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Top 7 Volunteer Opportunities in Seattle

volunteer opportunities Seattle

Photo by Stuart Guest-Smith on Unsplash

Are you looking for volunteer opportunities in Seattle? Here are several nonprofits, rated highly by people who have already volunteered or interned there. We’ve listed nonprofits supporting all types of causes in the Seattle area that have at least four out of five stars on GreatNonprofits and at least 10 reviews, so you know your experience and your impact will be good! (more…)

5 Top-Rated Food Charities to Give to this Holiday Season

By Charlotte Dauphne Maples

Gift of food, food charities to give to

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

The holiday season is around the corner, and many children will have more than toys on their minds. The sad reality is that an empty stomach is a near-constant distraction—or worse—for many children and their families. Please consider donating to one of these worthy food charities that fight hunger year-round and bring comfort in the form of warm, nourishing meals to all those in need. (more…)

Top 10 Volunteer Opportunities in Chicago

Volunteer opportunities Chicago

Photo by Neal Kharawala on Unsplash

Are you looking for volunteer opportunities in Chicago? Here are several nonprofits, rated highly by people who have already volunteered or interned there. We’ve listed nonprofits supporting all types of causes in the Chicago area that have at least four out of five stars on GreatNonprofits and at least 10 reviews, so you know your experience and your impact will be good! (more…)

Which are the Top Nonprofits to Donate to in 2017?

GreatNonprofits Publishes 2017 Top-Rated Charities and Nonprofits List

It’s that time of year again – for many, it means shorter days, warmer clothes and cozy dinners.  As you wind down, you could be reflecting, feeling thankful, and wanting to give back.  Here at GreatNonprofits, we publish our annual Top-Rated Charities and NonProfits List every November.  With the power of crowd-sourced ratings and reviews, the community served recognizes nonprofits for their work. (more…)

Seven Gifts That Keep on Giving This Holiday Season

by Andy Talajkowksi

Seven Gifts That Keep on Giving This Holiday Season

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

‘Tis the season to give, not only to your family and friends, but also to the causes you care most about. Giving Tuesday is just around the corner, and you can continue the spirit of generosity by turning your holiday shopping into a fun opportunity to surprise your loved ones with a charitable present. Here are seven gifts for the different people in your life that will make everyone less of a Scrooge: (more…)

Top 10 Volunteer Opportunities in New York City

Top 10 Volunteer Opportunities in New York City

Photo by Fabian Fauth on Unsplash

Are you looking for a place to volunteer in New York City? Here are several nonprofits rated very highly by people who have already volunteered or interned in New York City. We’ve listed nonprofits supporting all types of causes in the New York City area. Nonprofits featured have at least four out of five star ratings on GreatNonprofits and at least 10 reviews, so you know your experience and your impact will be good!


Six Nonprofits to Support During National Native American Heritage Month

By Andy Talajkowski

A Navaho tribesman takes a break after finishing a intertribal dance during a Native American Heritage Month Pow Wow Nov 30, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The intertribal dance is a way of starting the Pow Wow. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Daniel Hughes)

As we enter into November, which has been declared National Native American Heritage Month, we need to think about how we choose to view our history and make progress in honoring underrepresented groups in our community.

Here are six Native American nonprofits you can support this giving season: (more…)

The LGBTQ Rights Movement is Far From Over

by Andy Talajkowski

LGBTQ Rights Movement

Photo by Peter Hershey on Unsplash

Legal protections for LGBTQ people in the United States have been threatened both on a state and federal level in recent months. “Religious freedom” laws, bathroom bills, and attempts to bar transgender servicemen from the military show how far the LGBTQ rights movement still has to go. October is LGBT History Month, and in honor of the progress made by equal rights pioneers in the past, here are four causes to be conscious of: (more…)

Join Generous Donors To Give To Wildfire Victims in North California

As fire crews fight to contain the cluster of wildfires ravaging Northern California, join other donors in supporting the following nonprofits and charities involved in providing relief:


Redwood Empire Food Bank (Santa Rosa, CA)

“I really enjoy volunteering at the food bank. I assist in packing boxes of food for elderly people. The teams I work with are enthusiastic. The recipients are so appreciative. I am glad to help in the REFB’s effort of feeding 78,000 a month.” – jmlb

Donate to Redwood Empire Food Bank


San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (San Francisco, CA)

“I’ve interacted with several folks from and at the SF SPCA, and have been very impressed with the way they see their mission and their role in the community. From adoption services, to the hospital, to their call center, it’s clear they have a broad view of their objectives and know how to get things done.” – mjacksonw

Donate to SF SPCA


American National Red Cross (Washington, DC)

“24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, we are out responding to disasters, and are often greeted with – ‘I didn’t know the Red Cross does this’. We are there, despite everything.” – oshma

Donate to American National Red Cross


Humane Society Silicon Valley (Milpitas, CA)

“I became involved with HSSV as a donor a few years back. My husband and I were favorably impressed with the staff and management and their dedication to improving the lives of the animals they serve.” – willow1

Donate to Humane Society Silicon Valley


Direct Relief (Santa Barbara, CA)

“One of the most responsive and trustworthy charities I have worked with.” – Mikedanese

Donate to Direct Relief


Along with the five we have listed, many other nonprofits are assisting not only with immediate disaster aid but also with long-term relief and community rebuilding efforts. See more at GreatNonprofits and help them continue the important and lifesaving work that they do.



10 Children’s Charities That Need Your Help

by Charlotte Dauphne Maples

Children's charities

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

Children are the most vulnerable members of our society and therefore most in need of our support. We are part of a larger family – a community, a nation, the whole world. An African proverb says it best – It takes a village to raise a child!

Here are 10 nonprofit organizations and charities that specifically help children, teens, and their families: (more…)

How to Respond to (Another) Most Deadly Mass Shooting

By Andy Talajkowski

On Sunday, 58 people were killed and 500 were injured in the deadliest mass shooting in the United States. The worst mass shooting before that night was the Orlando Pulse massacre in 2016. Before that, the tragedy on the Virginia Tech campus in 2007. Of the 10 most deadly mass shootings ever in America, six have happened within the past 10 years.

Here is what you can do to take action on gun control.


Step 1: Help the Victims of the Las Vegas Shooting

Thanks to an overwhelming response from local areas, the American Red Cross has received the amount of blood donations they needed and are no longer calling for more. There is still a GoFundMe page set up to donate to the victims and their families – you can give money here.


Step 2: Take Action on Gun Legislation

Many nonprofits are dedicated to decreasing gun violence and promoting safer arms policies in the United States. Here are five charities you can contribute to:

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has worked for over 40 years to create and pass legislation to end gun violence. One of their biggest accomplishments has been helping form the Gun Violence Restraining Order law, which “allows law enforcement and family members to temporarily remove firearms from a loved one in crisis,” and has been passed in Oregon, Washington, and California.

Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence

The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence is the sister organization of the CSGV, whose goal is use conclusions from research into gun violence to make legislation that keeps communities safe.

Newtown Action Alliance

The community of Newtown, Connecticut founded the Newtown Action Alliance in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy. Their all volunteer grassroots organization promotes safer gun laws and education on gun violence, and helps connect victims of shootings.

Americans for Responsible Solutions

Americans for Responsible Solutions was founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, after an assassination attempt in 2011 resulted in severe injuries to Giffords and the deaths of six other people. The nonprofit urges elected officials to take action on gun control.

Violence Policy Center

Gun legislation cannot be passed without research on the effects of gun violence, and the Violence Policy Center provides that crucial information that helps the United States move forward with smarter and safer laws.


Step 3: Talk to Your Senators and Representatives about Gun Control.

At the end of the day, the only people who can make national legislative change to gun control are the people in Washington D.C. This isn’t a reason to lose hope – Congress actually banned assault weapons, which are often used in mass shootings, back in 1994. Although the legislation was not renewed in 2004, it shows that it is possible to enact national legislation to prevent gun violence. Refuse to remain quiet as a constituent – find your congresspeople here.

DACA: You Need To Take Action Now!

by Andy Talajkowski


President Trump announced his plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program earlier this month. Under the program, people brought to the United States illegally as children were given protections from deportation, and were able to get work permits. Now the future of 800,000 DACA recipients hangs in the balance as Trump has given a six-month delay before he begins to dismantle the program. Congress and the American people have until March to take action to protect DREAMers. Here is what you can do to stop the deportation of DACA recipients:

1. Contact your representatives

Trump called upon Congress to come up with a replacement to DACA, which means they can determine the fate of DREAMers. You can find your representative here and send an email or letter, or call their offices. You can also use ResistBot to send a message to your representative via text – just text RESIST to 50409 and follow their instructions. Hold your congressperson accountable for representing your thoughts and feelings as their constituent.

2. Support businesses that are renewing DACA applications

For DACA recipients whose applications will expire in March of 2018, renewal applications need to be completed by October 5. The fee for a renewal is $495. Many law offices and companies are offering to help with completing renewal applications and also covering the fee – if you know of a local business that is providing assistance, share their address and information. Fundraising pages by Scholarships A-Z and Fuerza Colectiva have also been set up. You can find an online checklist for DACA renewal from the Immigration Legal Resource Center here.

3. Help immigration nonprofits

These organizations are assisting DACA recipients and now more than ever need more members, volunteers, and donors. Find what you can do to help.

The National Immigration Law Center

United We Dream

Immigrant Defense Project

Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights

Border Angels

National Immigration Forum

4. Know the rights of DREAMers

If you want to use social media to spread the word and share your own thoughts and experiences, make sure to link resources to your posts. Organizations like United We Dream, a nonprofit aiding immigrant youth, have guides that let DREAMers know their rights when interacting with ICE and provide next steps for what DREAMers can do after the recent announcement. Share the Deportation Defense Card created by United We Dream here.

5. Stay informed

While DACA may be ending, the federal government still has time to make new protections for DACA recipients. Follow the organizations listed above and your congresspeople on social media to stay up-to-date. Checking continually with what action is being taken in Washington will lead you to the next steps for protecting DREAMers.

Join Generous Donors To Give To Hurricane Maria Victims in Puerto Rico

Over 3 million Americans in Puerto Rico are facing power outages, disruptions in communication services and food and water shortages. Join other donors in supporting the following nonprofits and charities involved in providing relief.


GlobalGivingGlobal Giving

“…what impressed me was that follow up on the project I had donated to with reports regularly even after several years.” – ajitbhimesh

Donate to GlobalGiving



Save the Children

Save the Children

…They really make a difference. And I love that US kids are being helped as well as children around the world. I sponsor 2 kids, and give to every emergency.” – DCGal

Donate to Save the Children


Sierra Club Foundation

Sierra Club Foundation

“I am from a lumber company-owned town, so you can imagine how I felt about the Sierra Club! My opinions have changed over the years, as I have learned more about non-profit conservation organizations. I believe that the Sierra Club is on the right path towards giving our grandchildren a country they can be proud of.” – jill4

Donate to Sierra Club Foundation




“I have been volunteering at AmeriCares since 2008…During my tenure, I have seen AmeriCares quickly respond to emergencies in Japan, Haiti and Liberia (to name a few) with medicines, assistance and supplies…The compassion demonstrated and the intelligence used to distribute resources continues to impress me.” – DianeBosek

Donate to Americares


The Humane Society of Puerto Rico

The Humane Society of Puerto Rico

“The Humane Society is making a difference in Puerto Rico. They have a very good program of sterilization, foster homes, education, vaccination in all parts of the island. They also have a good group of trained volunteers to help be more effective. They definitely are the best in PR and are making a difference.” – livingrg

Donate to The Humane Society of Puerto Rico



Along with the five we have listed, many other nonprofits are assisting not only with immediate disaster aid but also with long-term relief and community rebuilding efforts. See more at GreatNonprofits and help them continue the important and lifesaving work that they do.


10 Uplifting Movies That Teach Compassion

After the past couple weeks, who doesn’t need a good movie to cheer themselves up? While some are fictional and others based on real life events, these ten movies ring true with their message – kindness and hope can be life-changing.


StepStep – Theme: a team is stronger than an individual

STEP documents the senior year of a girls’ high-school step dance team against the background of inner-city Baltimore. As each one tries to become the first in their families to attend college, the girls strive to make their dancing a success against the backdrop of social unrest in the troubled city. (Catch it while it’s still in theaters!)





Life of PiLife of Pi – Theme: no matter if you fall, you can always rise

Santosh and Gita Patel board a freighter with their sons and a few remaining animals. Tragedy strikes when a terrible storm sinks the ship, leaving the Patels’ teenage son, Pi (Suraj Sharma), as the only human survivor. However, Pi is not alone; a fearsome Bengal tiger has also found refuge aboard the lifeboat. As days turn into weeks and weeks drag into months, Pi and the tiger must learn to trust each other if both are to survive.




MilkMilk – Theme: persistence can start a movement

In 1972, Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) and his then-lover Scott Smith leave New York for San Francisco, with Milk determined to accomplish something meaningful in his life. Settling in the Castro District, he opens a camera shop and helps transform the area into a mecca for gays and lesbians. In 1977 he becomes the nation’s first openly gay man elected to a notable public office when he wins a seat on the Board of Supervisors.





Hidden FiguresHidden Figures – Theme: girl power

Three brilliant African-American women at NASA — Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) — serve as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race and galvanized the world.




LionLion – Theme: family is everything

Five year old Saroo gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of miles across India, away from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.




Man on WireMan on Wire – Theme: there is no such thing as the impossible

Filmmaker James Marsh masterfully recreates high-wire daredevil Philippe Petit’s 1974 stunt: performing acrobatics on a thin wire strung between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Petit enlists the help of a motley group of friends as he calculates every detail, from acquiring building access to stringing up the wire, and manages to pull off an astounding crime.





Spirited AwaySpirited Away – Theme: you are never too young to help others

10-year-old Chihiro (Rumi Hiiragi) and her parents (Takashi Naitô, Yasuko Sawaguchi) stumble upon a seemingly abandoned amusement park. After her mother and father are turned into giant pigs, Chihiro must work there to free herself and her parents.






The IntouchablesThe Intouchables – Theme: unexpected connections can be the most cherished

An unlikely friendship develops between a wealthy quadriplegic (François Cluzet) and his caretaker (Omar Sy), just released from prison.







50/5050/50 – Theme: in tough times, you can always use a friend

Inspired by a true story, a comedy centered on a 27-year-old guy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who learns of his cancer diagnosis, and his subsequent struggle to beat the disease.







Harry Potter and the Sorceror's StoneHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – Theme: the strongest force is love

Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy (Daniel Radcliffe) with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.


Volunteering at GreatNonprofits: An Intern Spills The Beans

One volunteer shares their experiences as a 2017 summer intern for GreatNonprofits.

What inspired you to do volunteer work this summer?

As for many other college students, the concept of an unpaid internship was initially difficult for me to swallow. However, I was glad that I would be able to contribute my skills to a non profit organization. Our operation is small but the work that each of us contributes means something and has a lasting impact. That was important to me.

What were your first impressions of GreatNonprofits?

What really stood out to me was the diversity of our nonprofit. At a typical staff meeting, half of us will meet in a conference room, while the other employees are calling in from all over the world – Hungary, the Philippines, and Brazil, to name a few!  Working right next to Silicon Valley, which so often is a white male dominated space, I’m glad to be in an organization that embodies so much more.

What is a day volunteering at GreatNonprofits like?

At 10 am, I’ll pull up a seat at our open work space and break out my laptop. I’ll start off the day checking up on our social media – liking, re-tweeting, and going over stats. My time is focused on creating and posting online content, from featured stories from GreatNonprofits users, to inspirational quotes for a daily pick-me-up. Halfway through the day I’ll head to lunch with my coworkers at a nonprofit cafe across the street, and often end up splitting a side of fries. Occasionally the entire office will get together to do the preferred nonprofit activity of choice – volunteering for other nonprofits. Our building is entirely occupied by non for profit organizations, so it’s an easy place to volunteer!

Our office at a volunteer event.


What is your favorite part of the day?

I love taking an hour every day to find the diverse stories that we feature on our social media pages. Skimming through our top-rated nonprofit list, I’ll read everything from a heartfelt tale of how a family adopted their rescue puppy to a downright tear-jerking story from a mother who owes the life of her child to a nonprofit that provided medical assistance or financial aid. It allows me to take the thousands of nonprofits registered on our site and boil down to the individuals who are actually affected. It’s pretty incredible.

What have you gained from the experience of volunteering?

I always felt like my work was worth less if I wasn’t getting paid for it. Having volunteered for the summer at GreatNonprofits, I recognize that the many different things I’ve accomplished here will actually have a lasting impact on both nonprofits and individuals.

Interested in volunteering with GreatNonprofits? Click here for a list of open positions.


Hurricane Harvey: Here Are 5 Charities That Need Your Help

By Andy Talajkowski

Courtesy of Texas Military Department

Hurricane Harvey is being called one of the biggest natural disasters in the United States to date, and an already inundated Texas braces itself for more rain. Relief efforts have been focused in areas where evacuations were not mandatory and many people are still stranded due to flooding. If you’re wondering what you can do to help, here are five nonprofits in Texas providing disaster aid:

Texas Search and Rescue

Courtesy of TEXSAR

Texas Search and Rescue is a volunteer group of first responders that lends a helping hand across the state with disaster relief efforts.

Texas Search and Rescue is professional, dedicated and absolutely amazing. It is rare to see a group of ‘volunteers’ who are in reality professionally trained first responders. TEXSAR has raised the bar and become an integral part of the emergency plans of the great State of Texas.” – LMNorman


Houston Food Bank

Houston Food Bank

Courtesy of Houston Foodbank


The Houston Food Bank is Houston’s largest food donation foundation. This food donation center and food pantry gives aid to Houston’s hungry and homeless.

“I have volunteered at this organization with my church group as well as having been a donor for years. They are a highly efficient organization, their warehouses are tidy and orderly, and the food is well accounted for.”


Houston SPCA

Courtesy of Houston SPCA

The Houston SPCA is the lead Houston animal-related agency responsible for disaster rescue, recovery, and relief efforts.

“I give a monthly donation to the organization—the injured animal ambulance and cruelty investigations are programs unmatched by any group in the community.”


Information Technology Disaster Resource Center 

Courtesy of ITDRC

Information Technology Disaster Resource Center provides technology and communication resources for disaster areas, so responders can contact those in need when public communication systems are down and communities have the appropriate technology to continue recovery efforts after a disaster.

When creating disaster plans, securing appropriate backup technology often falls into the ‘would be nice, but don’t have the money’ category or worse, it’s not even considered in the plans. ITDRC solves the technology problem with their excellent bank of available resources and support.” – United_Way_of_SC


Greater Houston Community Foundation

Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The Greater Houston Community Foundation helps donors connect to the causes they care about, and is currently raising donations for the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund – you can contribute here.

Charlottesville: there is a difference between speaking of action and taking it.

How do we persist in making change? Here are 5 charity organisations you can help to continue to support Charlottesville.

Photo courtesy of Amanda Hirsch

On the night of the Charlottesville attack, I marched with protesters onto a freeway in Oakland to act in solidarity with the victims and to stand against white supremacy. As the leaders of the march led us away from the empty street ahead, protesters began to stream through cars brought to a stand-still. When we reached the top of the off-ramp, many people began turning back.

Standing against the lights of hundreds of cars that should have been racing past me at 60 miles per hour, I did not feel safe. There did not seem to be enough people to form the barricade. A protester set off fireworks behind me with a loud CRACK. I bit the inside of the cheek to stop my hands and legs from shaking. Yet when I looked above me to see where the firework had lit up the sky, I saw the faces of dozens of people. They were marchers I assumed had left, filling the walking bridge that stood over us.

The protesters on the bridge reminded me of two things: there is a difference between speaking of action and taking it, and there are many different ways of taking action. As a demonstrator, volunteer, or donor, your assistance is welcomed – most importantly, it is needed.

In the weeks following the tragedy in Charlottesville, public outrage and support have started to shrink. I asked myself, “What can I do to continue to help?” Below are five charities you can support, located in Charlottesville and Virginia at large. Their efforts to promote social justice and aid minority groups are changing how we approach bigotry and ensure the United States is a home for all its people.

We all have a part in holding our country accountable for where it has continually fallen short. Take a moment to learn more about these organizations, share their message, donate, or make plans to volunteer.

If you are looking to help refugees and immigrants: International Neighbors

International Neighbors assists refugee and SIV families in Charlottesville with resettling in the United States. Their services include health care access, community involvement, and employment opportunities.

“Charlottesville benefits from our global community when we reach out as friends and “Great Neighbors.” – JenT



If you are interested in relief services that account for all: Islamic Relief USA

Islamic Relief USA provides human aid on a state and international level. In particular, they help with food security for those with dietary restrictions due to religious beliefs through programs like the Ramadan “Feed the Needy”.

“They provided me an opportunity to really make a difference in a child’s life and I am forever grateful.” – Donor


If you thinks it’s a priority that the news be factual and uncensored: Student Press Law Center

The Student Press Law Center provides information and legal representation to student journalists to navigate First Amendment rights and press freedom and censorship.

“What begins as the advocacy of the SPLC, down the road, creates stronger and more responsible citizens of America.” – hillabeans26


If you want to help underrepresented groups organize: Virginia Organizing

Virginia Organizing is dedicated to democratic and nonviolent activism.  They work within Charlottesville and other areas of Virginia to stand up for marginalized groups and teach people how to use their voice to make change.

“They have helped make important changes in Virginia, empowering people to improve their communities so all voices are heard, not just holding on to the status quo.” – Volunteer


If you want to see communities come together: Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities

The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities provides inclusivity training to make a difference in schools and businesses around the state. Their programs reach over 20,000 Virginians every year.

“I’ve seen this program figuratively and literally change lives of the students who participate and I strongly believe that this is the way to change the world.” – Ally D.




The Power of Donor Stories

Many of us have been inspired to give after hearing about a colleague, friend, or family member’s transformative experience giving to a cause. A donor sharing their giving experience has a powerful emotional impact on a 1-on-1 level, which can be multiplied through stories shared through social media or on other platforms.   

Research (learn more in our blog post) in brain science by Uri Hasson at Princeton University provided evidence about why stories are such effective transmitters of feelings and ideas. The brain actually lights up in the same areas of the listener and the storyteller. Listeners to a story experience the same thoughts and emotions as the brain of the person telling the story.  

This prompted our question: Can we show that donor stories actually lead to other donors getting motivated and inspired to give, in a way that can be measured?

There’s a lack of data-driven research measuring how donors telling their stories impact giving, what types of stories most motivate donors, and the best way for donors to tell their stories. With support from the Gates Foundation, we tested the impact of donors’ stories in video format on users of the GreatNonprofits website.


Once Again, We’re Counting on Nonprofits

Or rather, nonprofits can help count us


In today’s political climate, it often seems like some people count a lot more than others—and many seemingly don’t count at all. But the opportunity to help change that is now: As mandated by Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution, each resident of the United States is to be counted every decade. The last count took place in 2010, which means the 2020 Census is approaching fast, and there’s a lot at stake—political representation, for instance. Information collected is used to determine the number of seats your state will receive in the House of Representatives.

And one needn’t look past California to realize the importance of an accurate count: In 2000, the state gained an additional seat in Congress, thanks in large part to then-Governor Gray Davis setting aside $24.7 million to fund a groundbreaking statewide outreach campaign. California was one of only five states to meet the U.S. Census Bureau’s ’90 Plus Five challenge, which encouraged states to increase their 1990 Census response rates by 5 percent. 2010 was a different story, however: California did not invest nearly as much in community-based education and outreach and the state’s mail participation rate was 3 percent lower than in 2000; it did not pick up a new congressional seat.

Aside from proper representation in the House, the Census is also used to determine what percentage of $400 billion in federal funding goes to each state, for vital services such as schools, senior centers, hospitals, and job-training centers, as well as infrastructure projects. Over the span of a decade, that’s more than $4 trillion in funding.

Budget cuts to the U.S. Census Bureau threaten certain groups from sharing that pie equitably, however. “African Americans, Hispanics, and other minority populations are in danger of losing representation in Congress as well as their share of more than $400 billion a year in federal funds for healthcare, education, job training, and community development,” reported The American Prospect.

Nonprofits to the Rescue

So now that we know what your state stands to lose, what can nonprofits do to help make sure everyone is counted? Traditionally, African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, low-income communities, children, and the homeless have been disproportionately undercounted. Nonprofits, through the nature of their work, have access to and an intimate knowledge of these hard-to-reach populations.

Here are some of the ways nonprofits can help:

  • 2020 Census LUCAConduct Community-Based Address Canvassing in Your Community. The deadline for the first phase of the Census – for local addresses to be submitted to the US Census Bureau – is mid-2018. Nonprofits can help ensure a complete address list. Frequently low-income people get missed because they live in “unconventional housing” (ie: converted garages, sheds, basements). Nonprofits can help them get counted by conducting community-based address canvassing to collect these locations. Nonprofits with street-level knowledge of neighborhoods, local staff or volunteers with cultural and language skills can identify target areas that are likely to have unconventional housing and conduct in-field canvassing.  
  • Reassure Immigrants and Minorities That It’s Safe. Given the current political climate, many immigrants and minorities may be suspicious of the Census’ purpose and therefore be hesitant to be counted. Trusted nonprofits can reassure immigrants and minorities that their answers to the Census survey are confidential, will only be used for statistics, and never be shared with any other government departments.
  • Educate, Motivate, and Activate. Immigrants and low-income people are often not familiar with the purpose or uses of the Census, and under-reporting of low-income people, especially children, is well-documented. Nonprofits that are visible in the community and speak immigrants’ home languages are particularly well positioned to help its clients understand the importance of being counted.
  • Help People Take the Online Survey. The budget for address canvassing has been reduced, and instead of traditional mail-in surveys, the 2020 Census will rely on an online survey. Low-income people will surely face technology barriers to filling out the Census online, but nonprofits can help fill that gap by providing computers, assistance with filling out the form, and language translation.
  • Encourage Community to Apply to Be Enumerators. Enumerators who speak the language and are trusted by their communities can have a huge impact on people’s willingness to first open their doors, and then provide personal information to a stranger. Nonprofits can reach out to encourage community members to apply to be Census enumerators, promote the job openings, and help with the job application process.

Countless members of the community benefit from the helping hand that nonprofits provide every day, and they need that help again to make sure their voice is heard in 2020. We can’t afford to wait until 2030 to get this right, and we need the help of the nonprofit community right now.

Learn more about what you can do to ensure a fair and accurate Census at

World Turtle Day

Between climate change, oil spills, marine pollution, invasive species, loss of habitat, or overharvesting for consumption, it’s no wonder that turtles and tortoises are believed to be the most endangered vertebrates. They’ve inhabited the planet for more than 200 million years, yet roughly half of all species are currently threatened with extinction. For the past 17 years, May 23 has called attention to their plight in the form of World Turtle Day. Below are a few of the many organizations seeking to save them:

Sea Turtle Conservancy

Gainesville, Fla.

The Sea Turtle Conservancy’s mission to ensure the survival of sea turtles within the Caribbean, Atlantic, and Pacific through research, education, training, advocacy, and protection of the natural habitats upon which they depend.

“After 13 years as a volunteer and donor, I can report with confidence that this group does not stray from its mission to conserve sea turtle populations in the Atlantic and Caribbean. I have experienced no instances of personal agendas from any of the staff members, as often happens in nonprofit groups. All employees defer to the turtles and are dedicated to the research, advocacy, and education necessary to keep sea turtles on the path to recovery. As both a guide for nesting observation walks on the beach in Florida and as a field station research volunteer in Tortuguero, I feel that I am genuinely helping to save sea turtles from extinction. As a donor, I feel that my money is appreciated and used wisely. This is a truly worthy nonprofit, both of my time and my money. The STC is staffed by dedicated, intelligent, thoughtful people and the volunteer experience has been one of the most important experiences of my life. I hope to be active with them for decades to come.”


Turtle Island Restoration Network

Forest Knolls, Calif.

Through its Sea Turtle Restoration Project, the Turtle Island Restoration Network works to protect and restore endangered sea turtle populations worldwide. It does this in ways that meet the needs of both the turtles and the neighboring local communities, using grassroots action, multimedia campaigns, hands-on conservation, environmental education, and litigation.

“I have supported this organization since its birth. If you have any money to give, Sea Turtle Restoration Project will give you the most bang for your buck. I donate monthly knowing my money is being put to good use. Sea Turtle Restoration Project has a long history of great wins for the sea turtles, the health of the oceans and the planet. It’s easy to be part of this nonprofit and feel like you are making a meaningful contribution to the betterment of the planet. With STRP you will see your donations in action . . . it’s a good feeling.”


Sea Turtle Recovery

West Orange, N.J.

The Sea Turtle Recovery is dedicated to the rehabilitation, preservation, and conservation of sea turtles. In addition to rehabilitating sick or injured sea turtles for their release back to the wild, STR also educates the public on the important ecological role of sea turtles, threats endangering them, and ways to protect their future.

“I have known Brandy and Bill for the past several years. I was a volunteer who worked with them at a seal rescue facility. You could not ask for more dedicated, compassionate, and intelligent individuals. They would do whatever it took to save and rehabilitate an animal in their care. I totally support Sea Turtle Recovery because I trust the people running it. They are the best!”


To learn more about these organization and others doing similar work, please check out GreatNonprofits!