Gift Guide: These Are a Few of Our Favorite Causes

December 21, 2010

Which of the following is a good reason to donate:

  • People on your gift list are do-gooders/don't need more stuff.
  • Year-end tax-deductible write-offs.
  • Community orgs doing vital, meaningful work.
  • Your faithful Hyphen staff swear by these causes.
  • Any of the above.

Crazy, but true: That there question has no wrong answer!

In case you've got plenty of good reasons and are casting about for a new cause, here are some of the other fine nonprofits that our Hyphen staffers care about and give their time and money to. Listed here by category. Happy holidays, y'all.


"Kearny Street Workshop, the oldest Asian American multi-disciplinary arts organization in the country, was my creative home for the seven years I lived in the Bay Area. The San Francisco-based organization offers writing workshops on topics from print making to comedic writing, an Intergenerational Writers Lab that serves as an incubator for emerging writers, and a literary, film, and arts festival, APAture, each autumn." -Cathlin, books editor

"I give to groundbreaking media. My faves are This American Life, On the Media (WNYC), and This Recording." -Lisa Mac, managing editor


"When I was a public school teacher, I relied so much on the resources and professional development offered by Facing History and Ourselves, a nonprofit educational organization devoted to helping students confront and actively resist racism, prejudice, and violence. Through this organization, I learned how to approach the teaching of troubling histories such as the Japanese internment and the Holocaust -- and also was able to see speakers like Sheryl WuDunn and Loung Ung, among others, speak to the importance of being an upstander committed to social change." -Cathlin, books editor

"UC Berkeley Achievement Award Program, where I was Program Director in 2005-06. Created after Proposition 209's elimination of affirmative action from the UC system, this program provides full-ride scholarships to students of color, first-generation college students, and extremely low-income students who have been accepted to Cal but can't afford to go. It is really an incredible group of students that receive this money.  Money goes to help pay their bills, buy them computers, and create a support program to ensure their success and enjoyment of the Berkeley experience.  I'm also adding the link to a newer program that's specifically for underrepresented students. Because these programs are run by the nonprofit Alumni Association, they're free of UC-system political wrangling. Highly recommended!" -Nina, foods editor

Community services, health and advocacy

"NY-based Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF), the nation's only pan-Asian children's rights advocacy organization. I volunteered on their Action Council for two years to organize events, raise awareness, and fundraise to support their mission." -Cynthia, Hyphenite's Social Calendar columnist

"Center for Pan-Asian Community Services serves the growing API immigrant community in Georgia, including family and health services, English and citizenship acquisition, and community advocacy." -Cynthia, Hyphenite's Social Calendar columnist

"Seattle-based Chinese Information Service Center (CISC) helps Chinese and other Asian immigrants throughout King County achieve success in their new community by providing information, referral, advocacy, social, and support services. I worked with CISC as part of their efforts to ensure voting rights access for limited English-proficient Chinese in King County." -Cynthia, Hyphenite's Social Calendar columnist

"Seattle-based Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) provides a wide array of social, mental, and behavioral services in 30 languages, including one of the most-used food banks in King County, distributing more than 126,000 pounds of food per month to more than 4,500 households. It is also the only food bank in Washington that regularly distributes foods for Asian and Pacific Islander diets." -Cynthia, Hyphenite's Social Calendar columnist

"National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF), of which I was a Seattle Chapter member, is the only national, multi-issue Asian and Pacific Islander (API) women's organization in the country. NAPAWF's mission is to build a movement to advance social justice and human rights for API women and girls, works on issues such as immigrant rights, repo health, and leadership development for young women." -Cynthia, Hyphenite's Social Calendar columnist

"Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice. They do great work with movement building with reproductive justice, sexual health education in Asian American Communities, healthy nail salons, and their new 'Strong Families' campaign is awesome!" -Samara, board member

"Narika. Helping women dealing with domestic violence situations in the South Asian Community." -Samara, board member

South Asian Network is a Los Angeles community based organization that serves underprivileged South Asian Americans, particularly in the fields of healthcare, family violence, and civil rights. As a former intern, I've seen first hand the wonderful work these dedicated individuals do with marginalized communities, despite their lack of resources. -Piryanka, blog columnist

"I've been donating to the Asian Women's Shelter for more than 10 years (and spent many years as a volunteer on their events and Board). They serve women and children in crisis escaping from domestic violence. What was most surprising to me is that it's not just immigrants and the elderly who need this kind of help. In the Asian American community, we often don't openly talk about these problems -- even or especially with family and friends. AWS also provides the community education to prevent and break the cycle of violence." -Janice Lee, board member

"Locally I have given to San Francisco Women Against Rape and they do great work." -Lisa Mac, managing editor

Micro-finance and education

"EARN. A San Francisco based organization that works on financial literacy for low income folks and works with them to build wealth.  This year one of their savers bought a house (she had grown up in foster homes and now she has a home of her own where she can raise her foster kids)." -Samara, board member


"Tule Lake Pilgrimage, where I have volunteered for over a decade.  The only group dedicated to preservation and educational tours of the camp where 'resisters' and 'disloyals' were sent after the highly divisive 'loyalty questionnaire.' Donations help defray the cost of the Pilgrimage for low-income and students, and support historical preservation efforts." -Nina, foods editor

International aid

"Islamic Relief. A four star charity that does really important aid work and disaster relief around the world and within the US as well." -Samara, board member

"The floods in Pakistan occurred several months ago but the damage is colossal and will continue to affect Pakistanis for years to come. They still have immediate materials needs for food, shelter, and water (clean drinking water, ironically). A recent story on the floods, and the status of aid, here. Oxfam does a pretty good job at delivering aid." -Saif, blog columnist



erin K Ninh

contributing editor & blogger

erin Khue Ninh is a former blog editor and onetime publisher of Hyphen, who won't seem to go away. She now teaches literature in the Department of Asian American Studies at UC Santa Barbara. Aside from Hyphen, erin believes in recycling, Planned Parenthood, and Type A first-borns.



Great list, it was a nice reminder to give rather than continue shopping for family and friends. There are just so many less fortunate out there! Wes M My site