It is so crucial, perhaps now more than EVER before, that we WALK THE TALK and help support the organizations and people that are standing up and fighting for freedom, justice, the longterm, sustainable health of our planet, and ALL of its inhabitants. Below is a list of organizations I highly suggest you learn more about and consider supporting:
The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) fights to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. Founded in 1979 by attorneys active in shaping the emerging field of animal law, ALDF has blazed the trail for stronger enforcement of anti-cruelty laws and more humane treatment of animals in every corner of American life. Today, ALDF's groundbreaking efforts to push the U.S. legal system to end the suffering of abused animals are supported by hundreds of dedicated attorneys and more than 100,000 members. ALDF files groundbreaking lawsuits to stop animal abuse; provides free legal assistance to prosecutors handling cruelty cases; works to strengthen anti-cruelty statutes; encourages federal enforcement of existing animal protection laws; nurtures the future of animal law; and provides public education.
Guide Dogs for the Blind provides enhanced mobility to qualified individuals through partnership with dogs whose unique skills are developed and nurtured by dedicated volunteers and a professional staff. Established in 1942, Guide Dogs for the Blind continues its dedication to quality student training services and extensive follow-up support for graduates. As the largest school serving the United States and Canada, we are able to provide highly personalized training, free of charge. The team spends up to 28 days learning to work together in a variety of real-life situations. The students learn to work their dogs in stores, restaurants and malls, and on all forms of public transportation. The class training is conducted by our licensed Guide Dog mobility instructors.
The Lange Foundation (a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization) was founded in 1993 by Gillian Lange, recipient of the 1980 City of Los Angeles St. Francis of Assisi award for her rescue work with impounded animals since 1974. Lange founded the Amanda Foundation in 1975. To date the two Foundations have rescued and placed over 25,000 cats, dogs and horses who would otherwise have been destroyed in overcrowded public animal shelters. Lange and a group of dedicated staff and volunteers works and will continue working everyday to help homeless animals.The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), founded in 1895 saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. We currently manage about 500 conservation projects in more than 60 countries; and educate millions of visitors at our five living institutions in New York City on important issues affecting our planet. Our parks include: the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo. The WCS parks in New York City welcome 4 million visitors each year, including helping the city to educate millions of schoolchildren in science and conservation issues.
ARTS & CULTURE
The Actors Fund is a national human services organization that helps everyone - performers and those behind the scenes - who works in performing arts and entertainment, helping more than 13,500 people directly each year and hundreds of thousands more online. Serving professionals in film, theatre, television, music, opera, radio and dance, The Fund's programs include social services and emergency financial assistance, health care and insurance counseling, housing, and employment and training services. With offices in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, The Actors Fund has been a safety net for those in need, crisis and transition since 1882.
American Documentary (AMDOC) is a leading nonprofit media organization dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary nonfiction stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media. Since 1988, American Documentary has produced the award-winning series P.O.V. for PBS, presenting over 365 of the most important documentary films of our time. Our films - coupled with our unsurpassed national reach and local collaborations - have brought powerful documentary storytelling into people's lives, and brought public dialogue on issues of national importance to a new level. American Documentary is a leader in extending the reach of documentaries online. American Documentary continues to pioneer new ways to use independent media as a springboard to engage the public.
The KCRW Foundation promotes and provides financial support to Santa Monica College Radio Station KCRW. KCRW, a community service of Santa Monica College, is Southern California's leading National Public Radio affiliate, featuring an eclectic mix of music, news, information and cultural programming. The station boasts one of the nation's largest arrays of locally- produced, nationally-distributed talk program content. KCRW.com extends the station's profile globally, with three streams featuring web-exclusive content: all music, all news and the live station simulcast, as well as an extensive list of podcasts. The non-commercial broadcast signal reaches 550,000 listeners weekly and is supported by 55,000 member/subscribers.
Established in 1989 by The Recording Academy, MusiCares provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares' services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. MusiCares also focuses the resources and attention of the music industry on human service issues that directly impact the health and welfare of the music community. MusiCares programs include emergency financial assistance for struggling music people; addiction recovery support groups; and outreach activities to educate members of the music industry and the public-at-large about available human service opportunities.
The Music Center Foundation's mission is to provide endowment support through asset management and planned giving fundraising for the Music Center of Los Angeles County, its programmatic and educational activities and its affiliated performing arts companies: Los Angeles Philharmonic, Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles Opera Company, and Los Angeles Master Chorale. The Music Center opened in 1964 and is the home of the 3,197-seat Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the 740-seat Mark Taper Forum and the Ahmanson Theatre, which offers flexible seating for 1,600 to 2,100. In 2003, the Music Center added the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, which seats 2,265 and is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Founded in 1933, the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) is the nation's oldest folk arts organization. The NCTA stresses quality and authenticity in presenting traditional artists to the public in festivals, national and international tours, concerts, radio and television programs, films, recordings and other programs. NCTA's work includes a nationwide touring program, the creation and programming of large-scale festivals and special events, the planning of cultural programs in National Parks, and numerous other activities. In the past five years, the NCTA has presented 13 major multi-day festivals, 81 traditional arts concerts and 5 national tours with 146 performances, reaching 26 states, and produced 24 nationally distributed compact disc recordings.
As the nation's foremost theatrical producer of Shakespeare and new work, The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival is dedicated to achieving artistic excellence while developing an American theater that is accessible and relevant to all people through productions of challenging new plays, musicals and innovative stagings of the classics. The Public's mandate to create a theater for all New Yorkers continues to this day on stage and through its extensive outreach and education programs. Each year, over 250,000 people attend Public Theater-related productions and events at six downtown stages, including Joe's Pub, Shakespeare in Central Park and Joe's Pub in the Park.
Founded in 2003, StoryCorps' mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. With a relentless focus on recording the stories of everyday people, StoryCorps captures lives that would otherwise be lost to history and reminds the nation that every story matters and every voice counts. Over the past seven years, we've given more than 70,000 Americans the chance to record interviews about their lives, pass wisdom from one generation to the next, and leave a legacy for future generations through our archive at the Library of Congress. We also share select edited excerpts of these stories through weekly NPR broadcasts, animated shorts, our popular website, podcasts, and best-selling books. These powerful stories illustrate our shared humanity and how much more we share in common than divides us.
The mission of the National Audubon Society is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the Earth's biological diversity. Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences. Audubon is making progress protecting habitat on-the-ground, while its public policy office in Washington, D.C. connects Audubon with Congress, the executive branch, courts, and mass media to ensure our great natural heritage endures for generations.
At The Conservation Fund, we believe that conservation should work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are re-defining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. We have the highest program allocation - putting 97% of our resources toward mission - and lowest fundraising costs in our field and continue to outperform for our efficiency and effectiveness. Since 1985 we have protected more than 7.5 million acres of land, working in all 50 states; we've preserved forests, deserts, parks, waterways and every type of landscape in between. From historic places that tell the story of America to helping communities grow smarter, greener cities, our work benefits all Americans.
Earthjustice is a public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities. Established as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund in 1971, Earthjustice has a legal staff of more than 50 in eight offices around the country. Earthjustice uses federal and state environmental laws to protect the environment by taking government agencies to court for failing to enforce our nation's environmental laws, and corporations for breaking them. Earthjustice does this work on behalf of hundreds of community and environmental groups, providing legal services free of charge.
Environmental Defense Fund's mission is to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends. What distinguishes EDF from others is the combination of what we protect and how we protect it. We work to solve the most critical environmental problems facing the planet, focusing on mitigating climate change, restoring the ocean's bounty, protecting wildlife and their habitats, and safeguarding our health. Since these topics are intertwined, our solutions take a multidisciplinary approach. We work in concert with other organizations-as well as with business, government and communities-and avoid duplicating work already being done effectively by others.
Founded by Congress, the National Forest Foundation (NFF) works with the U.S. Forest Service and communities across the country to care for the 193-million-acre National Forest System and the millions of visitors it receives each year. The NFF brings people together to restore and enhance our National Forests and Grasslands. As the nonprofit partner of the U.S. Forest Service, we engage America in community-based and national programs that promote the health and public enjoyment of the National Forest System. We also administer private gifts of funds and land for the benefit of the National Forests. In helping the U.S. Forest Service fulfill its mission "to maintain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations" we work in close collaboration with local people and communities.
The Natural Resources Defense Council's (NRDC) purpose is to safeguard the Earth: its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends. We work to restore the integrity of the elements that sustain life - air, land, and water - and to defend endangered natural places. We seek to establish sustainability and good stewardship of the Earth as central ethical imperatives of human society. NRDC affirms the integral place of human beings in the environment. We strive to protect nature in ways that advance the long-term welfare of present and future generations. We work to foster the fundamental right of all people to have a voice in decisions that affect their environment.
Founded in 1972, Ocean Conservancy promotes healthy and diverse ocean ecosystems and opposes practices that threaten ocean life and human life. Through research, education, and science-based advocacy, Ocean Conservancy informs, inspires, and empowers people to speak and act on behalf of the oceans. In all its work, Ocean Conservancy strives to be the world's foremost advocate for the oceans. Ocean Conservancy's four strategic priorities reflect the critical ocean conservation issues that will be the main focus of our efforts, including restoring sustainable American fisheries, protecting wildlife from human impacts, conserving special ocean places, and reforming government for better ocean stewardship.
The Sierra Club Foundation promotes efforts to educate and empower people to protect and improve the natural and human environment. We partner with individual and institutional donors to align financial resources with strategic outcomes, provide flexible funding for innovation, build capacity in the environmental movement, and create partnerships with a broad spectrum of allied organizations around shared values and goals. As the fiscal sponsor of the charitable programs of the Sierra Club, we provide resources to it and other nonprofit organizations to support scientific, educational, literary, organizing, advocacy, and legal programs that further our goals.
GLOBAL HUMANITARIAN AID
Founded in 1982, the Carter Center, in partnership with Emory University, is guided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering; it seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health. While the program agenda may change, The Carter Center is guided by five principles: it emphasizes action and results based on careful research and analysis; it does not duplicate the effective efforts of others; it addresses difficult problems and recognizes the possibility of failure as an acceptable risk; it acts as a neutral in dispute resolution activities; and it believes that people can improve their lives when provided with the necessary skills, knowledge, and access to resources.
charity: water is a nonprofit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries. The organization inspires giving and empowers others to fundraise for sustainable water solutions. 100% of public donations are sent to local partners on the ground, who build and implement the projects. When the projects are completed, charity: water proves every one of them using GPS coordinates, photos and details of the community served.
Doctors Without Borders, USA (DWB-USA) was founded in 1990 in New York City to raise funds, create awareness, recruit field staff, and advocate with the United Nations and US government on humanitarian concerns. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization that provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters.
The Near East Foundation helps build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities in the Middle East and Africa through education, governance, and economic development initiatives. NEF is an operational NGO with projects in seven countries -- Armenia, Egypt, Jordan, Mali, Morocco, Palestine, and Sudan. Working with local partners, our programs directly improve the lives of tens of thousands of vulnerable people across the region through initiatives in Peacebuilding, Civic Engagement and Education, Sustainable Agriculture, and Microenterprise Development.
Water For People is an international NGO organization that exists to promote the development of high quality drinking water and sanitation services, accessible to all, and sustained by strong communities, businesses, and governments. Our work in nine countries will ultimately enable millions of people to gain access to safe water and sanitation. For water and sanitation services to be reliable and permanent, they require capacity and commitment from local institutions. Accordingly, Water For People's strategy focuses on building strong relationships among the private sector, civil society, and government, which will ultimately serve as the collaborative network that sustains water and sanitation for the long-term. Through strategically-focused programs, we are extending sustainable services to each of the regions where we work, while simultaneously providing a model for greater replication. This approach is called Everyone Forever.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.
Children's Miracle Network Hospitals' mission is to generate funds and awareness programs in partnership with and for the benefit of member hospitals/foundations and the children they are privileged to serve. We raise funds for more than 170 children's hospitals across North America. Countless individuals, organizations and media partners unite with Children's Miracle Network hospitals to help sick and injured kids in local communities. Donations to Children's Miracle Network create miracles by funding medical care, research and education that saves and improves the lives of millions of children each year.
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is the nation's largest grassroots organization for people with mental illness and their families. Founded in 1979, NAMI has affiliates in every state and in more than 1,100 local communities across the country. NAMI recognizes that the key concepts of recovery, resiliency and support are essential to improving the wellness and quality of life of all persons affected by mental illness. NAMI members and friends work to fulfill our mission by providing support, education, and advocacy. Our many activities include: public education and information activities, peer education and support, raising awareness and fighting stigma, and state and federal advocacy.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (the Center) informs Americans of the economic and social costs of addiction and risky substance use and its impact on their lives; assesses what works in prevention, treatment and disease management; and encourages every individual and institution to take responsibility to reduce these health problems. The Center strives to provide health care providers, policymakers and individuals with the tools they need to succeed and to remove the stigma of addiction, replacing shame and despair with hope. The only shame in the fight against addiction is indifference.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is America's most trusted provider of reproductive health care. For more than 90 years, Planned Parenthood has promoted a commonsense approach to women's health and well-being, based on respect for each individual's right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning. PPFA works to provide trusted community healthcare; inform and educated the community; lead the reproductive health and rights movement; and advance global health. The heart of Planned Parenthood is in the local community. Our 94 unique, locally governed affiliates nationwide operate more than 850 health centers, which reflect the diverse needs of their communities.
HUMAN & CIVIL RIGHTS
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation is the arm of the ACLU that conducts litigation and communication efforts. The Foundation provides legal presentation in cases involving issues of civil liberties and constitutional rights ranging from administrative hearings to trials and appeals. In addition, the Foundation educates the public as to civil liberties and constitutional rights by disseminating literature and other publications. The ACLU Foundation preserves and promotes civil rights and liberties as guaranteed by the United States Constitution.
Equality Now was founded in 1992 to work for the protection and promotion of the human rights of women around the world. Working with national human rights organizations and individual activists, Equality Now documents violence and discrimination against women and mobilizes international action to support their efforts to stop these human rights abuses. Through its Women's Action Network of concerned groups and individuals around the world, Equality Now distributes information about human rights violations; takes action to protest these violations; and brings public attention to human rights violations against women.
Families Against Mandatory Minimums Foundation (FAMM) is the national voice for fair and proportionate sentencing laws. We shine a light on the human face of sentencing, advocate for state and federal sentencing reform, and mobilize thousands of individuals and families whose lives are adversely affected by unjust sentences. FAMM's vision is a nation in which sentencing is individualized, humane, and sufficient but not greater than necessary to impose just punishment, secure public safety, and support successful rehabilitation and reentry. FAMM's national membership includes prisoners and their families, attorneys, judges, criminal justice experts and concerned citizens.
Justice in Aging is a national non-profit legal advocacy organization that fights senior poverty through law. Formerly the National Senior Citizens Law Center, since 1972 we've worked for access to affordable health care and economic security for older adults with limited resources, focusing especially on populations that have traditionally lacked legal protection such as women, people of color, LGBT individuals, and people with limited English proficiency. Through targeted advocacy, litigation, and the trainings and resources we provide to local advocates, we ensure access to the social safety net programs that poor seniors depend on, including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
To support and protect, as a fundamental right and value, a woman's freedom to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices through education, training, organizing, legal action, and public policy.
Through research, educational efforts and outreach, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation encourages gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans to live their lives openly and seeks to change the hearts and minds of Americans to the side of equality. Programs funded in part or in full through the HRC Foundation include: The HRC Coming Out Project, which encourages GLBT and straight-supportive Americans to come out and live openly; The HRC Family Project, which empowers members of the GLBT community to take action to protect their families; The HRC Historically Black Colleges and Universities Outreach Program, which trains student activists to sustain dialogue, build viable student-led GLBT organizations; The HRC Religion and Faith Program, The HRC Research Center, and The HRC Workplace Project.
Pride Foundation was founded in late 1985 by four committed individuals, who believed that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community needed its own philanthropic organization. The foundation inspires giving to expand opportunities and advance full equality for LGBTQ people across the Northwest. It envisions a world in which all LGBTQ youth, adults, and families enjoy the freedom to live safely, openly, and genuinely.
The Trevor Project is determined to end suicide among LGBTQ youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources including our nationwide, 24/7 crisis intervention lifeline, digital community and advocacy/educational programs that create a safe, supportive and positive environment for everyone.
RESEARCH AND PUBLIC POLICY
The Center for American Progress is an independent nonpartisan policy institute that is dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans, through bold, progressive ideas, as well as strong leadership and concerted action. Our aim is not just to change the conversation, but to change the country.
Founded in 1997, Center for Food Safety (CFS) works to protect human health and the environment by curbing the proliferation of harmful food production technologies and by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture. CFS combines multiple tools and strategies in pursuing its goals, including litigation and legal petitions for rulemaking, legal support for various sustainable agriculture and food safety constituencies, as well as public education, grassroots organizing and media outreach.
The North Carolina Agricultural Foundation (NCAF) was founded in 1944 as a means of supporting agricultural research, extension, and teaching activities in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University. NCAF works to aid and promote, by financial assistance and otherwise, all types of education and research in agriculture at or through NC State University.
+ - + - + - + - + - + - + - +
To further vet these organizations, be sure to check out Charity Navigator whose mission is to make impactful philanthropy easier for all. "Specifically, Charity Navigator's rating system examines two broad areas of a charity's performance; their Financial Health and their Accountability & Transparency. Our ratings show givers how efficiently we believe a charity will use their support today, how well it has sustained its programs and services over time and their level of commitment to good governance, best practices and openness with information."
Please note, I am not personally involved with any of these organizations. I only intend to highlight some of the charities I think are doing a great job and bring them to your attention. XO, Maranda