Nonprofits and Civil Society

As we face an era of ever-increasing uncertainty, it is more important than ever to support organizations that stand for and protect our personal, cultural, and human rights. The collective power embedded in our social institutions, particularly in the nonprofit sector, offers one of the few bulwarks against both the threat of the mob and the power of the state.

It is the nature of our modern capitalist system that the most pressing issues facing us as a society — prejudice and discrimination, social and economic justice, education and heritage preservation, freedom of expression, environmental protection, and so on — can rarely be addressed for a profit. And so it is up to our nonprofit sector to attack these issues, often with insufficient resources, and often in opposition to better-funded and more powerful corporate and government institutions.

It is crucial, right now, that you support the nonprofits that support our civil society. This is not charity or philanthropy, something you give out of goodness or some sense of responsibility or obligation, it is solidarity and mutual aid — it is how we stand together and support each other.

Now is the time to pledge your time, talent, and finances to organizations that stand up for not just you but for our society as a whole. Organizations like the ACLU, NOW, Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, and many others, local, national, and global — organizations that challenge abuses of power, that promote mutual understanding and respect, that offer direct support to the most vulnerable parts of our society.

Obviously, I recommend supporting the Burlesque Hall of Fame as part of that. BHoF preserves and shares the stories of marginalized women, of performers of color, of LGBTQ persons, of workers — of independent artists who challenged the social norms of their day and continue to do so. That history is crucial as a guide in a time when the rights, livelihoods, and indeed lives of minorities, women, and workers are increasingly under attack. Your support is vital to our continued ability to do this important work.

Today is #GivingTuesday, a day designated, as we enter the holiday season of giving, to remind us to give to the organizations that make our society work. And yes, make a show of support today for the organization or organizations that reflect your concerns. But please, I beg of you, make that support year-round — donate, volunteer, spread the word, become part of the solution. Make supporting our civil society not just something you do but something you are, today, tomorrow, and forever.

(A good list of organizations can be found at but remember your local cultural and social services orgs too!)

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