Blue Heart Giving Guide 2022
Art by Celeste Byers / Amplifer Art
Welcome to Blue Heart’s Grassroots Giving Guide! We elevate the work of the under-funded, grassroots organizations who are boldly building the power across the United States.
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 into your inbox).
Yet there are many organizations that have less visibility, and are doing transformational work to help Black, brown, gender-marginalized, queer, disabled, and low-income people survive and thrive.
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 over $25,000 in matching funds. This means for every donation you make to organizations in the guide, your donation will be doubled!
We will match collective donations up to $500 total to any single organization. Any leftover matching funds will be distributed across all the organizations in the Guide. Our aim is to motivate donations to these groups, while ensuring that all groups, regardless of their website presence or popularity, receive some support.
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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..
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How This Guide Was Created
At Blue Heart, we help people learn about and donate to grassroots, community-led organizations who are building the political power of low-income communities and communities of color across the United States (to join our community, sign up here). We also create an annual giving guide to help these visionary movement-builders get the recognition they deserve among donors.
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) their size (e.g., under 10 staff members) as a proxy for fundraising capacity and budget.
We recognize that grassroots does not mean small. Many grassroots organizations are international in scope and represent millions of people. We have come to understand that movement building is nonlinear and requires healthy movement ecosystems. Small, community-based organizations that fly under the radar of traditional philanthropy are often those first to creatively meet the material needs of impacted communities or most nimbly responding to local advocacy opportunities. Those organizations are in this guide.
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. We recognize that the majority of wealth in the U.S. has been extracted from the Global South, and wealth redistribution needs to reflect that. This guide is limited to the U.S., and we encourage donors to check out grassroots-accountable intermediaries that work globally.
Funding social change isn't 'silver bullet philanthropy'. Rather, it requires investing in diverse strategies and long-term visions. Trusted leaders have personally vouched for the creativity, passion, and efficacy of each of these organizations. If you know of or work with an organization that you think should be considered, please tell us about them.
Art by Christina Whipple and Leilani Salvador / Blue Heart Creator Fund
How to use this guide
Recognize you’ve started, even though it is overwhelming!
Watch out for perfectionism. Acknowledge all the work these orgs are doing is interconnected. So, no need to agonize over what issue or organization to invest in.
Try starting with 3 or 5 organizations to give to.
Report your donation to Blue Heart to get it matched.
Follow them on social media if they have it (IG and Facebook are best), and revisit their updates quarterly.
Deepen your relationship with 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 and/or in places that receive the fewest philanthropic dollars? Use the icons next to the organizations to identify the organizations working in your region (West, Midwest, South, East, Puerto Rico).
Do you want to focus your giving on a specific issue? Below you will find 12 different issue-specific portfolios. Click on the portfolios to see the list of organizations in each category.
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 501C3 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 to a non-registered organization.
Having a tough time deciding on a set of organizations to donate to? You can donate to our Giving Guide here. Your contribution will be added to our matching funds which are used to match donations submitted through the Giving Guide.
Decision biases to be aware of:
The "design bias": When evaluating organizations to give to, donors (especially urban millennial donors) tend to prefer 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 $300,000 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.
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 Oakland cooperative supporting the creative needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color by providing physical space for community care and collaboration.
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.
An alliance of New Jersey organizations committed to creating healthy, sustainable communities by eliminating environmental injustices communities of color.
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.
A Massachusetts nonprofit building the power low-income communities of color to eradicate environmental racism, and create healthy, sustainable communities.
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.
A grassroots advocacy organization for women in prison seeking commutation for all and to change the California state penal code to end life without parole sentencing.
A California nonprofit building the political, social, and economic power of formerly incarcerated persons, addressing the root causes of poverty and the impacts on communities of color.
A Central Valley advocacy organization advancing agricultural and natural resource policy that heals our ecological system and builds political power in rural communities.
A network of farmers and ranchers, tribes, food consumers, businesses, and communities who are shifting away from extractive industrial food production in favor of an ethical and regenerative food system.
A Washington nonprofit fighting to end reproductive oppression for all people - intentionally centering Black women, women of color, and queer and trans people.
A California statewide immigrant youth-led alliance that focuses on youth advocacy and policy delegations to ensure pro-immigrant policies go beyond legalization.