9 Best Charities That Fight for Racial Justice in America (Complete 2021 List)

9 Best Charities That Fight for Racial Justice in America (Complete 2021 List)

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Dennis Kamprad

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People experience racial discrimination every day, including at work, school, and in public settings. Everyone, regardless of their race, ethnicity, and cultural background, deserves equal rights. With so many charities that advocate for and support racial justice, we had to ask: What are the best charities that fight for racial justice?

The best charities that fight for racial justice are the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Race Forward. These charities advocate for racial justice by defending the rights of minorities and by challenging discriminatory legislation.

Whether you want to join a racial justice movement in your community, raise awareness on a racial justice issue, or simply learn more about how you can support racial equality, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities that fight for racial justice are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to make a contribution.

Here’s What All the Best Charities That Fight for Racial Justice in America Have in Common

All charities on this list were selected based on their mission, impact on racial justice movements, track record on promoting racial equality, and transparency ratings. Much of their work pushes for social and legal change.

These charities operate across the United States and advocate for racial equity on both a state and federal level. They are also striving to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination, eradicate negative stereotypes and stigmas, and enhance the rights of all people, regardless of their racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. 

These Are the 9 Best Charities That Fight for Racial Justice in America

Below are our favorite charities that fight for racial justice (you can click on their link to directly jump to their section in this article):

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

American Civil Liberties Union: Defending Civil Liberties for All

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was founded in 1920 by a group of civil rights activists including Helen Keller, Crystal Eastman, Albert DeSilver, Jane Addams, Felix Frankfurter, and Arthur Garfield Hayes. In the post-war era, many people were feared to be radicals and were wrongfully arrested, deported, and held without rights. The ACLU’s visionaries came together in an effort to defend the US constitution and people’s civil liberties during the ongoing turmoil.  

Their impact and transparency ratings: ACLU currently holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, and has an impressive Accountability and Transparency score of 96 out of 100, also from Charity Navigator. The organization holds a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar – the highest rank possible. 

“Dismantling systemic racism and working to repair centuries of harm inflicted on communities of color.”

American Civil Liberties Union

What they do: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) defends the rights of others through system equality, litigation, and social change. The organization campaigns for equality by challenging racist laws, stereotypes, and practices that hinder people from having full and equal rights in American society.  

What they’ve achieved: Since its inception, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has amassed more than 4 million member activists across the country to fight for racial justice. In 2020 alone, the organization filed 7 legal action cases for racial justice. In the same year, the organization defended the right to protest for racial justice in 18 US cities. The ACLU also filed over 75 cases to get people released from prisons and jails where the inmates were predominantly Black.

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to the American Civil Liberties Union by donating directly through their website. You can also give over the phone, or sign up for a monthly membership to make regular donations. 

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: Advocates for the Rights of Minorities 

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in 1908 by Mary White Ovington, Oswald Garrison Villard,  William English Walling, and Dr. Henry Moscowitz, a group of journalists, liberals, and activists. They came together to discuss the violent race riots occurring in Springfield, Illinois, and created a call for racial equality. This call was signed by over 60 people, including W.E.B. Du Bois, a famous civil rights activist. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The organization maintains a 4-star rating and an Accountability and Transparency score of 97 out of 100, both from Charity Navigator. It currently holds a Bronze Star of Transparency from GuideStar. In 2019, nearly 71% of the organization’s income was spent on its programming. 

“To remove all barriers of racial discrimination through democratic processes.”

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

What they do: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) mobilizes activists across the US to defend the rights of minorities, with an active presence in all 50 states. NAACP promotes the equity of those who are discriminated against because of their race, through advocacy campaigns and grassroots movements. 

What they’ve achieved: Since its inception, the organization has mobilized over 15,000 youth activists in the US to fight for racial justice, a small fraction of the organization’s active 2 million members and advocates. In 2020, the organization’s large member pool enabled them to reach over 1 million Black individuals to discuss the importance of Census participation. In the same year, the organization also sent nearly 4.5 million pieces of mail to encourage Black voters to take part in the election. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate to the NAACP by donating via the organization’s website. You can also join your local NAACP group to volunteer, fight for racial justice, and take part in community activities. 

Race Forward: Researchers and Advocates for Racial Justice

Race Forward was founded in 1981 by Gary Delgado, a social justice researcher and advocate. In 2017, the organization merged with another influential racial justice charity, the Center for Social Inclusion, to combine their research and reach. Today, Race Forward provides innovative research and advocacy on racial justice, equality, and transformative social progress frameworks. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Race Forward currently holds a Financial Transparency score of 91 out of a potential 100 from Charity Navigator. The organization also has a Silver Star of Transparency from GuideStar. In 2019, approximately 73% of the charity’s income was spent on its racial justice programs. 

“To advance racial justice in our policies, institutions, and culture.”

Race Forward

What they do: Race Forward delivers research, programming, and advocacy to community organizations and sectors on how to be more socially inclusive, and how to eliminate racial discrimination practices. The organization also engages in awareness-raising, training and development, and capacity-building initiatives. 

What they’ve achieved: Since its inception, Race Forward continues to create learning opportunities to educate communities on racial justice issues. For example, in 2020, the organization provided racial equity training to more than 30,000 people across the country. Race Forward also introduced a webinar series that highlighted a range of ongoing racial justice issues, which reached nearly 3,000 people. Another 26 racial justice grassroots organizations were supported through Race Forward’s grant-funding program. 

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to Race Forward by donating through the organization’s website. 

Equal Justice Initiative: Legal Advocates for Marginalized Persons

The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) was founded in 1989 by Bryan Stevenson, an activist and human rights defender. Stevenson was passionate about helping those that are poor, marginalized, incarcerated, or all of the above. He created the Equal Justice Initiative as a way to provide legal remedies and justice for those who are wrongfully discriminated against due to their social or minority status. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The organization currently holds an impressive 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. It also holds a perfect Accountability and Transparency score of 100 out of 100, also from Charity Navigator. Similarly, the Equal Justice Initiative maintains a Silver Star of Transparency from GuideStar.

“To challenge racial and economic injustice, and to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.”

Equal Justice Initiative

What they do: The Equal Justice Initiative aims to promote the rights of minorities through advocacy and programming. The organization researches racial discrimination in both historical and modern contexts, provides legal assistance to those who have experienced it, and delivers policy prescriptions for legislative change. 

What they’ve achieved: Since its inception, the Equal Justice Initiative has spearheaded a number of campaigns that detail the impact racial injustice has on society. For example, in 2018, EJI opened The National Memorial for Peace and Justice as a tribute to African Americans who lost their lives due to racial injustices. The memorial attracted more than 400,000 visitors in its opening months alone. In the same year, the organization provided training to more than 100 schools, decision-makers, and faith communities on criminal justice reform with an emphasis on its impact on the African American communities. EJI also won legal cases that reduced sentences for 40 juveniles serving life sentences.

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to the Equal Justice Initiative by donating directly through their website. 

Southern Poverty Law Center: Advancing Racial Equity in America’s South

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was founded in 1971, shortly after the US civil rights movement, by Morris Dees, a lawyer from Alabama. Dees grew up on a farm and had witnessed prejudices related to his social status, and sympathized with others who experienced racial inequalities, injustices, and discrimination. As a result, he decided to open the SPLC to defend the rights of those that were the target of bigotry. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Southern Poverty Law Center maintains a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. It also holds an Accountability and Transparency score of 97 out of a possible 100, also from Charity Navigator. Similarly, the organization has a Silver Star of Transparency from GuideStar

“To dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people.”

Southern Poverty Law Center

What they do: The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) promotes the equal rights of all people, especially those in the Deep South, and campaigns for racial, economic, and social justice. They achieve this by challenging discriminatory laws and protecting vulnerable peoples’ civil liberties through strategic litigation.

What they’ve achieved: The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has reached nearly 35,000 educators with training on how to promote social and racial justice within classrooms in 2019 alone. In the same year, the organization also filed and won a $14 million lawsuit on behalf of a Jewish family that experienced racial discrimination. The SPLC also filed a lawsuit against the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USCIS) to represent 100 Latin American workers who were detained based on their perceived race and ethnicity. 

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to the SPLC by donating through the organization’s website. You can also fundraise for the organization by signing up as a canvasser. SPLC also welcomes employer matching, so you can encourage your employer to match your donation to the charity. 

Vera Institute of Justice: Promoting Racial Justice By Reducing Mass Incarceration 

The Vera Institute of Justice was founded in New York City in 1961 by Louis Schweitzer and Herb Sturz. Schweitzer was the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants that had experienced adversity and discrimination, both in Russia and in the United States, due to their ethnic and religious background. Schweitzer’s mother, Vera, set out to help those who were fleeing persecution and seeking refuge. From this, Schweitzer got his inspiration to open the Vera Institute of Justice to carry on his mother’s work and protect the rights of others experiencing similar forms of racial injustices. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Vera Institute of Justice holds a Finance and Accountability Score of 100 out of a possible 100 from Charity Navigator. The organization also has a Gold Star of Transparency from GuideStar. In 2020, the organization spent approximately 92% of its income on its justice programs. 

“To end the criminalization of people of color, immigrants, and people experiencing poverty.”

Vera Institute of Justice

What they do: The Vera Institute of Justice aims to end the criminalization of people of color, immigrants, and other minorities. It achieves this by encouraging shifts in public policy and setting out strategic frameworks that enable social change. The organization conducts innovative research and provides unique programming that raises awareness and advocates for racial justice. 

What they’ve achieved: The Vera Institute of Justice continues to provide ongoing public policy research and recommendations that advance the rights of people of color. For example, in 2020, the organization trained 7 prosecutors offices on how to promote racial equity. In the year, Vera Institute of Justice worked on 18 projects across 12 US states to lower mass incarceration and promote racial justice. 

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to the Vera Institute of Justice by donating through the institute’s website. 

Color of Change: Accelerating Progressive Change for Racial Justice

Color of Change was founded in 2005 by Van Jones, a political commentator, and James Rucker, a social justice activist. The two partnered together to form a racial justice movement that would empower African American communities, especially those that were neglected in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The organization operates web-based campaigns and movements, which enables activists from across the country to get involved. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The organization currently holds a Silver Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. Of the charity’s staff, nearly 86% are people of color, including its board members and senior staff. 

“We move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America.”

Color of Change

What they do: Color of Change strives to mobilize social change and eliminate racial discrimination through digital campaigns, awareness-raising, and programming. With an active 7 million members across the US, Color of Change has led numerous racial justice campaigns and utilizes its platform to push for racial equality in culture, politics, and society. 

What they’ve achieved: During the US presidential election, Color of Change brought together over 20,000 Black voters in more than 15 US cities to learn about politics and how to participate in the election. The organization has also influenced prosecutors in 12 US cities to end mass incarceration, an ongoing problem that unfairly targets the Black community. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate to Color of Change through the organization’s website. You can also join a local movement that fights for racial justice within your community. 

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC: Ensuring the Rights of Asians and Pacific Islanders

The Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC was founded in 1991 in Washington D.C. The organization is currently run by John C. Yang, a seasoned attorney and Asian rights advocate. The organization operates as the national organization defending Asian Americans’ rights and has affiliate organizations dispersed throughout the country’s major cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Atlanta. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC has an Accountability and Transparency score of 96 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. The organization also holds a Gold Star of Transparency from GuideStar

“To advance the civil and human rights for Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all.”

Asian Americans Advancing Justice

What they do: Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC works to protect the rights of Asian Americans through litigation and public policy changes. The organization also advocates for Asian Americans’ equal rights through education and programming efforts and encourages inclusive practices in civic society. The organization currently has an active presence in 33 US states. 

What they’ve achieved: Since its founding, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC has challenged harmful practices and laws that negatively impact Asian Americans. For example, in 2019, the organization won a legal case that sought to purge nearly 22,500 Asian American voters from the voter rolls. In the same year, the organization also made over 200 congressional office visits to advocate for Asian American rights and reached over 6,000 community leaders through their programming. 

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC by sending a donation through the organization’s website. You can also get involved with the organization’s community partners, attend an annual summit, or participate in a scheduled conference. 

Native American Rights Fund: Securing the Rights of Native Americans

The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) was founded in 1970 by John E. Echohawk, a Native American lawyer and advocate. Echohawk founded the organization to protect the legal rights of Native Americans across the US, and ensure that all treaty rights given to Native Americans are also upheld. The organization has worked with more than 250 Indian tribes in protecting their civil and legal rights. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Native American Rights Fund has an impressive Accountability and Transparency rating of 97 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. The organization also holds a Gold Star of Transparency from GuideStar, based on their programs, results, and financials.

“Asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, organizations, and individuals nationwide.”

Native American Rights Fund

What they do: The Native American Rights Fund aims to promote the rights of Native American Indians through treaty reinforcements, and by challenging discriminatory laws and practices that harm Native American people. NARF also raises awareness on social and economic issues that affect Native American communities and provides advocacy to combat stereotypes and stigmas. 

What they’ve achieved: Since the beginning, NARF has been dedicated to ensuring Indian children have the same access to education and health services as their non-native counterparts. For example, in 2020, the organization awarded grants to 10 tribes in West Virginia and Oklahoma to provide school funding for Native American students. The grants were able to reach over 1,000 Indian students needing education opportunities. In the same year, the organization also represented parties in 5 separate litigation cases concerning Native Americans and voter discrimination. 

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to NARF by donating through the organization’s website, or by sending in a donation via mail. You can also shop NARF’s online store and invest in some branded merchandise that shows your support for Native Americans’ rights and racial equality. 

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities that fight for racial justice. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarise yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing the progress a charity makes in reaching its targets, the chances are not making positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. The charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Donate a percentage of your online purchases. If you bought anything on sites like Amazon lately, you’d find a prompt asking you to donate to your favorite charities through their Amazon Smile program. You can set this up so that your chosen charities will get a fraction of your online purchases.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is just up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to racial justice – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,



PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

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