20 Ways to Donate on Giving Tuesday in Chicago

Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t the only ways to kick-off the giving season. Give the gift that keeps on giving by donating to one of Chicago’s many local charities this Giving Tuesday, Dec. 3.

And for more ideas of ways to get involved on Giving Tuesday, check out #ILGive (pronounced “I’ll Give”), Illinois’ official Giving Tuesday campaign. Forefront (a collaborative effort to advance Illinois’ social impact sector) works through #ILGive to connect Illinois residents with causes they care about.

Through #ILGive, Forefront mobilizes Illinois nonprofits and foundations to increase individual giving across the state. Last year, donors gave $13.4 million to Illinois social good organizations on #ILGive for Giving Tuesday. We are proud of our mutually beneficial partnership with Forefront, their insights on good philanthropy, and their sponsorship of the Make It Better Foundation Philanthropy Awards.

If you’re looking to create the most impact with your Giving Tuesday gift, you can trust those who have won our Philanthropy Awards, some of which you’ll find below in addition to other worthy nonprofits.

Bernie’s Book Bank

Make It Better Foundation Philanthropy Awards

Bernie’s Book Bank sources, processes, and distributes quality new and gently used children’s books to significantly increase book ownership among at-risk infants, toddlers, and school-age children through Chicagoland. They believe that reading is the single most important skill a child needs in order to contribute and function competently within society. Bernie’s Book Bank is a Philanthropy Award winner.

How to help: Give the gift of book ownership. A $16 donation gives the gift of 12 quality books for two children.


Make It Better Foundation Philanthropy Awards

H.O.M.E. helps Chicago’s low-income older adults to live independent and socially engaged lives by providing intergenerational housing, home repair services, a shopping bus, moving assistance, and caring volunteers. All month long in preparation for Giving Tuesday, H.O.M.E. has been sharing stories that demonstrate the impact of support on their seniors and the diversity of experiences within the community. A common theme through all the stories is the value placed on independence. H.O.M.E. is a Philanthropy Award winner.

How to help: You can donate to H.O.M.E. on Giving Tuesday and the Retirement Research Foundation has promised to match all the funds raised!

Kids Rank

Kids Rank is a 501c(3) service-based organization developed specifically for military children. Through the formation of local clubs, Kids Rank engages children in hands-on skill-building projects and volunteer opportunities designed to encourage resilience while supporting their physical, emotional, intellectual, and social needs. Better is proud of our partnership with Kids Rank.

How to help: Donate to Kids Rank this Giving Tuesday — $75 covers club dues and uniform allowance, $100 is an annual family camping trip, $150 goes to Red Cross babysitter training, and $250 goes to a night at the museum.


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Turning Point Behavioral Health Center

Turning Point is an outpatient mental health center with a mission to provide solid support when its most needed. They provide expert, affordable, and compassionate care to people during some of the most difficult times of their lives. Clients range widely in age, diagnosis, and socioeconomic group. Client cultural, ethnic, and religious orientations are as diverse as the staff available to serve them. Fees are structured on a sliding scale flex to align with each client’s income. Better is proud of our partnership with Turning Point.

How to help: Make a donation this Giving Tuesday to help those suffering from mental illness gain access to the care they need. Turning Point also celebrates its 50th anniversary this year!


Make It Better Foundation Philanthropy Awards

Founded in 1969, BUILD (Broader Urban Involvement & Leadership Development) is one of Chicago’s leading gang intervention, violence prevention, and youth development organizations. Their mission is to engage at-risk youth in schools and on the streets to help them realize their potential and contribute to their communities. They focus on hard-to-serve youth in some of Chicago’s most challenging neighborhoods. BUILD is a Philanthropy Award winner.

How to help: Donate to BUILD to support youth through after-school and out-of-school activities that help them flourish.

Common Threads

Common Threads is a national nonprofit that provides children and families cooking and nutrition education to encourage healthy habits that contribute to wellness. They equip under-resourced communities with information to make affordable, nutritious, and appealing food choices wherever they live, work, learn, and play.

How to help: This year’s Giving Tuesday campaign will support an array of programming, including Family Cooking Classes, Grocery Store Tours, and Parent Workshops. In honor of their 15th Anniversary, they have set their fundraising goal at $15,000.


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Golden Apple Foundation

Golden Apple’s mission is to inspire, develop, and support teacher and school leader excellence in Illinois, especially in schools-of-need. Their vision is an Illinois in which every classroom has a great teacher, and to realize this, they are committed to making a material difference in resolving the teacher shortage crisis throughout Illinois by growing their leading-edge teacher preparation program, Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois.  

Unfilled teaching positions impact thousands of students annually and leave them without a highly-effective teacher in the classroom.  The highest vacancy rates are concentrated in high poverty areas — and where students need highly effective teachers the most —  in positions for students with special needs and for whom English is not their first language.

The Scholars program is a proven solution to this problem. It delivers exceptional teachers who make an impact from day one. The program prepares highly-effective, diverse teachers to teach in the most challenging school environments in Illinois, and who remain in teaching at higher rates than any other program.

How to help: Make a donation this Giving Tuesday or register as part of their 2020 Marathon team!

Center for Independent Futures

Center for Independent Futures was established to help individuals with disabilities, their families, educators, and agencies plan, support, and sustain more fulfilling lives. They create innovative product and service models that give individuals with disabilities and their families the skills and opportunities to realize full lives. Better is proud to promote CIF.

How to help: They are hoping to surpass last year’s fundraising efforts by raising $25,000 this Giving Tuesday. They are participating in #ILGive in the hopes of making Illinois one of the most generous states in the U.S. The Coleman Foundation will also donate $175 for every gift of $175 or more.


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Skin of Steel

Make It Better Foundation Philanthropy Awards

Since 2013, Skin of Steel and AIM at Melanoma have been working on creating and funding the Melanoma Tissue Bank Consortium. This year, three of the four U.S. branches (UPMC, CPMC, and OHSU) have opened for collection of fresh frozen primary melanoma tumor tissue. “A biobank of fresh frozen primary melanoma tissues is truly the pot of gold for research,” says Sancy Leachman, M.D., Ph.D., Chair, Department of Dermatology and Director, Melanoma Research Program, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. Skin of Steel is a Philanthropy Award winner.

How to help: Donate this Giving Tuesday to ensure that this collaborative effort can continue to grow and provide researchers with the tools they need to fight Melanoma.

United Way of Lake County

United Way of Lake County’s mission is to unite leadership and resources to create lasting change that will improve lives in Lake County, Illinois. They believe education is the foundation for success in work and in life. And, in order for children to succeed in school, they need stability in a safe home environment.

How to help: This year, United Way of Lake County’s Giving Tuesday campaign will help support their new 211 program. It is a powerful information and referral service that helps people in need connect to a wide range of available community resources to improve and save lives. The service provides access to critical services like shelter and affordable housing options, utility assistance, supplemental food programs, addiction support and rehabilitation, crisis counseling, employment and education support, health care and mental health, and more. By giving between Nov. 26 and Dec. 10, the Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County has promised to match 100 percent of new and increased donations.


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Northwestern Settlement Community

Make It Better Foundation Philanthropy Awards

For more than 125 years, Northwestern Settlement has nurtured, educated, and inspired children and families in need in Chicago. Focusing on changing lives through education, social services, and the arts, Northwestern Settlement’s programs are fully integrated to meet the complex needs of our neighbors. Unfortunately, Northwestern Settlement facilities have experienced devastating water damage due to a sprinkler system malfunction, resulting in a 50 percent of anticipated revenue this year, and preliminary estimates indicate restoration of the offices and historic landmark may exceed their insurance coverage by $200,000. NUSH is a Philanthropy Award winner.

How to help: Consider making a donation to help support the organization in continuing its mission this holiday season despite these devastating setbacks.

Argentium Care

For over 40 years Argentium Care has been serving Chicagoland by supporting the adults in our communities. They are intent on delivering the highest level of service and support to adults in order to remain in their homes, adapting to their changing needs without sacrificing quality.

How to help: Consider making a donation to Argentium Care on Giving Tuesday, or consider donating today! The Retirement Research Fund has offered a matching grant to Argentium Care, doubling all donations made within the next two weeks.

Options for Youth

Options for Youth’s mission is to expand opportunities for underserved youth by developing programs that build upon the strengths and maximize the potential of each young person. Through intense education, ongoing individual support, and employment in community outreach, plus a long-term commitment to each young person, OFY is changing life trajectories of at-risk youth. With more than 25 years of service to Chicago’s youth, OFY strives to improve life options for teen mothers who have a baby before the age of 18, and teenage boys who live and go to school in underserved and dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago. OFY helps young people take initial steps to break the cycle of poverty in their lives and communities.

How to help: Options for Youth Subsequent Pregnancy Program helps young mothers delay a second pregnancy and graduate from high school. SPP Home Visitors provide intense training and ongoing individual support to help break the cycle of early childbearing and poverty. Donate to help young parents create positive options for their families.


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Snow City Arts

Make It Better Foundation Philanthropy Awards

Snow City Arts provides one-on-one instruction in the visual arts, creative writing, music, theater, and media arts to patients at Rush University Children’s Hospital, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Children’s Hospital University of Illinois, and Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. Snow City Arts is a Philanthropy Award winner.

How to help: Help Snow City Arts reach their goal of $30,000 by donating this Giving Tuesday.

Rainbows for All Children

This organization supports children and youth grieving and healing due to death, divorce, deployment, or other trauma. Better is proud to promote Rainbows for All Children.

How to help: Help Rainbows for All Children provide this support by donating today.

Facing Forward to End Homelessness

This organization “provides permanent housing, education, advocacy, and social services.”

How to help: Facing Forward’s Giving Tuesday fundraising goal this year is $25,000, which would provide a month of housing and support services for 22 families. Donate here.

Twist Out Cancer

Better Chicago Best of 2019

Twist Out Cancer supports cancer survivors and loved ones through creative arts programming. Better congratulates Twist Out Cancer for earning our Best of 2019 award for Best Gala. We are proud to promote their cause.

How to help: For Giving Tuesday, gifts of $175 or more will be matched by The Coleman Foundation.

Hotels Giving Back:

The JW Marriot

Stop by the JW Marriot anytime during the month of December and pick up a delicious and festive holiday cookie (or a few) as part of the proceeds will be donated to Children’s Miracle Network and Lurie Children’s Hospital.

The Blackstone

Inspired by “Campbell’s Soup Cans” by Andy Warhol, The Blackstone will be accepting shelf-stable food donations benefiting the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Find the clever and creatively decorated soup can bin in the lobby starting Nov. 22.

Hotel Julian

Hotel Julian is participating in Toys for Tots, and they are a drop-off site for the second year in a row. Hotel guests or locals can receive one complimentary beverage from About Last Knife by making a donation.

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