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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Compassion & Choices

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Rights, Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy, Right to Die & Euthanasia

Mission: Compassion & Choices is the nation’s oldest, largest and most active nonprofit organization committed to improving care and expanding options for the end of life. Our vision is a society where people receive state-of-the-art care and a full range of choices for dying in comfort, dignity and control. We aim to ensure individuals understand the risks and rewards of all feasible treatment options, treatment decisions are fully respected, and that care reflects a person’s values and priorities for life’s final chapter.

Results: We Expand We work to bring end-of-life autonomy to Americans in every state by expanding our volunteer base of storytellers, activists and organizational partners; growing the number of lawmakers who back our legislation as well as local officials and faith leaders; persuading medical associations and professional groups to adopt a position on medical aid in dying that recognizes people should be in charge of end-of-life decisions; and litigating in court to ensure patients’ values and beliefs are respected and honored at the end of life. We Protect Through political, legal and educational efforts, we protect the options we’ve secured and work to make patient autonomy the standard of medical care. More specifically, we partner with pro bono attorneys to defend and represent the will of the people; mobilize 450,000 supporters to raise their voices; and establish medical aid in dying as an essential component of patient-centered care. We Implement We ensure that people can access a full range of end-of-life options through their own doctors and in their preferred medical setting. More specifically, we educate the public about medical aid-in-dying laws in authorized states; persuade health systems to adopt policies that support patient’s rights; provide sample institutional policies to medical staff and deliver confidential one-on-one consultations to medical professionals. We Empower Compassion & Choices’ End-of-Life Information Center and Truth in Treatment™ initiative help people take charge of their healthcare, navigate a challenging health system and ultimately achieve a peaceful death. Through these programs we provide online tools such as our Diagnosis Decoder™ and Trust Card™, which are designed to help people foster a trusting relationship with their healthcare providers. We offer resources to help people plan for a peaceful death, including state-specific advance directives, and provide free, confidential telephone consultations with trained experts to connect patients and caregivers with the tools and support they need to navigate the medical system.

Target demographics: Improve care and expand choice at the end of life

Direct beneficiaries per year: Thousands of terminally ill patients and their family

Geographic areas served: Nationwide

Programs: Truth in Treatment End of Life Consultation program

Community Stories

68 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Donor

Rating: 5

I didn’t want to discuss the subject of dying - mine or my beloved brother and sister-in-law. But they invited me to hear a presentation by Compassion & Choices. After hearing about their mission and engaging in the conversation with my brother and his wife I realized it all made sense. This subject is of primary important to everyone. Discovering what limits current laws place on our choices was shocking; learning that with my help laws can be changed to enable me and my loved ones to die with serenity and dignity, reassured that our wishes will be respected by our care givers was very comforting.

Donor

Rating: 5

Compassion and Choices is important because it promotes giving an individual in hospice an opportunity to choose to end the suffering at the inevitable final time of life. I heard a number of supporters speak at a legislative hearing; they were so respectful of everyone's views and truthful about their motivation for helping to craft Medical Aid and Dying bills.

Ellie C.3

Donor

Rating: 5

Each person should have the option of making end of life choices. C & C is working to make this option come true in all 50 States.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It's important to break the taboo around talking about the last chapter of our lives. I am so happy to find that Compassion and Choices promotes education around death and dying that is empowering to patients and providers both. I like that they are active both in the public and in terms of policy. Better choices at the end of our lives is something that affects everyone and this non-profit does a great job of promoting these choices.

Donor

Rating: 5

This is an amazing nonprofit with wonderful leadership that is working on behalf of all of us so that each of us can write our own story.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I reached out to an acquaintance with a vague offer to volunteer. It turned into an opportunity that was a perfect fusion of my life situation with their rollout of a remarkable, life-changing, new service, the Dementia Tool Kit. I was so very honored to be a part of that effort. And, as a former ED of a non-profit myself, I am in a good position to judge how the C and C staff approached its work with me.
They were clear in their objective, their deadlines, and in their execution. They trusted me to create a plan and set me up for success in the presentation of it to several, related audience groups. It was win-win and win for them, their audience and me.
I was supported by people at each level of their organization. It was a great experience and I’m hoping I can do more to help.

gliptic

Donor

Rating: 5

As my father nears the end of the road, it is comforting to know that C&C is there to advocate for his dignity and choice. I am proud to make this contribution.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Compassion and Choices has worked for decades to pass and protect critically important medical aid-in-dying laws in multiple states. At the same time they have developed great tools to help individuals plan for and express their wishes for end of life care, including state-specific information. Their information and tools are easily accessible on their website free of charge, including new tools related to dementia. They fill the void in a culture that remains so adverse to having these important discussions.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered to testify for C & C against a bill criminalizing death with dignity in a recent legislative session. Their executives, lobbyists and the other volunteers were inspiring! They were passionate, dedicated and very organized. Every volunteer had the opportunity to ask questions of their staff and get additional information. I learned so much more about C&C than I knew previously and the information was presented in a way that was never preach-y, always kind and so helpful. I was really impressed with the resources that were available for anyone involved with end-of-life-issues, not just death with dignity. Great staff, great volunteers.

Donor

Rating: 5

I’ve been involved with Compassion & Choices as a donor & volunteer for many years and have seen the positive results of their work first-hand.

C&C is an extremely well-run organization with a long track record of driving real systemic change and positively impacting the lives of countless families.

I highly recommend that anyone with interest in end-of-life care check out their website and social media, sign up for their newsletters, or attend an event. In addition to donating, there are many ways to get involved and learn more about this important work!
https://compassionandchoices.org/

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Compassion & Choices for twenty years now. After consulting with C&C's End of Life Consultation services with and for my mother, I became a committed advocate. Their guidance and materials on how to navigate the end of life empowered my family to parter with my mother's medical team to ensure that she got the care that she wanted - no more, no less.

Seeing how the most difficult stage of life could be managed so that my mother was able to enjoy her last year convinced me that everyone should know their options for end of life care. I became a board member so I could spread the word, giving others the opportunity to chart their own end of life paths.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

C&C gets maximum bang for the donor buck, consistently exceeding its ambitious goals for getting results that empower patient choice and expands the crucially important availability of medical aid in dying.

6

Advisor

Rating: 5

I have stage four lung cancer. I worked with Compassion & Choices as a speaker and a canvasser to pass our bill in Colorado. I loved and admired the people I worked with and I believe our work is the most important work I have ever done.

I am expected now to live less than six months and I have started the procedure to request the pill. I am so grateful I will have the benefit to exercise my own will thanks to C&C, Amy and all the leaders of the movement. Hurrah for us!! Patti James

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

They are doing a great job in trying to get Medical Aid in Dying legalized in all states. They do a lot more than that by helping people learn about the many options related to end-of-life concerns. But, my focus is My Life, My Death, My Choice. I should be able to choose how and when I want to die if I meet the very strict criteria before a life-ending prescription can be written. Compassion & Choices is the one major organization fighting for this right.

1 smcampbell

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteer for many organizations and Compassion and Choices is one of my favorites. It is an amazing organization, with incredible staff who are all very responsive to their community. It has a clear mission and does not stray from it. End of life decisions are among the hardest to make and this organization helps individuals make that decision without pressure but providing an informative array of tools on their web site or through consultations that help people and their loved ones make these tough decisions.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In the year 2015 my best friend died of cancer. Harry would have chosen to have control over the end of his life. It was very difficult to watch someone you love not die gently,painless at home. He was suffering and I felt powerless. Hospice came but could not always help with his pain.
I looked on line found the organization Compassion and Choices. They believe as Harry did and I do we should have an option. This organization has made a difference in my life working to pass a law Medical Aid in Dying Act is one.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

David Allan. Compassion&Choices Volunteer.
I have volunteered for Compassion and Choices for some time now and have no reservations commending their tireless ongoing effort to improve all aspects of end-of-life care for those dying of an incurable illness. I particularly support their historic advocacy for those eligible patients who freely choose to avail themselves of the California End-Of-Life-Option by requesting a prescription from a supportive physician to end their dying process in a peaceful, humane and dignified manner. I spent forty-three years as a registered nurse and too often witnessed and participated in the delivery of futile aggressive medical care to those at the end of life. The reasons why this occurs so often are multiple and complex, but major factors are the medical profession and our society are woefully unprepared to confront our mortality and paradoxically this can lead to much unnecessary suffering at the end of life. It is this area that Compassion and Choices excels through education, advocacy, and outreach to medical professionals, lawmakers, journalists, healthcare systems and hospices, and particularly the general public. Through these efforts, gains are being made in preparing all of us to better meet the needs of those at the end of life. As a volunteer, I find Compassion and Choices well managed, organized and very supportive of its volunteers by providing multiple resources in order to achieve its goals. I also commend them for their vigorous defense of the California End-Of-Life Option against legal challenges brought by opponents of an eligible patient’s right to self-determine how they pass from life based on their own values, beliefs, and ethics. Paraphrasing one author, “ It is one thing to say - I don’t believe in medical-aid-in-dying and I would never choose it for myself, and quite another to say - I don’t believe in medical-aid-in-dying and no-one else should be allowed, those who participate should be criminally prosecuted.” The first statement is acceptable, the second is not. There is only one stakeholder that matters in this whole debate, and that is the eligible dying person and their beliefs, values, and wishes.

2 Susan J.3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Compassion and Choices is an amazing nonprofit organization with great leadership at all levels. They are making a positive difference in the world by helping individuals and families effectively make important and vital end of life decisions. Their website offers invaluable resources for everyone.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Compassion and choices is a leader in explaining to the community the end of life options act. This amazing group has allowed my family and friends to understand this law and how we can make our life’s journey so much more meaningful. Compassion and Choices has helped bring dignity and education to our community each and every day. I’m so grateful to this progressive and thoughtful group. I’m proud to be a supporter.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Even though Compassion & Choices has a long history of providing people with information and resources around end-of-life care, I see its work today in a much broader context: to transform the dynamic between patients and doctors so that patients have the deciding voice in their healthcare decisions and treatments.

As a national board member, I am impressed with the thoughtfulness and thoroughness that informs the work of this organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am so grateful for the leadership and dedication Compassion & Choices brings to those of us who volunteer to help pass legislation to guarantee every citizen a broad range of end-of-life options. Without their leadership, I'm not sure how we could hope to achieve our goals. It takes more than a few concerned citizens scattered across a region to get organized and to engage more citizens in this worthy cause. Compassion & Choices provides that kind of leadership.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience with Compassion and Choices has been eye-opening. Aside from the fight they are fighting to make medical aid in dying legal in states, the organization’s empathy and compassion is its keystone. The Leadership, Board, and Committees are committed to the end-of-life journey. It is a delicate subject. C&C does this in a very refined way that the end-of-life decision is very personal and an individual option. As a volunteer with C&C, I have talked with so many people in the country who support this law and want it in their state. C&C is working hard for this and I salute their never-ending commitment.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My partner Richard was a "client served" by Compassion & Choices. Shortly after receiving his ALS diagnosis, Richard asked me to contact C&C and request information pertinent to individuals with a terminal illness. C&C promptly replied with a packet of material suited for Richard, and for me as caregiver. As ALS took greater hold over Richard's body, he talked with a C&C counselor on more than one occasion about things his doctor was unable or unwilling to discuss. For example, "I'm not afraid of death itself, but I am afraid of suffocating to death. What will it feel like if that's how this goes, and can my suffering be relieved?" And, "Do you have a list of doctors in Montana that are willing to discuss aid in dying?"

After Richard's death more than nine years ago, I became a C&C volunteer and remain so today. I found C&C staff and fellow volunteers to be bright lights in my life.

I have utmost respect for the healthcare. communications, and legal professionals that have led many of our states through a litany of lawsuits, legislative sessions, and public education processes. They are top-notch, and politically savvy. Likewise, C&C volunteer coordinators possess the skills, energy, and pluck required to guide passionate citizens through the ropes of holding community discussions, testifying before legislative committees, writing letters and making phone calls, and otherwise organizing ourselves to put human faces on the issue of end-of-life choices. All this, while many of us continue to grieve over past or impending personal loss. You might think that volunteering for C&C is a depressing way to spend "free" time and energy. I assure you it is not. It has been one of the most positive experiences of my life.

1 lhrjennifer

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Compassion & Choices commitment to improving patient rights and individual choice at the end of life is outstanding. I support medical aid in dying. As an advocate for end-of-life options, this organization is for anyone who desires to get involved with this cause. Highly recommended! Amy J. Hetzler, the C&C staff and volunteers are all truly AMAZING people! I am forever moved and grateful to help this WONDERFUL nonprofit organization & the right to dignity cause. www.compassionandchoices.org

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As an old guy and a physician, I am not afraid of being dead but I am very afraid of the process of dying, of the risk dying slowly and being in great pain for weeks or months. That's why I feel that C&C's cause, medical aid in dying for people who are in that fix, and who want help, is a very, very, important cause.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Compassion & Choices provided vital assistance to me when my mother was suffering from Alzheimer’s. She desperately wanted to avoid spending 10 years of slowly deteriorating to a near vegetative state, the horrible fate she had witnessed in her father. With help from C&C, she was able to pass on her own terms and with dignity--and most importantly, legally, without putting any of her loved ones at risk.

I am incredibly grateful that there is an organization like C&C fighting for and helping people to have rightful control of their own lives at the end of life.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

There's no group more compassionate than Compassion & Choices. They were not only helpful to my husband who was dying of CA, but extremely compassionate to me too.
After he died, I heard from the CEO who suggested I call if I have the need to speak with someone in the organization. The people are ALL kind and helpful. I would certainly recommend them to people in need of help whether suffering unbearable pain or wanting to know about services and how to plan.

Previous Stories
2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer for Compassion & Choices to help pass "End of Life Option Act" (Death with Dignity), I had the best experience in my 80 years of life. I volunteered almost as a full-time worker, and I met the most wonderful, compassionate people whose goal to help patients achieve their Constitutional right (to choose to end extreme suffering). The law passed and I carry with pride my part in helping. I've done a lot of volunteering in my adult life, and I've never met finer people working toward an extraordinary goal which was achieved.
I consider it a privilege to have worked with such intelligent, helpful people.
The photo is of me at a rally before the law for "Death with Dignity" was passed.

Advisor

Rating: 5

The fact that Oregon's Death With Dignity Law, the first in the country, has worked so beautifully is because Compassion & Choices has been there to make sure it did. We've done it right, and this organization has made it happen.

Barbara Roberts

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering can feel like undervalued work -- but not at Compassion and Choices. Thoughtful training, a super-appreciative staff and meaningful work made all the difference when I came on as a volunteer. This is an organization that recognizes the importance of its supporters and volunteers, and does everything possible to help us give them our best.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've encountered many compassionate people in the organization who were very helpful.
I'm a cancer patient with concerns. I was given written information as well as many helpful websites. I even got a website for doctors and pharmacists who may require advice.

I can't think of a more deserving organization than Compassionate and Choices to be on your list. I still have cancer, but no longer have questions or fears thanks to the wonderful people at Compassion and Choices.

Wolf Breiman

Board Member

Rating: 5

First I believe this is a not-for-profit that affects everyone. Everyone will die at some point
Their Mission of supporting and educating and advocating runs deep Believing that everyone has the choice to make a decision at the end of their life
Compassion and Choices has grown substantially and is becoming well-known and well viewed It is egalitarian it is open to all The staff is very professional...well run and well-versed

Donor

Rating: 5

My adult life's work has been as a hands on philanthropist. I have been involved with Compassion & Choices since its inception and have found it to be one of the most effective, dedicated organizations I have had the privilege of supporting. They have spread the movement for compassionate choices at life's end in remarkable ways throughout the nation and beyond via both legal and educational means as well as providing direct services to individuals and families in dire need of their services.. Of the literally hundreds of 501c3s I have supported in my 82 years, there is not one I feel more deserving of being called a GreatNonProfit than Compassion & Choices.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The national volunteer program manager has been very responsive and helpful. The whole organization is truly strong in their beliefs in what they think could be accomplished for the whole country.

Moira A H.

Donor

Rating: 5

While living in Washington DC more than 20 years ago I received a call from my dad, who lived in Oregon with my mother. He normally never called, leaving the long-distance chats to my mother, so I knew something was very wrong. Tersely he told me my mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She wasn't ready to talk to me at that moment but she would call me soon. A couple of days later she called. We talked and she told me she was going to fight it all the way, that she was willing to be a guinea pig for research and that she was feeling strong. She then ended the call with words I have never forgotten. She said, "I'm not afraid of dying. I'm afraid of the process of dying."

Four years later she had fought the good fight, had been a guinea pig for research, had done experimental treatments at both NIH and Cleveland Clinic, and nothing had changed the outcome. She was dying. She knew it and she wanted control over the remaining days of her life.

As my family frantically tried to make sense of her inevitable death and I web-searched late into the night looking for answers, I found Compassion and Choices. Within a week they had worked with her and her doctors to arrange for her to take control of the end of her life. She followed all the steps and her signature was on the appropriate paperwork. It was unrecognizable, bearing no resemblance to the tidy finishing-school signature of her past, but it was there and with it came some serenity. She felt as if she had been able to do one thing where she was calling the shots. She would get to choose how and when the end would be. As she signed it, she told us she might never use it, but it gave her the option should she choose.

In the end, she never had a chance to make that decision. She went downhill too fast in those last weeks, but I know during her remaining alert hours she had some small sense that she was managing her destiny. She died at home with her family around her and I have never forgotten how much it meant to her to have that option. Compassion and Choices has often said the right to choose dignity in death is like an insurance policy. Many people never end up using it, but what it provides is a choice that allows those at end of life who have lost so much dignity and control over their daily existence to feel they can control one small but immeasurably significant part of their life. To that end, I have decided not only to support Compassion and Choices on a yearly basis, but to bequeath a sum to the organization in my will. I hope you will consider doing the same.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a donor to Compassion and Choices since 2011 and now I am also a volunteer. I feel that the advances Compassion and Choices has made in encouraging medical care for the terminally ill, and in making the Right to Die legal in California and other states, are important to our continuing comfort. I plan to continue to contribute financially and actively to support their success. In my Trust, I have left a large portion of my estate to Compassion and Choices to encourage the wonderful work they are doing and all the things that they are achieving.