Let’s face it: this year has been rough. Between the impeachment hearings, global warming, countless mass shootings, and the death of Game of Thrones, the need for positivity is at an all time high.
On December 3, the seventh annual GivingTuesday addresses this global need to do good with a simple idea: give what you can, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. Created in 2012, the GivingTuesday movement has inspired hundreds of millions of people to donate their time and money in their local community for social good.
As you consider where to donate in 2019, here is a list of organizations that are committed to fighting for the worthy causes of social justice, human rights, and voter equality.
While LGBTQ rights in the United States have significantly progressed over the last decade, 2019 has proven there is still a long way to go. This year saw the military transgender ban remain in effect (though an October block may mean it will soon be gone) and homophobia still semi-tolerated—so giving back to organizations that protect and push for the rights of the LGBTQ community has never been more important.
The National Center for Transgender Equality is the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization for transgender people. Working at the local, state, and federal level, the non-profit provides resources for trans people as they deal with countless issues: from changing their name and gender on identification documents to developing an informational center for family members and other allies to find information on how to provide the best support.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is the largest LGBTQ advocacy group in the country, focusing on protecting and expanding queer rights though litigation and advocay. The campaign has notably been on the front lines for marriage equality, anti-discrimination, and hate crimes legislation. By lobbying Congress and local officials for pro-LGBTQ bills, this massive organization combines social justice and policymaking to enact change.
Criminal justice reform
For more than three decades, the incarceration rate in the United States has been steadily increasing—especially for minorities and communities of lower socioeconomic status. Despite new calls for criminal justice reform to decrease the prison population, reduce prison sentences for non-violent offenders, and reform policies that target certain demographics, the U.S. prison system still remains one of the largest issues in today’s social welfare fight.
The Sentencing Project, a policy center advocating to reduce incarceration in the U.S. and address racial disparities in criminal justice, has been on the forefront of this fight for the last 30 years. The nonprofit promotes sentencing reforms and alternatives to prison and produces reports on various topics annually, such as sentencing policy, juvenile justice, and voting rights.
Currently, the Sentencing Project is focused on trying to overturn felon disenfranchisement laws, which prohibit convicted individuals from registering to vote in most states.
Cut50, a bipartisan advocacy group seeking to reduce the national prison population, works with former and current incarcerated people and community leaders to foster initiatives to promote safer communities and stop imprisonment at the root. Recently, Cut50 has worked with some celebrities (including Kim Kardashian) for the release Rodney Reed, a Texas man convicted of murder and who is facing the dealth penalty. Through their work, Reed’s execution has been indefinitely suspended
This election cycle, immigration has become one of the main issues confronting Americans after Trump’s push for the border wall, the Muslim ban, and migrant child separation. More than ever, migrants have felt unsafe and unwelcome in a country where many have lived their whole lives—a development that has put immense strain on immigration charities as they try to keep up with the White House’s hostile rhetoric and actions.
Border Angels advocates for non-profit organizations that work for immigration reform, focusing on aiding migrants and easing tensions at the U.S. southern border. Notably, the organization provides dozens of water jugs along “high-traffic migrant paths” in the desert and provides free and low-cost legal aid in English and Spanish at a local community center.
Freedom for Immigrants is an advocacy organization that has set up a immigration detention visitation program at over 40 centers around the country. The group also has a national hotline and records between 600 to 14,500 calls per month from those in detention—or their family members—to report abuse at the sites. The organization currently has a national detention bond fund to provide funds to detained immigrants for cash bonds, allowing them an easier release.
Voter registration and access
It’s an election year and that means it’s time to vote, vote vote! Many Americans have been waiting for 2020 since the day after the last election, but they may have trouble finding the resources to register to vote or access the polls on Nov. 6.
HeadCount is a non-profit organization that works with musicians and celebrities to promote voter participation. Notably, the organization pushes to invite concertgoers to register to vote at a venue and it has so far registered over 600,000 to vote since its 2014 launch. The organization also makes it easier for voters to reach out to elected officials on social media, and it has partnered with other groups, like March For Our Lives, to spread out the need for registration.
Woke Vote, a grassroots group responsible for Alabama Democrat Doug Jones' historic win, connects black communities at colleges, universities, and churches to address issues many black voters care about. The group is focused on mass incarceration, voter suppression, and urban gun violence, and hosts a series of campaigns to bring awareness to voters and get them inspired about politics.
The Democratic party has spent a lot of time this year fighting over the best plan for the future of America's health care. But while Democrats debate whether to expand health coverage through increased government spending or to dramatically deregulate health insurance, many Americans are currently stuck without access to reliable health care (or can’t afford it if they do gain access).
Angel Flight West is a non-profit that seeks to alleviate some of the financial burden of health care, arranging free, non-emergency air travel for children and adults with serious medical conditions. Over 1,400 pilots in 13 states donate their planes and skills, and cover all flying costs to help families who would be otherwise unable to fly due to financial, medical, or geographic limitations. In addition to medical flights, the organization also provides transportation for other critical needs, such as children and families escaping domestic violence, prospective parents hoping to adopt, or injured soldiers seeking therapy programs.
The HealthWell Foundation is another non-profit focused on helping families with medical emergencies. Established in 2003, the organization helps individuals with insurance who cannot afford their copayments, coinsurance, and other premiums required for severe medical treatments. To date, the Foundation has assisted over 405,000 people with financial assistance to ensure those without the necessary healthcare are not denied treatment.
The push for women’s equality erupted after Donald Trump’s inauguration with the Women’s March, and the energy has only continued to rise. From seeking to eradicate the gender pay gap to sexual education for women worldwide and female education in STEM, these charities are pushing to help the next generation of women know their worth and fight for their rights.
The self-proclaimed "most powerful #girlsquad in America," #BUILTBYGIRLS advocates and educates girls to enter STEM programs, to emphasize how technology can better the lives of over 65 million girls worldwide.
The year-long mentoring program pairs high school and college women with mentors in leading technology companies, such as Snap and Spotify. Each mentor will meet with student several times over a three-month period, before rotating to a new advisee. At the end of the year these young women leave with new skills in the STEM field, a better sense of what women in the technology field endure, and a network of professional advisors.
Founded by Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, the Malala Fund is a non-profit that fights for women’s education by investing in programs to help girls to go to school.The organization is seeking to ensure 12 years of free, quality education for every girl worldwide. Founded in 2014, the Fund partnered with Apple last year to expand into India and Latin America, to provide technology, curriculum, and research to educate more than 100,000 girls.
(Also always donate to Planned Parenthood when you have the chance. Women’s rights are human rights after all.)
As of 2018, about 552,830 people were recorded as homeless in the United States. While their situations may vary, several local and nationwide charities are pushing for legislation to end the epidemic and education to prevent it from happening again.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness is a non-profit that is on the forefront of trying to end homelessness. The organization works with the public and private sectors to build strong local programs to provide support to homeless individuals and families to change their lives.
Based in New York City, the Ali Forney Center is the largest LGBT community center focused on helping LGBT homeless youth. Named after Ali Forney, a black gay and transgender youth who was murdered in 1997, the center manages transitional housing for 16- to 24-year-olds. Located in eight different buildings around Brooklyn and Queens, the organization also had a drop-in center for individuals to apply for housing, get food and hygiene services, and free health care.