There have been many good replies here. I would also recommend the Akorn as the best budget option. I was very happy with mine and purchased the Big Joe as a personal reward but I was very happy with the Akorn. My thing living in a humid and sometimes rainy area was that I used to obsess over rain and I don't have to do that with a ceramic. The best thing is that it is just a grill that we are talking about so find out what you think will make you happy and go with that.
It's more about the cook than the Kamado. With knowledge of temp, time, charcoal and wood any modern Kamado can produce awesome results. All of this knowledge is available here in the form of threads, pics and video's. Pick one and get to cooking.
As you can see, if you wanted a short and sweet answer you came to the wrong place...
I'm with @buckleybj. Got started with the Akorn, then added the Big Joe a few years later. About a year after that, the handle on the Akorn broke as I was moving it to shelter and it went down and bent badly, crushing my soul. We entertain a lot, so after being spoiled with having two kamados to work with at one time, I waited for a deal and got a blue Akorn for $180. The Big Joe is my champion for its versatility, space, heat retention, and good looks, but the Akorn is the quick option when I don't have the time to let the Big Joe heat soak, or when i need a second temp. It's also one of the only portable options you have if you like to camp, tailgate, or just want to cook on a different side of your house. You'll get 2-3 years out of it if you let it get rained on, ~5 years if you take decent care of it, or a few more than that if you baby it. If you start using it often, I'd suggest putting money in a jar every week to save for the ceramic that you will inevitably want, or your second Akorn.
Find out who your local dealers are for each of the big names and price check them all. I got my Big Joe II at a piping supply company for $1,350ish after tax when everywhere else they were nearly $2,000 before tax (before the Big Joe III came out). Why would they sell it there? Don't know, don't care. It was worth the little bit of time I put in, though.
Here's where to begin: https://www.kamadojoe.com/dealer-locator/
If you're unsure, get the Akorn and see if it's worth it for a few years. I'm glad I started that way. I wouldn't recommend the Jr as your only kamado due to its space limitations, but others may disagree. Good luck in whatever you decide!
I posted it on my FB. Your right about difficulty to get donations. Have you sent it to your local tv and radio stations? They might be wiling to put it out there. Always looking for good news to share especially in this climate.