An Anti-Capitalist Gift Guide
This Black Friday, resist consumerism and donate to a literary non-profit instead
We live in a world fueled by capitalism. From the moment we wake up, we’re inundated by a torrent of non-stop advertisements, screaming at us to buy, buy, buy! Upgrade to the newest iPhone that will break down in two years! Sign up for a monthly subscription of bedazzled lambskin notebooks! What I love about shopping is that rush of endorphins and that buzz of optimism that the new purchase will (somehow) make your life better, easier, happier. But you know what’s an even better warm, fuzzy feeling? Donating and knowing that your tax-deductible contribution is going towards a good cause that will make a difference in the world.
We’ve compiled a list of literary non-profits that are doing amazing and necessary work. If you can’t afford to make a monetary offering, consider volunteering and getting involved in your favorite local non-profit instead.
Books Through Bars provides free books and education materials to prisoners across seven states. The United States has the highest mass incarceration rate in the world and most of the incarcerated population are African-Americans and immigrants. This year, prisons in Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland have tried unsuccessfully to ban organizations from sending free books to inmates, making the work of this all-volunteer run non-profit more vital than ever. There are three easy ways you can contribute to Books Through Bars. You can volunteer your time by packing books, donate money, or donate books.
PEN America champions the right for everyone everywhere in the world to have the freedom to write and the freedom to express their views. Support the freedom to write by donating or becoming a member.
Girls Write Now seeks to empower high school girls by connecting them with professional women writers for mentorship. Help empower teenage girls by becoming a mentor, donating, or volunteering as a photographer or videographer.
Electric Literature is a not-for-profit literary publication that champions exciting, relevant, and inclusive work. We’re campaigning to reach 1,000 members by 2020, and you can help us meet that goal. Your support would allow us always pay writers on time (without worrying about overdrafting our bank accounts), improve benefits for staff members, pay off credit card debt, and stop relying on Amazon affiliate links. Members also get cool perks like store discounts and year-round submissions. Please support the future of Electric Literature by joining as a member today!
VIDA is a feminist non-profit organization that committed to creating transparency around in the publishing world and amplifying marginalized voices. The VIDA Count tallies bylines to calculate the gender imbalance in the literary landscape. You can contribute by volunteering with the VIDA count or providing monetary support.
We Need Diverse Books advocates for diversity in publishing industry, aiming to help produce and promote children’s books that reflects and honors all young people. Their vision is a world where all children can see themselves in the pages of a book. Help champion diversity by volunteering or fundraising.
The Lambda Literary Foundation advocates for the LGBTQ literary community through writers’ retreats, scholarships, and more. Donating helps fund their programs and nurture emerging LGBTQ writers.
Is there anything more magical that books lovers gathering to see their favorite authors? I think not. Donate to your local book festival and help free it for everyone.
Originally published November 23, 2018