In addition to my love of words, I’m also deeply passionate about giving. So it's no surprise that GivingTuesday is my favorite day of the year! What is GivingTuesday? It's a global generosity movement celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (for 10 years now!).
On this special day, people like you and me come together to donate BILLIONS of dollars to charities. In 2021, GivingTuesday reported a record-breaking year with $2.7 billion dollars donated in the US alone, not to mention all of the countless non-monetary acts of generosity that occurred in just that one day.
My hope is that we beat that record again this year and continue to support organizations working tirelessly to make our world a better place to live.
Many of us are just one job loss, medical bill, or tragedy away from experiencing homelessness or food insecurity, could benefit from mental health support, need help fighting for our civil rights, or need help navigating the job market or criminal justice system to make it to the other side of a setback.
As Giving Tuesday CEO Asha Curran said, “Let’s recognize that we each can drive an enormous amount of positive change by rooting our everyday actions, decisions, and behavior in radical generosity—the concept that the suffering of others should be as intolerable to us as our own suffering.”
There is so much that goes into giving, and it doesn't just equal dollar bills. For years, I helped write press releases and social media posts for a non-profit organization because they didn't have the resources to hire someone. I've helped stock shelves in food pantries, sort toys for children, and helped women write resumes and research new careers.
Giving our time or skills can be just as important, sometimes even more valuable, than our money. But if you do have a little money to give, I hope you’ll consider donating to some worthy causes on GivingTuesday or set-up a reoccurring donation to give every month.
Here are some non-profit organizations that I personally support and why.
Equal Justice Initiative
In 2016 I read the book “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson (you might be familiar with the movie with Michael B. Jordan). It was one of the most heart wrenching and powerful books I’ve ever read, and I have been a monthly donor to the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) ever since.
EJI is a national non-profit organization founded by Bryan Stevenson that provides legal representation to people who have been illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced, or abused in state jails and prisons. They challenge the death penalty and excessive punishment and provide re-entry assistance to formerly incarcerated people.
EJI is also committed to changing the narrative around race in America. In 2018, EJI opened the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice as part of their national effort to create new spaces, markers, and memorials that address the legacy of slavery, lynching, and racial segregation.
I had the chance to go to these amazing museums in Montgomery, Alabama last year with my nephew, Jalen. The Legacy Museum was one of the most educational museums I’ve ever been to—it was previously the site of a slave warehouse with so many moving exhibits to educate its guests about slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration, and the death penalty.
I’m not sure there is a more heartbreaking, jaw-dropping, or painfully beautiful memorial than what Bryan and EJI erected to remember those who were lynched all the way through the 1950s.
My nephew described it best when he wrote:
"The EJI National Memorial for Peace and Justice is a visceral experience. The front garden of radiant flowers leads to a pavilion atop a lush hillock. Inside the pavilion it quickly becomes a confining maze of these impossibly rusted steel columns, each with an etching of a US county and the names of African Americans lynched there. As you progress, the floor sinks and the columns hoist upwards--a foot from the floor, a foot more, your eyes level with their bottoms, and then they're so high you'd never be able to reach them. In some sense, you're free--out of that steel jungle. But, in another way, you wander under a canopy of corpses. Reading the individual names becomes impossible. Even seeing the county names requires straining your neck--a physical representation of the pain to look. Lining the walls are just a few of the stories for why each person was lynched but it's overwhelming. A single death nearly broke me, but the grief of thousands is uniquely unutterable…"
EJI challenges poverty and racial injustice, advocates for equal treatment in the criminal justice system, and creates hope for marginalized communities.
To Write Love on Her Arms
I became a supporter of To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) in 2014 after learning my ex lost his brother to suicide and knowing people close to me who struggle with addiction and suicidal thoughts.
TWLOHA is a national non-profit movement dedicated to finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and invest directly in treatment and recovery for those who need it most.
In 2020, this organization became an even bigger part of my heart. My sister Amanda struggled with alcohol dependency for many years and then died from an unintentional fentanyl overdose. Maybe things would have been different if she had support from an organization like TWLOHA or a good therapist—it’s hard to say. In her memory, I hosted a birthday fundraiser for TWLOHA last year and they sent me the most thoughtful handwritten thank you card with a touching mention of Amanda.
I have also personally battled depression and anxiety and have benefited greatly from therapy. Therapy is not just for those with a diagnosis. It can be life-changing for anyone (or any couple). If you don't have insurance or are worried about the cost of therapy, TWLOHA has a Find Help tool on their website to find free or reduced cost resources in your area.
We all deserve to feel loved and supported. We all deserve a path out of the darkness.
As a minority bisexual woman and an empathetic person who cares deeply about the humanity and dignity of others, I became a member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) a couple of years ago.
ACLU was founded more than a century ago to realize the promise of the US Constitution and expand the reach of its guarantees. As a non-partisan non-profit organization, they fight tirelessly for the civil rights of every group and individual.
The ACLU has been involved in several groundbreaking Supreme Court cases over the years including Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade. With staff and volunteer attorneys, they handle close to 2,000 court cases each year.
Much of their work today is focused on equality for people of color, women, gay and trans people, prisoners, immigrants, and people with disabilities, as well as issues involving free speech and voting rights.
I started volunteering for and donating to Family Promise Metrowest in Natick, Massachusetts as a New Year's resolution in 2016 and it quickly became a resolution that brought the most meaning and purpose to my life.
Many families are just one job loss, divorce, or health scare away from eviction or foreclosure. And many do not have the resources (money or people) to prevent homelessness. That's where Family Promise comes in. Family Promise has programs that help families experiencing homelessness or facing evictions maintain shelter, food, jobs, childcare, healthcare, and dignity, all while saving enough money to get back on their feet.
For 5 years, I wrote press releases and social media posts, helped plan large fundraising events, led fundraising teams, and was a secretary on their Board of Directors. Every single person associated with this organization, including the families they help, are truly phenomenal.
I cried every single time I heard a story from one of the families that went through the program because it deeply impacted their lives as well as the community at large. And as a bonus, I was lucky enough to meet some of my very best friends while volunteering there.
Family Promise is a national organization with local affiliates so you’re likely to find one near you making the same meaningful impact in your community.
In College, I volunteered at the YWCA in Columbus, Ohio. Even though I only went there a couple of times, I still think about it often because I received a beautiful thank you note from all of the women that I helped write resumes and research careers.
YWCA is a national nonprofit organization with local associations that are dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. It is one of the oldest and largest multicultural organizations promoting solutions to enhance the lives of women, girls, and families.
One of my favorite people, Whitney, who I met while volunteering at Family Promise works for the YWCA in Cambridge, MA. YWCA Cambridge provides single room occupancy housing for more than 100 women, a safe haven for 10 homeless families, and youth programming that's on a mission to cultivate self-love, self-expression, and leadership skills for middle and high school youth.
I hope you’ll consider donating to one of these worthy causes on this day for generosity, empathy, and hope. And if philanthropy isn't in your budget right now, consider some of the non-monetary acts of generosity you could do like volunteering, organizing a food or toy drive, or appreciating the under-appreciated people in our lives.
What are some of your favorite non-profit organizations to support and why? Comment below or send me a message on social media.
Social media: @alisonrosevintage