Guide to Giving

20 Great Nonprofits to Give to in 2017 and Beyond

In no particular order, 20 local and regional groups helping those who the new presidential administration promised policies may hurt.

By Kathryn Robinson January 19, 2017 Published in the February 2017 issue of Seattle Met

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1. Council on American-Islamic Relations 

In 2015, hate crimes against Muslims surged by 67 percent—then got even bolder after the November 2016 election. The local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the U.S.’s largest Muslim civil liberties association, works to defend Muslims, promote justice, and enhance understanding. Lean and grassroots.

2. NARAL Pro-Choice Washington

Okay, if Roe v. Wade gets overturned or circumscribed, we’d still have Washington state’s constitutional protection of a woman’s reproductive rights—right? Wrong. Our constitution merely codifies federal law. Meaning, now more than ever, we need an advocate leading the charge for continued access to legal abortion, continued no-cost birth control, and pro-choice state and local leadership. That’s NARAL.

3. Puget Sound Sage

A respected social justice group composed of researchers and policy analysts, Sage trains a wonky focus on green initiatives, healthy communities, workers’ rights, and affordable housing—proceeding from the recognition that they’re all connected. Thoughtful campaigns, like the one in opposition to the recent I-732 carbon tax for its socioeconomic inequities, flow from Sage’s intersectional approach.

4. OneAmerica

Founded after 9/11 by Seattle’s newest congressional representative, the India-born Pramila Jayapal, OneAmerica might have been created precisely for this moment. The immigrant advocacy organization mobilizes immigrant communities, lobbies for their rights and safety nets, registers new citizens as voters, tells their stories: in short, enables America to be America.

5. The Seattle Globalist

With diversity threatened and a vigorous fourth estate essential—the alternative press is more important than ever. Seattle sustains a handful of worthy nonprofit media—one of which, the daily online publication Seattle Globalist, specifically passes the mic to nonmajority writers and the issues of importance to their communities. Give one time or monthly.

6. El Centro de la Raza

The 45-year old Beacon Hill institution, dedicated to supporting the lives and livelihoods of Latinos, is for obvious reasons defining that mandate more broadly these days. This includes “Know Your Rights” workshops, along with a current initiative to determine whether Sanctuary City protections might be extended to nonprofits. Donations are appreciated, as are volunteers—kitchen help to data entry.

7. Washington Environmental Council

It’s the big dog around here for environmental issues, which it’s been tracking and for which it’s been lobbying for 50 years. Credit WEC with the State Superfund Law and the Growth Management Act, to name but two game-changers; it also leads a coalition of environmental groups in setting annual legislative priorities. Solid, effective, deserving.

8. Pacific Northwest Office of the Anti-Defamation League

The century-plus old Jewish organization promoting civil rights and religious liberty has drawn criticism in recent years for focusing too narrowly on Israel. But new CEO Jonathan Greenblatt recently made this extraordinary stand: “If one day Muslim Americans will be forced to register their identities, then that is the day that this proud Jew will register as a Muslim.” Along with maintaining its proven vigilance against hate crimes, the local chapter implements antibias programs in schools. 

9. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and Hawaiian Islands

Situated at the intersection of women’s rights and health care, the regional chapter of Planned Parenthood (see page 64) delivers direct support for both vulnerable institutions by advocating for reproductive choice, providing access to birth control, and offering abortion services. Its thorough website gets you up to speed on dangers of the moment, along with petitions to sign and ways to donate.

10. Refugee Women’s Alliance

In contrast to the many states decrying refugees, Washington state sustains the welcome it extended after the Vietnam War. Formerly the Southeast Asian Women’s Alliance, ReWa supports refugee and immigrant women and their families where rubber hits road—with language education, job skills, and cultural literacy support in over 49 languages and dialects.

11. Working Washington

The Washington state labor movement’s uniting force, Working Washington led the fast-food worker’s strike that culminated in Seattle’s groundbreaking $15-minimum-wage law. Trump’s choice for Secretary of Labor is a fast-food executive. Do the math—then elevate the cause of working Washingtonians by giving to this tireless advocacy group.

12. Women’s Funding Alliance

A network of big-hitting business leaders advances leadership and economic opportunity for women and girls in Washington state by raising funds and directing them to groups working to narrow the wage gap, promote STEM education for girls, and more.

13. Chief Seattle Club 

Pacific Northwest native people drop into this Pioneer Square center for medical help, a hot meal, housing assistance, job training, even spiritual community. Think of it as a thank-you, in an era when tribal treaty rights have been proving a mighty hedge against environmental incursions.

14. Human Rights Campaign

The strategic persistence of the largest organization in the country dedicated to protecting the civil rights of LGBTQ communities can be credited with ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and for securing marriage equality, among other triumphs. (Its State Equality Index publication presents state-by-state data on LGBTQ advances; Washington scores high.) Trump may be equivocating on gay rights, but so many on his projected team aren’t—a donation to the savvy HRC makes a wise hedge.

15. The CAIR Project

The Pacific Northwest–based CAIR Project (no connection to CAIR mentioned above) has one mission: to fund abortion for anyone who needs it. Low-income women, women with health insurance but high deductibles, women with long journeys to abortion providers, women under the new presidential regime should it make good on its pledge to overturn Roe v. Wade—they all need the funds you can donate through the CAIR Project.

16. ACLU of Washington

Since the election, membership in the local branch of the venerable civil rights sentinel has increased 70 percent. “We’ve been holding every president accountable for 100 years,” declares staffer Caitlin Lombardi. Among those who got the memo: A little girl who after the election collected $12-and-change at a Green Lake stand—then brought it to the ACLU in a mason jar.

17. HealthPoint

The largest King County network of health centers pioneered its model of integrated service in 1971, with docs, dentists, counselors, and naturopaths at each of its 14 sites. But even more important in a potentially post-Obamacare reality is its sliding pay scale, which slides way, way down for the uninsured and the homeless.

18. Northwest Immigrant Rights Project 

In addition to staffers, some 350 pro-bono attorneys pursue and defend the legal status of immigrants out of four offices across Washington. Changing lives is one thing—which they do, for some 10,000 clients a year, by securing them the protections they need to comfortably seek basics like medical care and police help. But NWIRP also works to create just legal policies.

19. Mary’s Place

It’s the rare homeless shelter housing women with their children, in six overnight properties and two drop-in day centers. Support for employment, housing, and medical services are dispensed along with food and lodging—needs that will take on new urgency should the new administration’s promised tax and funding policies widen income inequality and rend safety nets.

20. Faith Action Network

In joining the social justice muscle of communities of faith, Muslim to Jewish to Buddhist to Episcopal, FAN fosters interfaith cooperation, inspires commitment from beyond the pool of usual suspects, and bolsters the progressive peace-and-justice voice lobbying in Olympia. Issues include homelessness, gender equality, mental health mandates, the environment, and more.

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