The “Now what?” chronicles: Tip #2 — bolster civic institutions

Tip #2: Bolster the civic institutions close to your heart

Young girls interested in tech. The homeless. Vets. Impoverished women with limited access to birth control. Immigrants. Inner-city youth. The recently incarcerated. People suffering from AIDs. The elderly.

For better or worse, our country relies heavily on civic institutions of various shapes and sizes to provide services and resources to almost every at-risk group you can shake a stick at. Under a Trump administration, those at-risk groups are going to be more vulnerable than ever. This is especially likely in light of his recent cabinet nominations, where he’s enshrined, in posts of huge authority, people who are anti-Islam, think the NAACP is “un-American,” espouse white supremacist beliefs, and want to go back to the bulk collection of Americans’ call data.

So we’ll have to work harder than ever to protect and serve those communities who will be left out to dry by the federal government, or, in some cases, even directly attacked. Those institutions working for causes you believe in, or those serving communities you care about, need your support more than ever. Here’s how you can do it:

Donate. Cold, hard cash is one of the most effective — and easiest — ways to support these institutions. While you can often donate to specific causes, it’s important to remember that these organizations need money for the internal operations that, while being less glamorous than big campaigns, are integral to their day-to-day functioning and long-term longevity. Ongoing support in the form of recurring monthly or yearly donations are even better than one-time gifts as they can plan on this continued support. So check out the website of your organization of choice and find their big, bright donate button.

Other ways to support these institutions include:

  • Volunteer
  • Attend rallies, fundraisers, and other events
  • Tell your network about your support

That last one is important. It’s not enough to just give of your time and money. You need to let others know that you did it, and most importantly, why. Make this support a norm in your household, your community, and vocally encourage others to do the same.

Here’s the actions we’re taking:

  • Donated to Planned Parenthood & the ACLU
  • Looking into local and national environmental groups and planning to give to one of each
  • Leading volunteer days at our respective workplaces. In my partner’s case , this means reading to and playing games with at-risk and undocumented children at FamilyHouse in San Francisco.

In addition to giving your time, which organizations greatly need, volunteering strengthens community bonds and builds empathy across racial, cultural, and economic divides.

I’d love to hear what others out there are doing. What causes and organizations are you supporting? Where should we focus our time and energies? Please let me know in the comments.

More tips for weatherproofing your communities for the shitstorm that’s approaching are coming soon. Please leave your own in the comments, too.

PS: With the holidays approaching, why not forego a traditional gift and donate to one of your favorite causes in the name of a family member or friend instead? For holiday-table harmony, try to pick one you both agree on. Or, if you really want to liven things up, aim for a less conventional pairing; born-again Bob will love knowing Planned Parenthood is stronger because of him :)

With input from Austin Smith