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Where to Send Your Last-Minute Donations

A short list of Minnesota's most compelling charities and nonprofits

We’ve had a ball this month spotlighting hundreds of Minnesota-made gift ideas, covering home goods, jewelry, clothing and accessories, kids and pets, wellness, food and drink, and experiences. In the spirit of giving, we hope everyone takes a moment to remember their favorite local charity or nonprofit. ⁣

As Minnesota’s annual #GivetotheMaxDay demonstrates, there is an organization doing great work for nearly every cause imaginable here. This roundup highlights oodles of deserving nonprofits, some of which have matching drives through the end of the year. That means your contribution counts now more than ever. Happy giving!

1. Open Arms of Minnesota is a nonprofit that cooks and delivers free, nutritious meals to people living with life-threatening illnesses in the Twin Cities. With the help of more than 7,300 volunteers, it has delivered food to 600,000-plus individuals living with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and Lou Gehrig’s disease. A $60 donation provides one client with a week’s worth of meals; $240 buys them a week’s worth of meals plus food for a caregiver and two children.

2. The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota is a nonprofit agency that provides legal assistance to low-income immigrants and refugees. It also works to educate local communities about immigration matters and advocate for state and federal policies which respect universal human rights.

Also notable: ALIGHT (formerly the American Refugee Committee), which provides humanitarian and disaster relief to more than 3.5 million people in 17 countries every year; the International Institute of Minnesota, which offers refugee services, career development, English education, and immigration assistance; and The Awood Center, a nonprofit whose primary interest is building economic and political power amongst workers in Minnesota’s East African community.

3. Can Do Canines trains and places service dogs with people needing hearing and mobility assistance or living with seizure disorders, autism, or Type 1 diabetes. Since 1989, nearly 700 people living with a disability have received assistance dogs from Can Do Canines at no charge. The average cost for each matched-and-trained team is more than $25,000.

Other animal-centric nonprofits we and our friends and readers cherish include Secondhand Hounds, Grey Face Rescue, Animal Humane Society of Golden Valley, Last Hope Inc., Ruff Start RescueMidwest Animal Rescue, Bitty Kitty Brigade, Feline Rescue, and The Wildcat Sanctuary.

4. Save the Boundary Waters is the esteemed nonprofit leading the charge to permanently protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from sulfide-ore copper mining — a fight that is more pressing now than ever.

Also notable: the Master Gardener volunteer program at the University of Minnesota, which has more than 2,300 active master gardeners sharing U of M horticultural expertise in nearly every county in the state.  ⁣

5. Emerge Mothers Academy is a nonprofit that provides support to single mothers in the Twin Cities and surrounding communities. This includes social services and counseling, parenting classes and mentorship, work preparation, and a micro loan grant program.

Also notable: Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless offers financial and technical support to homeless shelters, food shelves, and domestic violence shelters in Minnesota. Headway Emotional Health provides extensive mental health services for children, adolescents, individuals, couples, and families. And Family Tree Clinic specializes in comprehensive sexual health care and education, with an emphasis on LGBTQ health services.

6. Graywolf Press is one of the nation’s leading nonprofit publishers of poetry, fiction, literary nonfiction, and work in translation. It is dedicated to discovering and championing visionary literature by local, national, and international authors. Its canon addresses issues such as racism, gender equity, climate change, immigration, and war.

7. YouthLink MN is a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that works with homeless youth ages 16 to 24. Every year, it helps nearly 2,000 young people meet their basic needs by providing hot meals and hygiene supplies, educational and employment opportunities, and giving them a foot in the door with supportive housing.

Also notable: Hope 4 Youth, which is working to end youth homelessness, and Wildflyer Coffee, a new nonprofit coffee company with a nine-month employment-training program for youth experiencing homelessness.

Grace is a blood stem cell patient from Be the Match.

8. Be the Match supports the work of the National Marrow Donor Program, helping thousands of patients with leukemia and other life-threatening diseases. If you can’t donate money, please consider donating cord blood or bone marrow or hosting a donor drive.

Also notable: Children’s Cancer Research Fund and Play Laugh Love. The latter was established in memory of Tucker Helstrom, a 9.5-year-old boy from Hopkins who lived his best baseball-loving life despite an uphill battle against osteosarcoma.

9. Avivo serves 15,000 people a year, providing chemical and mental health services along with career education, housing, and employment opportunities — a truly holistic approach to wellness. It is especially unique in that it provides housing and daycare to families while a parent is in recovery.

Also notable: Southside Harm Reduction Services, a mobile harm reduction unit offering NARCAN and clean works to anyone in the Twin Cities area.

10. Friends of Hennepin County Library’s mission is to build awareness, appreciation, and support for the Hennepin County library system. Its fundraising efforts benefit programs such as Teen Tech Squad and Homework Help. A $15 gift buys a new children’s book; $25 funds a new hardcover; $120 sponsors a year of tutoring for one student; $250 sponsors the preservation and digitization of 75 Special Collection items; $500 funds a curated collection of library books at one of a dozen local homeless shelters; and a $1,000 gift sponsors a book club for one year at a senior residence.

Also notable: Kids In Need Minnesota, which provides free school supplies to students.

11. Wilderness Inquiry is all about inclusive outdoor adventure travel. The pioneering organization hosts more than 500 experiences a year, ranging from outdoor workshops to multi-day trips for adults, urban youth, individuals with disabilities, and other nontraditional users of public lands and waterways. Your donation helps to fund scholarships for people with financial need, programs for underserved youth and families, and support services for people with disabilities.

Also notable: Hammer Travel, which designs bespoke trips for intellectually and developmentally disabled adults; Voyageur Outward Bound School, which brings outdoor experiences and leadership training to women’s groups, veterans, at-risk youth, and more; Minnesota Cycling Center, which has a robust S.T.E.M. initiative for teens, as well as numerous community cycling programs; and Northside Boxing Club, a non-profit boxing gym in North Minneapolis that teaches “fundamentals about life, character, nutrition, education, and boxing.” Every weekday evening it offers free boxing classes, on-site tutoring, and a nutritious meal donated by a sponsoring restaurant.

12. Minnesota is chockablock with innovative civil rights and criminal justice programs. All Square is a South Minneapolis grilled cheese shop and institute educating and empowering people with criminal records. We Are All Criminals advocates for reason and mercy in our criminal and juvenile justice systems.

There are so many special nonprofits in Minnesota (Gender Justice, Veteran Resilience Project, OutFront Minnesota, CommonBond Communities, CornerHouse, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, Wingspan Life Resources, and Missing Children Minnesota, to name just a few more), this list barely scrapes the surface. Thankfully, GiveMN maintains a comprehensive database of Minnesota-based charities and nonprofits, searchable by category, cause, location, volunteer opportunities, and matching grants. Go forth, friends — search and be generous!