When we were younger—laying awake and restless with anticipation—shredding festive wrapping paper to expose what we had wished for that Christmas was all that mattered. We weren’t thinking about how some children didn’t have parents or family to spend the holiday season with. Others were in a situation where presents just weren’t feasible. In most cases, if our caregivers couldn’t afford what we asked for, they would still do whatever they could to make our holiday magical. Receiving was all we knew. As time passed, it became more clear why adults only wanted to give and didn’t ask for anything in return. Giving and bringing joy to the ones we love is the true spirit of the holidays. This year has been full of hardship, which is why now is the perfect time to find New Jersey charities to support in 2020.
If you are fortunate enough to be in a position to donate to those that aren’t as lucky, consider giving back to your community. Help your neighbors, your friends and those that call the state you share home. Countless charities are doing amazing work in New Jersey—and while all of them deserve support—here are some of my picks for New Jersey charities to support in 2020.
New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC)
Opened in 1997, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center has brought joy to over 10 million patrons, with close to two million of the visitors being children. NJPAC has aided greatly in economic development in its home city of Newark, and is at the forefront of celebrating diversity in the arts. The center’s stage has been graced by well-known artists, orchestras and some of New Jersey’s own performers and theatrical companies. In a time when live performances and the arts have been left in limbo, supporting music and theatre is so important.
Charity Navigator, a site used to assess the financial accountability and transparency ratings for respected charities gave the NJPAC an overall rating of 96.5. This service can be used to learn more about New Jersey charities to support in 2020 and other charities all over the globe. This means donators can feel confident that their donations to the charity will be handled responsibly and be put to good use.
Where to donate: www.njpac.org/support
Bridge of Books Foundation
It should come as no surprise that I find the importance of books to be insurmountable. I believe there is a book out there for everyone that can change their lives. Too often children of all ages are deprived of the opportunity to find a great book, and the Bridge of Books Foundation is fighting that tragedy. Thousands of children across New Jersey either don’t have any books at home, or they don’t have access to books in their schools or communities. Bridge Of Books Foundation focuses on providing these children with the books that they rightfully deserve.
Bridges of Books Foundation accepts book donations as well as monetary donations for books to be purchased. Due to the foundation’s size—less than $200,000 a year of revenue—it is not eligible for a rating on Charity Navigator, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth donating to. Quite the opposite. Give the gift of literature this year and donate to this New Jersey charity.
Where to donate: www.bridgeofbooksfoundation.org
Community FoodBank of New Jersey
An inspirational charity that focuses on fighting back against hunger and poverty in our home state is the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. This organization became incorporated in 1982, and even before then helped countless people seeking long-term solutions to poverty. As of this year, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey holds a financial accountability and transparency rating of 90.39.
Children make up 300,000 of the one million hungry New Jersey residents, and the Community FoodBank of New Jersey is the largest in-state organization coming to their aid. The group works with shelters, food pantries and soup kitchens across the state to help those in need.
In 2019, this New Jersey charity donated over 60 million pounds of food to those in need, which equals roughly 50 million individual meals. With help from their donors, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey feeds 900,000 residents every year. For every dollar given, donors provide up to three meals for the hungry.
Where to donate: www.cfbnj.org
Jersey Battered Women’s Services (JBWS)
As heartbreaking as it is to know that an organization like this is necessary, Jersey Battered Women’s Services has been changing the lives of women since 1976. JBWS is located in Morristown and offers all of the services imaginable to protect and rehabilitate victims of domestic violence and abuse.
Its programming provides counseling and education, safe houses, transitional living, legal assistance and so much more.
JBWS works to prevent abuse and empower victims. Their goal is to raise social awareness of the atrocities some women face and to help them not just survive but thrive. This charity has an accountability and transparency rating of 98.33 and has earned a Guidestar’s Platinum Seal of Transparency.
Where to donate: https://www.jbws.org
Ronald McDonald House of Central & Northern New Jersey
The Ronald McDonald House of Central & Northern New Jersey is a well-known organization with locations all over the country. The organization takes on one of life’s most difficult tasks: helping families cope with having a severely ill child. When children need specific treatment that is offered far from home, Ronald McDonald House provides a “home away from home” for families. If a child is receiving medical care near one of their locations, this group offers a hospital suite and family rooms, so the child can be surrounded by their loved ones. Emotional support and private rooms with amenities are provided to make families feel more comfortable during one of the most harrowing times imaginable.
New Jersey is home to two Ronald McDonald house locations, one in Camden and another in Long Branch. The Ronald McDonald House of Central & Northern New Jersey is the only headlining charity on this list with a financial accountability and transparency rating of a perfect 100.
Where to donate: https://rmh-cnj.org
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference (NYNJTC)
If you’re from New Jersey, there’s a good chance you’ve spent many memorable hours traversing the great outdoors on some of our hiking trails. Some people take these trails for granted and assume they will always be there for our enjoyment. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference is a New Jersey-based charity that protects and promotes hiking trails. This 100-year-old organization is based in Mahwah and protects over 2,100 miles of public trails and is also involved in creating new hiking trails.
With 83.6 percent of all proceeds going directly towards its programs and services, the NYNJTC boasts a financial and accountability and transparency score of 96.36. Until December 31 of this year, every dollar donated will be doubled to prepare for the 2021 season of outdoor exploration. Now is a perfect time to support this incredible effort to protect the wilderness and our respectful avenues within it.
Where to donate: https://www.nynjtc.org
- Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey
- Great Swamp Watershed Association
- Clean Ocean Action
- The Nature Conservancy
There are far too many incredible New Jersey charities to support in 2020 to mention them all, but each and every one of them are worth your donation. If you have a favorite charity you would like to share, please comment below with instructions on how to donate.