Charities and organizations we love: Our hot list for 2016

A present from the team for you to combat an onslaught of negative news: a list of charities we love, and what we love about them.  

Lauren’s most-loved charities right now:

UNICEF: They are literally everywhere. They are global, set global agendas, and do amazing work in every field. Oh, and I worked here, which gave me the idea for Buoy Up.

GiveDirectly: They give cold, hard cash to the world’s extreme poor. Right now they’re operating in Kenya and Uganda, with aims to scale up. They are remarkable for their rigor in data collection and the fact that their programs are backed by comprehensive studies. The underlying concept is most appealing: “are we spending our aid dollars better than the poor can spend it themselves?”

The White Helmets: Ordinary people thrust into extraordinarily horrific circumstances, these men and women pull people from the rubble of bombed-out buildings in Syria. They’re the subject of a harrowing Netflix documentary. Donations to them are channeled via a UK-based non-profit, The Voices Project.

Doctors Without Borders: In addition to providing lifesaving medical care to people who otherwise wouldn’t receive any, Doctors Without Borders (or MSF, their French acronym) has unmatched integrity. They lay the smack down on the UN, other international organizations, and national governments if they see that they’re slacking on their responsibility to protect the neediest in the world’s conflict zones.

Planned Parenthood: The first organization I ever gave a recurring donation to. Planned Parenthood provides women’s health services and family planning to women and men around the country, typically in underserved areas, and at very low cost. They are unequivocal and unwavering in their support for a woman’s right to choose. The preeminent climate justice organization that is both global and grassroots. They mobilized successfully to prevent the Keystone XL Pipeline.

WNYC: The second organization I ever supported with a recurring donation, WNYC is the soundtrack to my day.I listen to this public radio stations all. The. damn. Time.  I can sing the theme songs for each show. Their reporting of local issues is superb. Love you, WNYC!

Sarah’s most loved charities right now:

D.C. Central KitchenI was an intern at DC Central Kitchen right out of college. I had been working on hunger and homelessness issues for years, and DCCK manages to tackle both issues at once with efficiency and serious results. Through a culinary training program for formerly homeless and incarcerated individuals, DCCK rescues perfectly good food from restaurants/caterers/cafeterias, makes nutritious meals, and then donates those meals to local organizations serving people living in poverty. After the training program, DCCK helps the graduates secure jobs in the hospitality industry. There is also a for-profit catering arm of the organization that funnels all profits back into the Kitchen’s culinary programs.

LA KitchenLA Kitchen is the newest project from Robert Egger, Founder of DC Central Kitchen, except this time the focus is, you guessed it!, Los Angeles.

The Campus Kitchens ProjectI was hired in 2002 as the supervisor of the Campus Kitchen at Dillard University. Then it was only the second Campus Kitchen to open and today there are 53 nationwide! It was my first professional job out of college and I loved every minute of it. It was incredible to come full circle from volunteering to running a program that tackled hunger in New Orleans.

Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s ResearchMy grandmother had Parkinson’s disease, which was a devastating thing to watch unfold. The Michael J Fox Foundation has an excellent track record of funding research for a cure.

International Rescue Committee (IRC)Founded in 1933, the IRC has been helping refugee families for decades. As we watch the worst refugee crisis since the Holocaust unfold, IRC is on the front lines to help protect and serve not only Syrian refugees, but refugees around the world.

Heifer InternationalHeifer tackles systemic poverty by linking communities and bringing sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. Heifer International donates animals to people living in poverty. The animals provide partners with both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey can be traded or sold at market. Then, families share the training they receive, and pass on the first female offspring of their livestock to another family. This extends the impact of the original gift, allowing a once impoverished family to become donors and make an impact on their communities.

Leslie’s most-loved charities right now:

Feeding Pets of the Homeless: Everyone needs companionship, protection and love – including our nation’s homeless. I often see people living on the street or in their car take better care of their pets than they do of themselves, and many opt to camp on the street instead of seek a shelter bed because far too many shelters prohibit their pets. They shouldn’t have to choose. This charity helps the homeless get much needed veterinary care and food for their furry companions.

Family Dog Rescue: This spot really goes to all local rescues who work hard to save abandoned dogs across the US and beyond. I have a soft spot for rescues that save breeds that are too-often victims of misguided BSL, as I firmly believe there are no dangerous breeds, only terrible owners and unethical breeders. Family Dog connected my family with our current love bug of a dog, a bully mix, and is the passion project of Angela Padilla, a cancer survivor and tireless fighter for animal rights. If you are looking for a pet, I highly recommend finding a local rescue and adopting your future fur baby.

ASPCA: You can probably tell I am a total animal lover by now. The ASPCA’s work to prevent animal cruelty resonates with me, as I’ve seen far too many animals – both pets and working animals – abused by the humans they trust. You probably have that song stuck in your head now, too. You’re welcome. 

Planned Parenthood: It’s a repeat, but I can’t say enough about how many times this organization has provided me or people I care about (men and women) essential health care when they couldn’t afford it anywhere else. By providing health care and screenings to people who otherwise couldn’t obtain it, Planned Parenthood is an essential part of the US healthcare landscape.

ACLU, PEN America, Southern Poverty Law Center: This election year is freaking people out, me included, and so much is at stake. I upped my annual monetary support for all three of these charities to help do my part to support their fight for social justice on a number of fronts. The ACLU will be a key player in the battle to keep our civil liberties intact in the coming years, the SPLC is essential to track and fight the rise in hate crimes and promote tolerance, and PEN America helps keep a free and open press by fighting for the rights of journalists and writers around the world. Taking action by donating, and by reporting hate and standing up to it in the moment helps so much.

Tracy’s most-loved charities right now:

I have to give another vote for Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and Doctors Without Borders. The work they do is vital.

Fractured Atlas: This is a great organization I had a fellowship with. They provide independent artists and groups with business and technology solutions so artists can dedicate more of their time to doing what they do best, creating. They help with a variety of things, from finding the right insurance to providing a platform to browse rental performance and rehearsal spaces.

What are your favorites? Let us know on Twitter!

image credit, thr3 eyes on Unsplash