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2017 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

40 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This charity supports a cause I believe in. I have been a supporter of Death with Dignity bills for many years.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

A very responsible organization that provides valuable information and forthright advocacy for an important cause.

2 susan barry

Donor

Rating: 5

I learned of Compassion and Choices by name from a close friend's daughter who represented it in California. I of course knew of the much needed assisted-dying options legally in progress or process in some states, but had no idea of the vast resource and personal consultant aid this remarkable organization also offers. (For example the two C and C -initiated Directive Forms regarding dementia and end-of-life measures,"My Particular Wishes," which you can add to your Advance Directive.) The free service of a personal voice and name "there" for you --during the challenging terminal stage of life--is simply beyond superlatives. As someone with a hospice background, I am proud to support and heartily recommend this nonprofit. Susan Barry, Horseshoe Bay, TX

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Shortly after my Mom- 90, a California resident, emailed ( with child like spellings)from 3,000 miles away(New England) to say she felt like her head had opened up and everything she ever knew had flown out of it, that she was in big trouble and did not know what to do,(she ALWAYS knew what to do) she started asking for help to end her life.
She was an extremely competent, confident ,accomplished person whose entire self identity and worth was experiencing herself as a competent contributing person.
In our search for information and help, my brother and I first connected to Compassion and Choices in Washington state where he lives.
They were helpful compassionate listeners , sharing information but not pushing an agenda other than to answer our questions and suggest resources.
As we traveled along with Mom on her journey of diminished cognitive ability she never stopped realizing what was happening to her or begging for help to choose her exit time.
She was emphatic that she did not want to be at the point of "wetting the bed and not recognizing her own children". In the end at age 92 (and under hospice care) she was 'saved' from this outcome by a a diminishing heart rate that allowed her to be spared from the longer decline into loss of her own identity and self that dementia suffers can experience.
In honor of her life (and lack of choice at its end) I have been a supporter of Compassion and Choices. They are doing a remarkable job of educating people and working on legislation to give people the choices for death with dignity that are wanted.
I have found CC to be excellent at keeping donors informed of what is happening. I do not feel that they hit me up for donations each time I make one as with some organizations but rather that we are on a mutual journey to accomplish introduction of legislation and passage of choices for people if they want /need them during the last chapter of their lives. California's new law was not in time for my Mom but I celebrate it on her behalf and look for more states to offer compassion and choice including my own.


1

Donor

Rating: 5

The people in this organization are very bright, passionate, and compassionate. I've worked with many non-profits, and none compare to the group of people who make up Compassion & Choices....they are so helpful, go out of their way to appreciate volunteers, donors, and handle inquiries brilliantly. Seriously, don't give it another thought....they are the best at what they do, are responsible and dedicated. They set a very high bar for any other non-profit. Joan Hoberman

2

Donor

Rating: 5

C&C is a tremendously successful lobbying organization. It deserves most of the credit for getting death-with-dignity legislation enacted in California last year - in a special session of the legislature, bypassing all committees. I am a California lawyer and had judged this feat to be impossible. Barbara Combs-Lee, the president, and Dan Diaz are truly extraordinary spokespersons.

4

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

I cannot share this group's enthusiasm for death. There are too many people in this world who need encouragement to live, not to kill themselves.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I learned about this organization when I was looking for a group that deals with my concerns about having a choice about how I might die. I have had many exchanges with the staff , and I have started working with a group in Clearwater FL. I think these issues are extremely important, and I like the thoughtful, caring way this organization approaches them.

4 Sharon69

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I learned about this organization thru one of its staff--Jared Hughes. As a result of his sincere and knowledgeable presentation of the facts surrounding one's choices over end of life issues, I was blown away and quite overcome with enthusiasm for the mission of this distinguished group. I will never again look at end of life in the way that I did before. Now, when I meet others who are wrestling with similar issues, I point them to your website and repeat what I learned from Jared--with the utmost conviction in my heart. Yours is a vital and critically important organization--I'm so glad that you exist.

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

I first got involved with Compassion & Choices (then Compassion In Dying) when my mom was ill, about 10 years ago. I was so impressed with the support she received that I decided to volunteer on the local board, where I am now co-chair of the board.

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

My first introduction to the board members of Compassion and Choices of Northern California was most impressive. Having served on boards where the sole function was fund-raising and their sole goal was to have good times raising those funds...I immediately knew that C&C was different.
Not only the doctors on the board, but the health professionals and people (like myself) with no letters after their names, were deeply passionate about the cause. Their goal was to actually help people in distress (free of charge) as well as to spread the word that help was available, and one didn't have to die a painful, undignified, horrible death.
I saw that happen with my parents and I realize the unnecessary agony they endured. How wonderful that end-of-life choice is today a reality, and available to so many who would otherwise suffer needlessly.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I counsel clients of Compassion & Choices. They are self referred to the local chapter. I engage clients to explore their choices for medical care when they know they have only a few months to live. Their legal options include some that are not normally discussed by Hospice or their physician. I join my fellow volunteers on monthly phone conferences where politics, the law, and state and federal legislation is clarified. My only role in the Compassion and Choices organization is to promote autonomy and liberty for personal choices of medical care at the end of life.

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My "honest and candid" experience has been nothing but positive. I'm uncertain exactly how we came in contact with Compassion & Choices. But I am certain it was a great thing that we did. Very few organizations are able to combine on the ground assistance to individuals and families in time of needs with pressing a legislative agenda and on the ground grass roots organizing. Somehow C & C manages all these things, with grace, punch and political savvy. They were helpful to me personally as my father was dying, and have been helpful in providing clear leadership in the step by step process of helping to bring ordinary folks and legislatures to understand the importance of being permitted to die with dignity. Several of my closest friends have gone through drawn out, terminal, end-of-lives. Some were lucky enough to have persons and family to help them make choices and have the ability to carry them out. Others were not so lucky, and suffered pain, indignity, and the misfortune of being trapped in hospitals when all they wished for was to die at home in the company of friends and family and with the comforts of a lifetime of nesting around them. Compassion fights at all levels to help people handle what is perhaps the most difficult time they will face. I give them every star I am permitted to give, and more.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I raise the subject among friends about personal choice in dying, there is broad agreement that they would like to have control of their death. Since my training as a Compassion & Choices volunteer I have had excellent support from the professional team in being informed before visiting a client and throughout the process of supporting the client. I am pleased that Washington State has followed the Oregon model and am hopeful that my state, Florida will begin to see the light.

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was so pleased to be introduced to this organization who are effectively and efficiently dealing with an issue so dear to my heart. Contributing to this organisation, with both time and money, is one of the most rewarding things in my life. Compassion & Choices are the one organisation that advocates for individual autonomy and dignity through choices at the end of life AND for changes to the law across the country to increase the information and choices available to patients. My grandmother was able to make her own decisions regarding her death from cancer, and she died on her own terms at home with her family around her - it was truly a good death and one I wish everyone could emulate. C&C works to empower patients so that the medical system is more helpful and responsive to the dying. When someone is terminally ill it is an immense comfort to them (and their loved ones) to know that they can make the important decisions about the end of their life.

6 Ann Thompson

Donor

Rating: 5

Thirty five years ago, when my parents were in their 60s, they wrote their first advanced directives. Every time we visited, they spoke passionately about their wishes not to be kept alive after quality of life was gone, nor to have money spent that could be used to help people in need. Now I’m in my 60s and I can see that many people still don’t have the opportunity to die peacefully and in the manner of their choosing. I’m grateful for Compassion & Choices’ commitment to keep this conversation alive until every state provides for end-of-life dignity.

23

Client Served

Rating: 5

Finding Compassion & Choices when my mother was diagnosed with late stage Ovarian Cancer was literally a life saver. Both my parents loved life, lived it fully, and always made clear that when they could no longer do so,they wanted to die with dignity. The counseling services and support we received were phenomenal. Once my mother knew that her end-of-life decisions could be honored, she lived the last months of her life with the same spirit and zest that characterized her. After she died, there was no question in my mind that I would work with Compassion and Choices to ensure that we can all have that same freedom of mind and heart at the end of life.

31 JUDITH Bortz

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Friends sometimes ask me how I can work with clients who are dying. Isn't it difficult? Depressing? Here's my answer: I've been a volunteer with Compassion and Choices for more than four years and find it enriching, important work. Supporting patients and their families at a critical time is rewarding. One of my clients, S., diagnosed with terminal cancer ,wrote the following after finding Compassion and Choices: "I now have the knowledge that I don't have to suffer, and that information is enough to give me a new life. I simply needed to know that I could have control over my life." He died peacefully 20 months later. Whether it's assisting someone to complete an Advance Directive, talk to a doctor about end-of-life wishes, find a hospice, or just to be there to help a client make sense of the dying process, I find my work for Compassion and Choices deeply satisfying.

29

Donor

Rating: 5

Compassion & Choices is THE national end-of-life choices organization. I have been a donor for many years and continue to be impressed with the creative and excellent work of the organization. C&C uses every tool possible to get its message of choice to the public, government officials and its members. This last year alone they passed a law in California, won a court case in Montana and passed a ballot measure in the state of Washington. On the client side, the care is supportive and responsive. C&C has helped pave the way for people across the country to know and exercise their choices at the end of life.

27

Board Member

Rating: 5

C&C has had a remarkable track record of success in helping patients, educating legislators, press and the public, and pushing for legislation that will permit Aid-in-Dying. The Washington victory this past November is a wonderful step forward, and supporters should feel very confident their contributions are being very well used.