Donate to these 9 charities instead of buying flowers for Mother's Day

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Giving back is important, now more than ever before. While governments around the world are bailing out businesses large and small, individuals continue to struggle — if you have the means, people and animals alike could really use your help.

For years, my sister and I have shipped flowers online, often earning up to 30 miles per dollar in the process, but that tradition ended this year, at my mother's request. Right now, people are having incredible difficulty making ends meet, doctors and nurses are saving patients using makeshift masks, and elephants are starving in Thailand — it's an incredibly challenging time for people and animals all around the world.

Flower farmers could use a financial boost as well, I'm sure, but there are charities around the world that are event more desperate for your support — I'll be sharing some that stand out in particular below.


This critical organization is working around the clock to help families impacted by COVID-19. So far, Baby2Baby has distributed millions of items all around the United States, providing parents in need with formula, diapers and other essential supplies.

Feeding America

Through a nationwide network of food banks, Feeding America distributes more than four billion meals each year. Your donation will help provide meals through one of 200 food banks, including one in or near your community.


Working to save and protect children in 190 countries and territories around the world, UNICEF is no stranger to humanitarian emergencies. As part of its COVID-19 response, the organization has already delivered almost six million protective items to health workers around the world, and continues to provide children with adequate health care, nutrition and safe water during this critical time.

Trinity Place Shelter

This New York City transition shelter provides LGBTQ youth and young adults with emotional support and education, in addition to a safe place to live. Your donation will provide food for residents, public transportation to work and funding for the purchase of critical equipment.

God's Love We Deliver

Currently, God's Love We Deliver is working hard to feed vulnerable members of the community throughout the New York City area. For $54, you can sponsor a bag of shelf-stable meals, with enough food to keep someone eating healthy for a week.

Ready, Willing and Able

This 12-month residential program offers paid work, in addition to a variety of social services, helping homeless men land on their feet in New York City. So far, more than 7,200 people have successfully completed the program, landing a full-time job and a home of their own.

Save Elephant Foundation

I had an enlightening visit to the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai Thailand in 2012, and have pledged to support these magnificent creatures ever since. I made a donation on behalf of my own mom, to the Save Elephant Foundation, which is helping care for elephants desperate for your help. You can also make a donation via Trunks Up, and, if you have lots of love to give, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and Sheldrick Wildlife Trust could always use your help, too.

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James Beard Foundation

Countless restaurant workers are currently out of work, as coronavirus has prompted much of the U.S. to ban sit-down dining in an effort to contain the spread. The JBF Relief Fund aims to provide critical aid to small, independent restaurants, helping to cover operational expenses and keep restaurants from going out of business during the pandemic.

Non-profit news organizations

Independent journalism is as important as ever, with organizations like National Public Radio (NPR) depending on you for much-needed funding in their never-ending quest for the truth. Consider making a donation on mom's behalf, and pick up a subscription to her community newspaper, too.

Bonus: C&C's Awesome Foundation

TPG contributor Chris Sloan runs a charity, Caleb and Calder Sloan's Awesome Foundation, that's matching COVID-19-related donations through April 13th, up to $250 apiece — an incredibly generous gesture. You can email your donation receipt to [email protected], and they'll take care of the rest!

Maximize your return

As with all purchases, it's entirely possible to earn valuable points and miles when you make a donation. You'll want to do a bit of research, though — some charities, like the Save Elephant Foundation, accept donations via PayPal, and they won't have to pay a fee if you fund your donation via a bank transfer. Others may allow you to cover the organization's fee at checkout, which is something to consider, too.

If paying by credit card won't negatively impact your donation, I recommend a card that offers The best credit cards for everyday spending, such as Chase Freedom Unlimited or the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. See our post detailing the best credit cards to use for charitable donations for more.

— Update: 17-03-2023 — found an additional article 5 Mother’s Day Gift Ideas That Give Back To The Community from the website for the keyword mother’s day charity gift.

Now that over 92 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, you might dare to dream of a normal Mother’s Day celebration—and many people are already planning to spend big on their moms this year.

Consumers are planning to spend an average of $220.48 on Mother’s Day items—$16 more than last year’s average, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). That’s the highest estimate in the annual survey’s history. The NRF cites increased consumer optimism, stimulus checks and the ability for vaccinated individuals to come together in person as drivers for this year’s big spending.

Spreading generosity with gifts that will make mom smile is a reward in itself. But if you also want to help your community as it continues to recover from the pandemic, here  are a few ways to make this Mother’s Day even more special.

1. Give a Gift Card to a Local Small Business

Small businesses have suffered immensely during the pandemic.

According to the April 12- April 18 weekly Small Business Pulse Survey by the Census, two-thirds of small businesses report the Covid-19 pandemic as having a moderate or large negative effect on their business. More than half of businesses say it will take six months or more for them to return to normal levels of operation.

Giving a gift certificate to a favorite local small business could help ease that strain, even though this may go against traditional advice to give cash as a gift instead.

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Before the pandemic, gift cards were often categorized as a “bad deal” for consumers. Gift cards are essentially an interest-free loan to a business—and studies show a large portion of them are never used. Consumers often lose or forget about gift cards, which turns what’s essentially a loan to a company into a payday for them.

But times are different, and experts are changing their perspective. Small business gift cards can be a lifeline to help keep establishment doors open. Some small businesses may have already exhausted their options for federal aid, like the Paycheck Protection Program, and could still be struggling.

If you purchase a gift card for mom this year, doing so from a favorite local small business such as a restaurant or boutique will support the local community—and is also a lovely way for your mom to treat herself.

2. Spend Time, Not Money, Together

Times of crisis create a volunteering surge. A 2020 study from the University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute found that during major crises, including September 11th, Hurricane Katrina and the Great Recession, volunteering rates increased. The coronavirus pandemic has driven similar levels of altruism.

By the end of August 2020, U.S. LinkedIn members added about 2.5 times the amount of volunteering experience and activities to their profiles each month compared to the monthly average in 2017, according to a company analysis.

Instead of purchasing a tangible gift, setting up a day to volunteer together could be a delightful alternative. Choosing one of mom’s favorite local nonprofits in need of extra hands is just as meaningful as handing her a gift—and it helps organizations and their beneficiaries who are in need right now.

If you’re still hesitant about being around others during the pandemic, look into online volunteering opportunities., for example, allows visitors to search for volunteer opportunities by location. The search result page includes a “virtual only” filter to review opportunities solely based online. Online volunteering opportunities can include tasks like conducting support phone calls with chronically-ill hospital patients or taking calls to schedule Covid-19 vaccination appointments.

It’s also important to consider what skills you and your mom have to offer to make the most out of your volunteering experience. Volunteer search engine enables users to search for opportunities based on a skill they’d like to share.

3. Make a Donation in Mom’s Name

There has been a huge increase in charitable giving during the coronavirus pandemic. The 2021 Fidelity Charitable Giving Report found its customers made two million donations totaling $9.1 billion in 2020—a 24% increase in total funds donated from 2019.

But many communities still rely on organizations like Feeding America to help those still grappling with or recovering from the pandemic. Making a charitable donation in mom’s name this year could be a rewarding gift for the both of you.

Finding a nonprofit to donate to can seem like an overwhelming task. There are thousands of charities across the country, for a range of different causes. How do you know where your money will make the most impact?

Charity Navigator, a nonprofit dedicated to evaluating other nonprofits, is a great resource to help review your donation options. The organization evaluates public charities with at least $1 million in revenue for two consecutive years, and makes evaluations based on their financial health, accountability and transparency.

GoFundMe also has a landing page dedicated to fundraisers related to Covid-19. There are things to keep in mind when donating to crowdfunding campaigns, including that all of your donation won’t go directly to the recipient since the platforms usually charge a fee to use their services. There’s also no way of verifying that the recipient will actually use the money for what they said they would.

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If you make a charitable monetary donation in mom’s name, and you haven’t filed your taxes yet, you will be able to take up to a $300 charitable contribution, regardless of if you itemize or not. (If you file your taxes with a spouse, the $300 limit still applies.) This special rule only applies for cash donations to tax-exempt organizations, so donations to a GoFundMe campaign don’t qualify.

4. Organize a Donation Drive

Some organizations and nonprofits are always in need of essential items. Domestic violence shelters, for example, always need toiletries, clothing, diapers and baby wipes, linens and more to help get survivors back on their feet.

Organizing a donation drive for a local nonprofit as a way to celebrate Mother’s Day can be a way to spend time together while supporting people in need. Many nonprofits have resources on their websites about how to organize a drive, and sometimes will include marketing materials to help you spread the word about what’s needed and how people can donate.

There might also be resources at the dedicated nonprofit to help you coordinate your item drive. Goodwill, for example, assigns designated donation drive coordinators to help organize details of your drive, and also coordinates a pick-up for your items. Some organizations will ask you to drop off the items yourself, so be sure to keep that in mind.

As there are still tens of thousands of Covid-19 cases being reported daily in the US, it remains important to observe social distancing guidelines. Creating a contactless item drop-off at your house can be a great way to do this. People can pull up in their cars and you can take the items out of the trunk, limiting contact. You can also create a separate area for people who are walking up to drop off their items to avoid coming in close contact with others.

5. Support Health Care Workers

Health care workers remain the unsung heroes of the coronavirus pandemic. Many have sacrificed their time and health to fight the coronavirus and deserve a big thanks from all of us.

Hospital networks are still in need of help supporting their workers. AdventHealth, for example, allows tax-deductible gifts to a Covid-19 emergency relief fund, which helps pay for food and lodging for on-call staff and care packages for caregivers who have been impacted by Covid-19.

If you’d like to support health care workers, but don’t have the resources to donate to a relief fund, sending notes of encouragement to a local unit is a great alternative. is accepting words of encouragement online; after filling out a five-question form, the site will share your notes with its online community.

Some hospitals will also accept handmade care packages. If you want to go that route, you can include things that are helpful for busy nurses and doctors, like grab-and-go snacks, gum or mints. Including a handwritten note can also be a thoughtful and touching gesture. Call the hospital you hope to donate to ahead of time to confirm they accept care packages and what the procedure is for delivering them.


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About the Author: Tung Chi