After receiving dozens of nominations from our readers on our Foolanthropy discussion board and after much research and deliberation, the Foolanthropy 2006 Committee is pleased to announce this year's most Foolish charities for our Foolanthropy 2006 campaign (here's a little history on Foolanthropy):

Co-op America: Harnessing economic power to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.

Half the Sky: Providing nurturing care and enrichment programs for thousands of orphaned children across China.

The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship: Helping young people from low-income communities do better in business, school, and life by teaching them about entrepreneurship and financial literacy.

Rare: Building a global conservation movement driven by the needs and interests of local communities.

Room to Read: Partnering with communities in the developing world to provide the lifelong gift of education to millions of children.

Visit to read more about each charity and donate to the charity(ies) of your choice. We will be setting up special pages and direct-donation links today and tomorrow so the charities can start benefiting as soon as possible. On their end, the charities have set up tracking links to keep track of how much money comes in through these pages, and they'll also count in their tallies any snail-mail checks that come in with Foolanthropy indicated on the check, if you prefer giving that way. Just be sure to make your check out directly to the charity and write "Foolanthropy" in the "for" space. Each week, we'll post a running tally of how much each charity is bringing in so you can see how your favorite charity is doing. Remember, the charity that raises the most by Jan. 7 gets our additional $10,000 bonus, chipped in by The Motley Fool. The results will be announced Jan. 22.

As an additional incentive, we also sweeten the pot with the proceeds from our "My 2 Cents Campaign." For every single post to all of our Fool boards in the month of December (and we have many, many boards with very vocal posters), we'll donate $0.02 to the pot, to be divided equally among the four charities not winning the $10,000.

Here are the tenets we used to select these charities.

  • Does it offer a long-term, sustainable solution to a social problem as opposed to a Band-Aid? We tend to favor charities that have programs that encourage self-sustaining solutions, enabling people to get out of poverty for good, for instance, or helping rebuild areas that have been destroyed by recent natural or man-made disasters.
  • Are its finances transparent and sound? We conduct due diligence on our charities, and we expect them to have sound financials. The management team should have the background needed to run the organization, for instance, and the board of directors should have qualified experts, not just celebrities or major donors. We also look at financials, with an eye toward excessive overhead, egregious CEO compensation, and any other red flags that point to a lack of stability within the organization.
  • Is the charity small enough for our support to make a difference, yet established and broad-minded enough that we can be certain of its reputation, effectiveness, and appeal? We like to know that we're making a real difference in a charity's ability to operate effectively, but we also want to make sure we choose organizations that are established and that have broad appeal to as many Fools as possible.
  • Do our readers support it? Our system of nomination is democratic. Simply log on to our discussion board and nominate a charity, and make the best case you can for why we should support it. Unless you nominate it, we won't consider it. We try to be fair in assessing reader support for each charity before weighing each with our own due diligence.
  • And finally, does it educate, amuse, and enrich? In everything we do at the Fool, we like to have fun while we educate and enrich. Is the charity innovative in its approach to problem-solving, or working in a unique way that merits enthusiasm and attention? If it is, it's probably a good candidate.

We read your posts, did our research, and applied our tenets to each nomination. You might notice a couple of themes this year.

Each charity on the list this year is a new one for Foolanthropy. Also, Co-op America and Rare are both environmentally friendly charities, and they both work with, not against, businesses to help preserve our planet's resources and species.

Half the Sky and Room to Read work with children in impoverished nations to better their lives, albeit in very different ways.

And for the first time, we reserved one spot for a financial literacy-related program this year, in keeping with our commitment to educate as many people as possible about finance. The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship reflects that commitment.

Last year, we raised $289,597, pushing us over the $2.5 million mark in total. Help us shatter that number this year with your generous donation. And for your own due diligence, see where the money raised last year went in our follow-up article, Where Are They Now?

And finally, we're very proud to be partnering this year with Hilton Family Hotels (NYSE:HLT) and its "Be Hospitable" campaign to make the 2006 campaign as successful as possible.

Thanks in advance to everybody who decides to join us in supporting Foolish charities that will deliver dramatic returns on even the smallest investment. Just think how astounding the results can be if each of us, more than 5 million Fools strong worldwide, gives just $1!