The big guide to where to donate if you want to help Philly immigrants

What these immigration-related nonprofits would do with your money.

Facebook/Philly We Rise

After the Day Without Immigrants helped raise awareness of issues Philly immigrants face, lots of Philly residents and business owners appear eager to help their citymates by contributing money or hosting fundraisers that benefit local immigrants — but it’s not immediately clear where to donate.

For example, some nonprofits that help immigrants also work on a variety of other, unrelated issues. Other immigrant-assistance charities are connected to religious groups. Some organizations concentrate work expressly on helping refugees, while others advance agendas specific to people with undocumented status.

To help sort through the various groups offering assistance or advocacy for Philly immigrants, we’ve collected the top nonprofits in a guide.

For each organization, you’ll find information like a mission statement, how it actually helps immigrants, what its operating budget was (pulled from IRS filings in the most recent year available) and where the money goes.

Questions or something to add? Don’t hesitate to get in touch.


American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Pennsylvania

Year founded: 1971 (national organization founded 1920)

Mission statement: “A nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization dedicated to defending and expanding individual rights and personal freedoms throughout the entire state of Pennsylvania.”

How it helps immigrants: Lawyers in the Pennsylvania chapter have been active in the legal battles surrounding Trump’s travel ban — they sued after the Syrian family was turned away from PHL. Although the organization works on all kinds of civil liberties issue, from criminal justice to LGBTQ rights, leaders predict immigration will continue to be at the top of the agenda. Per director of philanthropy John Frisbee: “It is almost certain that defending immigrants’ and refugees’ rights will be a heavy, heavy priority in all phases of our work this year, including our lobbying and public education efforts as well as our courtroom work.”

Annual operating budget: $2.2 million (2015)

Where the money goes: Of the total 2015 expenses, $1.5 million went to salaries or compensation, a figure that includes the staff lawyers who do the bulk of the ACLU’s work. The executive director was paid $102,000 and office expenses and rent took up $400,000.

Donate here


New Sanctuary Movement

Year founded: 2014

Mission statement: “Builds community across faith, ethnicity, and class in our work to end injustices against immigrants regardless of immigration status, express radical welcome for all, and ensure that values of dignity, justice, and hospitality are lived out in practice and upheld in policy.”

How it helps immigrants: The organization supports its overall goal of advancing the “immigrant justice movement” via various campaigns, like the push to get driver’s licenses for undocumented Philadelphians, defending Philly’s status as a “sanctuary city” by lobbying against forced ICE cooperation, and organizing protests against (as well as holding training sessions for) deportation raids.

Annual operating budget: $203,000 (2015)

Where the money goes: Full financial data wasn’t available as of publication time (we will update when we receive it). There’s a very small staff, and a lot of the work is done by members of the organization’s 20 partner religious congregations, which span all different faiths.

Donate here



Year founded: 2002

Mission statement: “A community-led, Latinx immigrant organization in South Philadelphia fighting for our human rights as workers, parents, youth, and immigrants. We believe that every human being has the right to a quality education and the freedom to live with dignity regardless of immigration status.”

How it helps immigrants: From keeping tabs on ICE raids to providing scholarship resources, the organization is focused on helping Latino and Latina immigrants — whether documented or not — integrate into and succeed in Philadelphia society. Activities also include lobbying in Harrisburg, launching community art projects and leading local protests and rallies.

Annual operating budget: $156,000 (2013)

Where the money goes: In 2013, the organization used 75 percent of its budget for salaries and employee benefits ($117,000). Of the rest, $17,000 went to operational expenses (bookkeeping, childcare, etc) and another $9,500 was spent on things like rent and utilities.

Donate here


Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition

Year founded: 1998

Mission statement: “To advance immigrants’ rights and promote immigrants’ full integration into society by advocating with a unified voice for greater public understanding and welcoming public policies throughout Pennsylvania.”

How it helps immigrants: By bringing together approximately 50 different organizations working on various immigrant issues, (including several listed here), PICC facilitates information and resource sharing. It provides advocacy and lobbies for various specific issue, like the “Driver’s Licenses for All” campaign. It also leads voter registration pushes to make sure naturalized citizens or children of immigrants are signed up, develops education training courses that can be implemented by member nonprofits, and provides various grants to those member groups.

Annual operating budget: $229,000 (2014)

Where the money goes: Close to 70 percent of the 2014 budget was spent on salaries and employee benefits, with the rest going mostly toward expenses incurred for management and fundraising. Of the total that year, $31,000 went to leadership development programs, $24,000 was allocated to promoting civic engagement and $90,000 went to policy advocacy and outreach.

Donate here


Garces Foundation

Year founded: 2012

Mission statement: “Committed to ensuring that Philadelphia’s underserved immigrant community has access to healthcare and educational services. Our goal is to see that Philadelphia’s vibrant and growing immigrant community receives the care and education they need so that they may actively contribute their talents to making Philadelphia a truly world-class city.”

How it helps immigrants: The organization, which was founded by chef/restaurateur Jose Garces and his then-wife, Dr. Beatriz Mirabal-Garces, has three main programs. It hosts quarterly health clinics that provide immigrants with free dental and medical care; runs a free 12-week language and skills course called “English for the Restaurant”; and has hosted educational field trips to Luna Farm, the Garces estate in Bucks County.

Annual operating budget: $508,000 (2014)

Where the money goes: Forty-two percent of revenue in 2014 went toward program expenses. Management and expenses took up 21 percent of the budget (salaries and employee benefits accounted for most of that, at $95,000), with the rest used to support fundraising efforts.

Donate here


HIAS Pennsylvania

Year founded: 1882

Mission statement: “Provides legal and supportive services to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers from all backgrounds in order to assure their fair treatment and full integration into American society, and advocates for just and inclusive public policies and practices.”

How it helps immigrants: Originally founded as the Association for Jewish Immigrants, the statewide organization now works on behalf of immigrants of all backgrounds. It provides free representation and legal counseling in the court system; helps navigate applications for citizenship, helps refugees find housing, education and employment; trains staff from other nonprofits; and lobbies and advocates for legislative reform.

Annual operating budget: $2.1 million (2015)

Where the money goes: Management and administrative costs took up just 8 percent of the 2015 operating budget ($156,000). More than 40 percent was spent on providing legal services, 36 percent was used for refugee resettlement, and 4 percent went to fundraising efforts. The organization received $1.3 million in government support in 2015.

Donate here


Nationalities Service Center

Year founded: 1921

Mission statement: “Prepares and empowers immigrants and refugees in the Philadelphia region to transcend challenging circumstances by providing comprehensive client-centered services to build a solid foundation for a self-sustaining and dignified future.”

How it helps immigrants: The organization runs more than a dozen projects and special initiatives, all designed to help immigrants and refugees, along with some focused on anti-domestic violence. Programs include English classes, legal representation, assistance with access to healthcare, interpretation and translation services, and advocacy for immigrant rights and against against human trafficking.

Annual operating budget: $4.4 million (2015)

Where the money goes: In 2015, salaries and employee benefits accounted for 44 percent of the budget ($2 million), while outside professionals were paid fees totaling $870,000. Office expenses took up $145,000 and rent and travel combined for another $129,000.

Donate here


Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians

Year founded: 2003

Mission statement: “To be a centralized employment and referral center for the region’s growing immigrant community by promoting immigrant participation in the area’s political, social, and economic life. By making Pennsylvania a magnet for immigrants, we will become a more vibrant, more creative, and more dynamic competitor in today’s global economy.”

How it helps immigrants: All of the center’s services are geared toward immigrants, from acting as a clearinghouse for training programs and educational resources to connecting employers with qualified workers. Staff offer free legal advice wia bi-monthly clinics, and produce publications advocating for immigrant-supportive public policy. The organization also provides services for immigrant entrepreneurs looking to start businesses.

Annual operating budget: $1.8 million (2015)

Where the money goes: Salaries and employee benefits made up the bulk of expenses in 2015, with the $1.3 million accounting for 67 percent of the budget. Rent cost $200,000 and conferences, conventions and meetings took up another $102,000.

Donate here


African Cultural Alliance of North America (ACANA)

Year founded: 1999

Mission statement: “To help refugees, immigrant families and all other residents of Philadelphia access legal, health and other social services with a special focus on women, children, youth and the elderly in their resettlement process in Pennsylvania. ACANA also produces and presents African cultural performances and recording artists to create an awareness of African arts and culture.”

How it helps immigrants: In addition to arts, culture and business development programs, the organization offers free legal assistance for migration issues, job training, health screenings and operates a food bank.

Annual operating budget: $325,000 (2015)

Where the money goes: In 2015, salaries and employee benefits equaled $90,000, making up just 28 percent of the budget. Another $80,000 was paid in outside professional services, $31,000 went to office expenses, and $4,150 was spent on the food program.

Donate here


JEVS Human Services

Year founded: 1941

Mission statement: “Enhances the employability, independence, and quality of life of individuals through a broad range of programs [and] creates innovative and sustainable solutions to address current and future community needs.”

How it helps immigrants: One of the programs the organization runs is the Center for New Americans, which has a goal of helping refugees and asylees from all over the world find good jobs in their new country. Although the center only takes up a small portion of the overall budget, communications director Kristen Rantanen calls it “critically important to our mission,” describing its purpose as “what we were founded to do 75 years ago, except we were helping Jews fleeing Western Europe.” Donors can designate that contributions be used for this program specifically, Rantanen said.

Annual operating budget: $54.3 million (2013)

Where the money goes: Overall employment and counseling services, of which the Center for New Americans is part, took up 20 percent of the operating budget. Of the entire budget, 72 percent ($39 million) went to salaries and employee benefits and close to $1 million was given out as grants.

Donate here


Restaurant Opportunities Center United, Pennsylvania (ROC-PA)

Year founded: 2011 (national organization founded 2001)

Mission statement: “To serve as a resource and advocacy organization for low-income and otherwise disadvantaged restaurant workers across the country, providing job training, support services, research and advocacy for needy restaurant workers and the general public.”

How it helps immigrants: A large percentage of the restaurant workforce in the Philadelphia region is made up of immigrants, so the organization serves this group in many ways, including providing English language classes, Know Your Rights training sessions and legal referrals. It has been even more active on the issue of late, partnering with national advocacy group Presente to create the Sanctuary Restaurants movement.

Annual operating budget: $3.2 million (2013)

Where the money goes: In 2013, $228,000 was paid to the various state affiliates, including Pennsylvania. Sixty percent of the national budget that year ($1.9 million) went to salaries and employee benefits, with another $500,000 going toward rent and travel.

Donate here


Catholic Social Services Philadelphia

Year founded: 1964

Mission statement: “To transform lives and bring about a just and compassionate society where every individual is valued, families are healthy and strong, and communities are united in their commitment to the good of all.” Also, the immigration legal services program has its own mission: “To promote family unity and participation in our culturally diverse society by providing comprehensive, high quality, low cost legal services to immigrants and their families in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”

How it helps immigrants: The immigration legal services programs of the CSS provide help obtaining religious worker visas, general naturalization and asylum assistance, help finding permanent residences and employment, and legal representation in court or before the Board of Immigration Appeals. Anyone who lives within the geographic area of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is eligible, not just Catholics.

Annual operating budget: $24.3 million (2015)

Where the money goes: Community based services, of which the immigration legal services are part, took up 46 percent of the total budget, equaling $11.2 million. Of the total budget, 59 percent ($14.4 million) went to salaries and employee benefits, while $1.8 million was paid out as grants. Rent took up $1.6 million; management costs were $831,000; advertising accounted for $101,000; office expenses cost $454,000 and “information technology” accounted for %681 in expenditures.

Donate here


Esperanza Immigration Legal Services

Year founded: 2009

Mission statement: “To provide direct legal services, advocacy, and community education for undeserved immigrants and their families so they have the opportunity to contribute to and participate in American society.”

How it helps immigrants: This offshoot of the North Philly-based evangelical organization, which also runs a school and does various other advocacy projects, provides low-cost legal services to help with visas, green card applications, and family and domestic violence petitions, as well as running workshops on English literacy. It also advocates for passage of comprehensive immigration reform.

Annual operating budget: $155,000 (2014)

Where the money goes: Salaries and employee benefits constituted the bulk of the 2014 budget, to the tune of 73 percent. (The organization says that in total, 84 cents from every dollar goes “directly to programs,” so that must include a portion of these salaries.) Another $6,000 went to rent and utilities, and the rest to program costs, consultants and other expenses.

Donate here


Philly We Rise

Year founded: 2017

Mission statement: “A call to action…independent of any political party of affiliation. In these challenging times we all need to do our part to defend and expand the rights of our communities.”

How it helps immigrants: Formed to bring together various organizations that are working to resist the Trump Administration’s agenda, this is not a formal nonprofit, but instead a joint project from the Media Mobilizng Project and 215 People’s alliance. Campaigns and actions protecting immigrants’ rights are among the causes it will help promote.

Annual operating budget: Not available

Where the money goes: n/a

Donate here


1Love Movement

Year founded: 2010

Mission statement: “A national network of grassroots Asian American organizers that unites communities to organize for power, so families can protect their human rights and live together with dignity.”

How it helps immigrants: Founded after the 2010 deportation crisis in the Cambodian-American community in Philly, the grassroots organization now works for the benefit of all Asian American immigrants via policy advocacy, educating communities on political action and leadership, and helping build connections between communities.

Annual operating budget: Not available

Where the money goes: n/a

Donate here

Popular Alliance for Undocumented Workers’ Rights (PAUWR)

Year founded: 2015

Mission statement: “Advocates for justice, equality, and dignity for undocumented restaurant workers by raising public awareness and educating workers to achieve fair immigration laws and policies.”

How it helps immigrants: The organization was founded by Ben Miller and Cristina Martinez, the couple behind South Philly Barbacoa. It hosts a traveling #Right2Work dinner series that provides a space for open discussion about undocumented immigrants, and it advocates for local and national reform on immigration issues.

Annual operating budget: Not available. PAUWR is signing a fiscal sponsorship with ROC United, such that all future donations and ticket sale revenue will go through that organization’s official 501(c)(3) structure.

Where the money goes: n/a