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Donations 2008

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I just finished (most of) my end-of-year donations; here are the organizations I'm donating to. Almost all of this is repeated from last year. New items on the list (since last year) are in italics.

The list is categorized for ease of scanning, though the categories are somewhat arbitrary in some places. Some items are listed under multiple categories.

Almost all of these organizations take donations online, either by credit card or PayPal. I'll explicitly mention it when an organization doesn't take donations online.

Donations to almost all of these organizations are tax-deductible in the US.

Aid and relief

American Jewish World Service
They're "dedicated to alleviating poverty, hunger and disease among the people of the developing world regardless of race, religion or nationality [through] grants to grassroots organizations, volunteer service, advocacy and education." They came to my attention when they were helping fund underground schools for Afghan girls during the reign of the Taliban.
A Child's Right
"[C]ommitted to providing the very best in water purification technologies and clean water systems to desperate children in orphanages, street shelters, children's hospitals and schools in impoverished nations throughout the world." A family friend has volunteered with them, and I like what I've heard about them.
Direct Relief International
"[P]rovides medical assistance to improve the quality of life for people victimized by poverty, disaster, and civil unrest at home and throughout the world." I found out about them through Google's tsunami relief page in 2004, but like most of the organizations listed there, they also do good work worldwide and year-'round.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières
See listing under Medical organizations.
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. They seek "to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world, and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. Habitat invites people of all backgrounds, races and religions to build houses together in partnership with families in need." As far as I can tell, they don't proselytize.
One Laptop Per Child
See listing under Kids.
American Red Cross
Provides services including "domestic disaster relief [...;] community services that help the needy; support and comfort for military members and their families; the collection, processing and distribution of lifesaving blood and blood products; educational programs that promote health and safety; and international relief and development programs." And talking with Kam about her volunteer work with them has made me like them more--among other things, it turns out that 97 percent of their workforce consists of volunteers.
Sarvodaya
This is the organization that Arthur C. Clarke recommended supporting in Sri Lanka after the tsunami. They've been around for nearly 50 years. They have an American branch, Sarvodaya USA, that's registered as a 501(c)(3); Americans who donate to the US branch can deduct the donations.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties
They give food to people who need it. There are affiliated organizations all over the US.

Art and culture

Broad Universe
"[A]n international organization with the primary goal of promoting science fiction, fantasy, and horror written by women."
Carl Brandon Society
"[D]edicated to addressing the representation of people of color in the fantastical genres such as science fiction, fantasy and horror."
Clarion West
An annual six-week speculative-fiction writing workshop; I attended long ago. Many attendees have gone on to have high-profile careers in sf.
DesiLit
"[W]orks to build support for South Asian and diaspora writers by enhancing public awareness [...], creating opportunities for new and aspiring South Asian writers [...], and developing a supportive community."
KALW public radio
The Bay Area's other public radio station. I don't listen to it as much as I listen to KQED, but I do appreciate that it's there, and this year I finally remembered to donate.
KQED public radio
One of the few radio stations I listen to these days, usually in the car. Though since I don't drive much these days, I don't listen to the radio much. Still, worth supporting.
Speculative Literature Foundation
Their mission is to "promote literary quality in speculative fiction, by encouraging promising new writers, assisting established writers, facilitating the work of quality magazines and small presses in the genre, and developing a greater public appreciation of speculative fiction."
Strange Horizons
The online sf magazine I'm an editor for.

Domestic civil liberties

American Civil Liberties Union
Supporting civil liberties, especially freedom of speech, in the US. Donations to the ACLU are not tax-deductible, but they're in particular need of donations this year because two organizations that supplied a lot of funding to the ACLU have gone under due to the Madoff thing.
Center for Constitutional Rights
Public-interest lawyers "dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights"; they continue to work on improving the legal situation for the detainees at Guantánamo Bay, among other things.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Sort of the online/digital equivalent of the ACLU, "confront[ing] cutting-edge issues defending free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights." I sometimes disagree vehemently with their phrasing and approaches, but I strongly support most of the work they do.

Education and learning resources

Coyote Point Museum
A nature learning center here on the Peninsula; I'm most interested in their wildlife program. See my entry describing Kam's and my visit a couple years ago.
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.
Peter Hartman Fund at the Pierce College Foundation
My father taught at a community college near Tacoma, WA, called Pierce College. After his death, the college set up a fund in his name for providing math books for disadvantaged students. If you'd like to donate to it, fill out the online form and specify "Peter Hartman Fund" in the appropriate text box. (As with most of the items on this page, the Foundation is a 501(c)(3), so donations to it are tax-deductible.)
Project Vote Smart
Provides a huge amount of useful information about ballot measures and candidates.
Resource Center for Nonviolence
A Santa Cruz-based "thirty year old peace and social justice organization dedicated to promoting the principles of nonviolent social change and enhancing the quality of life and human dignity." As usual, John McCutcheon will be doing a pair of benefit concerts for them in Santa Cruz in January; this time the concerts will be on January 16 and 17, with the latter being (as usual) a kids-and-family-focused concert.
Room to Read
See listing under Kids.
Swarthmore College
My alma mater, still providing an excellent liberal arts education.
Wikimedia Foundation
Wikipedia is the single website that I visit most often (aside from the ones run by my employer), and probably the most useful and informative site I visit regularly. I use it all the time, for all sorts of things.

Environment and wildlife

(This section added a day later.)

Coyote Point Museum
See listing under Education and learning resources.
Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care
I blogged about them back in November, in my entry about Smokey the injured bear. They're "an independent, nonprofit volunteer organization whose function is to raise, rehabilitate and release orphaned and injured wild birds and animals" (in the Tahoe area). Don't know if they'll be on my list every year, but I did donate to them this year.

Kids and young adults

A Child's Right
See listing under Aid and relief.
City Year
"[U]nites young people of all backgrounds for a year of full-time service, giving them skills and opportunities to change the world."
One Laptop Per Child
Their mission is "[t]o provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment and express themselves." They now have an ongoing "give one, get one" program, where you can send them the money for two laptops and they'll send one to a kid in the developing world and one to you. Note, though, that these laptops may not make good gifts for kids who have access to more high-powered computers.
Room to Read
"[P]artners with local communities throughout the developing world to establish schools, libraries, and other educational infrastructure." Since 2000, they've helped local communities in Asia and Africa build 287 schools and 3870 libraries, among other things. Oh, and they've donated over 1.4 million books and funded nearly 3500 long-term scholarships for girls.

Medical organizations

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières
"[D]elivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural or man-made disasters, or exclusion from health care in more than 70 countries." They do good work, even if they do have wacky ideas about titles. I continue to refuse to donate to them 'til they stop requiring a title in their web form; I've been asking them to fix that for three years, and was told a year and a half ago that they were working on it. I could certainly donate by phone without giving a title, but I'm annoyed with them. Still, they do good work, and as soon as they fix their online donation form, I'll send them money. I may even decide to stop being annoyed by this and just send them money anyway. But I do find it bizarre and baffling that (unlike every other organization on this list) you can't donate to them online without telling them your gender. I've told them exactly how to fix this; depending on their underlying system, it would take any competent web programmer about one to thirty minutes to get rid of the requirement. But they won't do it, and they've stopped replying to my emails about it. (Last year, one of their webmasters sent me a condescending note containing false information in response to one of my email queries about this.)
Haight Ashbury Free Clinics
They've been providing "free, high-quality, demystified and comprehensive health care that is culturally sensitive, nonjudgmental and accessible to all in need" in San Francisco for 40 years now.
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 in 1999.

Women

Broad Universe
See listing under Art and culture.
Global Fund for Women
"[A]n international network of women and men committed to a world of equality and social justice. [They] advocate for and defend women's human rights by making grants to support women's groups around the world."
Pretty Bird Woman House
A small women's shelter on a Lakota Sioux reservation in South Dakota that recently got Federal funding. Last year they had a successful fund drive to replace their building, which arsonists had burned down; this year, they have more mundane needs, like towels for the women and children who temporarily stay there.
The Women's Community Clinic
See listing under Medical organizations.

Okay, I think that's all for now.

Note: If you donate online 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.

5 Comments

I'm always tempted to try some info-sharing on donations, but, of course, everyone i know who blogs their list only does so after they're done. So the info-sharing goes one way (in that i snag information from your list some years), but i might as well comment in case you're interested for next year.

New things for me this year: the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, who are dedicated to overturning Don't Ask Don't Tell, and providing legal help to soldiers who get in trouble over DADT. They're military-centric, and thus perhaps not to everyone's tastes, but i'd like to see DADT overturned, so this seemed like a good year to start remembering to support them.

You don't seem to have any environmentalist orgs (or they're in another category and i missed them), which is a shame, because i'd love to steal your list. :>) I finally gave up on NRDC this year because they send me way too much (paper) junk mail (and i've tried and been unable to get them to stop), in favour of the Sierra Club. I'm not sure why i hadn't given to them before, but they have a "green transit" section on their goals page, so that was an easy choice. I also gave to the Conservation Law Foundation, who were recommended to me as doing good work in terms of enforcing existing regulations, but they're New England-centric, and thus not as interesting to you.

I also donated to a think tank(!) for the first time in my life, at least in part because i was wondering if i would sprout a tail or anything else weird would happen. But, seriously, the Center for American Progress has been on my radar for some years, largely from blog reading, and i figure that, with the Democrats in power, it's a good time to support progressives trying to influence their agenda.

I set some money aside for Kiva, the direct micro loan MMORPG. They're a cute concept, and i'm sure the web framework does get a lot more people interested enough to loan money. Again, i haven't decided what i think, and probably wouldn't have picked them had i not gotten two enthusiastic recommendations in the week before i sat down to do donations.

If you're still annoyed with MSF, i donate to the International Medical Corps, who i found on a list of organizations doing work after Hurricane Katrina a few years ago, but they're primarily a global relief organization. That said, orgs like AJWS and DRI presumably also have a lot of similar programs. (This year, i once again failed my saving throw to reduce the number of international aid organizations i donate to. (This wouldn't entail giving less money, it'd just be more efficient to split the same amount among a smaller number of groups doing similar work. But it didn't happen, so oh well.))

Oh! I also meant to note that you technically can give tax-deductible donations to the ACLU, by donating to their foundation. Here is a nice clear article on their site about what this option is and why they don't want you to take it. I actually give to a lot of organizations that have a tax-deductible and a non-tax-deductible option, and this was the first year i tried to interface with that question moderately intelligently (as in "do i specifically want to support the lobbying mission, or do i think the research mission is also really valuable?"), rather than just being surprised when my donations to what i thought of as political causes were tax-deductible. Sadly, most organizations don't seem to have easy-to-find articles explaining the difference between the two options --- since the ACLU explains what they want, i'm inclined to give it to them.

Anyway, thanks once again for sharing your list!


Ooh, cool--thanks! I'm more or less done with the ones I listed (pending hearing back from a couple of them about some details), but there's still four days left in which to make tax-deductible donations for 2008, so your list is very handy.

I like the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network's mission, and I like that they have a prominent article about the likelihood of Obama repealing DADT, though the article seems a little repetitive to me. I think the gist of the article is that it may take a while for DADT to go away, which answers my first question, which was "Isn't DADT likely to go away even if we don't support this organization?" So I'll definitely consider sending them some money.

I'm kind of amazed that I never noticed that I don't have any environmental groups on my list. Weird. I used to give occasionally to the Nature Conservancy (and I still do, sorta kinda indirectly--it's complicated), but I've always been slightly hesitant about their approach, for reasons I can't quite articulate. I grew up in a family of Greenpeace supporters, but somehow drifted away from them. I think my gut feeling (which may be wildly inaccurate) is that Sierra Club and Nature Conservancy are a little too big and corporate for my tastes, and Greenpeace is still a little too fringey. I suppose I could support both ends. I think I want something in the middle, though--maybe something like Earth Island Institute, but I don't know enough about them. Further discussion of any of this welcome.

So did you in fact sprout a tail after donating to Center for American Progress?

I'm definitely in favor of micro-loans, and I used to give money to a couple of organizations that did them, but I've lost track of which. I think I've heard good things about Kiva; I'll take a look.

Re aid organizations: yeah, one reason I haven't been too conflicted about not giving money to MSF is that it does seem like there are a bunch of aid organizations out there, and I support several of them. Of course, there's a lot of people out there in need of aid, too. I wonder how well the various organizations coordinate with each other.

Re ACLU: Neat! Thanks for the info! On the one hand, I don't really approve of lobbying in general, which would suggest I should be donating to the tax-deductible Foundation; on the other hand, the lobbying they're doing is important stuff, like working against the Patriot Act and FISA. And in general, I'd rather give money to an organization I support and let them decide how to spend it, than try to restrict the use it can be put to. So I'll probably continue to give to the main ACLU and let them use my money for lobbying.

...Which obliquely reminds me (because of the tax-deductible issue) of the other significant donations I made this year, to two No On 8 organizations. But since that campaign is over, I guess there's no point in listing those organizations on my list.

Anyway, thanks much for all the links and info! Very handy.


I think the way to deal with not liking the bigness of the national environmental orgs is to give to regional or local orgs instead. Not to give too much power to your local environmentalist friends, but: talk to your local environmentalist friends and see what groups they like. I do, in fact, also give to the Nature Conservancy, to Carbonfund, and to an arbitrarily-selected one of the set of MA-centric organizations i know of which do lobbying for local policy change.

No tail yet. Disappointing.

Also, is "orgs" really not a word? Dag.


On a related topic, have you made use of either Network for Good or JustGive for making single donations to multiple organizations? I have found both online services frustrating: poor search tools, unclear navigation, etc. At one point Network for Good wouldn't even recognize a new password I had set -- it'd only accept the old one (even had cookies enabled). Grrr.

There's also GuideStar, which seems to be the primary charities database which others such as JustGive and Network for Good use. But guess what happens when you try to make donations through GuideStar? They use Network for Good's site. It's confusing.

Can't there be a much better donation system? Unless, of course, you just go directly to the organization itself to donate (whether online or otherwise) -- but that becomes an administrative headache to track 'em all independently (e.g., my bookmarks are a mess). I guess what I want is a good single place online to maintain a list of my preferred charities.


Chaos: Good point re local friends and groups. And "orgs" is a word as far as I'm concerned. Or at least a reasonable approximation of one.

Sairuh: I tend to mistrust all those sites that handle donations, though I have no good reason for that distrust. I just go to each organization's own site and click the Donate button or link. That's one reason I post this list each year--it lets me keep all my donation bookmarks in one place. (But I also track how much I sent, and whether I've donated yet at any given point, etc, in a note in Mail.app, which isn't the ideal system but seems to work okay.)

Of course, one could also use a bookmark tracker like del.icio.us or Google Bookmarks, and just tag them all as "donations" or some such....


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