IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY, a small nonprofit has been successful in helping adults achieve literacy. In Northern Virginia, a group provides housing and support to adolescent single mothers. And in the District, a charity runs after-school and summer programs to engage teens in nutrition and the culinary arts. A donation of $100 would allow the Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy to buy toolkits to train 10 volunteers, let Borromeo Housing buy a car seat, blanket and diapers for a baby and enable Brainfood to buy aprons for 10 students.
That information comes from a compilation of local charities that should be required reading for residents interested in making a difference in their communities. The Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington focuses exclusively on small, community-based nonprofits that have been rigorously vetted by local philanthropic experts and judged to have effective programming and sound financing in addressing real social needs. Now entering its 14th year, the catalogue was founded by Barbara Harman after she became executive director of the Harman Family Foundation. She told us it was easy to find large nonprofits who deserved support but that small groups doing great work locally and perhaps in greater need of help were harder to screen. Because these groups (only those with annual budgets less than $3 million qualify for the catalogue) lack the capacity to make themselves known, the catalogue aims to tell their stories.
The just-concluded presidential campaign revealed deep divisions and left raw wounds in the country. Many — particularly those who were disappointed by the outcome — are searching for answers about what they can do. Some good possibilities lie in this catalogue. Every day in the back yard of the nation’s capital, an array of causes — from empowering girls and women to providing immigrant and refugee services to protecting the environment to enhancing the cultural arts — are being tackled by organizations that could use a helping hand. We hope people take a look and realize as they give thanks this week that it is also important to give back.