This Season, Don’t Give to Salvation Army. Do Something Better.

It’s that time of year: it’s the holiday season, and people are opening their hearts and opening their wallets to donate to deserving organizations across the country.  One of the most common to see at this time of year is the Salvation Army, which sends out volunteers to ring bells and solicit donations.  But to tell you the truth (and this may just be one woman’s opinion), I don’t think they deserve it as much as we’d like.  And I won’t be giving to them this season.

In fact, I haven’t given to them in years.  At first it felt odd, because friends would volunteer as bell-ringers as a form of community service, and people I knew liked them, and it seemed out of line to say that the Salvation Army is a problematic institution, one that I do not support.  But that is, in fact, the case.

My reason is simple: the Salvation Army promotes a reactionary, anti-gay agenda.  Officials from the organization recently went on record saying that LGBTQ parents should be put to death.  PUT TO DEATH.  They claim that this is an alignment with scripture, as justification for their positions.  The idea that a merciful G-d would command His/Her followers to put others to death on the basis of who they are seems unlikely and unacceptable.  And the idea that there are organizations in society which support such measures continues to baffle and offend me, and it should offend anyone else who supports LGBTQ rights.  This isn’t even about marriage equality, it’s about basic human rights and a recognition of humanity.  It matters, and supporting the Salvation Army through charitable donations might help poor people, but it will also help support the organization’s agenda.

That said, I am a big believer in charity, and in giving to organizations that help others.  I know I ceased to post a Cause of the Month in the past couple of months, though I hope to resume doing so soon.  Until then, here are a few organizations that might be good to donate to, if you DO want to help this holiday season, or any other time of year for that matter, and they DON’T crusade against the rights of the LGBTQ population.

1. Donate to help the Homeless

As of 2007, there were approximately 3.5 million homeless people in the United States, with at least 1.3 million of those individuals being children.  Homelessness is a growing problem in the US, and it’s a tragedy.  If you live in the DC area, you can donate to the DC Coalition for the Homeless here.  If you live elsewhere in the country, try seeing if there is a local homeless shelter or other support organization you can donate to, or volunteer with.  You can also donate directly to the National Coalition for the Homeless, or volunteer with them to help advocate for homeless populations, by visiting this page.

2. Donate to help Survivors of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is another major problem in the United States, and it impacts both men and women.  Survivors of domestic violence have often experienced long-term abuse and need everything from job support to shelter to medical care to counseling.  If you’re looking for a cause to get involved in, domestic violence is as good as any.  For national level advocacy, you can donate to support the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence here.  You can find your state coalition here.  You can also check out any of these organizations working on behalf of survivors of domestic violence, or look for a local organization in your community to support.

3. Donate or Volunteer to help Survivors of Sexual Assault

Being a rape crisis counselor has been a challenging and rewarding experience for me, allowing me to work on a hugely important issue that impacts a staggeringly large number of people.  Consider donating to your local rape crisis center (you can search for one here), or to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network.  They may not be standing outside your supermarket ringing bells, but they ARE providing important services to survivors of abuse.

4, Donate to an abortion fund.

This one may seem unconventional, but if the ability to access a right to choose is important to you, consider making a donation.  Abortion funds make it possible for women in great financial need to access a surgery that will have important consequences for the rest of their lives.  Having a legal right to choose is important, but so is being able to meaningfully exercise it-~-which is why feminists are outraged not just when laws try to limit abortion, but when laws shut down clinics that make it possible for women to actually get the treatment they need.  You can check out the National Network of Abortion Funds here.  Prefer a name you’re already familiar with?  Donate to Planned Parenthood here.

5. Donate to help LGBT youth

Forget Salvation Army’s agenda: we don’t need to save LGBT persons from themselves, but they could use a little help with society sometimes.  LGBT youth are statistically speaking at an elevated risk for homelessness, depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies.  The Trevor Project and the It Gets Better Project both reach out to LGBT youth to help them through difficult times.  The Trevor Project provides a crisis intervention hotline for LGBT youth who need help, whenever they need it, as well as a social networking community to help LGBT teens feel less alone, and educational program for professionals working with youth, including LGBT youth.  You can support them by donating, volunteering, or participating in advocacy.   It Gets Better creates a library of videos reaching out to LGBT youth to inspire them to get through tougher times, which can also be used by legal services advocating for LGBT persons.  You can donate here, buy their merch here, or click here to get more involved.

If none of those organizations float your boat, you should also check out our previous Causes of the Month: EMILY’s List, the WISH List, the National Council of Jewish Women, and Girls, Inc.  Or of course pick your own organization-~-just make sure they’re a cause you truly support before you throw money their way.  And as always, if you have an organization you’d like to nominate for Cause of the Month, email me at


~ by Randi Saunders on December 11, 2013.

One Response to “This Season, Don’t Give to Salvation Army. Do Something Better.”

  1. I love this. Do you mind if I reblog?

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