‘Tis the season of giving, but charitable donors who support gay rights are faced with a dilemma—where should they send their funds? Like for-profit companies, non-profits vary in their agendas. While anti-gay practices do not concern some donors, they can be distressing to other donors.
If you are concerned about your charitable donations, our advice is to thoroughly research a non-profit before you donate. Guidestar functions like the Better Business Bureau for non-profits, and BrightFunds allows you to search for charities based on the issue you want to address. Charity Navigator provides extensive information on charities, including financial performance metrics and transparency metrics.
For the philanthropists who support gay rights, NerdWallet has provided this guide outlining which charities do not support gay rights as well as alternative non-profits.
For information on retailers, refer to our Holiday Shopping Guide for those who support gay rights.
Charities that oppose gay rights
1. The Salvation Army
Controversy: The Salvation Army has come under fire for lobbying governments to restrict gay rights, including attempting to make consensual sex between two same-sex partners illegal and lobbying the Bush administration to deny funding to any states that had LGBT non-discrimination laws. They also threatened to close their New York soup kitchens in protest of the city’s law that charities in the city must follow civil rights laws and offer domestic partner benefits for gay employees.
Alternatives: The Salvation Army combats poverty, funds programs for at-risk youth and supports global health. Programs with similar missions include the American Red Cross, Toys for Tots, Heifer International, and Doctors Without Borders.
2. Boy Scouts of America
Controversy: The Boy Scouts of America has stated, “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”
Because the non-profit has engaged in a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, it outright bans gay people from working or volunteering with them. They have lost funding from UPS and Intel as a direct result of this anti-gay stance. Former Eagle Scout Zach Wahls has founded Scouts for Equality, a group of current former BSA members who support gay rights, and this group is pressuring corporate donors to pull their funding from BSA.
Alternatives: For youth-focused charities, consider donating to the Girl Scouts, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates) or the Children’s Defense Fund.
3. Mercy Ministries
Controversy: Mercy Ministries practices gay conversion therapies.
Alternatives: Mercy Ministries offers therapy for women with eating disorders, drug addictions, depression, a history of abuse and other issues. Non-profits that do similar work include the Global Fund for Women, UN Women, V-Day and MentorCONNECT.