November 29, 2016

In the 9 years since I started the Amalgamated Compassion Fund, my charitable gift fund, I’ve granted money to dozens of worthy causes. This year stands apart, though, as a year primarily focused on states of emergency.

Most of the money I donate to charities is granted from the Amalgamated Compassion Fund, which holds money I’ve contributed in stocks and bonds that, fortunately, have increased in value this year. I’ve also contributed money directly to the Seattle Art Museum, to Second Harvest of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana in response to Louisiana flooding, and to Direct Relief to help Haiti recover from another devastating hurricane. My employer’s Tableau Foundation matched the latter two contributions dollar-for-dollar.

Social services are critically important in Seattle, which just over a year ago declared a state of emergency due to homeless. In addition to my regular donation to Northwest Harvest, I made grants this year to Capitol Hill Housing and the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), two nonprofits that provide services to low-income tenants at public housing projects. LIHI also provides tiny houses for the homeless and supports Urban Rest Stops that provide safe, clean hygienic services to the homeless. I’ve also made my first-ever grants to YouthCare and the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) which provide urgently-needed services to Seattle’s homeless population. Rounding out my contributions to local social services are two organizations that benefit everyone in town: the Seattle Public Library Foundation and the Seattle Parks Foundation.

Nationally, education and journalism remain crucial. I made another contribution to Carnegie Mellon University and, for the first time, I lent my likeness to their Giving Tuesday campaign. I also renewed my support of American Public Media, which produces several public radio programs including Marketplace, and for the first time I made a grant to ProPublica, whose investigative journalism is a shining beacon against the dark wasteland of fake news. Although they’re not charities, I also give money to The New York Times and Capitol Hill Seattle, who gather and produce news of world and hyperlocal interest respectively. If you have the means, please support organizations that actually produce news. It costs a lot more to report on news than it does to print analyses and opinions.

Lastly, civil liberties will be under attack for years if my next President tries to turn some of his idle Twitter musings into public policy. That’s why in addition to a repeat donation to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, I made my first grant to the American Civil Liberties Union. My grant to the ACLU is the largest I’ve ever made from the Amalgamated Compassion Fund and I augmented it with a match from the Tableau Foundation. I’m heartened to see such an outpouring of positive, constructive support for organizations that will do everything they can to protect and defend populations that shouldn’t expect much in the way of Federal support come next year.

In most recent years I’ve put out requests for friends and family to suggest Amalgamated Compassion Fund grantees. This year, without asking anyone, I had more organizations than ever to choose from. Rather than spread money more thinly across a large number of organizations, I chose to make larger grants to the charities above. There are worthy causes everywhere. Now is the time to help them do good.