It's not just the thought that counts
Every year as December rolls around, a good chunk of my work pivots to that philanthropic panacea - Year-End Giving. This year, however,nonprofits like the one I work for are struggling as individual donorscurtail their charitable giving while demand for services rises. Inaddition, private foundations that fund many vital organizations havetaken major hits to their endowments, making grants fewer and farbetween.
This is all to say that while I spend not a few hours thinking abouthow to increase year-end giving at my job, I'm not very good at dolingit out myself. I get the direct mail, the emails and the youtubevideos, evaluate them like a good communications professional andpromptly ignore them, figuring that I do my part by working for anonprofit organization myself.
This year, it's not just the thought that counts.
So, here are the organizations I'm giving to this year. Mind you,these are not large gifts - but I'd encourage everyone to think aboutgiving to these (and other) worthy organizations this year, even as itfeels like you are stretching more and more. Please feel free to addyour own list in the comments.
Minnpost has become an invaluable resource for me - an island ofgood journalism in a sea of… well, you get the idea. I particularlyvalued Eric Black's pieces on what's been going on in the Attorney General's office, David Brauer's Daily Glean, and general election and recount coverage.
Thanks to The Uptake, citizen journalism is showing that it canbreak big stories, and, perhaps more importantly, play a critical rolein documenting and shedding the light of transparency on the fabric ofcivic life. See: RNC, Senate debate, and recount coverage.
This is a twofer - Support a great publication that thinks outsidethe magazine box, telling stories about how to make our world a betterplace with data, visualization, video and more - but also 100% of yoursubscription goes to nonprofits. In addition, you can choose how much you want to pay for your subscription.
Admission Possible is one of those nonprofit organizations, like theone I work for, that believes that tax status is no excuse fortimidity, and that you have to be as aggressive and entrepreneurial asthe for-profit world if you really want to make change on a largescale. Founded in 2000, AP works in Twin Cities high schools to helplow-income students gain admission to college. Their success rate isincredible - 99% of students they work with get into college - and 80%of students admitted are still working towards their degree or havegraduated. In addition, they get all this done by supporting thespirit of service that President-elect Obama extolled in his electionnight speech - sending over 50 Americorps members as coaches into theschools.
After starting in 1971 as a small civil rights firm, SPLC now is onthe forefront of tracking, documenting, and fighting white supremacistsand other hate groups. Through this work, they've taken anincreasingly critical role as the immigration rights debate heated upin the last couple of years. For me, I'm particularly fond of their Teaching Tolerance program, which provides resources to educators on anti-bias curricula.
There are many "civic engagement" programs for young people, but Ithink Mikva Challenge gets it right. They've worked with over 10,000low-income Chicago youth since 2000 building skills and experiences indemocracy focusing on all three key elements of change: youth policymaking, electoral participation, and activism. They considerthemselves a leadership pipeline, inspiring young leaders into lives ofpublic service and civic participation. See them in action with this videofrom the 2008 New Hampshire primaries, where Mikva Challenge brought 60students to be active on behalf of their candidate of choice.
Photo by the_moog