“Studies show,” writes Katha Pollitt, “that experiences, not possessions, are what make people happy. So this holiday season, make yourself happy by experiencing helping others through year-end donations to these fine groups.” With no shortage of progressive causes worthy of attention and funding, Pollitt has picked her top-ten organizations that deserve your giving this year.
When the earthquake struck Haiti in January, Partners in Health was ready with emergency aid. That's because it's been there for twenty-five years, providing community-based, respectful, holistic healthcare to the poor. PIH also operates in Rwanda, Lesotho, Malawi, Peru, Russia, Kazakhstan and the United States. If healthcare really was a human right, PIH is what it would look like.
Partners in Health, 888 Commonwealth Ave., 3rd Floor, Boston, MA 02215.
Credit: Partners in Health
It's great that courts take child molestation more seriously these days, but what if the accused is innocent? Jesse Friedman, Bernard Baran, Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen are just a few of the unjustly convicted defendants—male and female—who have received crucial support from the National Center for Reason and Justice. This scrappy group operates on a shoestring, but even a shoestring isn't free.
NCRJ, PO Box 191101, Roxbury, MA 02119.
Credit: National Center for Reason and Justice
What does it take to change the life of an HIV-affected or -infected child in South Africa? More than a cup of soup or a soccer ball—it takes an investment in raising a whole child. Based in Port Elizabeth, Ubuntu Education Fund is assisting 40,000 orphaned and vulnerable children to reach university and the world of work by providing them with lifesaving healthcare and essential educational resources. Help South Africa fulfill its promise by supporting its poorest children.
Ubuntu Education Fund, 32 Broadway, Suite 414, New York, NY 10004.
Credit: Ubuntu Education Fund
Since 1991, the Global Fund for Women has supported Gazan women's organizations focused on gender equality, women's and children's rights, economic self-sufficiency, health and education. Among their activities: teaching computer skills, job training, cancer screening, helping girls stay in school, producing a radio program on women's rights, spreading the word about women's legal rights. The recent war and the Israeli blockade have put enormous pressure on these groups and the women they serve, with trauma and homelessness added to the already difficult conditions of daily life. You can support all of GFW's grantees with one check made out to the Global Fund for Women with Gaza/Palestine on the memo line.
Global Fund for Women, Thara Jinadasa, 222 Sutter St., Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94108.
Credit: Reuters Pictures
Sick of playing defense—and losing—on abortion rights and access? The assertive, proactive St. Louis–based group Trust Women was founded in Kansas to continue the work of Dr. George Tiller, whose motto was, yes, "Trust women." It carries on his spirit in three ways: electing prowoman prochoice candidates, creating a clearinghouse for model reproductive health legislation and increasing access to abortion in the greatly underserved Midwest and South. There's no better way to honor Dr. Tiller's memory.
Write checks to Trust Women PAC or, for a tax deduction, Trust Women Foundation, 4660 Maryland Ave., Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63108.
Credit: Gregory Koger for World Can’t Wait
Everyone knows that girls' education is the key to progress in the developing world. For twenty-five years Canadian Harambee Education Society has supported girls in Kenya and Tanzania who score well on high school entrance exams but whose families can't afford the fees. For $500 Canadian, you can pay a whole year's tuition for one girl and get report cards and letters to keep you posted on her progress. Can't swing the whole amount? Just give what you can—it will be used to help pay for scholarships, books, school supplies and more.
Canadian Harambee Education Society, #102B – 9030 King George Hwy., Surrey, BC V3V 7Y3, Canada.
Credit: Canadian Harambee Education Society
If the oceans of aid we are wasting in Afghanistan were going to grassroots groups like Afghan Women's Fund, the Taliban might not be doing so well. For nine years, under the leadership of the indomitable Fahima Vorgetts, AWF has built schools and clinics, dug wells, run literacy classes and taught women income-generating skills from sewing to jam-making. $100 buys a semester's worth of school supplies for five students.
Write checks to WAW/AWF and mail to Mary Ellen Bobb, 978 Yachtsman Way, Annapolis, MD 21403.
Credit: Fahima Vorgetts
Equality Now is the banner organization for the global cause of women's rights as human rights. It works with grassroots groups around the world to fight female genital mutilation, trafficking into prostitution and domestic servitude, forced marriage, child marriage and unjust laws, like ones permitting domestic violence, denying women the right to inherit land and dropping charges if the victim marries her rapist. EN is a big reason you even know these things happen.
Equality Now, PO Box 20646, Columbus Circle Station, New York, NY 10023.
Credit: Reuters Pictures
Politics is all about the "middle class" these days—but what about the workers? Based in New York City's outer boroughs, Make the Road New York organizes low-income and immigrant communities to fight abusive employers, harassing landlords, unresponsive city agencies and other malefactors and win economic justice and civil rights for some of the most exploited and ignored people in the nation.
Make the Road, Attn: Development, 301 Grove St., Brooklyn, NY 11237.
Credit: Make the Road New York
Money tight? For $10 to $15 you can brighten a rural library's children's section by purchasing a book from the Libri Foundation's wish list at Amazon.com. Carl's Snowy Afternoon! Pigs to the Rescue! Kids will read your gift book till it falls apart from the love.
Credit: Reuters Pictures