The Giving Guide

The Giving Heart of the City

Birmingham is an especially giving city. Whatever your special cause, you can find a home for your passion project among the nonprofit organizations of Birmingham. On these pages, we present profiles of some of the region’s leading nonprofits, their impact, missions, successes, and connections. When it comes to getting involved in a charity, it’s not rocket science. Just find something you are passionate about and step up to the plate. It is a giving place. We need some giving people.



Anecdotes and experience from the front lines of charitable giving in the city.

Birmingham has always been known as among the most charitable of cities with strong organizations offering care and services and generous benefactors creating opportunities for healing much of what is wrong in society. Much like the people it serves, philanthropy almost feels like a living thing that has to be nurtured. And like living things, the spirit of giving is renewed generation after generation.

The city has always ranked near the top of metro areas that are the most generous in the nation. The Chronicle of Philanthropy for example ranked the city the third most charitable in the United States.

Allie Farlow of Diamonds Direct sees this generosity first hand. Her company Diamonds Direct is very involved in a host of charities and has been every since they moved into Birmingham.

“Charitable giving is very important to Diamonds Direct as a company,” says Farlow. “The Diamonds Direct Foundation was established in 2004 to give back to the communities we call home. Diamonds Direct enjoys raising money for local charities and participating in fund raisers throughout the city.  This is simply our way of saying ‘thank you’ to the communities that have entrusted us with their most important fine jewelry purchases.”

The company gets creative when working with charities on various fund raisers and events throughout the city.

“We love to get people involved in a way that becomes a tradition for the event by hosting crowd sourced raffles,” says Farlow. “Some of our signature raffles are the Diamond Drop and Blinky Ring Raffle. In many of our raffles, no one goes home empty handed which is part of the fun!”

Part of the fun is also seeing the good things that come of a few hours spent at a fund raiser. “It always amazes me how much money we are able to raise through our raffles. This money goes directly back to the charity and hopefully positively impacts the community,” she says.

Donna Dukes also sees the city’s charitable side up close and personally. Her Maranathan Academy has as its primary goal breaking the cycle of government dependency, that has plagued the families of critically at-risk youth for generations, Dukes says.

“Maranathan Academy has been changing and saving the lives of critically at-risk youth for 26 years,” Dukes says.

When new students enter the school and start going on field trips it is an eye-opening experience. “We always go to the Museum of Art and we have students tell me that this city does not have an art museum. They don’t know where it is. Until I tell them it is next to the jail and then they realize the building I am talking about. They all know where the jail is. That is a sad statement, but it is why the work we do is so important.”

The plight of critically at-risk youth spills over into all aspects of society, fueling crime and drug dependency and a host of other ills. “At risk youth, attend more funerals than graduations,” Dukes says.

But Dukes sees hope not only in the success stories from the academy but in the willingness of the community to open hands and hearts and purses. As with many of Birmingham’s charities, they cast a wide net.

Maranathan works with foundations such as the McDonald’s Family Foundation, the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, The Luckie Foundation, Alabama Power Foundation, The Caring Foundation of BCBS of Alabama and the National Christian Foundation to fund scholarships to the school.

They engage volunteers to interact and bring a new world of learning to students. Examples: Yoga classes taught by Laura Pitts; etiquette taught by Nancy Smith; male character development by Murray (“Moe”) Smith; and field trips sponsored by Linda Tilly.

From volunteers to corporations such as Regions, BBVA Compass, Brasfield & Gorrie, Renasant Bank and American Pipe to law firms such as Baker Donelson, churches like Sixth Avenue Baptist and Cathedral Church of the Advent, and Community leaders like District Attorney Danny Carr, Attorney Charlie Waldrep, and William J. Cabaniss, Jr.; all come together to make Maranathan work.

Jason Williams of Aspire Movement works with Dukes. He operates a faith-based mentoring organization that began six years ago with 13 mentors. Today the organization has 200 mentor/students relationships working with 12 schools in the city. “Our philosophy is mutual transformation. There is a steep learning curve for our mentors. They come in as learners not just teachers. Our mentors are shaped and changed,” says Williams. Aspire provides mentors to other organizations like Maranathan.

The combination of volunteer and financial resources is played out over and over again across the city and in the inner workings of hundreds of charitable efforts throughout the metro area.

At Maranathan it is played out in the story of Breanna Ward. She is the first person in the history of her family to graduate from high school and is now enrolled at Miles College. She is a flesh and blood  example of the success of Birmingham’s giving spirit.

Profiles in Giving

The Arc

The Arc serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families through comprehensive and quality programming, advocacy efforts, education, and awareness, all in an effort to ensure each person affected by I/DD has the opportunity to reach his or her fullest potential for the most independent life possible.

The Birmingham Zoo

Inspiring Passion to Conserve the Natural  World.

Childcare Resources

Their mission is to make quality care and  education of children happen by providing information, education and assistance to families, providers of child care and the community.

Children’s Aid Society

Children’s Aid Society of Alabama (CAS) has served children and families in need or at risk, throughout the state of Alabama, since 1912. It is their belief that children in safe home environments, with their families, are able to thrive when the family is provided critical skills, support and resources.

Cornerstone School

Cornerstone’s mission is to inspire and develop critically thinking and compassionate young people in a Christ-centered learning community that is committed to academic excellence and character development.

Episcopal Place

Episcopal Place is a HUD housing facility for low-income seniors and disabled adults, with a non-profit foundation whose purpose is to provide support services to help meet the special needs of the residents. EP provides a unique opportunity for affordable housing and vital support services in a caring community.

Hand in Paw

Hand In Paw’s mission is to improve human health and well-being through Animal-Assisted Therapy.  We train our volunteers and their animal to provide therapeutic interactions throughout North Central Alabama.

The Jimmie Hale Mission

The Jimmie Hale Mission ministers to the spiritual and physical needs of the men, women, and children in our community by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Learning Tree

The mission of The Learning Tree is to provide a warm and loving environment with individualized, empirically validated services and supports to persons with significant educational, medical and behavioral challenges; helping them develop and maintain a quality of life expected by non-disabled members of their family and community.

Maranathan Academy

The mission of Maranathan Family Learning Center & Academy, Inc. (MFLC&A, Inc.) is simple – to save the lives of critically at risk youth.

McWane Science Center

Through its exhibits, educational programming, events and collections, McWane Science Center provides outstanding experiences across the science, technology, engineering and math spectrum that enhance subject matter literacy, creativity and critical thinking.

Parkinson Association of Alabama

Founded in 1978, the Parkinson Association of Alabama (PAA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization committed to a singular mission: To improve the quality of life for patients, caregivers, and families affected by Parkinson’s Disease in the State of Alabama.

Passport Camps

PASSPORT empowers students  to encounter Christ, embrace community, and extend grace to the world through ecumenical,  inspirational weeks of summer camp and mission experiences.


Sav-A-Life helps men & women embrace the Truth of God’s Word as they make life-affirming decisions about their unborn child.


Smile-A-Mile’s mission is to provide hope, healing of the spirit and love for the whole family during the childhood cancer journey. Through year-round meaningful and educational programming, Smile-A-Mile helps those in Alabama who are affected by childhood cancer thrive during treatment and the years beyond.

Sozo Children

Mission trips through Sozo Children invite you on a journey to build relationships through love and  discipleship, while serving our homes and local village community.

The Red Barn

The mission of The Red Barn is to promote and provide equine assisted therapy to children and adults with physical, cognitive, and emotional disabilities or special circumstances.  We offer therapeutic horseback riding lessons, day camps, and weekly classes.

United Ability

United Ability provides innovative services that connect people with disabilities to their communities and empower individuals to live full and meaningful lives. We envision a world where disability is part of the human experience, neither defining nor limiting.

United Way

Live United. Find out how the United Way impacts our community.

Vulcan Park and Museum

Vulcan Park and Museum preserves and promotes Vulcan as the symbol for the Birmingham region,  to advance knowledge and  understanding of Birmingham’s  history and culture, and to encourage exploration of the region.

The YMCA of Greater Birmingham

The YMCA of Greater Birmingham is a charitable organization dedicated to making our community a healthier place to live

One Response to “The Giving Guide”

  1. Thank you to b Metro for once again featuring so many wonderful community nonprofits in their 2017 Guide to Giving! Childcare Resources is so grateful for all you do to help further our mission!

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