Blue Heart Giving Guide 2021
Art by Victor Cervantes / Blue Heart Creator Fund
During the end-of-year giving season, the non-profits that get the most donations are those that have big PR budgets to shout their message from the rooftops (and in your inbox).
But there are many organizations that have less visibility, yet are doing transformational work to help black, brown, gender-marginalized, queer, disabled, and low-income people survive and thrive.
Each year, Blue Heart releases our Grassroots Giving Guide to elevate the work of the under-funded organizations who are boldly building the power of marginalized communities across the United States.We invite you to support these visionary organizations who are creating change
from the bottom up.
This year members of the Blue Heart community have stepped up to commit $30,000 in matching funds. This means for every donation you make to organizations in the guide, your donation will be doubled!
share this guide
Most people donate to organizations that are personally recommended to them. Invite your friends and family to #GiveBoldly this season. Together we can amplify the work of these grassroots changemakers.
Share with your networks:
How This Guide Was Created
At Blue Heart, we identify and partner with grassroots, community-led organizations who are building the political power of low-income communities and communities of color across the United States (with a heavy hat tip in the Bay Area).
BUT, there are far more incredible organizations than we at Blue Heart can fund in any one year. SO, we create an annual giving guide to help these visionary movement-builders get the recognition they deserve. All are making a difference, though might not have 501c3 status.
Each organization is recommended to us through our network of partners and advisers. We researched each one further and developed this set of recommended organizations based on:
1) the trust and respect grassroots organizers and organization staff have for their work; and
2) how relatively under-resourced they are.
While not comprehensive, this is a starting point for those who want to invest in the organizations doing powerful work resisting systemic injustice and building community alternatives to harmful economic and political systems.
Funding social change isn't 'silver bullet philanthropy'. Rather, it requires investing in diverse strategies and a long-term vision. Trusted leaders have personally vouched for the creativity, passion, and efficacy of each of these organizations. By donating to them, you will be able to do the same.
If you know of or work with an organization that you think should considered, please tell us about them.
Art by Renee Castro / Blue Heart Creator Fund
How to use this guide
Recognize you’ve started, even though it is overwhelming!
Acknowledge all the work these orgs are doing is interconnected. So, no need to agonize over what issue or organization to invest in.
Choose 3 or 5 organizations to give to!
Follow them on social media (IG and Facebook are best), and revisit their updates quarterly.
Deepen your relationship to each organization and with time your own personal giving ethic will evolve!
Before you dive in, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Do you want to support organizations working near where you live? Find an organization working in your region (CA, Midwest, South, East, Puerto Rico).
Do you want to focus your giving on a specific issue? Below you will find 10 different issue-specific portfolios.
Do you want to get your money out of the urban bubble? Rural non-profits are dramatically less-resourced than urban ones. If you want to support grassroots organizing in rural communities, check out our "Rural Organizing" portfolio
How can a reparations lens help shape your approach to giving? Specifically, who are the Indigenous peoples who lived/live on the land you now inhabit? How do you benefit from an economy built on the stolen labor of Black people (slavery), the land of Indigenous peoples, and the extraction of resources from the Global South? How might you move money to make amends for people’s erasure, exploitation, or native communities’ dispossession from this land?
Does your gift need to be tax-deductible? Organizations registered as a 501c or have fiscal sponsorship through a registered nonprofit allow for you to make a gift that is tax-deductible. Some organizations that are doing transformative work may not have this status – we’ve noted these on the guide with a [*]. If the tax benefit is not critical for you, consider giving it to a non-registered organization.
Decision biases to be aware of:
The "design bias": When evaluating organizations to give to, donors (especially urban millennial donors) tend to preference organizations that have a slick, well-designed website. In our experience, an organization's web presence is not reflective of its efficacy on the ground - just that it's prioritizing other things or doesn't have the resources to maintain an online presence. Some rural organizations don't even have websites because their constituents don't often use computers. We encourage you to be aware of this bias when you are comparing organizations in this guide.
become a blue heart member
Want to support grassroots power-building all year long?
Join a community of over 100 member-donors who are supporting grassroots change. Each month, we send you a profile of the organization you are funding, stories from their work, and actions you can take to support them. We have channeled over $150,000 to under-the-radar changemakers, artists, and visionaries.
arts & culture
An organization that educates and empowers youth through participation in the arts, offering year-round youth development programs in East Palo Alto and San Francisco.
An Oakland cooperative supporting the creative needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color by providing physical space for community care and collaboration.
Using grassroots activism to educate people about socio-economic injustices and advocate solutions through Hip Hop culture. We raise funds for local causes that enrich marginalized and historically oppressed communities.
An organization founded by Ruby Nell Sales, that uses the arts, research, education, action, and spirituality to bring diverse peoples together to work for racial, economic, and social justice, as well as for spiritual maturity.
A Western New York nonprofit developing grassroots leaders who organize their communities to run and win environmental justice and public health campaigns.
Economic & Housing Justice
An Eastern Iowa nonprofit uniting low-wage workers to defend workers’ rights on the job, tenants’ rights to safe and affordable housing, and just immigration policies.
health & food justice
An organization building edible permaculture gardens, working with five high-schools to develop food justice curricula, and creating green jobs in the food justice movement for people transitioning from prison.
A worker collaborative improving the health, safety, and rights of the nail and beauty care workforce to make a more sustainable and just industry.
A nonprofit established in 1955 as one of the first urban American Indian community centers in the nation, providing social services for those relocated from reservations.
A community-based volunteer organization offering culturally relevant activities for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Native Americans, their families and friends.
Immigrants & Refugees
A leadership development, community organizing, and coalition-building organization creating healthy and thriving communities in Oakland's Asian & Pacific Islander immigrant population.
A collaborative grounded in the self-determination of queer, trans, and two spirit Black & Indigenous people of color, and the vision of collectively owning land and labor.