What are environmental groups, and what do they do?

Environmental groups advocate for, or work toward, protecting the natural environment. Groups often focus on a particular region, species, or conservation issue and may commonly be referred to as a charity, trust, non-governmental organization, or governmental organization.

The Environmental Center of San Diego is one example of a non-profit environmental group. We’re specifically working toward positive change in San Diego.

What does The Environmental Center of San Diego (ECO SD) do to protect the environment?

The Environmental Center of San Diego (ECO SD) promotes healthy natural systems in San Diego. Our goal is to inspire a deeper understanding and appreciation of positive environmental change and advocacy while working to improve the quality of life and economic vitality of our community. We provide education and leadership programs, plus collaborate with a wide variety of organizations in the region to make the community a better place.

The organization’s specific purpose is to preserve and protect the natural environment through education, advocacy, and action, including to own and maintain public accessways on behalf of the public and to maximize public access to and along the coast consistent with sound resource conservation principles. Learn more about how you can get involved here.

Other Groups to Support: 10 Top-rated Environmental Groups to Support Today

Interested in the environment and want to make a positive impact? There are many more environmental groups in need of your support! You can start by learning about the following organizations, many of which are based right here in California and are doing important work all over the world.

Each of these organizations is well-researched, reputable, and rated highly on Charity Navigator — the world’s largest nonprofit evaluator. Charities are rated by evaluating a multitude of factors, including how efficiently donations are used, how well organizations have sustained their programs over time, and their commitment to accountability and transparency.


Boston, MA
350.org is an international environmental organization addressing the climate crisis. The organization’s goal is to end the use of fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy by building a global, grassroots movement.

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

San Diego, CA
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is committed to saving species worldwide by uniting their expertise in animal care and conservation science with their dedication to inspiring passion for nature.

Earth Island Institute

Berkeley, CA
The Earth Island Institute supports activism around environmental issues through fiscal sponsorship that provides the administrative and organizational infrastructure for individual projects.


San Francisco, CA
Earthjustice is an environmental law organization. The organization uses the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change.

Center for Biological Diversity

Several locations in CA
The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit membership organization known for its work protecting endangered species through legal action, scientific petitions, creative media and grassroots activism.

Sierra Club Foundation

Oakland, CA
The Sierra Club is a member-supported public interest organization that promotes conservation of the natural environment by influencing public policy decisions. The organization also organizes wilderness activities for its members, including mountain climbing, backpacking, and camping.

Surfrider Foundation

San Clemente, CA
The Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches, for all people, through a powerful activist network. Among other things, the organization fights to reduce plastic pollution, protects the health of the planet’s water, and takes on issues that threaten beaches and natural shorelines.

Conservation Strategy Fund 

Arcata, CA
Conservation Strategy Fund uses economics to benefit people and nature. The organization delivers analyses that balance conservation and development outcomes; educates conservationists and decision makers on how to use economics to be more effective in their work, and consults with partners to make commendations to achieve better conservation and development outcomes.


Imperial Beach, CA
Wildcoast is a community-based organization committed to conserving coastal and marine ecosystems and addressing climate change through natural solutions.

Turtle Island Restoration Network

Olema, CA
Turtle Island Restoration Network is a global ocean nonprofit and a leading advocate for the ocean and marine wildlife. Their work aims to create positive change that protects green sea turtles, whale sharks, and coho salmon, among others.