Giving from The Heart

By Katherine White One with Heart Program Coordinator

The holidays are a great time to give to a charity. The Tuesday after Thanksgiving is now officially known as Giving Tuesday. This is a wonderful idea, but it can create a certain amount of pressure to donate immediately and impulsively. It is worth taking the time to donate smartly, to remember that charities rely on giving all year round, and to recognize that time and energy are as valuable a gift as money. During the last few weeks I have gathered information about charities and have put together a list of organizations that look interesting.

I looked at large organizations that operate nationally and internationally, and smaller organizations that operate locally. There are thousands of organizations doing important work in every area imaginable. This year I focused on a few organizations that provide aid and services in the following areas:  human rights, environmental protection, health and medical services, immigrant services, violence prevention, and youth services.

The list below includes each organization’s mission statement along with a link to their website so you can learn more about their projects and groups they work with.  Where the information is readily available, I also included the percentage of their budget they spend on services and programs. Besides looking directly at the organization’s website, I used the help of Charity Navigator which rates more than 600 charities that have a budget of over 1 million dollars.[i]

Some rating sites, like Wise Giving Alliance, require that charities spend at least 65% of their budget on services and programs, but that single number doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, keep in mind that every organization has set expenses e.g. rent, utilities, and equipment. Two organizations of similar size are likely to have similar set expenses. If one of the organizations has a less income, the percentage spent on set expenses will be higher, but that does not necessarily mean they are mismanaging their budget.  

According to Tiny Spark, a non-profit that investigates and reports on charitable organizations, it is a good idea to talk directly to a non-profit and ask some questions before deciding to donate[ii] They suggest asking:

·      How do you know you are doing great work?

·      Do you just do things that are easy, or do you take risks and do things that are necessary?

·      What would happen in your community if you went out of business tomorrow?

·      What services have you provided this past year that have made a difference?  

You can ask yourself, do you want your support to be global or local? Would you like your gift to help on a large scale, or provide long-term, focused help for a few?

Giving is personal. It is an expression of gratitude, an act of hope, and a way to connect with a larger vision and purpose. In giving we feed the best within ourselves; our passion and compassion. The habit of generosity can shape our life and the lives of others in surprising and powerful ways. Especially when we give from the heart.



EarthRights International – Human Rights Advocacy, Education and Environmental Protection
Percentage of Budget Spent on Providing Services and Programs: 86.1%

Stated Mission:  Earth Rights International is a nongovernmental, non-profit organization that combines the power of law and the power of people in defense of human rights and the environment, which we define as “earth rights.” We specialize in fact finding, legal actions against perpetrators of earth rights abuses, training grassroots and community leaders, and advocacy campaigns. Through these strategies, EarthRights International seeks to end earth rights abuses, to provide real solutions for real people, and to promote and protect human rights and the environment in communities where we work.


The Human Rights Campaign – Human Rights Advocacy and Education    
Percentage of Budget Spent on Providing Services and Programs: 75.4%
Stated Mission: The Human Rights Campaign and The Human Rights Campaign Foundation together serve as America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve LGBTQ equality. By inspiring and engaging individuals and communities, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBTQ people and realize a world that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.


Human Rights Watch - Human Rights Advocacy and Education
Percentage of Budget Spent on Services and Programs: 76.7%
Stated Mission: Human Rights Watch defends the rights of people worldwide. We scrupulously investigate abuses, expose the facts widely, and pressure those with power to respect rights and secure justice. Human Rights Watch is an independent, international organization that works as part of a vibrant movement to uphold human dignity and advance the cause of human rights for all.

National Organization for Women (NOW) – Women’s Rights

Stated Purpose: NOW’s purpose is to take action through intersectional, grassroots activism to promote feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect equal rights for women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life.


Resist – Human Rights Advocacy and Education      
Percentage of Budget Spent on Services and Programs: 65.8%
Stated Mission: Resist is a foundation that supports people’s movements for justice and liberation.

Resist redistributes resources back to the frontline communities at the forefront of change while amplifying their stories of building a better world. Resist funds groups in the U.S. who struggle toward a broad vision of social justice, while opposing political and institutional oppression. Resist has granted more than $6 million dollars to over 5,000 groups across the United States.



The Environmental Defense Fund – Environmental Protection        Percentage of Budget Spent on Services and Programs: 79%
Stated Mission: to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends. We work to resolve the most critical environmental problems facing the planet, focusing on mitigating climate change, restoring the ocean’s bounty, protecting wildlife and habitats, and safeguarding our health. We work in concert with other organizations- as well as with business, government and communities – and avoid duplicating work already being done effectively by others


National Resource Defense Council – Environmental Protection                
Percentage of Budget Spent on Services and Programs: 83.6%
Stated Mission: NRDC works to safeguard the earth – its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which life depends. We combine the power of more than two million activists with the expertise of 500 scientists, lawyers and policy advocates across the glove to ensure the rights of all people to the air, the water and the wild.


The Nature Conservancy – Environmental Protection                       Percentage of Budget Spent on Services and Programs: 71.2%
Stated Mission: Conserving the lands and water on which all earth depends. We address threats to conservation involving climate change, fire, fresh water, forests, invasive species, and marine ecosystems. We use a science based approach, aided by our more than 500 staff scientists, and we pursue non-confrontational, pragmatic solutions to conservation challenges.



Doctors Without Borders – Emergency Medical Response and Health Care  
Percentage of Budget Spent on Services and Programs: 88.9%
Stated Mission:  Doctors Without Borders is an international medical humanitarian organization that provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters.


Planned Parenthood - Health Care and Education    
Percentage of Budget Spent on Services and Programs: 65%
Stated Mission:

·      To provide comprehensive reproductive and complementary health care services in settings which preserve and protect the essential privacy and rights or each individual

·      To advocate public policies which guarantee these rights and ensure access to such services

·      To provide educational programs which enhance understanding of individual and societal implications of human sexuality

·      To promote research and advancement of technology in reproductive health care and encourage understanding of their inherent bioethical behavioral, and social implications

National Organization:

Local Chapter: Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette:




Center for Responsive Politics –  Political Transparency  
Percentage of Budget Spent on Services and Programs: 82.2%
Stated Mission: To produce and disseminate peerless data and analysis on money in politics to inform and engage Americans, champion transparency, and expose disproportionate or undue influence on public policy.




National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) – Sexual Violence Prevention
Stated Mission: The NSVRC’s Mission is to provide leadership in preventing and responding to sexual violence through collaboration, sharing and creating resources, and promoting research.




IRCO – Immigrant Services
Stated Mission: IRCO’s mission is to promote the integration of refugees, immigrants, and the community at large into a self-sufficient, healthy and inclusive multi-ethnic community. Located in Portland, Oregon. Founded in 1976.


NW Immigrant Rights Project  - Immigrant Services           
Percentage of Budget Spent on Services and Programs: 80.2%
Stated Mission: Northwest Immigrant Rights Project promotes justice through defending and advancing the rights of immigrants through direct legal services, systematic advocacy, and community education. The NWIRP is a nationally recognized organization that provides services in Washington state. The NWIRP offers direct legal assistance in immigration matters to over 10,000 people from over 150 countries. NWIRP strives to achieve systematic change to policies and practices


Latino Network – Latino Services
Stated Mission: To positively transform the lives of Latino youth, families and communities.


A Call to Safety (formerly the Portland Women’s Crisis Line) – Violence Prevention
Stated Mission: Ending domestic and sexual violence by providing confidential support services and education to empower our community. Supports individuals of all genders. Serving Oregon and Washington since 1973.


Basic Rights Oregon – LGBTQ Rights
Stated Mission: Basic Rights Oregon will ensure that all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Oregonians experience equality by building a broad and inclusive politically powerful movement, shifting public opinion, and achieving policy victories. Basic Rights Oregon is a member of the Equality Federation.


The Q Center LGBTQ Services
Stated Mission: The center provides a safe space to support and celebrate LGBTQ diversity, equality, visibility, and community building.


p:ear – Homeless Youth Services
Stated Mission: p:ear mentors homeless youth through education, art and recreation. Each year p:ear provides services to approximately 900 homeless and transitional youth ages 15 to 24.


Friends of the Children – Youth Mentoring
Stated Mission: to provide our most vulnerable children a nurturing and sustainable relationship with a professional mentor who teaches positive values and has attainable expectations for each child to become a healthy, productive member of the community. Started in Portland, Oregon in 1992. Now serves children in Portland, Boston, New York, Seattle, Klamath Fall, Tampa Bay and Cornwall (UK).


Environmental Organizations in Oregon

This link provides a list of non-profits that protect the environment in Oregon through education, conservation and advocacy.



[i] Charity Navigator

[ii] Tiny Spark:

iii The Life You Can Save: This is another website that researches and recommends charities that provide international aid to assist, intervene, and alleviate poverty.

Image courtesy of everydayplus at


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