The Best Charity You've Never Heard Of

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Foolanthropy 2006 Donations
Charity Amt. Raised
Co-op America $169,425
NFTE $91,341
Rare Conservation $30,047
Room to Read $25,266
Half the Sky $21,350
TOTAL $337,429
As of January 9, 2007
Foolanthropy 2006
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By Sarah Erdreich
December 21, 2006

In the past year, it seems that dozens of companies have been doing their part for environmental conservation. Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) agreed to participate in an emissions-reduction program through the Environmental Protection Agency, Sony (NYSE: SNE) agreed to cut its carbon dioxide emissions 7% by 2010, and Whole Foods (Nasdaq: WFMI) purchased enough renewable-energy credits from wind farms to offset all of the electricity used in its stores and related facilities and offices.

While these are all important steps, there are thousands of conservation organizations that don't get even a tenth of these companies' press for their work in protecting the environment. That's why I'm so happy that Rare Conservation is part of the Foolanthropy 2006 campaign.

Since 1972, Rare has been working to solve environmental problems all around the world. Its solutions are not only sustainable, but they're also created and carried out by the people who actually live in the affected ecosystems.

By working on the grassroots level, Rare is able to really get to the heart of what is important to the local community and come up with ways that the land and the people can coexist peacefully. For example, in Micronesia, local writers and actors produced the Rare Radio soap opera Changing Tides. Listened to by almost half of all Micronesians, the program was used to tackle important regional social, economic, and environmental issues. As a result, listeners received an education in issues ranging from population growth to sea-turtle poaching.

Although Rare has received many honors over the years, including a Global Media Award last year, the organization is relatively unknown to the public at large. In this way, Rare reminds me of a classic small-cap stock, the kind that would be on the Hidden Gems watch list: It's building a strong foundation, steadily working toward a large goal while attaining smaller ones, and getting ready to go big at the perfect time.

Now, more than ever, is that time. The burgeoning corporate trend toward conservation is just one example of how the message of environmental protection is being heard in all corners of society. You can help Rare protect and sustain the endangered parts of our planet by contributing via our Foolanthropy 2006 campaign. More information about Rare can be found here; an overview of Foolanthropy is here.

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Wal-Mart is an Inside Value recommendation, and Whole Foods is a Stock Advisor pick.

Sarah Erdreich does not own shares of any company mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy.