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GIVING | New York’s Giving Not-For-Profits: Community Engagement

GIVING | New York’s Giving Not-For-Profits: Community Engagement

Photo credit: Camphill Village Copake

This is the time of year many Americans are giving to others through donations and/or volunteering their time and talents to countless not-for-profits. The amount of choices can be daunting. There are so many organizations serving our communities’ needs. In fact, more than 1.5 million charities are registered in the U.S., and over 97,700 in New York, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics.

The New York Makers crew has decided to give you a few of our favorites to consider when giving. (In case you prefer to investigate other ideas, we recommend you start by identifying the causes you care most about, then seeking out mission-aligned organizations, especially those located near you. Some terrific search tools include NYCharities.org, the list of not-for-profits registered with the New York State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, CharityNavigator.org and Guidestar.org.)


This New York City-based organization is essentially a collaboration between New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs, the Department of Sanitation and the Department of Education. Materials for the Arts was built with upcycling in its DNA: It collects unneeded items from businesses and individuals and donates them to eligible arts and culture not-for-profits, public libraries and schools.

Photo credit: Materials for the Arts

The organization accepts drop off, pickup, shipped and direct donations. (It acts as a kind of Craigslist for would-be donors and recipients on items it can’t warehouse, like pianos, large appliances, cubicles and vehicles.)

In addition to providing tangible goods, Materials for the Arts operates courses that teach recipients how to creatively and effectively reuse their supplies in a variety of projects. To donate goods or money, or to volunteer, email volunteer@mfta.nyc.gov or call (718) 729-2125.




The Double H Ranch was founded by Charles R. Wood and Paul Newman (yes, that Paul Newman) to provide programs and support to children and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses.

The 320-acre Ranch, located in New York’s Adirondack Park, opened in 1993 and has served more than 60,000 children from around the world. The Ranch’s most popular program is its Summer Camp, which is able to accommodate 126 campers on-site. Campers can partake in the indoor and outdoor pools, archery, horseback riding, arts & crafts, drama and immersive nature programs.

Photo credit: Double H Ranch

In 1998, Double H introduced a Winter Sports Program, which allows participants to ski, board and snowshoe and sled in the Adirondacks.

All of the programs are free and designed to accommodate children suffering from a variety of chronic and life-threatening debilities. In addition to providing programs for ill children, their families can often stay and partake in the fun as well. Sponsorships start as low as $25 and range up to $2,100 to fund one child for one week. For more information, call (518) 696-5676.


Watch the Double H Ranch "Magic Happens Here" documentary by clicking this link



Hot Bread Kitchen is helping to re-envision our food system, so that it can equitably compensate talented bakers and sustain a diverse workforce while celebrating culinary traditions and new innovations. The nonprofit social enterprise utilizes 65% of its operating budget from bread sales and rentals on its kitchen space in East Harlem. The remaining 35% comes from philanthropic support. Hot Bread Kitchen spearheads two programs in its mission to educate and lift up.

Bakers in Training offer a six-month-long intensive, paid-on-the-job program for women facing economic insecurity. It gives women the opportunity to learn the trade of bread baking, to network and launch real careers in food manufacturing (without paying to attend culinary school, typically a bar of entry for most women in economically challenging circumstances). English as a second language, bakery math and science are all taught and 100% of graduates receive full-time fair-wage positions upon graduation, according to HBK.  

HBK Incubates is based in its East Harlem facility, La Marqueta. HBK is a shared commercial kitchen space and business support program for high-growth food companies. It allows ambitious newbies to mitigate start-up risk and grow their concepts in a community of business owners, with commercial kitchen equipment, storage and help in marketing and selling their products. With the incubator’s help, research shows 87% of “graduating” companies thrive in their first five years of business, versus 50% of companies without a similar step up.

Photo credit: Hot Bread Kitchen

Supporters can contribute anything from $50 to $1000, which provides a trainee with 85 hours of paid-on-the-job training in mixing, shaping and baking bread. Call (212) 369-3331 for more information or email info@hotbreadkitchen.org.




Photo credit: Fresh Air Fund

The grande dame on our round-up, The Fresh Air Fund was founded in 1877 (that’s not a typo!). Since then, more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income communities have experienced adventure, and yes, fresh air, with volunteer host families along the East Coast and Southern Canada. When the Fund was launched, New York City was filled with children living in crowded tenements, where tuberculosis and respiratory ailments abounded. They were prescribed cures of “fresh air”, and the volunteers who hosted these children saw such a difference in their lives and prospects overall — for themselves and the children they hosted — that the Fund became a permanent fixture. The simple goal, getting needy kids some country air, has not changed in more than 100 years. (And yes, that’s a good thing).

The Fund also boasts five overnight camps in Fishkill. Fresh Air kids are also able to participate in year-round leadership and educational programs. Donations between $35 and $1000 on a one-time or monthly basis can be made. For more information, call (800) 367-0003.




Located on 615 acres of wooded hills, gardens and pastures in rural upstate New York is a very special place where adults with special needs live and work with long and short-term volunteers as equals in extended family homes: Camphill Village.

The integrated community aims to not just change the lives of people with developmental differences, by allowing them to live with dignity, equality and purpose, but it intends to teach and inspire how society at large treats people with special needs.

Watch "Let Each Light Shine: A Portrait of Camphill Village":

Participants can sign on for a variety of tasks at The Bakery, Stained Glass Studio, Candleshop, Woodshop, Vegetable Gardens, Bookbindery, Estate Grounds, The Farm and more, depending on their interests and skills. Gifts can be a one-time donation or regularly scheduled donation. For more information, email nancyoleary@camphillvillage.org or call (518) 329-7924, ext. 136.



All of these organizations are grateful for monetary contributions, but, if your heart is bigger than your bank account -- or you want to do more than donate money -- they are also more than willing to accept your time and expertise.

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