Writers, I know you’re just looking everywhere for a place to donate all of that money you don’t have. But in all seriousness, if you would like to make a small holiday donation or volunteer, these are some non-profit organizations that combine writing and social justice in compelling ways. And, if you don’t know what to get for people who already have so much, making a donation in someone’s name can be a touching gift for people who also care about these types of projects.
* Note: This list’s do-gooder agenda is primarily feminist. I had trouble finding writing NGOs with other areas of focus, but I would love to hear about them if you have some to add.
The Afghan Women’s Writing Project: An NGO founded in 2009 by novelist and journalist Masha Hamilton to help Afghan women tell their stories. Women gather online or in person at undisclosed locations to write. They participate in writing workshops and mentoring programs and post their work online. Your gift will help to give these women laptops and internet connections, rooms in which to write, books, and other resources. And, if you want to give of your time, you can read and comment on their stories on the website, host a fundraiser party, or host a reading. All of which this amazing organization gives instructions for here.
Girls Write Now: The motto is Mentoring the Next Generation of Women Writers since 1988, and the mission is education. This program is based out of New York City, mentoring at-risk female writers ages 13-20. While around 50% of teens in New York City drop out before completing high school, all of GWN’s mentees have graduated high school and gone on to college. The mentoring program provides these girls/young women with a supportive writing community and a safe space to share their voices. Donations pay for mentors, author talks or craft workshops, publication of the girls’ writing, and new efforts toward digital and online enrichment for the girls.
The OpEd Project: According to the OpEd Project, women don’t write and submit op-eds with anything close to the frequency that men do…shocker. So this organization started to train female experts in a variety of fields (corporations, universities, NGOs) to write for the op-ed forums of major print and online publications. The mission is to diversify public discourse, which currently is composed of the voices of 85% (mostly white & privileged) men. The hope is that if women are empowered to contribute to important national and global conversations, their participation will be a catalyst for even greater diversity in discourse and decision-making. Donations go to their scholarship fund or mentoring program, and they have an intense list of ways to get involved, from joining their fan page on Facebook to volunteering.
Pen International: Pen International campaigns for literature and freedom of speech, working to protect writers across the globe who are persecuted for their words. On its website the organization states that it celebrates “the bond between literature and freedom of expression, believing that one cannot exist meaningfully without the other”. An especially important cause now that literature is moving faster onto the internet and government censorship is becoming more of a threat.
VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts. VIDA was founded to create a space for conversation surrounding the critical reception of writing by women. They gather and post those statistics on gender inequality in literary publications, host events, and work on outreach to raise awareness. Without awareness of gender issues in the literary world, many of these other organizations wouldn’t exist. Donations help VIDA to continue their research and enrich their program.
WAM!: Women, Action & the Media. WAM’s mission is “gender equity in media access, representation, employment and ownership”. Reasons? In 2008, Journalism.com reported in their State of the Media breakdown that race and gender issues accounted for 1% of overall news coverage. This, compared with a 120% increase in depictions of violence against women on television since 2004, is a cause for alarm (those and more reasons here). So WAM organizes workshops, trainings, conferences and online forums to analyze media and gender issues and provide tools for creating a just media. Ways to volunteer and donate are listed on their website.
I hope you find something in this list that compels you to give of your resources and/or time. I know that I find these organizations inspiring. Are there others that should be on here? Please share if you know of any and I will add them to the list.