How To Give Your Money (Or Time) To Social Justice Causes
By Ariela Rossberg
If you’re still feeling lost and uncertain in the current political climate— you’re not alone. Thankfully, there are real opportunities for you to make a difference, by making donations or — if you can’t afford them — volunteering or offering other allyship.
If you’re new to volunteering, Anna Legassie, Advocacy Chair of the New England Regional Leadership Board and Arthritis Foundation volunteer, says “the most important thing for new volunteers is to hone in on one cause and one specific organization so that whatever time one does have available can make the most impact.”
And if you’re still grieving and need space before joining the fight, by all means, take that time. Tending to yourself is important, too.
Here are some organizations to look into supporting.
A man with a history of sexual misconduct and a number of rape accusations is now our President. He has legitimized predatory behavior with his words and actions, setting an example that says “you can get away with it.” His strong opposition to abortion, and his desire to defund Planned Parenthood and overturn Roe v. Wade, has America’s women afraid for their safety and for their health.
Here are some organizations working to enshrine the rights Trump seems committed to stripping away.
NOW (National Organization for Women)
Founded in 1966, NOW focuses on a range of crucial issues, including reproductive justice, racial justice, and combatting violence against women. It boasts over 500 chapters in the United States, with volunteer opportunities that vary from chapter to chapter; you can sign up to be a clinic escort, or to attend conferences, lectures, protests, rallies, and educational discussions.
Head to their website to find your local chapter and get involved, or purchase a gift membership for the women in your life.
Women for Women International
Founded in 1993, Women for Women International offers opportunities for marginalized women in countries affected by conflict and war by helping them earn and save money, improving their health, and teaching them the skills they need to support themselves, their family, and their community. Making a donation to WfWi provides opportunities for women who are in the process of changing their lives.
Among their volunteer opportunities, you can become an Ambassador and provide support for women survivors of war for a year. Dena Gudaitis, Director of Communications at WfWI, says, “More than half [of the women enrolled in their program] have never been to school and are illiterate and they earn less than $1.25 a day. It is through the combination of interventions that women become empowered to raise their voice for themselves, their family, and their community.”
• Global Fund for Women
• RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
• Planned Parenthood
• Center for Reproductive Rights
• National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
• Educating Girls Matters
• Budget Buddies
Trump’s transition website section on “Energy Independence” briefly mentions protecting our country’s natural habitats, but then goes on to explain that “America is sitting on a treasure trove of untapped energy.” He plans to eliminate the Clean Power Plan and the Climate Action Plan, and according to his 100 days of action plan, seeks to cancel funding to UN climate change programs, and more specifically, The Paris Agreement.
A donation or gift membership to any of the following organizations is a great way to show your support for the environmentalists in your life.
The Sierra Club
The Sierra Club was founded by preservationist John Muir in 1892 to help protect the Sierra Nevada. Today, it focuses on creating alternatives to fossil fuels, limiting greenhouse emissions, and protecting wildlife communities. There are chapters all over the U.S. and Canada, and it also boasts an active Student Coalition. Check out this interactive map to find events and volunteer opportunities near you.
Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana, offering essentially legal protection to discrimination. He has also advocated for the disturbing (and banned in several states) practice of conversion therapy to “change peoples’ sexual behavior.”
Trump himself, meanwhile, plans to sign the First Amendment Defense Act, which will legalize discrimination against same-sex marriage across the country, protecting those who claim it is against their religious beliefs. And the situation is so harrowing for the trans community, that some are detransitioning.
The work being done on the ground to protect the rights of the LGBTQ community is nothing short of critical.
HRC (Human Rights Campaign)
One of the first committees to provide a platform for gay and lesbian political action, the HRC works to achieve LGBTQ equality by engaging communities to end discrimination. Fill out the volunteer form to find opportunities and events near you.
The Ali Forney Center
The nation’s first 24-hour drop-in center for LGBTQ youth focuses on homelessness and providing the tools needed to live independently. Volunteer opportunities range from mentoring and meal prep, to facilitating workshops and helping with resumes.
Check out this comprehensive list of all LGBTQ orgs in America. Here are a few highlights:
Throughout his campaign, Trump’s dehumanizing rhetoric about people of color, from Mexican immigrants to Black Lives Matter activists to Muslims, incited violence and hate. Since the election, the situation has only gotten worse, with hate crimes on the rise. Also terrifying: Trump’s support of the “alt-right,” a trendy term for what is essentially white supremacy.
In the face of devastating racial intolerance, these organizations are fighting the good fight for equality.
ACLU American Civil Liberties Union
Founded in 1920, The ACLU protects the individual rights and liberties promised by the Constitution to all people in this country. It encourages you to know your rights, and to take action when those rights are denied. Connect with your local ACLU to get involved, or to request legal assistance.
Poverty and Homelessness
Trump’s poverty agenda is no agenda at all; instead, it’s mostly focused on decrying the “nanny state” and repudiating programs like food stamps. As a business owner, he has also sought to exclude welfare recipients from his residences. He also once used homeless people in a craven ploy to evict tenants from one of his buildings.
Center for Community Change
This organization fights for economic justice by focusing on bolstering wages and benefits, taxing concentrated wealth, building a clean energy economy, and more. “Our Stories Our Power” is an initiative designed to boost advocacy and empowerment vis a vis storytelling.
Trump plans to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal the Affordable Care Act, costing millions of Americans their access to treatments and health care. Planned Parenthood provides treatment for STDs, breast cancer, and cervical cancer, but Trump stated he would defund it “because of the abortion factor.” After meeting with Obama, he’s stated that he will consider keeping certain aspects of ACA, such as coverage for pre-existing conditions, but he will likely still repeal the rest.
NAMI-National Alliance on Mental Illness
NAMI works to create better lives for Americans living with mental illness. With chapters all over the country, its programs raise awareness and provide support to those who need it. You can get involved by attending or hosting a NAMIWalk, taking action on policy issues, and taking the Stigma Free pledge. If you need help, call the NAMI HelpLine M-F 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at 1–800–950-NAMI (6264).
Check your local hospitals, clinics, and hospice centers for volunteer opportunities.
Immigration and Refugees
Trump plans to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which would result in the deportation of millions of people who came to America as children. He also plans to repeal Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), block Muslim immigration and set up a Muslim registry, and build a wall to prevent people from crossing the Southern border.
These organizations help those who stand to be devastated by the incoming administration’s extremist policies.
IRC: International Rescue Committee
The IRC was founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein to provide people whose lives have been disrupted by conflict, war, and disaster with the tools they need to survive and recover. As a volunteer, you can mentor refugees and guide them as they build a brighter future for themselves and their families.
US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
USRCI protects refugees and immigrants, and supports their transition to a new life. As a volunteer, you can mentor families, set up their homes, offer transportation, teach, provide legal support, or tutor. Reach out to your local volunteer coordinator to find out what you can do to help.
It is uncertain whether single mothers will receive Trump’s proposed six-week maternity leave; fathers are completely left out of the equation. He’s talked about eliminating the Department of Education, and about expanding the charter school system — which, according to the American Federation of Teachers President, Randi Weingarten, would likely be drawn from Title 1 schools. He also wants to eliminate gun-free school zones.
CASA: Court Appointed Special Advocates
CASA provides an advocate for abused and neglected children to ensure that each child is placed in a safe, permanent home. Volunteers work one case at a time, and it’s their job to stand up for the child in court.
Learn what it takes to be an advocate.
If you want to volunteer, but aren’t ready to advocate, there are plenty of other options too.
Reach out to your local schools and daycares to see what kind of support they need.
This is a short list of some very strong organizations where you can surround yourself with like minded go-getters who are out to change the world. Pick the one that resonates with you most, and show your support. If we all make one donation this year, instead of buying gifts, we can make a significant difference. Now, more than ever, we need to take care of each other.
Let’s get to work.