2015 San Francisco Charity Holiday Giving Guide

That's right, this is a charity giving guide! It's probably not the typical gift guide you're expecting, for a few reasons:

  • There are MANY (hundreds? thousands?) of well-curated gift guides full of amazing things you can buy for the holidays all over the web and Pinterest and Instagram and Facebook. I wanted to offer something different this year. 
  • I've been blessed this year on many levels, and I've also given more to charity than I have in years past. I love seeing the impact my donations have in my own community and globally, and I want other folks to get those same kinds of warm fuzzies. It truly is better to give than to receive.  

This guide is a list of six organizations representing some of my favorite causes that deserve your support all year, and especially during the holidays. They're listed below in no particular order, and every organization is one I support with money, time, or both, and feel comfortable asking others to do the same. I know there are many other deserving organizations out there, so please share them in the comments below! And now, let's start giving!

Thanks to my years as a reporter I'm picky about my news sources, and it saddens me that so many people only get information from the Internet (often Facebook, which is HIGHLY filtered). Radio news has always resonated with me and as our local affiliate KALW's coverage goes from global to hyper-local. I've heard global while listening to BBC World News and then gotten the scoop on specific local events on "It's Your Call with Rose Aguilar" and other shows. Like public TV, public radio needs donor support to do its work. This season donor gifts include tickets to see Ira Glass and Neil DeGrasse Tyson for shows that are otherwise sold out, so you can give a gift and get something cool in return. 

Community Well Fund
I'm part of a movement to bring holistic health services to families across San Francisco through the Community Well Fund. Our organization is a group of volunteers that wants to make sure folks can have access to things like midwifery or lactation consulting or acupuncture, regardless of ability to pay. We started giving scholarships this summer and the response has been gratifying and overwhelming! 

San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Network
I lived in the Upper Haight when Mia was born and we walked around the neighborhood almost daily in the early months. I passed the offices of the Child Abuse Prevention Network dozens of times and finally stopped in to learn more about the organization. Their work is vital to support kids of all ages escaping and healing from abusive situations, and they operate a 24-hour hotline for stressed out parents to call for support (415-441-KIDS (5437).
Support SFCAPN via Amazon Smile

Homeless Prenatal Project
A few weeks ago I visited HPP to talk with the staff about ways to support breastfeeding mothers and got a tour of the space on 17th and Potrero. I was blown away by the amount of services available at no charge to families through HPP. Everything from pre and post-natal massage to drug abuse counseling to professional maternity photography sessions happens in their beautifully renovated (and fully paid off) building. They've been around for 25 years and many of the staff members were former beneficiaries of services who now work there to support other families. 
Support HPP via Amazon Smile

Carry The Future
A Southern California mom had the brilliant idea to gather baby carriers to give to refugee families traveling with small children, and the result is Carry the Future. There's an Indiegogo campaign running for a few more days to support their work or you can send a carrier that you're no longer using to 121 W. Lexington Drive, Suite L 106D, Glendale, CA 91203.

Refugee Transitions
The Bay Area has a large refugee population of people from around the world, and Refugee Transitions works to support families, many with children, who are resettling in the area. Moving here five years ago from Washington DC was a culture shock for me, and I can only imagine what it must be like coming from another country. RT volunteers help to ease that transition by offering language and education tutoring, camps and field trips. 
Support Via Amazon Smile

Other ways to support charities during the holidays and all year long:

  • If you're an Amazon shopper, close to 1 million nonprofits participate in the Amazon Smile Program, where a percentage of your purchase is donated to the organization. It's a really easy way to give.
  • Find out if your employer offers a matching program for donations. Many companies will match your donation or more if you can submit documentation of your gift (an emailed receipt should do the trick). Check with your HR department to find out if your company has such a program.
  • If you can't make a financial donation consider volunteering. Many nonprofits use volunteer support to sustain their organizations, so your time can be just as valuable as your money in some cases. But I urge you to be honest about what you can commit to. Flaky volunteers are the worst!