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Compassion & Choices

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Rights, 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.

Geographic areas served: Nationwide

Community Stories

14 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

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.

Donor

Rating: 5

Compassion & Choices is doing incredible work to make medical aid in dying accessible for all. This important work is sometimes poorly understood by the general public, but C&C shares impactful stories and helps educate Americans about this issue. As the Baby Boomer generation ages, medical aid in dying will become an increasingly important question for millions of Americans. C&C is at the forefront. Anyone who cares about this issue should consider supporting Compassion & Choices.

Donor

Rating: 5

Compassion & Choices is doing the most important and far-reaching work in the country today. The option for terminally ill, mentally competent adults to access life-ending prescription medication should be a right for all U.S. citizens. Anything short of this leads to undue suffering for people who have no further options. The work Compassion & Choices is doing is both profound and essential, and I am proud to support their mission in any way I can.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have donated to C and C for the last 13 years. Their work matters and they do such much with a limited budget. Advocating for choice at the end of life is not an easy topic and therefore raising money to do the important work is not easy.
I have known my donations will be used well advocating and supporting patients and families on those tough end of life decisions.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

Compassion & Choices is a superior non-profit: well-organized, effective and competent in all those critical areas that make a donor want to give and give.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

When my mother was at the end of her life, the doctor could not give her pills she could take for a peaceful death with her family gathered around her. Instead, we had to suffer with her for several weeks as she starved herself to death. And as it turned out, I was not able to be at her bedside when she died.
I am therefore very hopeful that the District of Columbia Council will soon pass a Death With Dignity Bill, so that if I or my husband should find ourselves in a similar situation, two doctors could give us pills with which to end our lives, with our children around us.
Because we feel so strongly about this issue, we are enthusiastic supporters of Compassion & Choices and its work to make a dignified death possible. I'm proud to give this organization a top rating as a Great Non-Profit!
Sarah G Epstein
Washington DC

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.

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.

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.