Donate to Friends

Join Friends and help the Chicago River system today. By making a donation and becoming a member, you will help ensure the support we need to rally and win victories for the lasting protection of our amazing river—all 156 miles of it.

Improve and Protect the Chicago and Calumet Rivers with a Monthly or One-Time Gift

The Chicago River system faces growing challenges from pollution, habitat loss, development, and climate change. With the support of more than 16,000+ activists like you, Friends is working everyday to improve the water quality of the Chicago River and protect innumerable fish, turtles, and other wildlife habitats—but there is still more to be done.

Donate Now

Support our work by making an online donation. With your gift, you automatically become a member and receive discounts on our events, The River Reporter, and much more. Gift memberships are also available. You can also adopt one of our wildlife projects such as catfish, osprey, and painted turtle for yourself or as a gift. Visit here for more information on our Adopt a Wildlife Species program. 

Interested in joining The Otter Society, Friends' preeminent donor giving society? You will make a deeper connection with—and contribution to—our mission. The Otter Society recognizes donors for their annual leadership contributions of $1,500 or more within our fiscal year (July 1 - June 30). Consider joining The Otter Society today.


For information on membership with or donation to Friends in any of the following ways, please contact Friends at or (312) 939-0490, ext.10.

Bequests/Planned Gift

Through a bequest or planned gift to Friends, you have the opportunity to continue our mission for future generations. Planned gifts include bequests, gifts of retirement plan assets, and other assets. Bequests of all sizes have helped to build the Friends' future. All donors who include Friends in their estate plans or make a planned gift are eligible to become members of the Chicago River Legacy Society. Members receive an invitation to an annual event, recognition in the Annual Report, and a special gift. The Society is the Friends' way of saying "thank you" for including us in your plans.

Cause-related Marketing

Many organizations and individuals choose to set aside a portion of the proceeds of a certain product or service to charity in a practice known as cause marketing or cause-related marketing. Cause marketing campaigns may range from a single annual donation by an organization, to a percentage of sale price of a company product line, to net proceeds from a limited edition product by an individual engaging their fan base for a good cause. 

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Donor Advised Funds

A donor advised fund is a fund commonly at a community foundation that distributes funds to other charities such as Friends.  You can open one with a written agreement between you and the organization that gives you (or other family members) the right to recommend that distributions (i.e. grants) be made from your fund to Friends. One caveat: You cannot direct distributions. You have the right only to make recommendations regarding how much, how often and to which charities. Most donor advised funds will follow your advice if it is consistent with the fund’s objectives and the selected charities are qualified charities.

IRA Charitable Rollover

If you are 73 years old or older, you can take advantage of a simple way to benefit Friends and receive tax benefits in return. You can make a gift from your IRA directly to a qualified charity such as ours without having to pay income taxes on the money. This law no longer has an expiration date so you are free to make annual gifts to our organization this year and well into the future.

Long-term Appreciated Securities

Maximize your contribution and minimize the cost to you with a gift of of long-term appreciated securities, including stock, bonds, and mutual funds. You can take an income tax deduction for the full market value and avoid capital gains taxes. Contact Friends at for more information.

Matching Gifts

In addition, some companies are involved in matching gift programs. Ask your workplace if they participate in these programs and help facilitate the donation of additional funds to protect and improve our amazing river.

Memorial and Tribute Gifts

If you have a loved one who has been impacted by Friends or the river, establishing a memorial or tribute gift is a meaningful way to honor your loved one or celebrate a special occasion such as a birthday while supporting the work of our mission. Your memorial or tribute gift will be a lasting tribute to your loved one and make a difference in the lives of those we serve.

Vehicle Donation-Cars and Boats

Donating a car or a boat is a substantial gift and may even qualify for a tax deduction! As you clear out the garage, driveway, or boat dock, we’ll use the proceeds from the sale of your car or boat to continue our programs such Chicago River Schools Network or native habitat restoration. Our nonprofit partner who will administer your donation is Charitable Adult Rides & Services (CARS); they also benefit from your donation. Contact Friends at to learn more about the process or visit here to start your car or boat donation. 

Workplace Giving

An easy and effective way to support Friends is by giving at your workplace. EarthShare Illinois represents Friends and dozens of other charities in workplace giving payroll contribution campaigns in Illinois. Here’s how it works: Through EarthShare Illinois, you can contribute a small amount from each paycheck to help support Friends’ important work to make the river healthier and cleaner.

To learn more about how your employer can host a campaign or how EarthShare Illinois can be added to an existing campaign, please contact EarthShare Illinois by visiting  EarthShare Illinois also offers resources to help with CSR and greening business.


If you have any questions about the above, please contact Friends at, or at (312) 939-0490, ext. 10.

All contributions to Friends are fully tax deductible unless goods or services were provided. Friends of the Chicago River is a 501 (c) (3) organization as designated by the Internal Revenue Service. Our Federal Tax ID is 36-3559764.