2020 Giving Suggestions From Clients

As 2020 finally draws to a close, Bridget, Ari, and I have been finding ourselves extremely grateful to do meaningful work with clients we admire and love to serve. This year has made us more aware than ever before of what a privilege this is. 

We’ve been looking for ways to give back to our communities, alleviate human suffering, and increase the amount of justice in the world. Earlier this month, we published a five-part giving guide that encapsulates some of the key principles and recommendations we have for clients and others who are trying to make a more intentional giving plan. We encourage you to check it out and share it with people you know who may find it useful.

We also launched a new year-end giving project to support organizations recommended by Values Added clients. We learn so much from the wisdom of our clients and appreciate knowing what organizations they support and why. Several of our clients gave us permission to share their recommendations more broadly, so those are listed below. We hope this great list will be helpful to those of you who are still catching up on your end of year giving.

Thanks so much to all of our clients and to our broader communities for doing so much to help others, to fight for justice, and to improve our world.


District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH)

Recommender: Patti DeBow

“As a board member at DASH, I’ve been constantly impressed with the incredible leadership and staff who provide exceptional, caring support for survivors of domestic violence. Their low-barrier, innovative programs make services accessible to people who often can’t access housing through other providers.”


One Can Help

Recommender: Stephanie Singer

“One Can Help provides immediate and essential resources to under-served kids and families in Massachusetts.  Small grants (usually a few hundred dollars) for specific needs, overseen by the recipients’ lawyers and social workers, make a huge difference in the recipients’ lives.”


EmpowerEd DC

Recommender: Mark Simon

“In just four years, they’ve become one of the most dynamic, agile organizations advocating for changes and improvements in public education in DC. It was founded and built by teachers in both DCPS and the charter sector to elevate the voices of classroom teachers in the city and in each school, and to train a racially diverse cadre of teacher leaders in the city so that decision makers would hear from them. Faced with incompetent closing and opening plans by the city in response to the Covid pandemic, EmpowerEd’s teachers quickly proposed specific solutions to protect students before closing in March, and again for safely opening in the Fall. Their campaigns on the teacher turnover crisis, the need for charter school transparency, and recruiting, retaining and supporting LatinX teachers have led to legislation and broad participation. Racial equity, quality teaching, collaboratively run schools, and accountability to the public have been hallmarks of EmpowerEd’s work.”


Global Regeneration CoLab 

Recommender: David Witzel

“They are helping create the capacity to create a new, Regenerative economy.”


Mary’s Center for Maternal and Childcare & Latin American Youth Center

Recommenders: Nancy Garruba & Chris Hornig

“Each has done remarkable work over the last 25-30 years, serving mothers, families, and youth in otherwise underserved populations. They each began as small DC-based operations and have since expanded to the suburbs, while still delivering excellent programs of care, medical support, educational support, housing, and job training.”


Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at American U., DC

Recommender: Rita Hadden

“OLLI provides purpose, meaning, and joy to those entering retirement.”


Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program

Recommender: David Goldstein

“They provide healthcare to this underserved population in shelters and clinics in the Boston-area. I fundraised for them and provided them with a donation when they sponsored my run in the 2019 Boston Marathon. I visited with them, met some of their clients and was very impressed with the organization.”


Movement for Black Lives

Recommender: Anonymous Client


National Network of Abortion Funds

Recommender: Anonymous Client

“We give to the National Network of Abortion Fund (NNAF) because we believe abortions should be accessible to every person who needs it regardless of where they live or how much money they make. NNAF distributes money across the US to help people pay for abortions who otherwise may not be able to. Moreover, they also work to empower their members to fight for a future where everyone’s reproductive rights are protected and all people have control over their own bodies.”


Upcycle Parts Shop

Recommender: Josiette White

“This organization was started by a close friend of mine.  It takes discarded but still useable materials out of the waste stream and gives them new life with art.  The organization creates jobs and brings art to facilitate community building in an economically disadvantaged area of Cleveland.  They’ve facilitated art events between the community and police, worked with students in Cleveland public schools to turn plastic bottles into art (and help keep them out of Lake Erie), and so much more.”


Miriam’s Kitchen

Recommender: Josiette White

“I was introduced to the organization by a friend who works there.  They work to move people who need it into permanent housing.  They have a series of services including setting up sanitation stations to meet this moment and crafting innovative ways to keep some of DC’s most vulnerable fed and in community.”


National Resources Defense Council

Recommender: Akiva Fishman

“In its role as legal watchdog and litigator, the NRDC provides one of the more important mechanisms for holding the government accountable to implement America’s critical environmental legislation.”


Jewish Family and Children’s Services

Recommender: Janine Bempechat

“I appreciate that they provide parenting assistance/education to new parents, support for aging individuals and their families, and that they address food insecurity through their Family Table initiative.”

We are giving to the above organizations, in some cases for the first time and we hope you’ll consider them as well.

Zinn Education Project

Recommender: Mark Simon

“When Trump attacked Howard Zinn for being anti-traditional American white southern culture in The People’s History of the US, states like Misissippi tried to ban the book this year. ZEP is shipping books to teachers there as a counter-attack. “

We are giving to the above organizations, in some cases for the first time and we hope you’ll consider them as well.

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Discussing Investing During Political Turmoil with Ron Lieber (NYT)

Ron Lieber, at the New York Times, is one of my favorite personal finance writers. His commitment to consumers is unerring and his ability to make complex issues understandable and actionable is exceptional. Given my admiration for his work, I was especially honored when he reached out to discuss financial planning and investing during moments of political tumult for his recent piece Investing for the Future in the United States of Agita. The question he raised is enormously consequential. How should we take action when a major potential political change is immediate but the outcome is uncertain? In his piece, the presenting issue was the election, but there are a lot more moments of importance and uncertainty than just presidential elections. The right approach in moments of uncertainty in the world is to review an excellent plan that was hewn in moments of clarity and when emotions were less intense. Take that plan, review it, ask if your goals have changed since then. If they haven’t, make sure you are still on target. If you were going on a road trip, that would be the time to check the air pressure in your tires, consider an oil change, and maybe even get a tuneup. Likewise, check if your emergency fund is adequately funded and check if your asset allocation (percentage of your investments in stock indexes, bond indexes, etc) is within the target range. Ron was succinct and spot-on in his discussion of asset allocation in the piece and I suggest you read it if you haven’t already.

I’d like to expand a bit on a couple of quotes of mine that Ron included in the piece:

First, a maxim of sorts about our collective state of anxiety — whether you’re pulling for four more years or a new occupant in the Oval Office. “Emotions are really good at raising questions and really bad at answering them,” said Zach Teutsch, a financial planner in Washington, D.C. It’s true in life, and it’s certainly true with financial decisions. Try not to make any big ones anytime soon.

Emotions arise every day in our work, usually many times and I’ve thought a lot about how they help and hurt our ability to act in our best short- and long-term interest (however we define that). Just as I said, I think they are great at raising themes and not great at wisely navigating technical questions. For instance, feelings of anxiety can be very motivating. The way anxiety tends to gnaw at us, reminds us to make sure we are doing the right things to protect ourselves, families, and communities, now and in the future. The problem is that anxiety isn’t a very good tool to figure out how to do that. If we rely too much on anxiety, those with investments might end up putting too much of their portfolio into stability-oriented investments. The result would tend to be not having enough money later in life and possibly outliving one’s money (not having enough to donate along the way, etc). Accepting too much volatility in pursuit of long-term growth could also cause problems. Balancing these two priorities (long-term growth and stability) is a hard problem. Anxiety isn’t a great tool to mediate these complicated questions and identify the proper balance. The right answer has to consider those emotions and how they will impact the client’s long-term well-being and fulfillment but that is just one of several important considerations. Like with anxiety, guilt can doggedly raise important questions, causing us to feel we aren’t doing enough. It isn’t likely to be very useful to adjudicating between which uses of capital have the highest social impact. For instance, one could give more money away via tax-deductible or non-tax-deductible giving, accepting lower returns for social impact-oriented investments, making direct loans or gifts to people in need, or many other approaches. Guilt may weigh-in but is unlikely to have a very technically-sound contribution. I suggest that in these situations we thank the emotion for inspiring a robust and important conversation and invite it to continue to monitor the outcomes (it was going to with or without an invitation).

“After an election can be a great time to assess your social impact plan, especially around charitable strategies,” he said. “Because the world is going to need very different things depending on who wins.”

Thankfully, the election turned out in a way that will slow or reverse our movement away from democracy. But all is not well. People should squeeze to figure out how to help set a course toward a better more just world. We will be sharing a guide to giving soon, which is a bit part of most people’s social impact plans.