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Taking the Reins gives at-risk girls have the opportunity to ride and care for horses, among other things.
Photograph: Courtesy Taking the ReinsTaking the Reins gives at-risk girls have the opportunity to ride and care for horses, among other things.

The best local charities to donate to in LA

Whether you have $5, $100, or simply your time to give, here are the best local charities to donate to in Los Angeles

Written by
Jane Borden

Although the world may see Los Angeles as a city obsessed with wealth and celebrity, we locals know how philanthropically minded most Angelenos actually are. There are dozens of exceptional local charities to donate to in LA, and although they're all worthy of our time and donations, it's inevitable that some get more press and attention others. 

We are thankful for the work done by the Los Angeles Mission, the Downtown Women's Center, Homeboy Industries, LA Food Bank, Baby2Baby, LA Conservancy and the so many other volunteer opportunities that you're hopefully already involved with in LA. But if you want to spread the wealth during the holiday season or year-round, here are 10 fantastic local organizations in alphabetical order that your radar may have missed. 

Best local charities to donate to

Children of the Night

What they do: Since 1979, the organization's founder has rescued 10,000 children from prostitution and sex-trafficking. Children of the Night provides free transportation from anywhere in the country for those looking to escape and live in the Van Nuys home under the care of case workers—school and life-skill services are available through the organization. 

How to get involved: Donate money, clothing, laptops and other items. Volunteer at the house by organizing a program about one of your hobbies or provide a professional service pro bono (for dentists, doctors, lawyers, etc). 


What they do: Chrysalis works toward long-term solutions for the homeless by providing people living on the street with transitional jobs and job-training programs to help them find and retain employment. 

How to get involved: Donate, or volunteer with interview training, resume preparation, or computer-skills classes.


What they do: CoachArt runs arts and athletics programs for many of the more than 1 million children in California affected by chronic illness. Private and group instruction happen in homes, scholarships are available for kids to take classes at local studios and club teams provide sports instruction and play. 

How to get involved: Donate, become a coach (teacher/mentor) in a specific skill or art form, or help out with an event. 

Elizabeth House

What they do: At the Elizabeth House in Pasadena, pregnant women who are homeless or suffering abuse can find shelter for themselves and their children, along with prenatal care and resources and training for transitioning into self-sufficiency.

How to get involved: Donate, or provide help with transportation, childcare, house repairs, office work, or events and programs. 

Create Now

What they do: Create Now helps at-risk youth—those who've been abused, abandoned or incarcerated, or are runaways, teen parents, addicts or gang members—to positively express themselves through programs in the arts. 

How to get involved: Donate, or mentor in either an arts workshop or a life-skills program (think: job applications, opening bank accounts, finding an apartment), or provide administrative help. 

Echo Park Film Center

What they do: Kids can take free classes on film and self-expression at the Film Center. Reasonably-priced adult classes are also available, as well as a lending library, equipment rental and an array of screenings. 

How to get involved: Donate, help with archive management and grant-writing, teach classes and attend screenings. 

First Place for Youth

What they do: First Place provides foster kids with the care and instruction they need to stay in school, get jobs, find homes, and, as the center puts it, "beat the odds." 

How to get involved: Donate, come and talk about your job and how you got it, host a group at your place of employment, lead a life-skills workshop (think: cooking or parenting) or help with events. 

Heart of LA (HOLA)

What they do: The four-building HOLA campus in the Rampart District gives thousands of LA children an alternative to hanging out on the street or in gangs. In its safe indoor and outdoor spaces, kids participate in academic, artistic and athletic programs that allow them to learn from experts in a variety of fields.

How to get involved: Donate, help with one-off events, or become a long-term mentor to a single child. 

Para Los Niños

What they do: Through education programs, charter schools and wellness and mental-health services, Para Los Ninos works to close the achievement gap for thousands of at-risk children in LA's poorest neighborhoods. 

How to get involved: Donate, contact the organization about ongoing volunteer opportunities, or apply for a position in the organization (especially if you're an educator). 

Taking the Reins

What they do: On two and a half acres in Atwater Village, at-risk girls have the opportunity to ride and care for horses, manage an organic garden and farm, cook the plants and eggs they harvest, and receive horse-riding mentorship from LA's mounted police. 

How to get involved: Donate, help out in the garden, or volunteer at an event. Those with horse experience are especially wanted. 

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