5 kick-ass changemaking charities that are making the world a better place.
I have always admired people who devote their lives to helping the planet. Unfortunately, I realised a few years ago that I only ever took part in activism occasionally and never volunteered for the causes I cared about.
Despite raising money for rainforests and joining the WWF when I was 13, as a mid-40s adult my daily actions were out of alignment with my cherished values. I felt upset and powerless about issues, but I was not walking my talk – I was an armchair astronaut and keyboard warrior.
At the same time I had conflicted feelings about making money. Our individual money stories are complex and layered. In 2014, I spent a lot of time and energy working through my money blocks and sorting out my finances.
I learnt a lot, including that one of my beliefs was ‘The rich are exploiting the planet.’
My circumstances changed considerably as I educated myself. By 2015, I decided to put my money where my mouth was and do something fiscal to support the causes I believed in. I found 5 kick-ass charities: daring and committed groups of people who stand up for animals, the environment and indigenous people across the world.
It’s a common problem amongst empaths and other natural born healers to feel that, if they look after themselves, someone else has to have less. When I tied in my earnings with being able to support the causes I cared about by donating monthly, it made it easier for me to increase my income without feeling guilty.
Though still very far from the frontline, I could put my skills to good use and make a difference, then contribute to the geater good with the cash earned.
** What issues do you care most passionately about?
** How do you stop yourself feeling powerless about the state of the world?
** How to do feel about financial success?
In case you are interested, here’s my 5 favourite kick-ass charities!
5 kick-ass changemaking charities:
1. Sea Shepherd, global marine conservation
Called “eco-terrorists” by the Japanese government and currently banned by US courts from approaching Japanese whaling ships, Sea Shepherd is the world’s leading direct-action ocean conservation organisation. Sea Shepherd was founded to protect marine life in 1977 by Paul Watson, a former member of Greenpeace, after a dispute with that organisation over what Watson saw as its lack of more aggressive intervention.
Sea Shepherd operations have included scuttling and disabling whaling vessels at harbor, intervening in Canadian and Namibian seal hunts, shining laser light into the eyes of whalers, throwing bottles of foul-smelling butyric acid onto vessels at sea, boarding of whaling vessels while at sea, and seizure and destruction of drift nets at sea.
Sea Shepherd claims that their aggressive actions are necessary as the international community has shown itself unwilling or unable to stop species-endangering and cruel whaling and fishing practices.
2. VET PAW – Veterans Empowered To Protect African Wildlife, US / Africa
Made famous online by comedian/animal activist Ricky Gervais and gun-toting ex-army officer Kinessa Johnson (above). VETPAW provides employs post-9/11 veterans to train and support Africa’s anti-poaching rangers and help protect endangered African wildlife.
Ten years ago founder and US army veteran Ryan Tate was exposed to the atrocities of elephant and rhino poaching, and the devastation it had on east African communities. He vowed to do something about it.
Iconic and irreplaceable wildlife is still on the brink of extinction due to illegal poaching. The crisis is already having far-reaching and catastrophic consequences. VETPAW collaborates closely with rangers, national parks, and government agencies in Africa.
Many army veterans are un- or underemployed. They face difficult futures once service has ended. Veterans benefit profoundly from the opportunity to serve and saves lives. VETPAW facilitates career development and personal growth too.
VETPAW‘s veterans work side-by-side with anti-poaching patrols, implementing infantry tactics, unit cohesion, medical skills, and other game-changing tools in the modern poaching war.
3. Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue, worldwide marine conservation
Top scientist Sylvia Earle has dedicated her life to the oceons and seen huge change in the oceans since she grew up in the US in the 1940s. She wants the world to know our oceans are dying. Hundreds of miles of ‘dead zones’ are appearing where once their was abundant life. Eco-systems are being destroyed by over-fishing, mining, human waste (including rubbish) and pollution.
A global initiative of the Sylvia Earle Alliance, Mission Blue was formed in response to Sylvia Earle’s 2009 TED Prize wish. Dr. Earle urges people “to use all means at your disposal — films, expeditions, the web, new submarines — to create a campaign to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas; Hope Spots large enough to save and restore the blue heart of the planet.”
Watch the Mission Blue Documentary free on Netflix.
4. The Crees Foundation nature conservation, the Amazon, South America
The BBC Two documentary ‘I Bought a Rainforest‘ featuring wildlife photographer Charlie Hamilton-James beautifully highlighted the work of The Crees Foundation. There are over 44,000 species of plants in the Amazonian rainforest yet only 1% of those 44,000 plants have been studied by scientists for their medicinal value. (1)
Despite this, the world has lost the equivalent of 68,000 soccer fields of forest every day over the past 13 years — 50 soccer fields per minute. (2).
Crees Foundation has a mission to create a realistic long-term model for protecting the bio-diversity of the rainforest; one that fully involves the people who live there. This means encouraging and supporting sustainable ways of making a living from the rainforest, starting within the 1500 acres of rainforest the foundation owns.1. Ref: Nick Polizzi, The Sacred Science.
2. Ref: World Resources Institute, 2013
5. The Gentle Barn animal sanctuary, California
Over 160 farm animals rescued from severe abuse, neglect or abandonment live at The Gentle Barn, California, USA. They are rehabilitated with top quality nutrition, medicine and countless hours in the arms of staff and volunteers.
Slowly, as the animals realise that they are loved and their abuse is over, they regain their trust in humankind. Because of ongoing physical and psychological needs, the animals are given sanctuary for the rest of their lives.
This charity works with inner-city children from Los Angeles, group homes, mental health care facilities, foster homes and schools. The children’s interaction with the rescued animals is deeply healing for both animal and child.
Engaging with the animals teaches these often troubled children how to feel empathy, how to behave towards others – and how to respect difference.
In January 2017 I added the animal hero Marc Ching and the Barn Sanctuary:
6. Animal Hero Marc Ching’s Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation
Marc Ching is a holistic nutritionist for animals who started the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation in 2011 after he realised he could rehabilitate abused and neglected dogs in Los Angeles.
In 2015, he heard about the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China and travelled there to learn more.
He discovered abuse and inhumanity so brutal he knew his life would never be the same. His work is now focused on rescuing and campaigning for animals in Asia, as well as the US.
I urge you to listen to his compelling story in this fascinating and moving interview with Marc Ching on the Rich Roll Podcast.
7. Dan & Tom McKernan’s Barn Sanctuary (farm animal rescue, USA)
Barn Sanctuary is a hands-on animal sanctuary dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and caring for animal refugees. The small charity in Michigan state, USA, educates the general public about the horrific treatment of animals raised for food, and the positive impact that a plant-based diet can have on the environment and human health.
Siblings Dan and Tom McKernan provide rescue and shelter to horses, cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, sheep, goats, and rabbits who have been saved from abuse, abandonment, and natural disasters. Additionally, visitors can play with goats, belly rub pigs, cuddle the chickens and get nuzzled by some very friendly sheep!
What causes are you rooting for? What calls out to your heart? How can you support your own causes and beliefs more? Be the change you wish to see. Or, if you can’t be the change, invest in those people who help make those changes for everyone.