What progressive social justice organizations should I will my money to?
June 14, 2014 8:53 AM   Subscribe

I'm writing my will, and I'm planning to donate pretty much my entire estate. Places on my radar are: ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Lambda Legal. I know there are tons of other great organizations out there, but I don't know who they are, so please tell me about them. I am interested in anything progressive/social justice-y.
posted by (Over) Thinking to Grab Bag (29 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Along the vein of the organizations you mentioned are Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Citizen.
posted by grouse at 9:11 AM on June 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Can you say more about where you live or what you care about?
posted by salvia at 9:13 AM on June 14, 2014

2nding the EFF and adding Scarleteen, which provides progressive, healthy, happy sex education to 5 million young people every year on a budget of $45,000 and receives no federal or state funding at all.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:16 AM on June 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'd encourage you to think a little smaller in terms of the organization you contribute to. A donation of, say, 50,000 would be an "oh, hey, cool!" in the ACLU development office, but for a smaller organization it could mean finally hiring the new staff member they desperately need.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:18 AM on June 14, 2014 [6 favorites]

It's a religious-affiliated organization, but I think the American Friends Service Committee does good work.
posted by Llamadog-dad at 9:41 AM on June 14, 2014

Response by poster: Yes, that's exactly why I'm asking this question: What are those smaller organizations? Or what is a good way to research them other than asking metafilter?

I live in NYC. I am having trouble listing all of the things I care about, which is part of the reason I left this so open-ended. Off the top of my head: Ending discrimination based on gender identity, sexuality, race, and religion; prison reform/getting rid of the prison industrial complex; affordable housing for everyone; unions/employees having as much or more rights than corporations; abortion rights; universal health care... I'm sure I could go on, but I think that probable paints a pretty accurate picture? I hope so.
posted by (Over) Thinking at 9:57 AM on June 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

The National Lawyers Guild does amazing work.
posted by andoatnp at 10:04 AM on June 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

The Audre Lorde Project, Ali Forney Center, and FIERCE are some smaller organizations that do this sort of work.

The Urban Justice League is a bit bigger but still does very critical work.
posted by kylej at 10:23 AM on June 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Or what is a good way to research them other than asking metafilter?

You live in NYC? Perfect! I know just what you should do: visit the Foundation Center and tell them what you're interested in doing. It's basically a library for philanthropy. They can help you do research on this.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:25 AM on June 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

Your local Legal Aid organization helps people who can't afford other legal representation in evictions, foreclosures, debt collection, public benefits, civil rights, and a whole host of other issues that come up all the time. Legal Aid makes a real difference in people's day-to-day lives, and in a lot of states has suffered in the downturn and austerity. Please consider them.

(Disclaimer: I just started a short-term gig at my local legal aid office.)
posted by gauche at 10:29 AM on June 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm on the board of an independent family planning clinic (ie, not an affiliate of one of the big orgs like PP) and we struggle like hell with fundraising. We provide contraception, prenatal care, basic gynecological care, etc, to primarily low income women (most of whom are minorities, I believe).

Great mission, but we're always on a razor's edge because virtually all of our revenue is from government grants and we have a GOP state government that has all but declared war on women.

I would imagine that there are similarly situated family planning clinics across the country where a bequest of any size would have a really, really meaningful impact.
posted by jpe at 10:56 AM on June 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

BTW, many areas have community foundations that will be happy to talk to you about orgs. Foundation Center is also great.
posted by jpe at 11:08 AM on June 14, 2014

I probably will be the last of my immediate family to die and I'm also pondering this. Someone (on Balloon Juice) mentioned the Southern Poverty Law Center as a good candidate.

posted by andreap at 12:16 PM on June 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

bike collectives
posted by aniola at 12:16 PM on June 14, 2014

If you are interested in prison reform then the Innocence Project sounds like a good match.
posted by Azara at 12:18 PM on June 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

I like the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.
posted by bile and syntax at 2:15 PM on June 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

These are great organizations, and I could list many more, both nationally and in your area, but you might want to think about putting more thought into to whom and how you're giving your money away, to help ensure that your money does what you want it to, and does it effectively.

Here in LA, we have Southern California Grantmakers, which advises a coalition of philanthropists on how to give money strategically.

There must be a similar organization in NY. These folks probably know who it is.

You want to ask for advice on strategic philanthropy.
posted by univac at 2:15 PM on June 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seconding the Southern Poverty Law Center -- they do incredible work against hate groups, as well as for immigrant rights, LGBT rights, etc.
posted by scody at 2:52 PM on June 14, 2014

I hope you will consider animals and justice to them in your will. Some great orgs are SOI DOG foundation which is stopping dog meat trade in Asian countries. There is Sankara which provides eyesight to the poor and elderly. Definitely Planned Parenthood.
posted by jbean at 3:03 PM on June 14, 2014

If one wants most of their contribution to go to employee salaries? SPLC is a good fit.
posted by jpe at 3:06 PM on June 14, 2014

Electronic Frontier Foundation

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. We work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows.

Southern Poverty Law Center

The Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the Center works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.


UNICEF does whatever it takes to save and protect the world's most vulnerable children. Forty years ago, UNICEF figured out that promoting simple, low-cost interventions like hand washing and breastfeeding could save millions of lives. Undaunted by war or geography, UNICEF delivers.
posted by four panels at 3:14 PM on June 14, 2014

The National Economics and Social Rights Initiative does a lot of very good work, building coalitions to enact the human rights framework here at home, in terms of housing, health care, and employment.
posted by dogrose at 3:33 PM on June 14, 2014

When you make that list, you might look at which organization is underfunded and prioritize them. UNICEF has a lot of funding but your local tiny shelter does not, so your gift will have a bigger impact.

Also if you contact the organizations and ask about donating your estate, they will put you on their high rating for fundraising and that can mean a lot of contact. Tell them if you don't want appeals mail and so on, and see who actually listens because that can be a red flag for a crappy place.

You need to decide more parameters for your search. You could probably go on Networkforgood and narrow your list down by region and size and field to 50 or so organizations and then start from there. Otherwise it's overwhelming, and you'll get recommendations for orgs with good PR, not genuine worth necessarily.
posted by viggorlijah at 4:56 PM on June 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

FWIW I am also in this position (last of my line, no children, same for my husband) and another bequest recipient is my local hospice for the very selfish reason that I am pretty sure that in the absence of offspring and with no local family, they will see at least one of us out of this world. I'd like them to be able to continue to do that well-funded.

Additionally, were I making US-specific bequests, I would donate to my local Planned Parenthood, and I would donate to the EFF ($3m) and Lambda Legal ($14m) over the ACLU ($100m) or the SPLC ($42m) because of relative budget impact.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:35 PM on June 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Multiple wonderful worthy organizations as recipients: via The Global Fund for Women.
posted by lathrop at 6:49 PM on June 14, 2014

Habitat for Humanity pretty much depends on donations to feed the volunteer workers.
posted by Cranberry at 11:57 PM on June 14, 2014

Medical Students for Choice. MFSC advocates to make make reproductive health care, including abortion, a standard part of medical education and residency training through providing direct opportunities for family planning education and empowering physicians in training to take control of their education because no matter what politicians think, women will always need abortions and it is unconscionable not to train doctors in the procedure.

From what I recall, they operate with an 80% programming/20% admin & fundraising budget. Programming includes residency grants, direct education programs for medical students world-wide and activism.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:08 AM on June 15, 2014

Population Connection
posted by lalochezia at 7:39 AM on June 15, 2014

Good for you! Nthing the Southern Poverty Law Center. Also, the Equal Justice Initiative is doing great work with prison reform with juveniles and those on death row, and they are especially committed to lessening the disparate impact of the prison industrial complex on people of color.
posted by reksb at 6:03 PM on June 15, 2014

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