2022 Guide to Giving Highlights: Learn More About Supporting Chicago Nonprofits This Year and Beyond

It is the season of giving, and we have compiled a comprehensive guide with over 100 ways to support Chicago-area nonprofits. Here, we highlight some organizations throughout Chicago, and the best ways to support them this holiday season and into 2023. Read on to hear from them, in their own words.

For the complete listing, check out our 2022 Better Guide to Giving.

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

“Travel through history as you explore life before, during, and after the Holocaust. Step into an authentic German rail car. ‘Meet’ an interactive 3D Survivor hologram and ask questions about their story. Take a virtual reality journey through concentration camps with a Survivor who experienced them. Visit impressive galleries that explore historic and contemporary human rights topics. Reflect in breathtaking contemplative spaces, both indoors and out. Leave inspired to make a difference and take a stand for humanity.

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center’s mission is expressed in its founding principle: ‘Remember the Past, Transform the Future.’ The Museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust by honoring the memories of those who were lost and by teaching universal lessons that combat hatred, prejudice, and indifference.”

What is your greatest need currently, and moving into the 2023 year?

“Ongoing support from visitors and donors alike.”

How can our readers best support your organization?

“Go to Ilholocaustmuseum.org to learn how to visit, volunteer, and give.”

Cradles to Crayons

“Cradles to Crayons provides children, from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations with the essential items they need to thrive—at home, at school, and at play. We supply these items, free of charge, by engaging and connecting communities. Cradles to Crayons collects new and high-quality used children’s goods and engages thousands of youth and adults in volunteer activities each year to serve under-resourced children with the essentials.

1 in 2 children in Chicago is at risk of experiencing clothing insecurity. Cradles to Crayons is driven by a focused and all-important goal: to make life better for children in need.”

What is your greatest need currently, and moving into the 2023 year?

“Our greatest need is donations of gently used children clothing for ages 0-12 and monetary donation to support our mission and the families we serve through our partnership with 70+ service partners.”

How can our readers best support your organization?

“Readers can support Cradles to Crayons by donating gently used or new clothing for children 0-12 at one of our 35+ drop off locations, volunteering at our Giving Factory in the North Center neighborhood of Chicago, or donate monetarily to support our work and mission. Readers can learn more by visiting our website at cradlestocrayons.org/chicago.”

Greater Chicago Food Depository

“Our mission is to end hunger. We believe that food is a basic human right. To achieve our mission, we work in partnership with a network of community-based organizations and individuals. Together, we connect our neighbors with healthy food, lift our voices and advance solutions that address the root causes of hunger —poverty, systemic inequity, and structural racism. Together, we are greater. Together, we can end hunger.

The Food Depository is a proud member of Feeding America — the national network of food banks. By working to help those most in need go from hungry to hopeful, the Food Depository is building a Greater Chicago.”

What is your greatest need currently, and moving into the 2023 year?

“As the hunger crisis persists and rising food prices challenge families already at risk of food insecurity, the Food Depository and our community partners continue to respond to the elevated need. We need the continued support of the community to help. Donations and volunteers are essential to our work of ending hunger and its root causes. Together, we can provide not only food, but hope.”

How can our readers best support your organization?

“Financial donations allow us to distribute healthy food to people in need and invest in programs to address the root causes of hunger. During these challenging times, financial support gives us the greatest flexibility to respond – and adjust – to rising food costs. Every dollar donated can help us provide the equivalent of three meals for our neighbors in need. Donate at chicagosfoodbank.org/donate. Volunteers also play a critical role in everything we do. In-person opportunities are available to repack food in our warehouse, deliver meals to children, support mobile food distributions and more. Sign up at chicagosfoodbank.org/volunteer.”

Prairie State Legal Services, Inc.

“Prairie State Legal Services (PSLS) is a non-profit law firm that provides free civil legal services for low-income people and people aged 60 and over. With 11 office locations serving 36 counties in Northern and Central Illinois, Prairie State Legal Services works to ensure equal access to justice and fair treatment under the law by providing legal advice and representation, advocacy, education, and outreach that serve to protect basic human needs and enforce or uphold rights.”

What is your greatest need currently, and moving into the 2023 year?

“PSLS relies heavily on private donors. Approximately 80-90% of our budget comprises federal, state, and local government or foundation grants which are restricted. This means that PSLS can only use them for specific populations, geographic locations, or legal issues. Often these funds are insufficient to cover the full costs of delivering these services. Therefore, unrestricted funding such as that provided by your readers is essential to enable PSLS to fulfill our mission to provide the holistic legal services needed to meet our clients’ basic human needs.”

How can our readers best support your organization?

“The greatest way to support Prairie State Legal Services is to make an unrestricted cash donation or, if you are a lawyer licensed to practice in Illinois, to consider volunteering with one of our pro bono programs. To donate, visit www.pslegal.org/donate and to inquire about volunteering, please email [email protected].”

The People’s Music School

“The People’s Music School is Chicago’s oldest and largest completely tuition-free music school, serving over 750 low-income students across Chicago with high-quality, intensive music education. TPMS teaches 21 different instruments through after-school instruction of up to 4 hours per week per student. Through intensive instruction and performance, students achieve excellence in music that transfers to other areas in life. They grow musically, socially, emotionally and intellectually, and develop a foundation of responsibility, self-esteem, resilience and purpose.”

What is your greatest need currently, and moving into the 2023 year?

“Donations to The People’s Music School go towards providing intensive, tuition-free music education to students who would not otherwise be able to afford it.”

How can our readers best support your organization?

“Give the gift of music today and donate to The People’s Music School. Your donation goes towards providing intensive, tuition-free music education to over 700 students across Chicago.”

Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods

“Brushwood Center collaborates closely with community partners to offer art and nature programs to youth, families, Veterans, seniors, artists, and area residents. Our program strategy is rooted in the asset-based community engagement model, which is a bottom-up way of working with communities that focuses on community strengths and assets rather than on deficits and problems.

Join Brushwood Center’s community programs throughout the year! Visit our gallery for rotating art exhibitions, enjoy one of our upcoming concerts, shop our seasonal art markets, and join our Smith Nature Symposium Series. Be sure to explore the Brushwood Art Supply Exchange (BASE), our on-site creative reuse center with discounted art and craft supplies that are free to teachers and nonprofits.”

What is your greatest need currently, and moving into the 2023 year?

“Brushwood Center seeks donations to provide meet the growing demand for mental health support and educational services through nature and art-based programs for youth, families, Veterans, and seniors in our community.”

How can our readers best support your organization?

“Visit brushwoodcenter.org to make a donation, sign up for our newsletter, or learn how to volunteer!”

Paws for Patrick

“Paws for Patrick is a 501c3 organization dedicated to connecting young people with Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) & Therapy Dogs to aid them as they live with mental illness. Utilizing our unique Wish Granter & Therapy Dog programs, we provide the funds and resources to bring the love of animals to the people who need it most. We also seek to raise awareness of mental illness and break the stigma that still exists. We were founded by the Roemer family of Lake Forest in memory of their son Patrick who lived with depression and anxiety for most of his young life.”

What is your greatest need currently, and moving into the 2023 year?

“Paws for Patrick was created to  support young people with mental illness through the use of emotional support animals (ESAs) and therapy animals. We have received over 300 application requests from children and young adults requesting an ESA. We need more funds to make sure that we never have to turn a young person in need away.”

How can our readers best support your organization?

“Donate at pawsforpatrick.org.”

Kenilworth Union Church

“Kenilworth Union Church is an ecumenical church community. Independent of any particular denomination, Kenilworth Union nurtures love, faith and fellowship; unites generations and traditions; and inspires generosity and service for all people in the name of Jesus.
At the core of Kenilworth Union is the Outreach program, which supports 40 not-for-profit benevolence agencies in the Chicago area. We are committed to serving the greater community in meaningful ways as we focus on supporting children and their education, emergency services, physical and mental health, or agencies that provide a range of services to a particular impoverished community.

Each year, Kenilworth Union makes grants to these 40 human service organizations. In addition, our volunteers participate in various service programs, projects, or events at many of the supported agencies, all of which are selected during a formal annual process. A donation to Kenilworth Union will, in turn, help support social services throughout Chicago.”

What is your greatest need currently, and moving into the 2023 year?

“Kenilworth Union Church partners with 40 local service organizations through its Outreach program. Each non-profit organization depends on contributions to keep servicing their communities, whether that means providing health services to under-resourced neighborhoods; clothes and books for children in need; housing for vulnerable people; and more. We raise funds and provide grants each year to all of these organizations, but the organizations are always stretched thin in their service to tens of thousands of Chicagoans; helping them secure more donations would provide more resources and ease the burden, both for the organizations themselves and the people whom they serve.”

How can our readers best support your organization?

“By donating to our Outreach fund, you can help make a significant contribution to local service organizations that have been vetted and shown to meaningfully improve the lives of tens of thousands of Chicagoans. Participating in any of our other Outreach fundraisers, such as our Advent Giving programs or the Day-by-Day calendar sale (which make great gifts!) will also go directly to supporting the nonprofit agencies.”

iMentor Chicago

“iMentor Chicago is on a mission to help students in under-resourced communities navigate the path to post-secondary success and economic mobility. We do this by matching an adult volunteer mentor with every student in our CPS partner schools, no matter their GPA or test scores.

Mentors work with students for 2-4 years to help them transition out of high school and on to college, career, military service, or certification and training programs. Mentor/mentee pairs are supported by iMentor’s full-time college counselors, who are embedded in our partner schools and implement our proven college success curriculum in weekly classes that are part of the school day.

The results? iMentor students are 74% more likely to complete college than their peers from similar high schools, and more than 90% of mentors return to the program each year.”

What is your greatest need currently, and moving into the 2023 year?

“iMentor Chicago is gearing up for even greater scale with a goal to double the number of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) served from 4 to 8 in the next three years. Our greatest need is to recruit dedicated 1:1 mentors for our students.”

How can our readers best support your organization?

“Readers can support our organization through signing up to be a mentor to a Chicago Public Schools high school student; introduce us to their companies so we can do lunch and learns at their offices to recruit new mentors; introduce us to HR about how we can partner so Chicagoland companies can hire our diverse entry-level talent; and donate to our nonprofit so we can double the number of schools we are in over the next three years.”

Fill a Heart 4 Kids

“Fill a Heart 4 Kids provides local underserved and foster children educational support, critical necessities, and enriching experiences to help youth & communities Build Brighter Futures.”

What is your greatest need currently, and moving into the 2023 year?

“Food gift cards are critical to help children struggling without a consistent place to sleep at night. Food gift cards allow children to get off the street, warm up, have a warm meal and eat with dignity. On Average, a $10 McDonald’s or Dunkin Donuts gift card allow youth to get off the street and they can stretch it over 8 visits. Gift cards from Jewel and Walgreen/CVS allow at-risk youth to shop with dignity and purchase necessities that are fit for them, especially young woman during their monthly cycle. 

Our continued replenishment of school supplies and full size toiletries are necessary for our at-risk youth as it allows them to continue to go to school clean, prepared and ready to learn without shame.”

How can our readers best support your organization?

“Monthly monetary sponsorships allow us to purchase supplies in bulk so your dollars can go further and be able to meet the children’s immediate needs.

We also welcome volunteers and teachers throughout the year to help with  fulfillment into our shop, as well as tutoring and leading enrichment activities.”

Chicago Rowing Foundation

“Our 25th Anniversary campaign will set the pace and prepare Chicago Rowing Foundation (CRF) for the future– charting a path to open water to change lives meaningfully through the magic of rowing. CRF takes a comprehensive approach to the physical, mental, and social well-being of its athletes, and creates an environment that promotes physical exercise, teamwork, positive role models, and wellness. CRF will anchor its fundraising on providing financial aid to athletes, supporting a world-class coaching staff, and funding for vital capital projects such as buildings, boats and fleet. Please join us in supporting the significant growth and trajectory of CRF through three main areas of priority: accessibility, excellence, and opportunity, by supporting the club’s team development, community outreach, operational improvements, and expansion plans.”

What is your greatest need currently, and moving into the 2023 year?

“Chicago Rowing Foundation provides all students the ability to row regardless of the ability to pay. We expose over 1,500 new people to rowing every year through our community outreach initiatives. Ongoing support for our scholarship programs is the key to ensuring our team is best prepared for the future and to help change lives through the magic of rowing.”

How can our readers best support your organization?

“All donations to Chicago Rowing Foundation’s 25th Anniversary Open Water Gala will help to serve all who want to row and reflect the diversity of our great city. Your support will power forward our three core areas of program differentiation: accessibility, excellence, and opportunity.”

ShowerUp

“ShowerUp provides mobile showers and personal care for those who are experiencing homelessness. The ShowerUp mobile shower unit goes to various locations each week to offer clean, private, safe, comfortable, hot showers to those who are unhoused or in need. Clean towels, toiletries, hygiene, socks, underwear, and other supplies are provided. It’s our hope that something as simple and basic as a shower can ignite hope, elevate dignity, and remind our unhoused brothers and sisters that they matter and that they are loved. ShowerUp relies on the support of individuals, families, businesses, faith groups, and others in order to operate. It’s our hope that as we build relationships with the friends we serve, they will be able to understand that they are a part of a community of people who care about them. ShowerUp launched in Chicago in 2021 and serves in 25 locations around Chicago each month.”

What is your greatest need currently, and moving into the 2023 year?

“Our greatest need would be the funds to launch our second mobile shower unit and team in Chicago. Our first team is doing 25-30 events each month and yet the need is so great that we could serve even more of Chicago’s unhoused neighbors with a second unit. That’s a large need at a cost of $225,000. Additional needs include men’s boxer briefs , toiletry kits (soap/body wash, shampoo, washcloth, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, shaving cream and 3-blade razor, plus anything else that you would like to include), sleeping bags, and water resistant, insulated winter gloves. We also have needs for volunteers, people to help with social media, and community ambassadors.”

How can our readers best support your organization?

“The biggest ways you can support ShowerUp are as a volunteer, a community ambassador, and a financial supporter. We have many opportunities to volunteer that require no special training. Community Ambassadors help to get the word out about ShowerUp and share ShowerUp with their friends and circle of influence to drive engagement and financial support. ShowerUp is a nonprofit charity and we rely on the donations of individuals, families, churches, businesses, and anyone who wants to help Shower Grace, Hope, and Love on those experiencing homelessness.”

Madonna Mission

“Madonna Mission provides refugee families with literacy, tutoring, and resettlement programs that support their journey to self-sufficiency. We empower through education.”

What is your greatest need currently, and moving into the 2023 year?

“Madonna Mission’s greatest needs are to identify consistent funding streams and gain widespread recognition and support.”

How can our readers best support your organization?

“We would be grateful for a gift of any amount. Madonna Mission is also seeking dedicated volunteers to provide one-on-one tutoring to refugee women and children.”

Keshet

“Keshet is dedicated to creating a community of belonging where people of all abilities learn, play, live, work and grow together. Our programs include schools, camps, sports, social and recreational activities, adult day and residential homes. Our services continue to grow alongside our participants and help provide over 600 children and adults with disabilities each year.”

What is your greatest need currently, and moving into the 2023 year?

“We are actively seeking employers, businesses and organizations to partner with us to provide jobs and/or job training sites for adults in Keshet’s programs. Hiring people with disabilities not only provides a sense of purpose and financial independence for the person hired, it benefits the entire workforce and fosters a company culture of inclusivity.”

How can our readers best support your organization?

“There are so many ways to support Keshet in addition to financial giving. Consider volunteering with us; having Keshet provide training on inclusion to organizations or businesses; hiring an adult with disabilities; attending our events and programs; sharing our job openings; joining our staff team; and, most importantly, carrying out our mission to create a community of belonging in your own lives. (FYI – Keshet is one of a few organizations in our area where kids as young as 6th grade can volunteer without a parent being present).”

National Kidney Foundation

“The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois improves the health and well-being of people at risk for or affected by kidney disease through prevention, education and empowerment.

The NKFI is a lifeline for all people affected by kidney disease. As pioneers of scientific research and innovation, the NKFI focuses on the whole patient through the lens of kidney health. Relentless in our work, we improve lives through action, education and accelerating change.”

Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter

“The Alzheimer’s Association leads the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. We work on a national and local level to provide care and support for all those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

As the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research, the Association is committed to advancing vital research toward methods of treatment, prevention and, ultimately, a cure.

We are the leading voice for Alzheimer’s disease advocacy, fighting for critical Alzheimer’s research and care initiatives at the state and federal level.”

Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund

“Join us on Monday, June 5, 2023, for the biggest golf event of the season – the Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund’s 34th Annual Golf Classic! The Annual Golf Classic offers the opportunity to, bid on exclusive live and silent auction packages. Auction items and experiences include golf at the country’s most private golf courses, fine wine, event tickets, and more. The 2022 outing was a record-breaking event that hosted 600+ golfers at eight courses, raising over $2.5 million for Murphy Scholars.

The Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund provides high school tuition assistance and educational support annually to 500 Chicago students from under-resourced neighborhoods to attend private college prep high schools in Chicago and boarding schools around the country. Support of the Golf Classic ensures DMSF can continue to make a life-altering difference in the lives of our Scholars!

Learn more at dmsf.org/golf.”

Catholic Charities Chicago

“Community is core to Catholic Charities’ mission. It’s at the heart of what we do. For more than 100 years, we’ve served anyone in need, regardless of their faith, gender, race, or ethnicity.

Serving Lake and Cook counties, services offered at Catholic Charities include:  

  • Aiding adoptive families with counseling and tools to navigate roles as new parents. 
  • Counseling survivors of domestic violence through holistic services that help them move toward a life with their children that is financially independent and free from harm. 
  • Teaching expectant mothers how to live free of addiction and violence with pathways to behavioral health, doula services, and home-visit parenting support. 
  • Preventing homelessness through short-term housing, employment, and counseling designed to enable self-sufficiency. 
  • Sometimes the greatest impact you can make upon the world is by giving close to home.  Join us to witness a message of mercy and hope to a world in need.”

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