Yep, it’s that time of year again. You know, the magical month of December. Before we get too deep into it, we’ve gotta ask, are you ready? Have you followed up on all those not-so-subtle gift hints? Is your favorite holiday party attire clean and pressed?
Don’t fret. We Are Memphis has you covered. We’re rolling up our sleeves to provide you with the most comprehensive year-end lists. We’ll remind you of the hidden local gems for buying gifts. We’ll make sure you’re up on the best in food, music, and local events, so you’ll stay ready, and won’t have to get ready…
However, the season of giving extends beyond friends and family to our community at large, and today we’d like to point your philanthropic side in the right direction with a list of the most impactful local charities. In December, charitable organizations send out donation requests. The titles of many charities highlight a worthy cause, such as feeding the hungry or supporting veterans. But you need to do your due diligence and look carefully at the organization to make sure your money is going to the right place.
“You don’t want to choose a charity by the name alone, since your donation may go to a questionable group,” says Bennett Weiner, Chief Operating Officer of the charity watchdog BBB Wise Giving Alliance. Some organizations may spend too much on administrative and fundraising costs or are outright scammers.
December is the largest month for donations according to a recent report by the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact, and typically, your best course of action when in doubt would be to cross-check one of the major charity watchdogs like BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, or CharityWatch.
Here is a fully vetted list of local charities that deserve your support this year.
- Causes: Counseling, Housing, Homeless Centers, Hospices, Human Services, Mental Health, Military & Veterans Organizations, Veterans
- Mission: Alpha Omega Veteran Services provides social services and short- and long-term transitional housing programs to homeless veterans. The goal is to secure permanent housing, independent living, and total societal reintegration.
- Results: Since inception, AVOS has served more than 8,000 displaced and/or disabled veterans. Facilities include a drop-in/outreach center with a 19-bed transitional center, 32 one-bedroom permanent housing apartments, permanent housing in eight townhouses serving 32 veterans, 10 Single Room Occupancy (SRO) permanent housing units for the chronically homeless, a 15-bed transitional housing facility, and an 8-bed hospice-like transitional facility known as the “Life House” that serves the medically fragile.
- Target demographics: disabled and displaced military veterans
- Direct beneficiaries per year: over 300 military veterans.
- Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Basketball, Boys & Girls Clubs, Children & Youth, Education, Sports, Vocational and Technical Schools
- Mission: “To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.” Through a variety of academic and recreational programs, BGCM empowers members to make productive use of their time and make wise decisions in their lives.
- Results: In 2012, BGCM graduated 100% of its seniors, compared to Memphis City Schools’ average of 72%. 100% of Technical Training Center graduates have been placed in jobs or higher education 2 years in a row. BGCM students introduced President Obama and made the front page of the Washington Post.
- Target demographics: Greater Memphis Youth
- Direct beneficiaries per year: Over 3,500 youth ages 6-18
- Causes: Education, Educational Services
- Mission: CodeCrew empowers underrepresented kids to be tech innovators & leaders through practical, hands-on computer science training.
- Results: Since May 2015, CodeCrew has taught more than 1,000 students to code through their summer camps, after school programs, in-school electives, and special events.
- Target demographics: Greater Memphis children ages 5-18
- Direct beneficiaries: Of the 250 kids CodeCrew serves weekly, 91% are black and Latino youth, 41% are girls who code, and overall, 89% of their students are more likely to study computer science.
- Causes: Arts & Culture, Performing Arts
- Mission: Improve the quality of life for Mid-South seniors by providing access to experiences in the arts. Goals accomplished through the hiring of local professional artists to perform and teach seniors in nursing homes, retirement communities, adult day programs, and senior centers.
- Results: Since beginning programming in 2005, Creative Aging has presented more than 5,000 performances and art-making workshops at long-term care and retirement communities, senior centers, and adult day care programs. In doing so, Creative Aging has paid more than $725,000 in performance fees to Memphis artists and brought arts to life for over 30,000 seniors.
- Target demographics: Mid-South seniors.
- Direct beneficiaries per year: More than 6,000 seniors at 50+ residential communities in the Mid-South
- Causes: Human Service Organizations, Human Services
- Mission: Assist Latinos in the Greater Memphis area by connecting, collaborating, and advocating for health, education, and justice.
- Results: Latino Memphis Inc accomplishes its goals by encouraging leadership development, education, and the promotion of cross-cultural understanding in partnerships at the local, state, and national levels.
- Target demographics: Latinos in the Greater Memphis area
- Causes: Health
- Mission: In partnership with donors and volunteers LBCHF promotes philanthropic investment in support of its mission to provide high-quality patient care, research, and advocacy.
- Results: LBCHF has raised more than $18 million. Funds were used for research, education, and aligning their research focus on areas that are major health problems for the local population and community. LBCHF awarded 5 grants for a total of $105,000 to aid in the research of RSV, liver disease, bowel loss, asthma and influenza, and pulmonary hypertension.
- Direct beneficiaries per year: Over 250,000 children, the majority of them under five years of age.
- Target demographics: Although children come to LBCH from all 50 states and many countries, most patients come from six-state referral areas.
- Causes: Food, Food Banks & Pantries, Food Programs
- Mission: Fight hunger through the efficient collection and distribution of wholesome food and education and advocacy.
- Results: Since 1981, Mid-South Food Bank has distributed more than 260,000,000 pounds of food and grocery items to its network of charitable agencies. Other programs include Kids Cafe that serves a balanced meal to children twice a week in a restaurant-like setting; Food for Kids BackPack Program that provides easy to open and prepare food to meet children’s food needs over the weekend; and the Mobile Pantry that provides food to smaller pantries in underserved counties.
- Target demographics: The Food Bank distributes food to 325 agencies and churches that feed needy and hungry people in 31 Mid-South counties in TN, MS, and AR
- Direct beneficiaries: Almost 20,000 people a week depend on food from The Food Bank for their next meal; more than 30% are children.
- Causes: Health, Health (General & Financing), Health Support, Organ, and Tissue Banks
- Mission: NFT helps patients receive life-saving treatment, medications and long-term care that they otherwise could not afford.
- Results: For nearly 25 years, patients needing transplants, as well as transplant recipients, have turned to NFT when insurance does not meet their medical needs. NFT has helped thousands with hospital and doctor bills, prescriptions, and payments for the essential treatment they otherwise could not afford.
- Target demographics: NFT provides advocacy, fundraising expertise, support services, and grants to organ and tissue transplant patients in all 50 states.
- Direct beneficiaries: NFT assisted more than 1700 patients with financial support, mobilized 328 new community fundraising campaigns, and shared resource materials with more than 1240 organ and tissue transplant patients and their families.
- Causes: Children & Youth, Youth Centers, and Clubs
- Mission: To provide coping mechanisms through the arts by using multiple educational strategies to help with healing from sexual abuse trauma.
- Results: Since 2014 NMSF has advocated for children and families fighting to survive childhood sexual abuse. NMSF has partnered with the Memphis Police Crime Unit Outreach Department to help educate over 2,000 students annually in efforts to end the silence on child sexual abuse in Memphis and the surrounding areas. Since inception NMSF has serviced more than 100 families, attended court on victims’ behalf, housed victims who once lived in a shelter because of sexual and domestic violence abuse, fed and fully furnished the homes of victims, and provided gifts for victims during the holiday season.
- Target demographics: Low-income families and at-risk children
- Direct beneficiaries per year: Over 2000 children, teens, and families
- Programs: A Child & Youth Development & Coping Center for educating through the arts to end silence on child sexual abuse. NMSF also offers tutoring, workshops, and therapy camps.
- Causes: Arts & Culture, Civil Rights, Cultural & Ethnic Awareness, Education, Human Services, Lesbian & Gay Rights, LGBTQ, Libraries, Neighborhood Centers
- Mission: OUTMemphis empowers, connects, educates and advocates for the LGBT community of the Mid-South
- Target demographics: The LGBT community of the Mid-South
- Causes: Health, Specialty Hospitals
- Mission: To find cures and means of prevention for childhood catastrophic diseases through research and treatment.
- Results: St Jude is the only pediatric research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance, and families without insurance are never asked to pay. More than 85 cents of every dollar received during the last three years has gone directly to patient care, research, education, and training.
- Direct beneficiaries per year: Over 5,000 patients
- Target demographics: St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and all over the world. Patients are accepted by physician referral based on the patient’s eligibility for an ongoing treatment study, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, or their inability to pay.
- Programs: Most patients are treated on an outpatient basis, which helps them maintain a sense of normalcy with their families. In addition to the major clinics and treatment areas, St Jude has an eye clinic, a dental clinic, a pharmacy, and also provides rehabilitation services.
- Causes: Crime & Law, Domestic Violence, Spouse Abuse Prevention
- Mission: Our mission is to promote community awareness and provide tangible resources to individuals impacted by domestic violence.
- Programs: Pamper and Support Days; Men Against Domestic Violence Initiatives; Community Outreach & Volunteering; Policy & Advocacy
There are so many great organizations progressing meaningful causes for Memphians, we invite you to check out this more comprehensive list of nonprofits in Memphis, here’s a directory to learn more about some awesome, local nonprofits.