The ice bucket challenge to benefit the ALS Association has raised millions and really brought about a new focus on charitable giving and involvement. It’s no surprise though. Giving feels pretty fantastic. Here are some of the charities near and dear to our hearts that we’d love to share with you.
Ali Davis: Lambda Legal does great work in fighting for LGBT rights, plus there’s the deeply satisfying spectacle of seeing their crazy-smart lawyers blaze through the court system for you and me. They can always use a few bucks.
I think Habitat for Humanity is always a good choice. If you can’t donate time, you at least know that throwing them $20 buys a bucket of nails and then someone who needs it gets a home. Bam.
Planned Parenthood. They help women get affordable health screenings — they were the ONLY way I could get women’s health screenings in my 20s — and birth control, and they are on the front lines of people saying that you’re the one who gets to decide what to do with your genitals, which any woman, queer or straight, should be shouting about.
And they are routinely dragged over the coals in the media and physically threatened for their troubles. I throw them a few bucks whenever I’m pissed off about the news and try to give a little more at least a few times a year. Bonus fun: They will cheerfully accept donations in the name of whatever anti-LGBT/anti-woman politician is enraging you at the moment.
But my favorite charity is Heifer International. You can help fund an ongoing community project or just donate a llama, a water buffalo, or a beehive to a family that needs it. Pretty cool.
Anna Pulley: I second Planned Parenthood, and add Kiva, which helps alleviate poverty internationally through microloans.
Trish Bendix: The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is doing such important work for LGBT rights worldwide. They exist to enforce our safety and equality while educating those of us who are lucky enough to live in places like the United States where we might be privy to more than our brothers and sisters in third world countries or those that treat their gay citizens as such. They have programs set up in countries like Africa where they will respond to crises, confer with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other local forums and also put time into creating change through policy and in-person trainings. The way you can support their work is with everything from cash donations to hosting a house party in the name of human rights. Sounds like my kind of party.
Grace Chu: You have to be living in a cave not to know that the world has been hit recently by epidemics and armed conflict. Doctors Without Borders provides medical aid in crisis situations where it is needed most.
Bridget McManus: I support No Kill Los Angeles (NKLA), an animal organization aiming to prevent deaths of healthy animals in shelters. Last year 9,000 treatable and healthy animals were killed in Los Angeles city shelters. NKLA is fighting to get that number down to zero. I regularly donate to NKLA and sometimes in lieu of payment for my paintings I ask buyers to make a donation to NKLA instead.
Kim Hoffman: An organization dear to me is Home Alive—a Seattle-based organization that was founded after The Gits singer Mia Zapata was raped and murdered in 1993. After this happened, the women of the community channeled their rage over this tragedy by sharing their own stories of assault, and soon, self-defense classes were erected and for many years the women who collaborated and created classes and meetings helped save each other from fear, from violence, from feeling alone.
In 2011, I was interviewing singer Brandi Carlile who told me about her organization that was motivated from Home Alive’s original roots. The Looking Out Foundation supports women, the arts, public health, homelessness, and the ways their organization breaks down what your donations could actually, literally DO is something special. In June, Looking Out began self-defense programs for teens in Seattle. That’s huge and amazing and powerful and makes me feel like somewhere Mia is damn proud. Every time I’m in Seattle, I walk by the Comet and I send her a little love and I think—so long as organizations like this continue to thrive and reach women, we are on the right road.
Eboni Rafus: I lost my dad to cancer when I was 25 years old (he was only 50) so I give to the American Cancer Society whenever I can. I lost my brother-in-law to heart disease a couple of years ago when he was only 48 years old, so the American Heart Association is also important to me. I’m also a fan of local pet rescue organizations such as Cause for Paws and Dogs Without Borders here in Los Angeles.
Yet, the charity I support most consistently, through donations, volunteering and participating in the annual charity events, is The Looking Out Foundation. One of the things I love about The Looking Out Foundation, besides the fact that is was founded by Brandi Carlile, my favorite musical artist, is that it supports both national organizations and local charities ranging from The American Diabetes Association and The Trevor Project to more local and grassroots campaigns like the Fight the Fear Campaign which promotes self-defense for the most vulnerable members of our community, and The IF Project. When the band is on the road, they feature a Cause of the Day in which they host and promote a local grassroots organization in each city they visit.
Dara Nai: I used to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity because I agree with their philosophy that home ownership leads to stability and neighborhood pride. I’ve seen completed houses improve the entire block because the owners cared about their new home, prompting their neighbors to clean up their own yards. Eventually, I had to quit HH because I couldn’t get past their religious stuff. One of my favorite charities is Donors Choose, a website for teachers looking for funds for everything from basic supplies to school trips and projects. Just because a kid lives in a poor school district, it shouldn’t mean they will never see a play or go to a museum, have decent art supplies, or access to a fully stocked library.
Dana Piccoli: The Trevor Project works tirelessly to help LGBT youth who may be in crisis or considering taking their own lives. There are still so many young people for whom the concept of “it gets better” feels like a very faraway reality. TTP is there to provide assistance and hope, and teach young people that each of their lives is precious and worth fighting for.
Jenna Lykes: I’d like to add NCLR (National Center for Lesbian Rights) because they do great and thoughtful work. Also, they have stickers of the statue of liberty and lady liberty making out. So.
Karman Kregloe: I give most frequently to environmental and animal causes, including Oceana, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and The World Wildlife Fund. Sometimes I even care about humans, and on those occasions I like to share the wealth with The American Cancer Society.
Lucy Hallowell: I’m a New England girl so I am going to call out GLAD. The folks at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders have been litigating all sorts if cases in New England for decades. If there was a marriage equality case in New England they were behind it starting with the watershed Baker case in Vermont which caused a huge stir during my college years. I’ll never forget, or feel anything but thankful, for the “Take Vermont Forward” bumper stickers that appeared everywhere after the case. GLAD is a rock star organization getting shit done.
Heather Hogan: I’m a big fan Best Friends Animal Society, a no-kill pet charity that my friend Jeanne turned me onto years ago. They do pet adoption, affordable spaying and neutering, and advocacy programs awesomely called “Save Them All.” My dogs and cat really are some of my best friends in this world. I love them more than anything, really, and they have made my life one hundred badrillion times richer and more rewarding than it would have been without them. I’m also a big fan of gay lady fandom’s charitable hearts because they saved my beagle’s life earlier this year by funding some crazy expensive surgery to have one of her lung lobes removed. She’s 100 percent back to her pre-surgery life and I will never be over how good fandom was to me to make that happen.