The Amalgamated Compassion Fund and Racial Equity

Among the many important subplots of 2020 are a rise (after major volatility) in the stock market and newfound attention to injustices in the United States. These present an opportunity for me to use the funds in the Amalgamated Compassion Fund, my donor-advised fund, for good.

A quick recap for those unfamiliar: I set up the Amalgamated Compassion Fund over 10 years ago, donating cash and appreciated stock into it and making grants to nonprofit organizations from it. Any remaining money is invested in broad pools of investments; I can’t withdraw it and there are some limits on how I can grant it. (No political contributions, for example, and no legally-binding pledges.)

Two years ago I set up 10 recurring annual grants to organizations I trust to do good work for the community: the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Northwest Harvest, DESC,, Technology Access Foundation, Forterra, Seattle Library Foundation, and ProPublica. This past summer’s protests in Seattle concerning racial injustice inspired me to look inward and to see what more I could do for organizations that primarily serve underrepresented minorities in the Seattle area. I’m proud to announce two new recurring grants for 2020 and future years.

Duwamish Tribal Services is the beneficiary of Real Rent Duwamish, a campaign to encourage recurring donations from Seattle residents to the native people who once occupied the land on which I’ve lived for over 14 years. Chief Seattle, a Duwamish elder, is the namesake of the city. The Duwamish have received insultingly meager compensation for the loss of their land — only $64,000 to 1,000 members in 1971 — and today they make up less than 1% of King County’s population but about 15% of the county’s homeless population. The Duwamish are not federally recognized as a tribe, limiting funding for humanitarian and cultural projects. The Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center opened in 2009. The Native American history of the Pacific Northwest, as in much of the U.S., is a story of resilience amidst tragic losses. I encourage others to learn about it and to respect and support the people who have been disregarded and cast out over the last 160 years.

Seattle’s Black population has been shrinking and balkanizing; for the first time since the 1960s, Seattle is less than 7% Black. The high cost of living has caused previously redlined, de jure Black neighborhoods to be targets of redevelopment at a high risk of displacement. While I remain confident that new affordable multi-family housing can reduce the displacement risk, the cultural institutions and communities in Seattle’s Central District and Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood are already fracturing as a result of our region’s inequitable boom time. After searching for an organization that can support a diverse community that I have sadly little connection to, I added Black Lives Matter Seattle–King County, via the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, to my recurring donation list. In addition to coordinating silent protests and disavowing the violence that accompanied earlier protests this past summer, BLMSKC is making community investments in local Black-led organizations. BLMSKC has also provided cash bail support to allow those accused but not even tried of crimes to spend their days working instead of waiting in jail.

As 2020 mercifully comes to a close, I encourage everyone who has the means to think about their charitable giving. If your financial house is in order, please consider those who are having a particularly tough time this year.