18 Awesome NYC Charities to Support This Holiday Season (and Always)

This holiday season you can take the gift of giving even further by helping those less fortunate. These 18 New York City-based non-profits offer volunteer and donation opportunities that give back to your local community while supporting important causes. We found charities with missions that focus on hunger, homelessness, animals, children, health, equity and the environment, but you can find a more extensive list of New York City charities here.

Note: Due to COVID-19, some volunteering opportunities may be limited.

Hunger and Homelessness

1. City Harvest

City Harvest is New York City’s largest food rescue organization that helps feed more than 1.5 million New Yorkers who are struggling to put meals on their tables. The organization rescues 111 million pounds of food each year and delivers it, free of charge, to hundreds of food pantries, soup kitchens and other community partners across the five boroughs. There are several ways to volunteer including delivering fresh produce, translator support, greenmarket rescues and serving food at local food pantries and kitchens. You can also support City Harvest by making a monetary donation —$27 will feed two hungry New Yorkers for an entire month and $36 will feed three.

2. Coalition for the Homeless

Homelessness has reach record highs in NYC, which is especially concerning during the colder winter months. Every day, the Coalition for the Homeless helps more than 3,500 men, women and children suffering from extreme poverty. You can be a part of the solution by donating to the organization’s holiday toy drive and winter coat drive, donating face masks and hand sanitizer or making an online monetary donation.

3. New York Cares Coat Drive

With temperatures dropping, many New Yorkers don’t have the proper clothing for the winter months ahead. If you have a new or gently used coat to donate, use this map to find a drop-off spot near you. A donation of $25 will provide one coat and one week of meals to a New Yorker in need.

4. Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

By the end of 2021, New York City’s largest soup kitchen will have served three million meals since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteers are needed now more than ever at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen to help prepare and distribute meals on a daily basis. You can help the cause with a monetary donation of $28 that will feed a guest every weekday for a month or a donation of $150 that provides a family of four with a week’s worth of groceries.


5. New York City Mammas Give Back

New York City Mammas Give Back is a network of NYC area mothers dedicated to improving the lives of moms and young families. This volunteer-run non-profit organization provides infant essentials and support to agencies and shelters in the area serving homeless pregnant women and families and children (ages 0 to 5) living at or below the poverty line. The fastest way you can support their cause is by making a monetary donation, but you can also donate diapers, formula, books, new stuffed animals, clothing and other parenting essentials. Donations can be mailed directly to the organization or dropped off at their warehouse.

6. Girls, Inc.

If you are looking to make an impact beyond just the holidays, Girls, Inc. is an organization that helps the city’s underserved girls by delivering life transforming programs. You can volunteer to take part in some of these programs in the areas of economic and media literacy, healthy sexuality and mind and body. You can also support this organization by making a monetary donation.

7. Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) NYC

CASA-NY advocates and protects the nearly 11,500 children in the foster care system in New York’s five boroughs. Volunteers give assigned children the individual and consistent attention that the child welfare system is not always able to provide. The process to become a volunteer is, not surprisingly, multi-step and lengthy but you can support the organization by donating money that will help ensure that children in foster care and their families will have the support and advocacy that they need.


8. New Immigrant Community Empowerment

New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable immigrant workers in New York City. NICE connects workers with potential employers, collaborating on fair wages and building a community to support their needs. You can get involved by making a monetary donation or signing up as a volunteer to deliver groceries and meals or becoming an English or a computer tutor.

9. The Audre Lorde Project

This Brooklyn-based organization advocates for LGBTQ+ people of color and issues surrounding social and economic justice reform in New York City. The center runs multiple programs to support minority communities, including the Safe OUTside System (SOS) Collective, which promotes community support without relying on law enforcement, and TransJustice, a political group which works to mobilize communities and allies into action. Support their cause by donating to the movement or becoming a member of the organization.

10. SAGE-Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders

For over 40 years, SAGE has created a network of support for LGBT elders by providing advocacy and services to the older members of this community. Due to COVID-19, many volunteering opportunities have been put on hold, but you can get involved with SAGEConnect, where volunteers and participants are paired together for weekly phone calls. You can also make a monetary donation that assists in offering housing, nutritional support, virtual social programs and wellness checks.

11. New York Civil Liberties Union

This New York affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization that protects the fundamental rights of New Yorkers, including freedom of speech, religion, petition, press, assembly and equality before the law. Support their movement by volunteering or making a donation.


12. Best Friends Pet Adoption Center

This SoHo institution’s mission is to save the lives of homeless pets and end the practice of euthanizing excess animals in shelters. Visit the shelter to take home a furry friend or sign up to foster a pet. You can also help by volunteering or giving a monetary donation.

13. Muddy Paws Rescue

Dog-lovers look no further than Muddy Paws Rescue for a chance to hang with some pooches. This organization’s mission is “to build and support a thriving community of dog-loving humans dedicated to ending unnecessary euthanasia of companion dogs.” Muddy Paws Rescue is a foster-based rescue with no physical shelter, so foster parents play a major role in their mission and are always needed. Volunteers can also participate behind the scenes, at events, remotely or by making a donation online.

14. Sean Casey Animal Rescue

Are you one of the many New Yorkers who loves dogs but can’t keep a pet in your apartment? Don’t worry, you can get your puppy fix by volunteering as a dog walker at Sean Casey Animal Rescue. This non-profit, no-kill shelter’s mission is to take neglected, unwanted and injured animals and find them a healthy, happy home. Volunteers can also make a monetary donation or help out at adoption events and fundraisers.

The Environment

15. Green School Alliance

This organization focuses on sustainability education through eco-conscious school programs in New York City and worldwide. Their mission is to make everyone aware of and accountable for the impact they have in creating an economically, environmentally and equitably sustainable future. They provide teachers, school leaders and students with the knowledge and tools to create measurable environmental change. You can support their mission with a monetary donation, sponsoring a community-wide cleanup or for those who work in education, by writing a blog.

16. Lower East Side Ecology Center

Calling all environmentalists: The LES Ecology Center provides unique e-waste, composting services, environmental stewardship opportunities and educational programming to all New Yorkers. This organization provides compost sites and free food waste drop-off programs to help ensure organic materials are recycled. Those with a green thumb can volunteer to garden and at the compost drop-off sites.

17. GrowNYC

GrowNYC seeks to improve New York City’s quality of life through environmental programs that “transform communities block by block and empower all New Yorkers to secure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.” The organization offers community gardens, recycling events, education programs, green markets and fresh food box pick-ups. You can help their mission by giving a monetary donation or volunteering at various events.


18. Donate blood with the New York Blood Center

Before COVID-19, mobile blood drives hosted by high schools, colleges and businesses made up about 75 percent of the region’s incoming blood supply. But due to the pandemic, the number of blood drives has dropped by two-thirds. While donations continue to lag, NYBC has teamed up with The Dr. Oz Show to launch the #JUSTMYTYPE Challenge, asking donors to invite someone to be their “plus one” as they donate together and encourage more people to donate blood.

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Alexia Dellner is an executive editor at PureWow who has over ten years of experience covering a broad range of topics including health, wellness, travel, family, culture and...

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Victoria Garcia is a NYC based editor and writer with a love for reality television, fiction books and a good happy hour. She's a foodie at heart so you'll most likely find her...