Personal Stories

The 1% Report: Charitable Donations I Made in 2023 as a Result of This Site

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There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t feel grateful that my job is to travel the world and get paid to do it. But, did you know that philanthropy is an important part of my work on this travel blog? Mr. V and I are both in agreement that while we love making money… money is just a tool, and one critical use of that tool is to support the causes we care about. For that reason, we’ve both agreed to donate 1% of our business; in my case as a relatively bad bookkeeper, I committed 1% of gross revenue (rather than net, aka after expenses, which is what most people donate!).

Over the past few years, I’ve made donations, but have always wanted to sit down and write a post like this: an annual account of the donations I’ve made for the previous year. It is my goal to do this post going forward indefinitely, to share the charities and causes I think are most meaningful and ask you to consider the same.

1% Report 2023 Hero

Below you’ll find my breakdown of the six charities I chose this year, and the percentage of my total donation each received. While I don’t share the exact numbers, an easy way to think of it is that if I made $100,000, my total donation would be 1%, 15% of that would $150, and 20% would be $200. These aren’t the exact numbers I donated, but I hope that help explains the math.

Before jumping into the list of charities, here are a few notes for additional transparency:

  • This year, I actually donated closer to 2% of my gross revenue, as I was bad about making donations in 2022 and wanted to contribute meaningful amounts to these charities.
  • I do my very best to support established, legitimate charities with long-standing work in their field; all charities listed this year are 501c3 non-profits.
  • Every donation I made was at least several hundred dollars, in an attempt to provide enough to make a meaningful donation; any donation amount can help if you choose to support these charities too (or other charities you want to support!).
  • I have not listed specific amounts as it would allow anyone to calculate my total income, which is something I keep private for security reasons.

I think that covers it, so let me dive into the charities I chose, and why.

Alaska SPCA (15%)

You’ll notice that the first three charities I donated to are all focused on animal welfare. While this isn’t one of my explicit values here on V&V, I can’t imagine my life without the pets – specifically cats* – that Mr. V and I have at home… sometimes they’re the only reason we come back from a trip!

*Our three cats have been Romeo (who we adopted as a senior kitty in 2021 after moving to Cleveland, and who crossed the rainbow bridge in 2023), Annabell (who we also adopted with Romeo), and Wednesday (who we adopted separately in late 2022). You can often see them on my Instagram stories.

Alaska has a unique animal adoption issue: people often adopt and then abandon their animals – sometimes this is because they are members of the military who can’t take their animal on their next assignment. There are lots of shelters across Alaska and many of them are very busy, especially in the winter months.

I’ve been following the Alaska SPCA (not affiliated with the national ASPCA) for a while on Facebook and love when they do sponsored campaigns to help get animals adopted. Basically, my donation will go to help cover the care and adoption fees for cats in their care; I’ve specifically marked it for senior cats when they have them, but am happy to support helping any cat find a new fur-ever home.

If you’d like to support the Alaska SPCA too, you can donate here. Also, keep an eye on their Facebook page for animals my donation has sponsored!

Maui Humane Society (15%)

I chose to donate to the Maui Humane Society following the wildfires in August; they did some amazing work to rescue and rehabilitate cats who lost their homes, families, and health in the fire. Unlike dogs, some cats would just hunker down in the rubble and had to be saved, which Maui Humane Society did with support from local fire and rescue crews.

It’s really heartbreaking to see how some kitties were so badly injured in the fires, but they’ve had some incredible success providing them with care, and then reuniting them with their owners or placing them in new ohanas (families) as many Maui residents can’t have pets in their new living situations, which is also heartbreaking.

Additionally, the Maui Humane Society helps support adoptions for cats from the Lanai Cat Sanctuary – one of my favorite things to do on Lanai!

If you’d like to make a donation to the Maui Humane Society too, click here.

Cleveland APL (15%)

As mentioned earlier, our own cats are all adopted; two of the three (Romeo and Annabell) came from the Cleveland Animal Protective League (APL) and Wednesday came from a different humane society. We adopted Romeo and Annabell sight unseen from the APL in 2021, and they did an amazing job of facilitating our pandemic adoption; luckily the cats also got along despite not knowing each other, and we had an amazing two years with Romeo in his senior era.

Since Romeo crossed the rainbow bridge this year, I wanted to make a big donation in his honor, especially within our own community; all three donations I made to support animal welfare this year were ‘for Romeo.’

You can donate to the Cleveland APL in Romeo’s honor too, if you want; click here.

Ocean Alliance (15%)

Moving toward the values I explicitly support here on V&V, I was very keen to make a donation specifically to help in the fight against whale entanglement, which I’ve learned about on a few different Alaska cruises. In short, whales become entangled in fishing lines and nets, and it almost always results in the death of the whale – but there are some rescue workers who do the dangerous job of trying to disentangle whales if they are spotted before it’s too late.

Mr. V and I have been fortunate to have some truly incredible whale encounters as part of our travels, and I can’t imagine that these animals are getting killed just for swimming in their natural habitat. There are some cool technologies being built to reduce whale entanglement, but it’ll probably still be a problem for years to come.

I chose to donate to the Save the Whales campaign from Ocean Alliance this year, as they do whale disentanglement work as part of their goals. Ocean Alliance also does some really cool other education, conservation, and public outreach work too.

If you’d like to donate to Ocean Alliance or any of their campaigns, here is the place to do it.

Alaska SeaLife Center (20%)

Keeping things close to heart and home, I chose to make a large donation to the final two charities on my list, starting with the Alaska SeaLife Center.

If you haven’t yet visited Alaska, you’re in for a real treat if you decide to visit Seward; the Alaska SeaLife Center is hands down one of the best things to do in town – and one of my top animal experiences you can have in Alaska.

More importantly, they serve as a lifeline for marine animals in distress from all of the coastal areas of Alaska; throughout the year, wild marine animals are brought to the SeaLife Center for care, rehabilitation, release, and placement, depending on the animal’s needs. 2023 was a particularly noteworthy year, as they did incredible work to try and save an abandoned walrus calf, and helped place baby sea otters in places like Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium.

I earmarked my donation specifically for animal care, as that’s a critical part of the SeaLife Center’s mission and allows them to provide for the animals living permanently at the facility as well as new ones that come in.

You can donate to the Alaska SeaLife Center too; click here. Their Instagram is also wholly wholesome and worth a follow.

NATIFS (20%)

Last but certainly not least, I wanted to make a donation to support Native American/Indigenous charities, but I was really quite stuck about what kind of charity I wanted to support. Then I remembered that I’ve been fortunate to have two incredible Indigenous food experiences (Owamni in 2022 and with Mariah from Indigikitchen earlier this year near Glacier National Park) – aha!

NATIFS, or the North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems, is a program that focuses on creating ways to critically engage with colonized and decolonized food in America – many of the world’s most critical ingredients come from this continent, but we hardly know it, and prefer highly processed, imported, modified foods instead. NATIFS works to educate and inspire through their Indigenous Food Labs Market

If you vaguely recognize the logo of NATIFS, that’s because it’s similar to the headline-making, James Beard-award-winning Owamni Restaurant in Minneapolis. I was fortunate to eat there during a friend’s trip in early 2022 and have been a passionate supporter of decolonized food experiences ever since.

If you want to support NATIFS, click here to access their donation page.

Thanks for reading and supporting my blog – your time here helps make it possible for me to support these causes. Have any ideas for aligned charities that I could support next year with the proceeds of this blog? Let me know in the comments below!

Help others discover this post too!

I was born on the East Coast and currently live in the Midwest – but my heart will always be out West. I lived for 15 years in Alaska, as well as four years each in California and Washington. I share travel resources and stories based on my personal experience and knowledge.


  • Jen Ambrose

    I hadn’t heard of NATIFS, I’m definitely going to check them out. And hopefully eat at Owamni when we’re in Minnesapolis this year! My husband and I are from Montana, and we donate to FAST Blackfeet – it’s a food securtiy organization for the Blackfeet reservation, on the edge of Glacier National Park. They run a food bank and also teach nutrition, gardening, and cooking classes, mostly focused on Native ingrediants.

    • Valerie

      Great to know about that charity too! Thanks for reading and sharing – I hope you have an amazing trip to Owamni; I want to get back there with Mr. V asap.

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