As Donald Trump’s transition ramps up and as speculation of his actual policy initiatives abound, one thing we know for sure is that many of our fellow Americans feel afraid for their place in our country. Of course, due to limits on executive power, government budget cycles, and general complexity of institutions (hooray for bureaucracy!), there is reason to believe that even if Trump moved quickly on some of his promises, policy implementation would be slow and/or greatly scaled down. However, here are some things we do know:
- Trump has spoken negatively about the value and contribution of many minority groups: immigrants, people of color, women, the LGBTQ community.
- Trump continues to claim that, once in office, he will immediately deport undocumented immigrants with criminal records (though, clearly, he hasn’t understood the real data because there just aren’t 2–3 million of those folks and this is a logistical nightmare, but it’s worth mentioning because jury’s still out on how he will keep his promise).
- Trump has repeatedly said things that are untrue and, when confronted, has not admitted his lie.
- Trump has appointed a known white nationalist to his top strategy role in the White House.
- Trump will appoint, at least, one Supreme Court judge in his term.
So. All this to say that there are some legitimate reasons for folks to feel concerned. And, to be fair, while I think there is danger in a Trump presidency, I don’t think you’re evil, no matter for whom you voted. I think the narrative of Trump voter equals racist, wife-beating bigot is far too simple (and clearly inaccurate since lots of women voted for him). I’m not writing this piece to stoke fear or contribute to blaming, I’m doing it to provide a resource. The reality is that government finances a plethora of essential social services on which real people depend. Another reality is that fear and threats can lead to democratic erosion just the same as institutional change. Wherever you are on the political spectrum, I think we can all acknowledge that federal budgets (and general leadership agendas) are subject to change in the next few years and that if there are issues we particularly care about, now would be a good time to get involved either by donating our time or our resources.
NB: This list is only a sampling of all the incredible nonprofits doing work around the country and you’ll see a lot of overlap with other lists of this kind beacuse I tried to focus on national organizations with 3 or 4 star ratings on Charity Navigator. Even so, it was still difficult to curate and I have many more thoughts on local organizations. You may not be into every single one of these organizations or their points of view, but I hope that at least one will strike a chord with you and that, more importantly, we can all get outside ourselves to imagine the experience of our neighbor and to want good for them.
Also, do remember that local foundations and faith communities are excellent channels by which to find organizations unique to your city.
Okay, here we go: from my heart to yours.
Equal Protection Under The Law
The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the “law firm of the Latino community”, MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access.
At NILC, we believe that all people who live in the U.S. — regardless of their race, gender, immigration and/or economic status — should have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Over the years, we’ve been at the forefront of many of the country’s greatest challenges when it comes to immigration issues, and play a major leadership role in addressing the real-life impact of polices that affect the ability of low-income immigrants to prosper and thrive.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future.
The mission of Catholic Charities is to provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire church and other people of good will to do the same.
With initiatives that focus on disaster response, health and child development, refugee and immigration services, economic development and peacebuilding, we work holistically with the local church to stand for the sick, the widowed, the orphaned, the alienated, the displaced, the devastated, the marginalized and the disenfranchised.
Social Safety Net / Advocacy
National Alliance on Mental Illness (full disclosure: I’ve been a recipient of services and I’m on the NYC young professionals board.)
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.
Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13–24.
Reproductive Health and Family Support
The mission of Planned Parenthood is to provide comprehensive reproductive and complementary health care services in settings which preserve and protect the essential privacy and rights of each individual, to advocate public policies which guarantee these rights and ensure access to such services, to provide educational programs which enhance understanding of individual and societal implications of human sexuality, and to promote research and the advancement of technology in reproductive health care and encourage understanding of their inherent bioethical, behavioral, and social implications.
Located in 70 cities in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and other countries, Safe Families supports families during crises and are motivated by a desire to keep children out of foster care. Safe Families hosts vulnerable children. We create extended-family — like supports for desperate families through a community of devoted volunteers who are motivated by faith to keep children safe and to reunite families.
The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Now the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agency, ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.
The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.
The New American Leaders Project is leading a movement for inclusive democracy by preparing first and second generation Americans to use their power and potential in elected office. We believe that when our elected officials mirror the makeup of our nation, we achieve stronger communities, a more responsive government and a robust democracy.
She Should Run is a non-partisan 501(c)3 organization expanding the talent pool of future elected female leaders. She Should Run started as a project in 2008 and has evolved to become a movement working to create a culture that inspires women and girls to aspire towards public leadership. We believe that women of all backgrounds should have an equal shot at elected leadership and that our country will benefit from having a government with varied perspectives and experiences.
Better Public Services
Public Policy Lab (okay, I just had to do it. Yes, I work here and yes, we are a nonprofit… and our new website is coming soon.)
The PPL works with government agencies and the at-risk communities they serve to redesign public services so that they are easier to access, more effective to run, and more enjoyable to use.
New York City Specific
Hot Bread Kitchen envisions a food system that equitably compensates talent and sustains a diverse workforce while celebrating culinary tradition and innovation.
Prep for Prep develops leaders through access to superior education and life-changing opportunities. Since 1978, Prep has identified New York City’s most promising students of color and prepared them for placement at independent schools in the city and boarding schools throughout the Northeast. Once placed, Prep offers support and opportunities to ensure the academic accomplishment and personal growth of each one of our students.
Safe Horizon envisions a society free of family and community violence. We will lead the way by empowering victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking to move from crisis to confidence.
Now, two last things:
We’re all hearing the backlash against fake news circulating social media sites and here’s one thing you can do about it: subscribe to a legitimate news source! I realize I’m a nerd, but I love getting my hard copy NYTimes every weekend. But don’t worry your beanie-topped-head, dear Millennial, you can just get a digital subscription. The NY Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, your local paper — pick one — traditional journalism is alive and well and you can help keep it that way!
Finally, don’t forget your local library — libraries are some of the most valuable public goods that we have. They are community hubs, safe spaces, holders of equally-accessible knowledge, and access points for key tools for getting a job. I have family members for whom libraries have been lifelines and I still feel like they’re my happy place. Perhaps you can volunteer in one of these programs?
So there you go. A roundup of credible, awesome organizations to support. Who would you add to the list? Who’s doing the best advocacy on disability? Veterans care? Climate change? Let me know!