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Donations

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I just did my end-of-year donations, at the last minute as usual, via websites as usual. In case anyone's interested, here are some of the organizations I'm donating to (some of this is repeated from an entry a couple years ago, but there are some updates too):

American Civil Liberties Union
Supporting civil liberties, especially freedom of speech, in the US. Donations to the ACLU are not tax-deductible, though. (I think donations to all the other organizations below are tax-deductible for US taxpayers, though I'm not sure about Sarvodaya.)
American Jewish World Service
Their mission: "helping to alleviate poverty, hunger, and disease among the people of the world regardless of race, religion, or nationality." They came to my attention when they were helping fund underground schools for Afghan girls.
Center for Constitutional Rights
The public-interest lawyers who represented the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. (Actually, I sent them money back in July.)
Clarion West
As most of y'all know, it's an annual six-week speculative-fiction writing workshop; I attended long ago. (Actually, I sent them money back in August.)
Direct Relief International
"We focus on health—by providing essential material resources to locally run health programs in poor areas around the world and during times of disaster." I found out about them through Google's tsunami relief page, but like most of the organizations listed there, they also do good work worldwide and year-'round. And btw, when there's a big disaster, a lot of organizations get money earmarked specifically for that disaster; although such money is generally needed, it sometimes means that other lower-profile and longer-term work gets shortchanged by donors.
Doctors Without Borders
"[D]elivers emergency aid to victims of armed conflict, epidemics, and natural and man-made disasters, and to others who lack health care due to social or geographical isolation." Also known as Médecins Sans Frontières. I've been hearing good things about them for years, but it wasn't until Mary Anne mentioned them that it occurred to me to send them money. That entry of Mary Anne's also mentions some good things to keep in mind if you're interested in donating to tsunami relief.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Sort of the online equivalent of the ACLU, "working to protect our fundamental rights regardless of technology; to educate the press, policymakers and the general public about civil liberties issues related to technology; and to act as a defender of those liberties...."
Exploratorium
Excellent and educational "museum of science, art, and human perception" in San Francisco. I rarely make it up there, but I maintain my membership anyway, to support their work.
Global Fund for Women
"[A]n international network of women and men committed to a world of equality and social justice, [which] advocates for and defends women's human rights by making grants to support women's groups around the world."
Habitat for Humanity
They build houses for people, and require those people to help build other houses for other people. Some friends of mine don't like the fact that Habitat is a Christian organization, but that doesn't bother me in the slightest. "We welcome all people to join us as we build simple, decent, affordable, houses in partnership with those in need of adequate shelter." As far as I can tell, they don't proselytize.
Haight Ashbury Free Medical Clinic
It's been providing absolutely free healthcare—"comprehensive, nonjudgmental, demystified, and humane"—in San Francisco for over 35 years now.
KQED public radio
It's almost the only radio station I ever listen to these days, usually in the car.
Project Vote Smart
Provides a huge amount of extremely useful information about ballot measures and candidates.
Resource Center for Nonviolence
A Santa Cruz-based "twenty-five year old peace and social justice organization dedicated to promoting the principles of nonviolent social change." I just noticed they're associated with the "Eschaton Foundation," which has a kind of ominous name; not sure what's up with that.
Room to Read
Provides challenge grants to villages to build schools and libraries, mostly in Cambodia, India, Nepal, and Vietnam. Since 2000, they've helped local communities build 100 schools and 1200 libraries, among other things.
Sarvodaya
As Mary Anne noted, this is the organization that Arthur C. Clarke recommends supporting in Sri Lanka. They've been doing good work for 45 years.
Second Harvest Food Bank
They give food to people who need it. There are affiliated organizations all over the US.
Swarthmore College
It's my alma mater, and I still think it does good work.
The Women's Community Clinic
Another San Francisco organization providing high-quality free healthcare: "free, respectful, quality care for women, by women." Came to my attention via a Jon Carroll column five years ago.

And, of course, if you're looking for other places to donate before the end of the year, there's always Strange Horizons, which (like most of the organizations above) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so donations are tax-deductible.

I was kind of skeptical when I first heard of tithing; I thought, yeah, okay, donating ten percent of your income to something important (whether your church or public-service organizations) sounds like a good idea in the abstract, but who can afford that much? So I was startled to realize recently that for the past couple years I've actually been doing that. (Last year it was more like 12%, mostly to a subset of the above organizations; this year it would've been a higher percentage, but my income went up when I cashed in some stock options from my previous job.) I'm lucky to have a job that pays well enough that I can afford to do that. Though with house payments being what they are, next year I may have to cut back a little.

Oh, hey, if you do find yourself donating to nonprofits, I strongly recommend finding the little box many of them provide that says either "Yes, it's okay to share my name with other organizations" or "Please don't share my name with other organizations" and checking or unchecking it as appropriate. Maybe everyone knows this, but in case not: it's quite common for nonprofits to trade or sell their mailing lists, which can result in a flood of donation requests from other organizations. Many of which are also worthy, but there's only so many places one person can donate to—and I hate junk mail anyway.

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Thanks for the links; I know I could've looked some of 'em up, but it's always easier just to click on them.