There are thousands of organizations to give to during the United Nations’ International Day of Charity—this year, donate to support women.

Sometimes, the world can seem like a big and scary place where we’re bombarded with bad news from every corner of the globe. You’ve got political issues, gender inequities, struggling arts associations, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg (which, adding to the bad news, is melting).

While no one person can change the entire world, there are things you can do to help others and feel less helpless, including giving to charity. Once the domain solely of the very wealthy, new giving methods and organizations now make it possible for the average person to donate $5, $10, $50, or more.  

September 5 is the United Nations’ International Day of Charity, which “calls for a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focused in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable.” Although not everyone has the extra income to give to charity, those who do usually want to be conscientious about where their money goes. The question is — who are you going to give your money to? 

Finding the organizations that fight for the causes you care about can be a tedious task, so we did some of the hard work for you. Here are five women-focused charities that deserve your hard-earned money this giving day. 

Warriors: Third Wave Fund

Certain groups are often left out of traditional philanthropy efforts, including trans people, queer people, and reproductive rights groups that aren’t big names in the field. As the “only activist fund led by and for women of color, intersex, queer, and trans folks under 35 years old” in the United States, Third Wave Fund is here to change that.

Third Wave was founded in 1992 in response to the rapid social changes and upheavals of the time, including the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, abortion restrictions, and sexual assault and racial injustice taking over the news. One of the organization’s (then called Third Wave Direct Action Fund) founders was Rebecca Walker, the woman who coined the term “third wave feminism” in a January 1992 Ms. magazine article, “Becoming the Third Wave.”

Third Wave Fund’s past initiatives include an emergency abortion fund, an organization that brought together youth leaders from around the world, a reproductive justice network, and personal scholarships for young women and transgender activists. Their current work includes two activist grant funds—one for urgent funding and one for long-term investments— a leadership development program, a philanthropy advocacy organization, and a grant program for current and former sex workers. 

For nearly 30 years, the fund has maintained its commitments to serving young people in traditionally underserved groups and being led by young people. Walker is no longer in leadership, and the Fund gets a new leader every few years as they age out. The social issues Walker was originally responding to feel achingly familiar today, which makes Third Wave Fund as relevant in 2019 as it was in 1992.

Third Wave is an amazing example of warriors fighting for their own within a system that was specifically designed to oppress them. If you want to help them fight that fight, you can set up a one time or recurring donation here

Pioneers: Girls Who Code

Think about how much time you spend on your computer, your phone, or your tablet and you’ll realize that programmers are literally creating the world in which we all live. And yet, the people who develop that code don’t match the demographics of the actual world in which we all live. Which is to say that they’re mostly white men.

We don’t have to read sci-fi novels to know what happens when a world is created exclusively for and by white men—we’re living in that reality already. In the digital world, humanity has the unique opportunity to direct the shaping of the future world. And that’s where Girls Who Code comes in.

Girls Who Code was created to close the gender gap in computer programming, which currently stands at one female coder for every five males coders—an imbalance they say will only get worse if current trends continue. Girls Who Code have created a series of programs that encourage and support girls and young women who want to become computer programmers, including after school clubs, a summer immersion coding school, and support groups for alumni in college. Girls Who Code has published 13 children’s books to encourage interest in computer science and offers free lesson plans featuring women in tech. The organization pairs coding and feminism through its International Day of the Girl celebration, and has created international Girls Who Code programs, which exist so far in India, Canada, and the UK. 

The future of humanity is going to include technology, and if you want to help Girls Who Code shape that future, donate to their cause or organize a fundraiser here.

Creators: Mayan Hands

Mayan women in Guatemala are some of the most skilled textile artists in the world, making their entire outfits—from head to toe—from scratch. They’re renowned for their incredible brocade, embroidery, and intricate weavings. And yet, they’re also the poorest and most oppressed people in Guatemalan society, facing outrageously high levels of domestic abuse, little to no formal education, and lack of access to employment. 

Mayan Hands is one nonprofit that’s out to change that by connecting Mayan women artisans with fair trade markets to sell their products. But it’s not just a capitalist enterprise. The organization also offers their 200 partner artisans in 13 communities in the Guatemalan Highlands micro-lending, training in new artisan skills and techniques, business and leadership development, access to health care, and classes in gender role awareness, domestic violence, conflict resolution, and herbal medicine.

The organization has been active in Guatemala for 25 years, during which time some members have become activists in their own right, speaking up against the oppression of Mayan women. But all members have seen an increase in their incomes, which leads to a greater ability to control their own lives. Those benefits are being passed on to the next generation, as the children of Mayan Hands members eat better and go to school—sometimes even to university. Mayan Hands helps directly with that, too, with their Mayan Hands Education Fund, which provides scholarships to the daughters of their artisan partners as well as school supplies to all of their children.

If you want to support these incredible women and their art form that has persisted through thousands of years, you can donate to Mayan Hands here.

Leaders: She Should Run

While women account for more than 50 percent of the US population, they occupy only 23.7 percent of the US House of Representatives and 25 percent of the US Senate. Those numbers hold for state-level politics as well. History has shown us that when certain groups aren’t in the room when laws and policies are made, those groups get left out of society in numerous ways.

She Should Run was created to address that gender disparity in politics. Their goal is to get a quarter million women to consider running for political office by 2030. By encouraging women to run for office, She Should Run aims to create the leaders we need to shape what the future of politics.

The process starts with their Ask a Woman to Run tool, which lets people identify a woman that they think should run for office. From there, She Should Run offers a She Should Run Incubator program that provides resources and community to women who are running for office for the first time. The Incubator aims to locate and educate women who have been thinking about running, but haven’t gotten around to it to yet.

The group launched after the 2016 election and have already seen impressive results, with 130 Incubator graduates on the ballots in 2018, according to She Should Run’s count.

If you think the first woman president just might be a She Should Run Incubator grad—or you just like what they’re doing and want to support getting more women into politics—you can donate to their cause here.

Champions: Girls On The Run

According to research by the Women’s Sports Foundation, more than half of girls will quit sports by age 17. The decision not to pursue sports can come from a variety of reasons, but it’s likely that a girl who quits sports will be less likely to be physically active as an adult.

Girls On The Run encourages girls to get and stay physically active, but also to reach for their goals in all aspects of their lives. The organization believes that girls who break through the physical barriers of becoming runners are empowered to break through other barriers in their lives as they grow older, be they professional or personal. 

Established in 1996 by 13 girls in North Carolina, Girls On The Run has now reached more than a million girls through the help of over 100,000 volunteers. In 2015, they hosted over 250 end-of-season 5k runs and they also launched a program specifically for middle school girls. They’ve gained national and international attention for their focus on helping girls stay physically active and achieve their goals.

If you want to make sure those girls keep running, you can donate to Girls On The Run here.

So, yes, the problems of the world can feel overwhelming, but, as this list shows, there are also incredible individuals and organizations working their hardest to create good in the world. If you’re able, consider donating to one of these five organizations on the International Day of Charity. You’ll be shining a little light into the darkness and, if there are enough of us, that tiny light can become something big.


Emma McGowan is a lifestyle writer whose byline has appeared in Mashable, Broadly, The Daily Dot, Mic, and The Bold Italic. She’s also the editor at the sexual health site Sexual + Being. She’s the sexual health columnist behind Sex IDK, at Bustle, where she also covers sex, sex education, reproductive rights, LGBTQIA+ issues, and gender politics. When she’s not writing about sex and feminism or having “inappropriate” conversations in public places, Emma can be found at her women and non-binary only coworking space, The Ruby. She’s also a fiber artist, with a focus on sewing and embroidery, which she teaches at the DIY school Workshop SF.