Often one is inspired to journey on an African safari adventure for the love of wildlife. After experiencing an African safari, a common aftereffect is an increased and deeply felt desire to contribute to charity groups dedicated to saving and improving the conditions of the animals that one has just encountered.
A common concern among foreign visitors is how to find reputable and effective charity groups so that one can have peace of mind that one’s valuable dollars are being spent towards the goals as intended.
The American Institute of Philanthropy maintains a Charity Watch website (http://www.charitywatch.org) which ranks over 600 charities based on rigorous criteria such as what percentage of their budget is spend on programs vs. how much is used for fundraising efforts or held in reserve. Another organization that aggregates information about charities and rates them based on financial health as well as accountability and transparency is Charity Navigator (http://www.charitynavigator.org/)
One organization that always leads any list of African wildlife charities is African Wildlife Foundation (http://www.awf.org). This DC-based non-profit has been dedicated to the animals and ecosystem of Africa for over 50 years. With literally dozens of projects ongoing, AWF allows donors to be actively aware of what their funds are accomplishing and provides progress reports to show that they truly are making a difference.
Another excellent wildlife conservation group is World Wildlife Fund (http://www.worldwidelife.org). Although not restricted to Africa alone, WWF works to provide solutions that work for both people and animals to protect the land and its inhabitants. Through WWF, you can symbolically adopt your animal of choice and know that your dollars are going to help many animals in the areas where there is the most need.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (http://www.iwaf.org) offers both hands-on assistance for individual animals in need and also advocates for larger animal populations and their habitats. IAWF has offices in both Kenya and South Africa and works to help wildlife such as the elephants and big cats of Africa.
There are also smaller groups with more specific missions, such as the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/) and the Save the Rhino (http://www.savetherhino.org). Your safari operator may also have suggestions for you from their own experiences and connections within Africa.