How to Choose Which Animal Charity to Donate To

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Audience: animal lovers, pet owners

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Christmas is just around the corner. If you celebrate Christmas, what will you be gifting your loved ones this year? Have you considered donating money to a charity instead of buying presents?

How many presents do you typically give and receive? I never received stacks of presents growing up. There were years when I did not receive a single Christmas present. With my minimalistic or Spartan upbringing, it is shocking for me to see heaps of presents under Christmas trees, especially self-proclaimed poor people’s Christmas trees.

The average Canadian spends almost $700 on Christmas presents and $300 on decorating or entertaining. That grand could have been used for education, emergencies, rent, etc. One Christmas, I mentioned to my coworkers how I heard on CBC radio (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) that many Canadians go into debt every year by buying Christmas presents. I was simply stating facts from a reputable Canadian news source, but my coworkers felt that I was judging them for being poor.

I did not suddenly wake up where I am today without sweat, blood, and tears, without making sacrifices. I know what it is like to have to leave behind groceries at the checkout because I could not afford them. I know what it is like to be the only person in a university residence hall because everybody else went home for Christmas. Just because I do not complain about those bad times does not mean that they did not happen to me.

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I am grateful that I was able to pursue a higher education and that I am now able to afford presents. It is great seeing the smiles on friends’ faces when they open what I give them. This year, I want to start donating too.

Why Donate?

1. Accumulate less clutter.

Fewer items for cats to knock off and break, fewer items for dogs to chew on and destroy, fewer items to collect dust, fewer items to end up in landfills, fewer items to pack during a move, more space…

People can think that they would be happier if they had more – more books, more shoes, more clothes, more toys… when happiness experts like Gretchen Rubin know that the opposite is true. Shopping can cause elevations in endorphins, pleasure hormones. With time, the level of endorphins drops. The pleasure can morph into guilt, especially when the credit card bill arrives. For more information on how having less can make you happier, visit

“In the scope of a happy life, a messy desk or an overstuffed coat closet is a trivial thing, yet I find – and I hear from other people that they agree – that getting rid of clutter gives a disproportionate boost to happiness.―Gretchen Rubin, American lawyer and author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home


2. Get a tax break. 

Donating money does not just help charities. It can help the donor financially too. In Canada, when you donate $20 or more to a registered charity, you get a tax-deductible donation receipt.

You may be wondering doesn’t shopping help the economy? No, according to the Scroogenomics/Freakonomics economics/business professors, Christmas shopping generates economic waste.

“When we buy for ourselves, every dollar we spend produces at least a dollar in satisfaction, because we shop carefully and purchase items that are worth more than they cost. Gift giving is different. We make less-informed choices, max out on credit to buy gifts worth less than the money spent, and leave recipients less than satisfied, creating what [is called] “deadweight loss.”―Scroogenomics by Joel Waldfogel

3. Help more animals, people, and/or the environment.

There are so many animals that need homes, people whose lives could improve with pets or guide dogs, and natural disasters uprooting people and animals such as the recent fires in California.

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03BE2CC1-98BC-4E67-A84A-E48A1B9D1D81Which Charity to Donate to

Not every charity uses donation money to help their cause as much as they can. The money can go toward CEOs (directly or indirectly), office furniture, and advertising instead of going towards veterinary equipment, veterinary care, research, etc. Do your research on a charity before you donate to it.

Has the charity been in the news for inhumane or unethical reasons? For example, in 2009, the Toronto Humane Society was closed and had to be rebuilt after the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) found the remains of a cat in a cat trap left in the ceiling. Well-meaning people donated money to the Toronto Humane Society where animals were dying inhumanely.

How to Donate Money

With the internet, donating money is easier than ever. Facebook now helps you set up fundraisers: The company reviews the fundraisers for legitimacy and policy compliance.

For my birthday, I asked my Facebook friends for donations to help pangolins which are the most trafficked endangered animals in the world. They are poached for their scales and meat. The Pangolin Conservation website was not clear about how Facebook donation money was being used, so I emailed them:

“…Right now, 100% of [the] funds through Facebook donations go to our projects in West Africa. Specifically the following:

1 – Our projects to provide bush meat hunters with an alternative source of income through raising grass-cutter rats [also known as greater cane rats]

2 – To work with our partners at the University of Lome. To understand and implement the best ways to protect pangolins in West Africa.”

Another organization that helps endangered animals is World Wide Fund or World Wildlife Fund (WWF). They have a variety of different membership, donation, and gift options. For example, instead of just buying a stuffed panda for a friend who loves pandas, you could get a panda adoption kit.

Photo by Victor Freitas on

This Tuesday, November 27, is #GivingTuesday. Facebook is now matching donations (up to $7 million) on #Giving Tuesday.

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.

Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

What organization will you be donating to this #GivingTuesday?

Here are some suggestions:

1. Dog Guides Lion Foundation of Canada

Guide dogs do not just help blind people. They also help people with autism, diabetes, seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder, physical disabilities, and deafness.

2. Guide Dogs of America 

3. Pangolin Conservation

4. World Wide Fund or World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

5. Vet Techs Without Borders Donating money helps vet techs or nurses help animals overseas.

6. Vets Without Borders

7. North Valley Animal Disaster Group To help animals affected by the forest fires in California

Together, let’s make a difference on #GivingTuesday! 


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