I think if you’re visiting a country or a city, it is important to research the impacts of tourism in that region and understand how you can minimize your negative impact. I also would argue that tourism can have a positive impact, especially when those tourists are considerate of the social issues happening around them. One of the ways I like to give back is by providing a donation to charitable organizations, or organizations that I find are critical to building a healthy community in the city/country I’m traveling in.
I like to keep 3 different niches in mind when donating my money; environmental groups that approach conservation realistically and factually, post-war rebuilding efforts in regions that are negatively affected by conflict (in peaceful regions I would focus instead on community development projects), and lastly organizations that combat trafficking (in particular, human trafficking).
The list below is a collection of organizations that I feel reflect my morals and what I think is important for other’s to look into. Feel free to disagree or add to my list, but if you’re heading to NYC be sure to check out these organizations and add donation to your travel budget!
1. Clean Ocean Action
Our oceans and waterways are so important for the health of our lands, our food and ourselves, so it’s a no-brainer to take care of the water we got, right?! Well, Clean Ocean Action works with boaters, businesses, fishermen, divers, surfers and other environmental groups to help clean up the water around New York City and Cape Cod. They highly rely on research and citizen action to accomplish their goals, which is fantastic because they kinda fall into the second category of community development due to their efforts in bringing together a community of people from a wide range of groups. To give you an idea of where your donation would go, they have a ranking of 99.87 out of 100 for charitable financial accountability, meaning 86.3% of your donation would go directly to the issue, while about 14% would go to administrative and fundraising costs. You can check out their website at www.cleanoceanaction.org and donate at https://secure.donationpay.org/cleanoceanaction/. They have a $25 minimum donation.
2. Great Swamp Watershed Association
Great Swamp Watershed Association… Sexy, I know! You’re probably thinking; “Again, another water organization!” But water is kinda important, and as a species we don’t really have a good reputation of taking care of our water even though it’s vital to like…. our survival… but whatever. Anyways… at least Great Swamp Watershed Association (which I will no longer type out) cares about your drinking water. GSWA specially focuses on “protecting and improving the water resources of the Passaic River region, from the Great Swamp headwaters to Newark Bay.” Whether it’s the ocean or the freshwater that fills your sink, both are interconnected and both are highly important. One is not more important than the other. Think ecosystem here folks! They put enfaces on science, education, stewardship and land preservation to help conserve and protect clean water from nasty pollutants that you probably don’t want frozen deep inside your ice cube. If you’re for clean ice cubes… donate at www.greatswamp.org.
3. The Environmental Advocates of New York
EANY’s is a more diversified environmental group focusing on the needs of New York’s natural resources and as a result, New Yorker’s themselves. They’re activities are little more policy focused, which is extremely important! Although, getting your hands dirty in science, education and personal conservation can be fun and informative… you need to take that science to policy makers to actually have any national or global impact. Small scale is great, until the big scale overshadow’s it with a billowy black chemical cloud. Ooh that got dark. Anyways… EANY monitors state government, evaluates proposed laws, and champions policies and practices that ensure the responsible stewardship of New York’s shared environment. If you’re interested in what they’re up to in 2020, head on over to their page and if you support the cause, donate!
I’m all about ethical journalism and uncovering of the truth. I think certain national secrets obviously shouldn’t be splattered across the tabloids, some things are better left unsaid due to safety and security. That being said, corruption, exploitation, abuse and mismanagement should be called out in a non-partisan way. I think journalists should also take their time when researching and evaluating the impact of their stories, not just pushing it out as fast as they can on a 24 hour news cycle. ProPublica sticks to the facts, sticks to the “strictest standards of journalistic impartiality” and approaches stories is a “non-idealogical” manner. I also love how they include stories in Spanish so that the majority of Americans can get access to honest news. Go check out their work at www.propublica.org and if you want to donate access this link: DONATE. Keep in mind, their minimum is $60.
2. Fresh Youth Initiatives
It is important to talk about the welfare and assimilation of immigrant families once they arrive on American shores. Immigrant families bring so much to the table as new Americans or new permanent residents. Not only do they bring their culture and their drive, they bring diversity of thought and new innovation to the American market place. It is important that the United States doesn’t allow this new talent to go to waste. In order to avoid the third topic (Anti-trafficking and Anti-crime), taking care of immigrant families is crucial! Fortunately, Fresh Youth Initiatives takes care of immigrant youth as well as at risk youth in northern Manhattan. They have a 100% transparency rating and they provide services like educational support, skill building, language learning and emotional health… all important ways to empower new and underprivileged members of our society. Check out their site at freshyouth.org, and to donate click here
3. The Jed Foundation
You can’t have a strong community if everyone’s mental health is deteriorating, and The Jed Foundation is here to help! Their mission is to “protect emotional health & prevent suicide for our nation's teens and young adults.” Wall Street Journal reports that according to a new federal study, over the last 10 years (2007-2017) teen suicide rates have gone up by 56%! Clearly, there are problems that need addressing and the Jed Foundation is dedicated to solving them. They work closely with local high schools and colleges to equip young people with resources, skillsets and knowledge that will help them achieve a better mental state. Please take a look at their site and consider donating for the sake of New York’s youth!
Anti Trafficking / Anti Crime:
The thing about donating to charities that prevent human trafficking and crime, is that community development (like the charities above) are great ways to impact the community before it is plagued with modern day slavery. Charities who take care of low income families, take care of women and children, ensure safe places for people to seek mental health services, provide support to new immigrants, and assist those without work in building new skillsets and developing a better life for themselves help to prevent human trafficking. These charities do a lot of the upfront work so people don’t become the victim or the abuser. Unfortunately, modern day slavery still occurs everyday, everywhere, and therefore organizations like the following help the victims and prevent traffickers (or slave masters if you want a hasher term), from being able to victimize the next individual.
1. Safe Horizon
This is a fantastic organization that offers assistance to victims of human trafficking. They focus on victims who reside on the east coast, but they help anyone who is in danger whether you’re an American or not, regardless of gender identity, age or sexual orientation. They provide supportive counsel, legal assistance, help with access to public benefits and just providing basic needs like language and cultural services, housing and sanitary/health services. Their website is safehorizon.org and you can donate at https://www.safehorizon.org/giving/.
2. Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation
If you’re not honoring those who put their lives at risk everyday for the tribe, then your community won’t be as strong as it could be. Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation is in memory of Stephen Siller who laid down his life to save others on September 11, 2001. And in true New York fashion, this foundation continues to honor firefighters, police, first responders and military who “make the supreme sacrifice of life and limb for our country.” I don’t think there is really anything more than needs to be said about this charity. This shouldn’t need convincing. If you’d like to donate, check out their website: tunnel2towers.org
3. Sex Workers Project
This might be a little controversial, but there are 4 things you won’t ever get rid of… taxes, spies, sex workers and death. Won’t happen. So you have to live with the reality of it. Trying to make the argument that banning sex work will get rid of human trafficking only solidifies the lack of understanding between supply and demand. There will always be a demand, so you might as well regulate and humanize the supply. This is what Sex Workers Project is all about — supporting the human rights of legitimate sex workers and in the process trying to eliminate the underground market for sex. If you bring things to the light, they’re much easier to monitor, regulate and rid of corruption and abuse. I’m not an expert, but the human rights lawyers who helped establish Sex Workers Projects are, so hop on over to swp.urbanjustice.org, read up on the research and please donate to keep slavery at bay.
I hope this list get’s your brain juices flowing and even if these causes aren’t what you’re passionate about, look into causes that make you want to get involved in the city of New York and donate. If you’ve got a ton of time while visiting, you could even see if you could volunteer! Either way, be sure to check your organization at charitynavigator.org, as this website will give you an overview of the charity, how reputable they are and their mission statement.
All of the organizations mentioned above have been verified through Charity Navigator who conducts their own third party evaluation regarding the honesty, transparency and productivity of each organization. All of the above fall on their list of verified and highly recommended NGO’s.