can be nearly impossible to access.

WHAT: The organization’s doctors have been dispatched to places like Syria and neighboring countries during the current crisis, and Nepal and Haiti after devastating earthquakes, in order to deliver emergency and long-term medicine. 

HOW TO HELP: The fully transparent NGO earmarks 88 cents of every dollar directly for its programs. If you’re a medical professional and looking to donate time and expertise instead, consider volunteering for field work.
WHO: A network of 183 public- and donation-funded charter schools across the country that serves nearly 70,000 elementary, middle, and high school students.

WHAT: KIPP is dedicated to preparing students from low-income families (who make up 87 percent of their enrollees) for college.

HOW TO HELP: Give money directly to help fund the schools; if you’re looking to donate time instead, contact a local KIPP academy to find out how you can help.
WHO: A mentoring program dedicated to helping at-risk high-school girls apply to and prepare for college.

WHAT: Active in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City, Step Up relies heavily on a network of mentors, with impressive results: Over the past six years, 100 percent of high school seniors active in the program have been accepted into college.

HOW TO HELP: Donate or enroll to become a mentor.
WHO: One of the state’s most prominent art museums, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is funded by both the city and a legion of private donors (and celebrated its fiftieth birthday this year).

WHAT: As well as showcasing its world-class art collection, LACMA is cultural hub for the city, with programs like the regular Film Independent series (curated by Elvis Mitchell), talks, events, and free concerts. 

HOW TO HELP: A fitting way for patrons of the arts to both give and get, shop the anniversary collection launched by e-commerce destination Farfetch. The site collaborated with Los Angeles–based designers like Irene Neuwirth, Rodarte, and the Elder Statesman to create clothes and accessories to benefit the museum and its programs.
WHO: Inspired by an Academy Award–winning short film about a gay teen coming of age in the 1980s, The Trevor Project comprises an extensive support network for LGBTQ youth, and is a favorite of celebrities and philanthropists alike.

WHAT: Crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs are a big part of the organization’s work—the Trevor Lifeline is the only national 24/7 hotline for LGBTQ youth.

HOW TO HELP: Checks are welcome, but the charity is also seeking volunteers to staff its phone and chat lines.
WHO: A pioneer in the conservation movement, WWF has expanded its mandate from wildlife and environmental protection to addressing larger global threats, like climate change.

WHAT: Global and local programs are dedicated to causes like forest, ocean, and freshwater conservation and sustainable food research, among others.

HOW TO HELP: Consider a cash gift, or get more involved—WWF relies on members to help address wildlife and conservation issues through pledges and contacting government representatives.
WHO: Apparel brand United by Blue is dedicated to cleaning up oceans and waterways across the United States, removing one pound of trash for each item sold. 

WHAT: The company hosts volunteer-staffed cleanups across the country, to date extracting more than 250,000 pounds of rubbish, so you’ll be giving something more than great gear.

HOW TO HELP: Any purchase helps beautify waterways, but the company also conducts the cleanups, so it is always looking for volunteers.
WHO: A favorite of friend-of-VIOLET January Jones, Oceana is the largest international organization dedicated solely to conserving and restoring oceans.

WHAT: Oceana works globally on policy-based issues such as reducing the fishing bycatch in American waters, protecting seafloors and other ocean habitats, and ensuring that seafood sold in the United States is caught legally and labeled honestly.

HOW TO HELP: Donate, and take Oceana’s pledge to reduce your use of plastic (many of the world’s plastic bags end up in oceans).
WHO: This research organization, which focuses on the intersection of the environment and development, addresses issues such as climate, energy, food, forests, water, and transportation in more than fifty countries.

WHAT: Projects range from combating illegal logging in the United States, the European Union, and Australia by supporting sustainable sources of wood to monitoring greenhouse gas emissions in India.

HOW TO HELP: Donate funds to WRI’s ambitious slate of programs.


Florist to the stars Eric Buterbaugh advises on the appropriate botanical thank-yous for everyone in your life.