Your Holiday Shopping Guide 2016: Worthy Causes


For reasons we’re sure we could never figure out, many of our families and friends have expressed an interest this holiday season in forgoing material gifts and instead making donations to charities helping to build a better nation and world. If you have an itching to give — whether in the name of a loved one, a family member who you’re not speaking to right now, or Mike Pence — the below are some causes that can be expected to be especially needed, and needy, during the coming times. — Village Voice staff

Accountability Lab

This international organization mentors young people in other countries and trains them to help hold governments and NGOs politi- cally accountable and build more transparent societies. Even if the U.S. is going to ruin, maybe the rest of the world doesn’t have to.

Arab American Association of New York

Anti-Muslim hate crimes across the United States rose 67 percent between 2014 and 2015. Your donation will help AAANY continue to support Arabs, who are increasingly under attack — literally and figuratively — and to pressure city lawmakers to meet the needs of a vital, vulnerable American community.

Brooklyn Community Bail Fund and the Bronx Freedom Fund

These organizations post bail for New Yorkers who are too poor to do so themselves, and who otherwise would spend months or even years in jail awaiting trial. Best of all, when clients show up for their court dates, the bail is returned, so your contribution can set another innocent New Yorker free.

Callen-Lorde Community Health Center

With both the Affordable Care Act and the rights of queer and trans individuals seriously imperiled, there’s even more need for the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, which has served the city’s LGBTQ communities, regardless of ability to pay, since 1983. The Chelsea-based organization just opened a branch in the Bronx as well.

CEC ArtsLink

Founded in the early 1960s, the Citizens Exchange Corps sought common ground between the common folk of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Renamed CEC ArtsLink, the organization now facilitates residencies and travel between the U.S., Russia, and numerous countries in Central Asia and the Middle East for curators, artists, and other culture workers.

The Door

This New York-based community center is dedicated to providing comprehensive care for young people. Services they provide include reproductive-health care, legal services, and job placement, with specialized attention devoted to LGBTQ and homeless teens.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Americans have become increasingly aware of the liberties that intelligence groups and corporations take with our digital information, but often don’t know how to resist. The Electronic Frontier Foundation develops tools for privacy-concerned users, organizing grassroots actions and taking on state agencies in court.

Electronic Privacy Information Center

If Trump makes good on plans to move against demonstrators and the press — and succeeds in installing surveillance state extremist Mike Pompeo at the CIA — we’ll need strong privacy advocates with lots of legal firepower. EPIC has been advocating for and, more importantly, suing over privacy rights for more than two decades.

Feeding America

Congressional Republicans have been salivating for years at the chance to do to food aid what welfare reform did to cash assistance. If that comes to pass, a whole lot of Americans are going to need to eat, and Feeding America, which directly funds community food banks and food pantries across the country, is an efficient way to put food on your neighbors’ tables.

Filmmakers Without Borders

This nonprofit connects filmmakers and arts educators with schoolchildren around the world in communities less exposed to independent filmmaking, providing students with digital equipment (laptops, Canon DSLRs, and the like), plus classes in film form and technique.

Flint Water Fund

Residents of Flint, Michigan — many black and low-income — have not had clean drinking and bathing water since 2014, thanks to a negligent state administration. The Flint Water Fund uses 100 percent of your donations to provide purified or bottled water and other emergency services.

Immigrant Defense Project

If Donald Trump follows through on his threat to further accelerate deportations, undocumented New Yorkers are going to need a lot of help when Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers come for them. The Immigrant Defense Project offers legal support to immigrants and fights the unjust laws used to persecute them.

Joyful Heart’s End the Backlog

Police departments across the country are estimated to have hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in storage. Joyful Heart works to locate all those untested kits, then hold law enforcement agencies accountable for testing them, an act of solidarity that says we respect rape victims enough to try to prosecute the crimes perpetrated against them.

Literacy for Incarcerated Teens

Every year, New York City takes into custody several thousand young people between seven and sixteen years old, a large percentage of whom read below grade level. LIT provides books and other media for school libraries serving incarcerated youth, arranges discussions with authors and artists, and coordinates enrichment programs and activities.

Make the Road New York

This nonprofit that works with low-income and immigrant populations brought national attention to stop-and-frisk tactics and trained thousands of young New Yorkers and LGBTQ city residents about their rights when stopped by police. Their employment, housing, civil rights, and immigration law practice will only get more important now that we’re in Trump times.

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

The strongest bulwark against discrimination in America has always been the courts, and NAACP-LDF — founded in 1940 by Thurgood Marshall and distinct from the NAACP as a whole — is responsible for some of the most important legal victories since the civil rights era, including Brown v. Board of Education.

Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals

Since 2003, this entirely donor-funded nonprofit that aids over 150 local animal rescue and shelter organizations has helped tens of thousands of homeless animals find homes instead of being put down. And doesn’t everyone need an emotional support animal right now?

National Coalition Against Censorship

For more than forty years, NCAC has championed free expression, from protecting school libraries from the thought police to helping museums fight art censorship. Plus, Judy Blume’s on the NCAC board, so what’s not to like?

National Popular Vote

The nonprofit organization National Popular Vote works with states to pledge their electors to whichever candidate wins the popular vote. Once enough states sign on — eleven have so far, counting for 165 electoral votes of the 270 needed for a majority — the Electoral College will be moot, and popular-vote losers will no longer get to occupy the White House.

New York Abortion Access Fund

NYAAF pays for abortions for people who can’t afford them, helping clients connect to transportation, childcare, and translation resources. It’s part of the National Network of Abortion Funds, which connects funds across the country to get patients to safe abortion care — even across state lines, which will likely become increasingly necessary in many parts of the nation.

New York Foundation for the Arts

NYFA awards grants to visual artists, writers, choreographers, filmmakers, and other creative folks purely on a merit basis. The competition is open to any nonstudent in New York State and — particularly for artists living in this stupidly expensive city — the $7,000 grant can help shift one a little further from what is too often a marginal existence.

NYC Books Through Bars

This grassroots organization supplies incarcerated people with books, including politically charged literature that questions the legitimacy of the prison-industrial complex. The group uses donated funds for stamps, packaging, and other postal supplies. You can also lend your time, at one of the group’s twice-weekly packing sessions at Freebird Books.

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network

RAINN, the country’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, operates a national hotline and partners with locally based sexual assault support organizations to provide programs and services for survivors, education, and lobbying efforts to improve sexual assault laws and expand DNA testing to eliminate rape kit backlogs.

Southern Poverty Law Center

The nation’s largest hate-group watchdog association, SPLC tracks 892 groups across all 50 states, works to prevent violence against black people, Jews, queers, immigrants, and Muslims, and advocates for criminal justice reform and the rights of children.

Union of Concerned Scientists and

According to Trump, climate change is “bullshit,” and his top environmental advisor is a non-scientist who was previously funded by the oil industry to convince the public of the same. Keeping the planet habitable for future generations will take both strong science and strong activism, and the Union of Concerned Scientists and have both ends covered.,

Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality

WISE is a global social justice organization run by and for Muslim women to reclaim women’s rights throughout the Islamic world. They fund cultural exchanges, create resources for professional development, and lead local workshops on expanding the franchise to all women.