As the year winds down, it's common to think about charitable giving.
There are no shortage of charities to support, but how do you know which ones will use your dollars wisely? We've scoured the web and cross-checked with Charity Navigator to find these environmentally focused charities that are worth considering. We certainly haven't mentioned all the worthwhile environmental charities out there, but this is a good starting point for your own research for giving now and every time of year.
7 charities that support the environment
Conservation International: CI works on issues ranging from climate change to food stability to environment protection. The organization sponsors field projects, funds scientific research and forges partnerships with businesses that can drive action on the conservation front.
Environmental Defense Fund: The key initiatives of EDF include protecting natural systems, and improving policies that affect these systems, dealing with issues of climate change, public health, sustainable agriculture and ocean protection.
League of Conservation Voters Education Fund: This group's mission is to inform and engage voters about key environmental issues at election time and to advocate for sound environmental policies all year long.
Natural Resources Defense Council: The NRDC employs hundreds of scientists and lawyers who work to improve environmental protection at the legislative and judicial levels. Priorities include fighting climate change, defending endangered wildlife and protecting the world's oceans.
Rainforest Alliance: This is an international nonprofit organization that works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods. The group's certification seal (the label with the frog) lets consumers know that a product has been created in a way that protects the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the area.
The Nature Conservancy: This group works to protect threatened ecosystems from development, deforestation and other environmental threats.
Sierra Club Foundation: The foundation supports a wide range of conservation efforts, all with the goal of protecting habitat, water quality, air quality and the world's ecosystems.
4 charities that protect animals
American Bird Conservancy: The mission of ABC is to protect native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas.
Cheetah Conservation Fund: This group is dedicated to saving wild cheetahs. Their work includes habitat restoration, research programs and human/wildlife conflict resolution campaigns to address the principle threats to cheetahs.
Sea Turtle Conservancy: This charity works to protect sea turtles via research, habitat protection, public education, community outreach and advocacy.
WildAid: WildAid's mission is to end the illegal wildlife trade by reducing demand on the consumer end. The group's campaigns work to protect sharks, tigers, elephants, rhinos and marine animals from poaching and illegal trade.
3 small charities worth a closer look
Living Lands & Waters: The staff at this nonprofit spends several months a year living and traveling on a barge while hosting river cleanups, watershed conservation initiatives, workshops, tree plantings and other key conservation efforts.
The Wildlife Center of Virginia: The Wildlife Center of Virginia is a hospital for native wildlife, teaching the world to care about and to care for wildlife and the environment.
Beyond Pesticides: This small nonprofit works to protect public and environmental health by reducing the need for unnecessary pesticide use.
5 charitable donations that also make great gifts
Access Fund: The rock climber in your life will appreciate this gift that helps keep climbing areas open while supporting the environment in popular climbing spots.
Appalachian Trail Conservancy: Do you have a hiker on your gift list? He or she might appreciate a donation to this charity, which has a mission to protect and manage the Appalachian Trail to ensure that it can be shared and enjoyed well into the future.
Coral Reef Alliance: Share the beauty of a protected coral reef with those on your gift list. This charity works to restore and protect coral reef habitats throughout the world.
Grand Canyon Trust: Whether they have visited dozens of times, or have it on their bucket list of sights to see, everyone loves the Grand Canyon. And this top-notch charity works to protect the air, land, water and wildlife of this fragile and awe-inspiring environment.
Ocean Conservancy: Marine enthusiasts will love a gift that protects their most treasured habitats. This charity works to fund research, build business partnerships, and advocate for policy changes that ensure the health of the world's oceans.