So you scored some can’t-beat-‘em deals on Black Friday, supported your local community by picking out one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your holiday shopping list on Small Business Saturday, and you rocked the click-to-buy shuffle in your favorite pajama pants on Cyber Monday. (Or maybe you just threw yourself a movie marathon on Friday, went for a relaxing hike on Saturday, and have yet to give in to the slippery slope of shopping on the Internet. Whatever your jam is, it’s cool by me.) Either way, the only wallet-grabbing holiday tradition left to celebrate this year — the best is saved for last, of course — is Giving Tuesday.
For those of you who might not know, Giving Tuesday (known in the Twitter-verse as #GivingTuesday) is a yearly, day-long global celebration of giving back to the nonprofits and communities you love. The #GivingTuesday movement has been going strong since 2012, but if you haven’t had a chance to participate yet, make this the year! And if you’re not able to donate your time or funds? No problem. (We’ve all been there.) Just hashtag the heck out of the nonprofits that mean the most to you, and broadcast their message across social media. Spreading the word is super important, too.
Here are 15 literary nonprofits to donate to this #GivingTuesday (and there are tons more too, so don't feel like you have to limit yourself to these 15). If you missed the deadline, don’t worry, these fabulous organizations appreciate donations any ol’ time of year — it’s never too late to give the gift of literature. Check ‘em out.
1. Poets & Writers
If you don’t subscribe to Poets & Writers magazine yet, you’re definitely missing out. But producing a great publication for writers isn’t all P&W does. As one of the largest literary nonprofits in the United States, Poets & Writers is the go-to resource for poets and fiction and nonfiction creative writers trying to make it in the world of publishing, and anyone else who just has a great passion for the written word.
2. Room to Read
If you’re anything like me, and the library was your favorite place to visit as a kid, then you know how important it is for children to have access to literature that speaks to their own, unique experiences. Room to Read works to improve global literacy and gender equality in education by helping to establish libraries in the developing world that feature local language children’s literature.
3. Lambda Literary
Lambda Literary is one of the largest LGBTQ literary organizations in the world, supporting LGBTQ writers and their creative projects and affirming the lives of members of the LGBTQ community by publishing and celebrating stories and writing. Amongst other endeavors, Lambda Literary offers writing retreats for LGBTQ writers and awards that celebrate excellent LGBTQ writing.
4. Book Aid International
Book Aid International is an NGO that works primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the Middle East to provide books and other necessary literacy resources to libraries, hospitals, refugee camps, prisons, and schools. Operating under the belief that books change lives — can’t argue with that — each year Book Aid International aims to donate one million books to communities around the world. That’s a lot of lives changed.
5. Afghan Women’s Writing Project
If you’ve ever wondered what life is like for the women living behind the media headlines in Afghanistan, then head over to the Afghan Women’s Writing Project (AWWP) blog, where women writers are given the opportunity to tell the true stories of their lives in Afghanistan. AWWP writers are accompanied through the writing process — from the generation of ideas, to writing, editing, and publication, by a team of writing mentors and editors who help them give voice to their experiences through poetry and essay.
6. Freedom to Read Foundation
If you’ve ever participated in Banned Books Week, then you’ve probably heard of the Freedom to Read Foundation. Affiliated with the American Library Association, the Freedom to Read Foundation defends the First Amendment of the Constitution by working to ensure that individuals have unrestricted access to books and information and supports libraries in maintaining everyone’s right to the freedom of reading.
If you’re a writer then you probably know that writing is an endeavor best embarked upon with the support of a welcoming, challenging, and active community of other writers and readers. And that’s exactly what the Boston-based GrubStreet has been offering writers since 1997. With over 600 writing classes and literary events offered each year, GrubStreet helps writers do what we do best: write.
8. Little Free Library
Did you know that there are over 32,000 Little Free Libraries around the world today? Not bad for an organization that got its start as recently as 2009. Operating under the basic principle of: “take a book, leave a book” Little Free Library supports reading and community building by giving lovers of literature a fun, easy, (and free!) way to share books.
9. First Book
Do you remember the first book you ever read on your own? Mine was The Rainbow Fish, shortly followed by The Magic Treehouse series — titles that made a definite impact on my love of reading that still persists today. First Book helps children spark their own love of reading by providing books to young readers who might not otherwise have easy access to them.
Last school year the D.C.-based Writers in Schools program, facilitated by the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, provided 4,750 books to almost 3,000 students who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to read them. The literary outreach program not only offers students contemporary works of literature, they also support students’ love of reading by sending the writers directly to the schools themselves to meet with students.
11. Books to Prisoners
Improving literacy skills and gaining access to literature is one of the most important rehabilitative opportunities for incarcerated people in the United States and around the world. Books to Prisoners is a Seattle-based nonprofit — one of the oldest of its kind in the U.S. — that works to meet that need by collecting and donating literature to prisons across the United States.
If you love reading as much as I do, think back to who in your life taught you to read — that person probably seems pretty irreplaceable now, am I right? ProLiteracy works to promote adult literacy by supporting adults around the world as they develop their reading and writing skills, thereby improving their lives and the opportunities available to them.
13. Women for Women International
In addition to a seemingly never-ending list of projects that make the world an all-around better place for women, Women for Women International’s literacy programming helps female victims of war, poverty, and injustice learn how to read and write — two skills that are essential for a woman striving to gain agency over her life.
14. American Writers Museum
The American Writers Museum has yet to open its doors to the public, but boy am I counting down the days. Celebrating all that there is to celebrate about the written word, the American Writers Museum will feature exhibits, events, research opportunities, and more. Believe it or not, the American Writers Museum will be the first national museum of its kind dedicated to writing in America — and seriously, it’s about time.
As one of the most renowned literary journals in the United States, Ploughshares is committed to paying its writers for the exceptional work that they do — a fact to which I can personally attest we all greatly appreciate. If you haven’t enjoyed the writing Ploughshares publishes yet, head over to their blog and read up! (And donate.)