A Realist’s Guide to Progressive Giving

A Realist’s Guide to Progressive Giving

A Realist’s Guide to Progressive Giving

Your tax dollars end up doing a lot of harm. Here’s a way to offset the damage.


Goodbye, 2019! Let’s send the year off with plenty of wassail, latkes, and good cheer and a generous outpouring of year-end donations. Let the gold fly from your purse and pocket! Here are 11 suggestions.

1. Sister District. Progressives will be pouring money and energy into the upcoming presidential primaries, but the 2020 state legislative elections matter, too! Republicans swept up big majorities in 2010, and they now dominate the legislatures in 31 states. That can change—and it had better, because after the 2020 census, the party in control of the legislature determines the electoral map in most states. Sister District focuses on winning legislative races, and it’s pretty good at it, having helped turn both Virginia houses blue. sisterdistrict.com

2. ARC-Southeast. If you want to help a low-income woman who has chosen to end her pregnancy, your best bet is to give directly to abortion funds, which provide financial and logistical support directly to patients. ARC-Southeast (recently profiled in The New Yorker) is an Atlanta-based group committed to reproductive justice principles. It currently serves more than 300 patients a month throughout the South, with grants of $75 to $100. A first-trimester abortion costs around $500, so this is a place where your donation could make a real difference. arc-southeast.org

3. Spread the Vote. About half of US citizens are nonvoters—disproportionately low-income, immigrant, and under 50. Spread the Vote works in nine red states to change that through education, registration, turnout efforts, and help obtaining government-issued IDs, which are needed to vote in many states, and may be needed to obtain driver’s licenses, food stamps, and much more. Typical cost of an ID: $40. spreadthevote.org

4. Kakenya’s Dream. What if you could prevent female genital mutilation and child marriage by providing girls in one of Kenya’s poorest regions with a great education and much-needed social support? When Kakenya Ntaiya became the first girl in her village to go to college in the United States, she vowed to return and help others. The result is a flourishing school for girls, with another under construction. None of the students have undergone genital mutilation, none have been married off, and many have gone on to attend universities. Help share the dream with more Kenyan girls. kakenyasdream.org

5. Afghan Women’s Fund. Remember Afghanistan? Our longest war is far from over, and whatever arrangement is reached is sure to empower the Taliban and threaten the fragile gains women have made. Meanwhile, the Afghan Women’s Fund continues to visit insecure and hard-to-reach places to organize schools, hold literacy classes and vocational training for women, and provide medical and school supplies, including computers. Your tax dollars made the war; now donate to peace. Send checks to: Afghan Women’s Fund, 1321 Maple Avenue, Verona, PA 15147. afghanwomensfund.org

6. Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. The terrible situation at the border with Mexico is perhaps the greatest shame of our country today. The vast majority of immigrants detained there—including, of course, unaccompanied children—have no legal representation. The Florence Project provides legal and social services to detainees in Arizona. In 2018 it served over 10,000 adults and children. Help it do even more in 2020. firrp.org

7. Border Angels. Since 1994, Border Angels estimates that more than 10,000 people have died in the deserts at the southwestern border, many of them from dehydration. Based in San Diego, Border Angels’ volunteers hike into the desert and leave plastic jugs of water along paths known to be used by migrants. It’s so simple and so important. The group also does outreach work with day laborers in the San Diego area and provides material aid to asylum seekers in Central American caravans who are stuck in Tijuana. borderangels.org

8. Middle East Children’s Alliance. MECA supports community groups in Palestine, Iraq, and Lebanon and provides children with medical aid, school supplies, scholarships, and more. It also builds playgrounds, because even in Gaza—especially in Gaza—kids need to play. And it’s now the US partner of the Edward Said Public Libraries in Gaza, which Nation readers have so generously supported. When you give to MECA, you are giving the pleasures of reading in a place where books are hard to come by. mecaforpeace.org

9. Cool Earth. There are many NGOs engaged in fighting climate change, but Cool Earth is, well, pretty cool. This United Kingdom–based group combats rain forest destruction by making agreements with locals not to sell their land to loggers in return for benefits determined by the residents. According to Giving What We Can’s analysis, Cool Earth is “the most cost-effective charity we have identified to date which works on mitigating climate change through direct action.” coolearth.org

10. Help Lesotho. This small, landlocked African nation has a high rate of extreme poverty and one of the world’s highest rates of HIV. Thanks to the Canadian-based Help Lesotho, for $495, you can send a child to school. (These are Canadian dollars, so it’s a bargain.) helplesotho.org

11. Paper publications. You know you’ll be sorry when they’re gone! One great magazine is the Women’s Review of Books: Feminist powerhouse Jennifer Baumgardner is the new editor, I’m the poetry editor, and it’s full of lively and knowledgeable reviews of popular and scholarly books by writers famous and should-be famous. Plus poems! Through February 14, new subscribers can give a free gift subscription! Make sure to add the gift recipient’s address in the comments field. shop.oldcitypublishing.com/wrb-2-in-20

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Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

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