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Fighting injustice comes with a cost, which could involve time, money, resources, and even relationships. I’ve researched, and continue to research, non-profits that are doing excellent work toward influencing policies within specific areas I care about.

Contributing time and money to effective non-profits is one of five ongoing action steps for driving policy change on an issue. The other four are research and learning, including data gathering; equitable relationships with members of Historically Underrepresented Groups (HUGs); communication with elected and appointed officials; and signing petitions.

Here’s my current list of organizations that I financially support each month.

  • Feeding America: This organization has a COVID-19 Response Fund that is helping to ensure food banks across the country can feed those in need right now, including the children who rely on school meals to eat.
  • Change.org: Change.org connects people across geographic and cultural borders to support causes they care about. People on Change.org work with decision makers to find new solutions to the big and small issues that impact their lives.
  • BU Center for Antiracism Research: The mission of the BU Center for Antiracist Research is to convene varied researchers and practitioners to figure out novel and practical ways to understand, explain, and solve seemingly intractable problems of racial inequity and injustice. We foster exhaustive racial research, research-based policy innovation, data-driven educational and advocacy campaigns, and narrative-change initiatives. We are working toward building an antiracist society that ensures equity and justice for all.
  • Climate Solutions: Climate Solutions’ mission is to accelerate practical and profitable solutions to global warming by galvanizing leadership, growing investment, and bridging divides.
  • Buddhist Global Relief: Founded by the American Theravadin monk Bikkhu Bodhi, BGR provides food aid to the hungry and malnourished, promotes ecologically sustainable agriculture, and supports education and other opportunities for girls and women.
  • Buddhist Peace Fellowship: The mission of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF), founded in 1978, is to serve as a catalyst for socially engaged Buddhism. Its purpose is to help beings liberate themselves from the suffering that manifests in individuals, relationships, institutions, and social systems. BPF’s programs, publications, and practice groups link Buddhist teachings of wisdom and compassion with progressive social change.”
  • The Sentencing Project: The Sentencing Project works for a fair and effective U.S. criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, addressing unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocating for alternatives to incarceration.
  • Fair Fight 2020: Created and run by Stacey Abrams (pictured here), Fair Fight 2020 is building voter protection teams with Democratic state parties or local allies across the country. Its efforts are particularly targeting foreign interference and sophisticated voter suppression.
  • Black Voters Matter: Black Voters Matter advocates for policies to expand voting rights and access, including expanded early voting, resisting voter ID, re-entry restoration of rights, and strengthening the Voting Rights Act. The group also advocates for policies that intersect with race, gender, economic, and other aspects of equity.
  • Rock the Vote: This 30-year-old organization continues to active millions of young people across the country to exercise their rights and represent their interests.
  • Mindful Schools: Mindful Schools’ approach is to support the professional development and well-being of educators as the first step to fostering healthy and sustainable mindful learning environments.
  • The Center for Racial Justice in Education: This organization’s mission is to train and empower educators to dismantle patterns of racism and injustice in our schools and communities.

Self-Care and Mindfulness

Being a supporter of a particular non-profit is a long game, a marathon that requires a lot of strategy, self-care, and support from others. A key part of my own self-care and ongoing personal growth is practicing the “Five Mindful Trainings,” derived from Buddhist teachings and compiled by Vietnamese Zen monk and activist Thich Nhat Hanh and summarized here by me:

  1. Reverence for Life: Eliminate all forms of violence against one’s self, other human beings, animals, and nature.
  2. True Happiness: Practice gratitude and generosity and avoid stealing from or exploiting others.
  3. True Love: Cherish and celebrate others and practice sexual virtue in romantic relationships.
  4. Deep Listening and Loving Speech: Practice active listening and kind, helpful speech in order to facilitate equitable and peaceful relationships.
  5. Nourishment & Healing: Eat and drink in a manner that avoids bringing toxins or diseases into the body, and consume media of all forms in moderation.
John M. DeMarco is a writer, executive coach, and activist based in Nashville, Tennessee.