Let’s face it, the Dumpster Fire of 2020 has been rough. Between the coronavirus pandemic and months-long quarantines, the election (and a presidency that Trump refuses to concede), countless horrific instances of police brutality, and the creation of Emily in Paris, the need for positive is at an all-time high.
The chance to collaborate and celebrate this simple idea of doing something good is possible with the eighth annual Giving Tuesday on Dec. 1, 2020. Created in 2012, the Giving Tuesday 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 after this hellscape year, 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, the country still has a long way to go. The military transgender ban is still in effect (despite countless attempts by activists to stop it and a possible reversal once President-elect Joe Biden takes office) and the confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice could mean trouble, so donating to organizations that protect the rights of the LGBTQ community has never been more important.
The LGBTQ Victory Fund is the only national organization dedicated to putting LGBTQ people into elected office. Founded in 1991, the organization seeks to campaign, fundraise, and train LGBTQ candidates to increase awareness on issues the LGBTQ community faces and to ensure more representation and pro-equality legislation in all levels of government. In the last election cycle, 220 LGBTQ candidates celebrated election victories—many with the assistance of the Victory Fund.
The National Center for Transgender Equality is the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization for the transgender community. Working at all government levels, the nonprofit provides resources for trans people with countless issues—from changing their name and gender on identification documents to match their true identity, to developing an informational center for family members and other allies to find information on how to provide the best support.
Criminal Justice Reform
For decades, the incarceration rate in the United States has skyrocketed. Despite calls for criminal justice reform, especially during a pandemic that has hit minorities, communities of lower socioeconomic status, and prison systems particularly hard, progress is glaringly slow. These organizations focus on some of the most dire issues regarding today’s social welfare, from reducing prison sentences for non-violent offenders to decreasing the prison population amid a global pandemic.
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 source. Recently, Cut50 has worked with some celebrities (including Kim Kardashian) for the release of Rodney Reed, a Texas man convicted of murder and who is facing the death penalty. Through their work, Reed’s execution has been indefinitely suspended.
Root & Rebound is a nonprofit organization committed to helping citizens with criminal records return to work. Armed with attorneys and local advocates, the organization seeks to “reduce barriers and maximize opportunities for citizens in the Bay Area by providing education, training, litigation assistance, and support to help those to assimilate in society after incarceration.”
Black Lives Matter / Anti-Racism
This summer, protests across the country erupted against police brutality and racial inequality over the senseless slayings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. And while those demonstrations galvanized millions of people to take to the streets and yielded criminal charges, legislative actions, and police reform, several organizations have been fighting for racial justice for years. Here are some organizations to support to stand in solidarity with the Black community.
Founded in 2013 after the murder of Trayvon Martin, Black Lives Matter is one of the most recognizable organizations fighting against racial injustice. The now-global organization, best known for rallying demonstrations in the wake of police killings, fights for structural, community-based change to ensure violence and justice against Black people is eradicated.
Color of Change, the nation’s largest online racial injustice organization, seeks to strengthen the political voice of Black Americans. Founded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the nonprofit civil rights group organizes via social media and email against various social justice issues, from income inequality to disparities associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Also, dedicating time toward actively learning about the history of systemic racism and how to support Black businesses is just as essential to donating to a good cause. It takes all of us, after all!)
While the results of the election cycle prove hopeful for the future of immigration reform in the United States, several policies made under the Trump administration will have lasting effects. From the Muslim ban to migrant child separation at the border, the need for charities to advocate and support migrants who feel unwelcome in a country where many have lived their whole lives has never been more vital.
Border Angles is a nonprofit organization that works for immigration reform, focusing on aiding migrants and easing tensions at the U.S. southern border through education on “both sides of the 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 a national organization focused on one of the more prominent stains on the Trump administration: immigrant detention. Based in the Bay area, the nonprofit is a national visitation network committed to abolishing immigration detention, monitoring human rights abuses, and advocating for reform to ensure everyone who wishes to live in the United States has the opportunity. The organization also runs the largest national hotline for detained migrants.
Voter Registration and Access
If this election year taught us anything, it’s how important voting—and access to correct information about voting—is to the stability of our democracy. While the current president still has not officially accepted the results of the 2020 election, launching a slew of lawsuits across the country and touting baseless allegations of wide-spread election fraud, Nov. 4 taught the country the power of the vote. To ensure this democratic right stays accessible, here are resources on how to register to vote or access the polls in the next election cycle.
The Center for Election Innovation & Research is a nonprofit dedicated to making sure elections are secure and that all eligible voters have access and means to cast their ballot. Based in the nation’s capital, the organization has registered more than 10 million new voters and has updated nearly 14 million voting records to ensure accurate and secure election results. The organization also works with states to ensure their results are accurate, including promoting the use of paper ballots, audits, and cyber security to limit online hacking.
HeadCount is a nonprofit organization that works with musicians and celebrities to promote voter participation. Notably, the organization pushes to invite concertgoers to register to vote at venues 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.
Throughout Joe Biden’s campaign, the now president-elect stressed the importance of strengthening America’s health care—especially during a global pandemic that has killed over 240,000 in the country. With millions of Americans currently stuck without access to reliable health care as the novel coronavirus continues to surge, the need for cheap, effective, and safe access to health coverage has never been more important. Here are a few places that are looking beyond the political spectrum to ensure Americans have the medical attention they need:
As public health officials insist COVID-19 will only worsen as winter and the holiday season looms, it’s vital to support health care workers who are already overwhelmed and understaffed. Several local organizations, like PPE 2 NYC, have been collecting PPE donations—such as masks, gowns, gloves, surgical masks—for hospitals and other organizations since the start of the pandemic. Other grassroots organizations, like GetUSPPE, PPE Link, and Donate PPE, have also dedicated themselves to closing the supply gap, using social media to secure and distribute overlooked supplies across the United States.
The HealthWell Foundation is a nonprofit 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 re-erupted during Donald Trump’s presidential tenure and energy has only continued to rise. But with the confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice who could threaten women’s rights, it’s important to support charities that are pushing to help the next generation of women to close the gender gap.
Step Up, a nonprofit based in Los Angeles, has one simple mission: to help girls go to school and get a higher education. Over the last two decades, the organization has worked with girls in under-resourced communities, offering them programs, mentorship, and guidance to propel them to college.
One of my all-time favorites is #BUILTBYGIRLS, the self-proclaimed "most powerful #girlsquad in America," which 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 Inc. and Spotify. Each mentor will meet with students several times over a three-month period, before rotating to a new adviser. 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 do in their day-to-day, and a network of professional advisors.
(And of course, always donate to Planned Parenthood when you have the chance. Women’s rights are human rights after all.)
As of 2019, about 567,715 people were recorded as homeless in the United States. While that staggering number represents residents in various situations, these 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 nonprofit 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 Doe Fund is a nonprofit organization providing work opportunities, housing, educating, and training to those who have a history of substance abuse, homelessness, and incarceration. Founded in 1985, the organization is best known for its Ready, Willing & Able program—a 12-month residential program that helps individuals secure work in combination with social services, like education and sobriety training.