Friends & Foundation of the San Francisco Public Library
Libraries are one of the most important civic institutions we have, as they promote education and access to resources to which many people and marginalized groups might not otherwise have access. The SFPL is consistently ranked as one of if not the best libraries in the world because of all of their community support and programs. I wanted to retain at least one local organization in my giving this year as a way of giving back to the city that has taught me so much, so this is my pick.
If you were upset by the forest fires in the Amazon, I don’t have much good news. Aside from Trump, Bolsonaro might literally be the person who has single-handedly had the greatest negative impact on the environment, and he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Thankfully, one of the single most cost effective ways of mitigating climate change is to prevent negative changes in land use (like clear cutting rainforest, or, say, burning it), and Rainforest Trust helps to that. Although they are also concerned with species preservation and make strategic land purchases in that space, they are dollar for dollar one of the most effective ways to preserve rainforest.
National Womens Law Center
One of the most important books I read this year was entitled, Invisible Women, which focused on making visible the gender gap in all walks of life, from product design, to the design of our cities, to the very design of our society itself. It was a stark reminder of how important it is to empower women at all levels of society and to value and support the huge amount of unpaid (care) work that they do. Invisible Women reinforced my belief that I need to continue to support this cause in any way I can, and donating to National Women’s Law Center is one of those ways. They tackle a large spectrum of issues affecting women, including equal pay, child care, reproductive rights, and social safety nets like Medicaid and Social Security.
Common Cause Education Fund
As an organization whose goal is to improve American democracy, Common Cause tackles basically every part of what makes the current system broken — partisan gerrymandering, voter suppression, the influence money in politics, and more. As such, it was a natural consolidation of my (tax-deductible) political giving. One of their recent (huge) wins includes Rucho v Common Cause, where the North Carolina supreme court struck down congressional maps as illegal and ordered non-partisan redistricting (this is after the U.S. Supreme Court abdicated all moral authority in this country and “punted” on the issue).
Rainforest Action Network
Rainforest Action Network focuses their efforts globally and on a few key actors in the fight against deforestation and extreme fossil fuel extraction — specifically, banks and large multinationals that either finance environmental destruction or demand it through their supply chains. I appreciate their clear hypothesis and unique perspective on how to solve the problem, which is different from many other U.S. environmental groups. They also have a specific focus indigenous and local community rights, which is often missing from the broader environmental conversation.
Food & Water Watch
Food & Water Watch continues to be my top charity as they cover the nexus of climate change, industrial agriculture, and corporate influence in politics. They are one of the groups leading the charge on banning fracking nationwide and for a ban on fossil fuel extraction entirely (the U.S. is the world’s largest producer of oil and one of the world’s largest natural gas producer, mostly due to the fracking boom). I’ve gotten to chat a lot with them over the last few years and am consistently impressed by their principles and their approach of having impact by working with local groups to build organizing and political capacity. If I could only donate to one organization, it would be them.