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2008’s Most Important Causes

November 27, 2007

(Michael Seltzer, author of the award-winning Securing Your Organization’s Future, has served as president of the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers, as a program officer at the Ford Foundation, and as chair of the Nonprofit Management Program of the New School's Robert J. Milano School of Management and Urban Policy. This is his first post for PhilanTopic.)

The season of giving is officially underway, and the drum roll for 2008 has begun. Our world is a better and more just place through the work of millions of nongovernmental actors operating in most of the countries of the world. As the New Year approaches, let's both celebrate and promote the work of these efforts. We can start by building a cumulative list of the most important causes that warrant our support and spreading the word about their work.

To start the ball rolling, here's my list:

American Friends Service Committee, which each year earns anew the Nobel Peace Prize it won sixty years ago for its ongoing global social justice work.

American Jewish World Service and other members of the Save Darfur Coalition for galvanizing a community of conscience in response to the horrific slaughter raging in the Sudan.

Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, for its social, racial, and economic justice work in the United States and internationally.

Funding Exchange and its member funds for their support of grassroots organizations that are working to ensure a more just and equitable future.

One Laptop Per Child, which puts XO laptop computers in the hands of children in the global south through its Give One Get One program.

Operation Crossroads, which for fifty years has been sending college students to sub-Saharan countries to engage in development efforts.

Southern Mutual Help Association, based in Iberia, Louisiana, for helping residents of the Gulf Coast rebuild their lives and homes.

The Innocence Project, for assisting prisoners in the United States who could be proven innocent through DNA testing. To date, 208 people in the U.S. have been exonerated by such testing.

VDAY-A Global Movement To End Violence Against Women and Girls, for raising funds and awareness through benefit productions of playwright/founder Eve Ensler's award-winning play The Vagina Monologues.

The We Are America Alliance, for uniting grassroots immigrant rights organizations and unions in twenty states to deliver the message, "Today, we march, tomorrow, we vote."

The Women Moving Millions Campaign, for its efforts to raise substantial new resources for women's organizations across the globe.

Don't hesitate to add you own organizations to this list, and share it with your colleagues, loved ones, and neighbors. Better yet, ask the young people in your life to nominate their favorite causes and organizations. And most importantly, commit yourself to supporting these organizations and causes in 2008 with your time, energy, and dollars.

Let's get the word out about 2008's Most Important Causes!

-- Michael Seltzer

Comments

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Michael --

This is a great idea -- and a compelling list.

Readers might like to know that a new company out of Seattle called TisBest (http://www.TisBest.org) -- as in "Tis better to give than receive" -- has taken this truth and brought it to life for the holidays with a simple gift idea, the TisBest Charity Gift Card.

The idea is simple: Visitors to the TisBest site can purchase tax-deductible Charity Gift Cards as a gift. The recipient of the card can select which cause to support from more than two hundred nonprofits. Those listed on the site (and I've only spent a few minutes checking them out) represent a wide range of causes, from environmental preservation to education and humanitarian efforts.

It's a great idea, and the execution appears to be flawless. If you have something to add or have had an experience with the TisBest, please let us know.

I truly believe that this organization is one of 2008’s most important causes.

InnoWorks ( http://www.innoworks.org ) is an innovative science and engineering initiative “By Students, For Students,” designed and implemented by college volunteers for middle-school students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

It is the flagship program of United InnoWorks Academy (UIA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization founded in 2003. The primary goals of InnoWorks are to (1) provide students from underprivileged backgrounds with an opportunity to explore the real-world links among science and engineering disciplines, (2) promote teamwork, enthusiasm for learning, and career interests in science and engineering, (3) utilize cutting-edge neuroscience and educational research to develop mentoring and pedagogical methods that build problem-solving skills and student confidence, (4) harness higher-education expertise to benefit youth and foster the development of synergistic relationships between universities and communities, and (5) develop opportunities to inspire volunteerism, passion for service, and entrepreneurship in college students to prepare them as tomorrow’s educators, leaders, and role models.

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