Surprise! Americans are actually quite generous. Despite all the newsworthy neuroses — like a politically polarized culture, a pervasive loneliness problem, and an opioid epidemic — collectively, we donated more than $427 billion to U.S. charities in 2018.
And that’s just the stuff we were able to itemize and keep track of on our taxes — never mind the impromptu $20 cash drop in the basket at Christmas Mass, or the “pay it forward” drive-through phenomenon. Millennials are particularly generous — 84 percent of them donated to charities in 2017.
Here’s the thing, though: you have something to offer charities that is often more valuable than money — your time and your voice. Non-profit organizations need champions to bring awareness to their causes, even in the political arena. This kind of action can be just as important, if not more important, than actual money.
Offering your money and volunteer service are important ways to meet the needs of people living on the margins. But it’s also just as important to address the systems that lead to those inequities, and that takes an army of people willing to raise their voice publicly. Here are some causes that could use your advocacy.
People with Down Syndrome are among the happiest people, infecting their families and neighbors with joy. Yet in recent years, they have to defend why they exist. As the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down Syndrome, the NDSS has plenty of ways you can be involved or advocate on behalf of their issues — just sign up to receive advocacy alerts, and they’ll prompt you when issues arise and need action.
Suicide rates are rising — especially in the past two decades, according to the American Psychological Association. It’s now the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. So when you sign up to become an AFSP advocate, you’re not only spreading awareness about this entirely preventable death, but also taking a stance on mental health issues that our fast-paced, results-driven culture tends to overlook.
The opioid epidemic is complex issue with many layers and not a lot of answers. The numbers are daunting — this drug kills more than gun violence and car crashes combined. Still, there are some things we can do to help our communities face this addiction that kills thousands. Learn more about opioid policies — and what you can do, both locally and nationally.
This nonprofit is a partnership initiative between the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services, one of the world’s largest relief agencies. This campaign is focused on defending the lives and dignity of people living in poverty worldwide. You can help the cause by advocating for their humanitarian initiatives that support migrants, poor farmers looking to adapt to climate change, and people suffering from malnutrition.
If you’re especially struck by recent news events around the plight of refugees and immigrants entering the US, you’ll want to follow Justice for Immigrants. You’ll be prompted to take action and advocate on the behalf of immigrants who do not have the resources to advocate for themselves. Start simply by joining their email list.
Porn impacts our brains, our hearts, our health, and how we see each other. If you’ve struggled with this, or have a loved one who has struggled with it, you’re not alone. The good news is — Fight The New Drug is looking for advocates who can join the movement by making others aware.
There have been some major wins for the autism community in the past few years, but there’s still a long way to go. These two advocacy groups are just getting started. Autism Speaks is open to anyone and everyone who feels strongly about the rights for those with autism. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is notably more exclusive — it’s run by and built for people with autism!
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund has been around since 1946. It was initially built to meet the needs of children affected by the chaos of wars in Europe and China. Their humanitarian efforts have since grown to focus on children in more than 190 countries and territories, offering health care and immunizations, safe water and sanitation, nutrition, education, and emergency relief. You can advocate for their many causes here.
Right now there are 123,000 children in the U.S. foster care system who are waiting to be adopted. Unfortunately, our foster care system is filled with complicated laws that aren’t nearly as pro-family as we’d like them to be. If adoption or foster care has ever touched your heart, consider becoming an advocate ($50 donation fee required).
Almost all of maternal deaths happen in the developing world, and the whopping majority of them are entirely preventable. In fact, 60 percent of deaths from childbirth happen in only 60 countries. The mission of Every Mother Counts is to advocate for policy and system changes on behalf of the pregnant mother and the baby — both within the United States and beyond. Learn more of what they’re accomplishing here.
Put your voice to work today.