Here at Crikey, we know there are charities and then there are charities. Here are our nominations for the best places to donate your hard-earned this December. 

UN Refugee Agency — Charlie Lewis, journalist

The UNHCR provides the healthcare, blankets, shelter and food that displaced people need in the aftermath of the unimaginable — and increasingly common — events that push them from their homes. They work on sanitation and projects that allow refugees to support themselves in the countries where they resettle. They recognise the unique experiences of different groups — disabled, LGBTIQ, the elderly, religious minorities, men and boys — with masses of displaced people. And they do it in every region of the world, from Kenya, to Myanmar to Ukraine.

Gunawirra — Bhakthi Puvanenthiran, associate editor 

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial and get Crikey straight to your inbox

By submitting this form you are agreeing to Crikey's Terms and Conditions.

While a lack of access to elective surgery and kidney replacements by Indigenous people has been in the news lately, mental health support is one area that is often forgotten. Gunawirra is aimed at improving the lives of traumatised Indigenous parents and their young children, which seems like a pretty important job. The group was founded in 2008 by Aboriginal representatives and elders from around NSW as well as mental health professionals. One element worth investigating is the Young Aboriginal Mothers Program which provides therapy and support with the aim of reducing intergenerational trauma. It’s important work.

Médecins Sans Frontières — Helen Razer, columnist

No matter what Peter Singer has to say in his TED talks about “effective altruism”, charity is not the quickest route to freedom from hunger, homelessness, war, dirty water etc. But, as Father Christmas is yet to bring the radical and global economic restructuring I wrote to him about, ‘tis still the season to shove some dollars in someone else’s sack. This month, as last month and all the months since the shocking airstrike on a hospital in Kunduz, I gave what I could to Médecins Sans Frontières, AKA Doctors Without Borders. Long before Western media fell in love with Western-government funded White Helmets, MSF were there, first into and last out of the planet’s sites of unthinkable horror. The organisation, overwhelmingly funded by individual donation, seems to have no affiliation that might crap me off. Its key relationship is with human life. The actual, hands-on non-metaphoric work of MSF is to safeguard human life. Can’t think of a nobler aim, tbh. Give to MSF.

Indigenous Literacy Fund — Jack Vening, subeditor

I like the ILF because it’s grassroots, it’s simple and it’s effective. They get books and reading resources to kids and families in remote communities, run early-reading programs, and publish community-collaborated stories. They’re a small organisation (originally started by booksellers in Brisbane) but have gone on to have an impact throughout Australia.

The Orangutan Project — Emily Watkins, media reporter

Given we’re at the highest-consumption time of year, and chances are at least some of all that food you’re eating contains palm oil — one of the main reasons the orangutans are losing their habitat — consider throwing some cash to the people helping to look after the critically endangered species. The Orangutan Project is an Australian registered charity collaborates with a number of conservation projects for Sumatran orangutans, and you can make regular or one-off donations, or adopt one of the orphans they’re caring for. 

Save the Children — Dan Wood, associate editor

Save the Children for their tireless work with asylum seekers in offshore detention, and Indigenous kids in the NT. Their work improving access to healthcare and education, as well as early childhood development and protection, is worth your money.

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre — Chris Woods, casual reporter 

This holiday season, I’m donating to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s Xmas Appeal. The ASRC does a range of work for people seeking asylum, from legal aid to advocacy to health to housing to education to etc etc etc. Supporting them won’t reverse the pain Australia has inflicted on innocent human beings, or bring back the people we have forced into suicide or murder, but it’s also one of the few options we have of fighting back.