Health Causes Close to the Heart

How to help fight chronic diseases.

Giving is a part of our national culture. According to the National Philanthropic Trust, 95 percent of American households donate to charity. Setting aside a portion of your discretionary income to health-related charities is a practical and meaningful way to invest in the well-being of people in your community and around the globe. Health-related charities rely on generous donations to conduct research, treat patients, educate the public and raise awareness.

Consider your cause

Once you’ve established the amount of money that’s right for you and your family to give, it’s time to consider how to best invest your gift. Many people choose to support foundations fighting diseases that have directly affected their families and friends. Maybe you have a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease. Maybe your formerly ill relative is thriving because of a successful organ transplant. Choosing to support causes that have impacted your life can be a meaningful way to donate time or money.

Make a larger impact

If you’re looking to help a large population of people, consider which diseases are most common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that chronic conditions like heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity and arthritis are among the most prevalent—and preventable—of health problems. A recent viral infographic pointed out that popular events like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure (in support of breast cancer research) have done a remarkable job raising money for their respective causes—but that there are other significantly more common diseases and disorders also worthy of donations.

Check your charity

Not all charitable organizations are created equal. Make sure you choose a charity that is responsible and effective. Sites like CharityWatch and GiveWell rate organizations based on factors such as the ratio of money spent on overhead costs to money spent on actual programs.

These sites can also help you find effective charities that you may not have discovered on your own. If, for instance, you decide you’d like to support an AIDS-related or cancer-focused organization, Charity Navigator lists the top-performing charities in these sectors. Checking your charity ensures that your philanthropic gift is well spent.