Giving Back During the Holiday Season

For many, the holiday season is an opportunity to give back to a charitable cause, whether it’s a donation of time or money. This trend of charitable donations hit a record high in 2015, making it the US’ most generous year to date, with an estimated 98.4% of high net worth households contributing to $373.25 billion donated.

However, of that $373.25 billion donated, only 8% went to health services, compared to other industry sectors such as religion and education. With the help of news features and resources like Charity Navigator and GuideStar, the below mental health non-profit organizations listed were selected with a focus on criteria such as transparency, accountability, sustainability, and the level of impact on beneficiaries in mind.  Use this holiday season as a chance support behavioral health research and resources by donating to one of the impressive organizations in the guide below.

Active Minds

  • Mission: Active Minds empowers students to change perceptions of mental health across college campuses. Through the formation of student-run chapters on campuses, Active Minds empowers young adults to lead mental health education, advocacy and awareness efforts with their peers, as well as create a safe environment for an open conversation about mental health issues on college campuses.
  • Target Demographics: With more than 400 student led-chapters, Active Minds aims to support and empower college and university communities across the United States.
  • Beneficiaries: In the 2013-2014 school year, Active Minds engaged more than 8,500 student volunteers and provided more than 1,000,000 students and staff with mental health education and resources.
  • Donations: While the Active Minds model is free of charge to students and staff, the organization seeks funding for chapter development and program-specific needs, such as conferences and initiatives. Want to purchase a fun holiday gift for a good cause? Check out the the project, Living With:, a t-shirt collection featuring designs based on behavioral patterns of specific mental disorders. Living With: donates $2 of every shirt sold to Active Minds.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

  • Mission: The National Alliance on Mental Illness is the country’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to advocating for access to services, treatment, support and research to build better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
  • Target Populations: Through the work of hundreds of local affiliates, state organizations, and volunteers, NAMI provides advocacy, education, support and public awareness for individuals and families affected by mental illness.
  • Beneficiaries: According their 2015 Financial Report, NAMI had the following impact:
    • Provided in-person, no-cost peer support to more than 160,000 individuals and families
    • Responded to 40,000 with direct support and referrals through the NAMI HelpLine
    • Hosted more than 80 NAMI Walks promoting awareness and well-being
  • Donations: You have the option to donate in honor of memory of someone, with 20% of funding going towards program & membership support, 14% advocacy, 11% education, 8% walks, and 13% capacity building.

The Trevor Project

  • Mission: Founded in 1998 by the creators of the award-winning short film TREVOR, the Trevor Project is the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts in the LGBTQ community.
  • Target Demographics: The Trevor Project targets their services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.
  • Beneficiaries: The Trevor Project offers a variety of services, including trainings, crisis intervention lifelines, college workshops, and an opportunity to take on the role of an advocate or ambassador. In one year alone, the Trevor Project has answered 45,000 lifeline calls and provided education materials and opportunities to 22,000 individuals.
  • Donations: With an operating budget of more than $3 million, a full time staff of 24 and nearly 500 dedicated volunteers, donations allow the Trevor Project to consistently and effectively offer their services. Your donation of $30 allows an emergency response volunteer with organization talk to one youth for 30 minutes, while $60 permits the call to run for nearly an hour.

Mental Health America

  • Mission: With over 228 affiliate organizations in 41 sates, Mental Health America is committed to promoting mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, highlighting the need for prevention services, early identification and intervention for those at risk, and integrated care with an emphasis on recovery through advocacy and grassroots actions.
  • Beneficiaries: As of June 2016, 1.3 million mental health screens have been completed since Mental Health America first launched the online screening program in 2014. The organization predicts that 2 million more screens will be completed in 2017. The screening program is a free and secure tool that allows individuals with a mental health concern to begin difficult conversations regarding mental health and wellness.
  • Donations: There are multiple ways to support Mental Health America beyond giving a direct donation. Federal Employees can donate a portion of their paycheck, pre-tax, to Mental Health America, by selecting 10564 on their donation form. Mental Health America is also an AmazonSmile Charity, meaning Amazon will donate a portion of your online purchase to MHA at no additional cost to you.

Mind Body Awareness Project (MBA Project)

  • Mission: The Mind Body Awareness Project is an Oakland-based non-profit organization that teaches mindfulness, emotional intelligence and mental health skills and techniques to high-risk and incarcerated youth within public schools, juvenile justice centers and the community at large.
  • Target Population: The MBA Project serves high-risk and incarcerated youth, ages ranging 15-18.
  • Beneficiaries: According to the MBA Project’s weekly program evaluations with participants, 77.4% found the group programs to be a safe place to share, 64.5% found that the group program helped manage their emotions, and 61.3% found their participation in the group decreased their overall stress.
  • Donations: Over 77% of every dollar donated to MBA Project goes directly towards programming for high-risk and incarcerated youth. With a donation of $35, you will received an American Apparel MBA Project t-shirt.

Want to learn more about mental health non-profits? Check out these additional organizations dedicated to making mental health resources accessible to everyone.


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