By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Now that you’ve worn off the magnetic strip on the credit card buying presents for everyone, gotten the letter that your health insurance premiums are doubling and your job is being “redefined,” it’s time to think about those year-end donations. Sigh.

While environmental groups will likely have an easier time on Capitol Hill next year talking policy with a new Administration that sees global warming as a real threat, they paradoxically could be facing headwinds with donors.

Consider first that some of their large contributors may have been dragged down in the Bernard Madoff securities/Ponzi scheme, which savaged many charitable foundations. While the extent of that damage is being assessed, it’s safe to assume that even nonprofits that escaped that five-alarm fire, have been singed by the economic meltdown.

This holiday season, their biggest time to collect donations, finds them pressing for money from corporations and individuals who may be more flushed with worry than flush with cash.

Will a public that’s financially fragile have anything left over to help feed Pandas? Preserve forests? Save tigers? Support Darfur refugees? Buy back rainforests? Rescue polar bears? Stop mountain top mining?

Let’s hope so. The work list is long. The causes are legit. And climate change demands urgent attention.

Should you be making donations this season, here are links to some of the top environmental organizations. They all have worthy projects.

Defenders of Wildlife
I fell in love with this group when I heard about how they organize volunteers to ride Western ranges as part of an effort to help ranchers and the gray wolves live side by side in, if not harmony, détente. It’s just one of many innovative projects they support.

Lawyers are the front lines when it comes to assuring everyone follows the rules under the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and other protections that only work if they’re enforced. Earthjustice provides free legal counsel to environmental groups large and small, because, as their motto goes, “the earth needs a good lawyer.”

Environmental Defense Fund
An alliance-building group that lobbies for protections for nature and we human inhabitants, from coordinating a drive to clean up school bus emissions to advocating for wind and solar energy projects. (If you can’t donate, consider buying EDF President Fred Krupp’s book, Earth: The Sequel, an informative primer full of real life anecdotes that examines our green energy options.)

Environmental Working Group
Scientists working with EWG have screened our water, food, furniture and cosmetics for toxins, creating valuable tools like the Dirty Dozen list of fruits and veggies most doused with pesticides, and Skin Deep, a database where you can check your body lotion for harmful additives. Their reporting helps us show us how to clean up our home and natural environment.

A strong advocacy that works on behalf of endangered wildlife, marine life and forests around the globe. Known for their visual stunts, boycotts and blockades, Greenpeace takes action and makes news, helping raise the profile of many enviro causes.

Nature Canada
This group is working to save our Northern wildlife such as the caribou (Santa’s reindeer), as well as one of earth’s largest land carbon sinks, the Boreal Forest. It may be in Canada, but it is of global importance.

The Nature Conservancy
The conservancy works to protect land, rivers and marshes around the world, relying on a staff of 700 scientists to steer work in the right direction. They’ve also begun a campaign to Plant A Billion Trees in the Atlantic rainforest in South America.

Natural Resources Defense Council
They’re also covering the planet, working to mitigate climate change and preserve habitats. A new fund drive invites people to donate $10 to plant a tree to help Revive the Rainforest in Costa Rica.

National Wildlife Federation
The producer of Ranger Rick and Your Big Backyard magazines focuses on AMerican wildlife and nurturing a love of wildlife and the outdoors in children. One way to donate is through their “adoption” programs.

Sierra Club
The oldest and largest American environmental group has a membership of more than 1 million and works to save natural spaces. Want to see the national parks protected? Look to Sierra Club. But they also have their hands in the urban environment, working with the Cool Cities project to tamp down carbon emissions and make cities greener and cleaner. Read about founder John Muir, who started Sierra in 1892 to “make the mountains glad.”

World Wildlife Fund
Where to begin? WWF has wildlife saving projects in place from the Congo to the Arctic to the Galapagos Islands. They also have a wealth of information on their website, and adopt-an-animal donor programs. (Big givers can adopt whole acreages of imperiled habitat through the Partners in Conservation program.

Union of Concerned Scientists
At the forefront of energy and climate science, this venerable group helps link the latest scientific thinking on energy, climate change and invasive species into policies that makes sense and preserve our world.

Worldwatch Institute
Someone’s got to study, analyze and explain the problems facing the globe so we can find the right solutions. That’s Worldwatch, helping dissect the issues that stand between us and a just, sustainable and less-toxic environment.

Copyright © 2008 Green Right Now | Distributed by Noofangle Media