It’s that time of year when my stack of unpaid bills is not the tallest structure on my desk; it’s outranked by the mountain of holiday appeals from non-profits. Most of my end-of-the-year donations go to organizations that work to relieve poverty, promote animal rights and veganism, or help animals in my local community. But with so many groups doing exceptional work, I have to prioritize.

Of the groups that are devoted strictly to promoting vegan diets, I’m pretty picky about where my dollars go. Given my own professional and activist efforts, I’m very disinclined to support those organizations that endorse questionable nutrition information, or that exaggerate health benefits of vegan diets. As I’ve noted many times on this blog, I think that those efforts are harmful in the long run to vegans and the animals we want to help.

And I have a fondness for grassroots efforts, even though I recognize that big and splashy media-savvy projects play a role, too.

It’s no secret that I have a soft spot in my heart for Vegan Outreach. And it’s not just because I recently co-authored a book with the group’s president. (I was a VO supporter long before that.) It’s because I appreciate their savvy and straightforward approach to advocating for animals. They target the sector of the population most likely to be receptive to a vegan message, they are impeccably honest in how the message is presented, and they work to maximize the impact of every dollar spent.

The type of work that Vegan Outreach does isn’t splashed across the news every other day but, there is evidence that their pragmatic and tireless efforts pay off big time for the animals. The people at Utilitarian Essays certainly think so. They say that “[A] single dollar donated to Vegan Outreach is expected to prevent between 100 days and 51 years of suffering on a factory farm.” It’s a big range, of course, since the numbers depend on some estimates. But even the lower end of that range is remarkable; it suggests that a $25.00 donation prevents nearly seven years of suffering.

Another organization that has been on my radar quite a bit over the past several years is Compassionate Action for Animals. This is a regional group based in Minneapolis-St. Paul. They are well-organized, and they employ an extensive array of grassroots activities to promote veganism and respect for animals. CAA says that they strive “to use the most accurate and reliable information available in our efforts to educate people about animals.” As a result, their website is a wealth of good, dependable information for activists.  I think they serve as a model for other city- or regional-based vegan activist groups.

And finally, I’m stepping up my donations to the Vegetarian Resource Group. This is another group that may lack the glitz factor, but they remain one of the handful of places on the internet where you can get unbiased, evidence-based, reliable information on vegan nutrition—which is way more important than being glitzy.

So that’s how I’m spending at least some of my money this holiday season. It’s for the animals, and I’m grateful to those who work with integrity and wisdom on their behalf.