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Donations 2010


Here are the organizations I'm donating to in 2010.

(I had this all set to post a week or two ago, early for once, and then I realized there were several newly added organizations that I wasn't sure whether I was donating to, so I set it aside and of course ended up not finishing donations until the last minute. Sigh.)

Almost all of this is repeated from last year (and previous years). 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.

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

Aid and relief

100,000 Homes
They plan to “[bring] together change agents from across the country to find homes for 100,000 of the most vulnerable and long-term homeless individuals and families by July 2013.” They hope to “fundamentally alter our response to chronic homelessness by giving communities concrete tools and connecting the change agents with one another so no one has to innovate alone.” I heard about them via a NY Times opinion piece.
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
“[T]he only water relief organization whose sole focus is bringing aid to vulnerable children in urban centers. In four years [they] have brought clean, safe drinking water to over 250,000 children in cities around 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.” They “invite 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.
Mercy Corps
Works to “alleviate suffering, poverty, and oppression by helping people build secure, productive, and just communities.” They help people “turn the crises of natural disaster, poverty and conflict into opportunities for progress.”
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, last I heard, 97 percent of their workforce consists of volunteers. Various friends of mine are strongly opposed to donating to them for various reasons, but my sense continues to be that they do enough good work to balance out the negatives. (And a friend of mine works for them.)
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
An “international organization dedicated to promoting, encouraging, honoring, and celebrating women writers and editors in science fiction, fantasy, horror and other speculative genres.”
Carl Brandon Society
Their mission is “to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction.”
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.
“[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.
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, I don't listen to the radio much. Still, worth supporting.
Creators of the excellent show Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, which has been running in Chicago for over twenty years now.
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 and civil rights

American Civil Liberties Union
Supporting civil liberties, especially freedom of speech, in the US. (Donations to the ACLU are not tax-deductible.)
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've put in a lot of work on 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.
Donated to support the political campaigns of pro-marriage-equality candidates running for office in Maine.
Fight Back New York
Dedicated to ousting New York state senators who voted against marriage equality. I loved their Alec Baldwin videos, but when I read their end-of-year report, I was pretty taken aback; their campaign was pretty different from what I expected, and papermailing color brochures to supporters after the election seemed excessive. So I don't necessarily recommend them, but I'm putting them on this list anyway because I did donate to them. (Not tax-deductible, I don't think.)

Education and learning resources

Coyote Point Museum
A nature learning center here on the Peninsula; I'm most interested in their wildlife program. A couple of us donate in Alex's memory every year. See my entry describing Kam's and my visit a few years ago.
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 murder, the college set up a fund in his name for providing math books for disadvantaged students. If you'd like to donate to it, mention “Peter Hartman Fund” when you make your donation (if they provide a space to do so). (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 lot 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 next month, January 14 and 15, with the latter being (as usual) a kids-and-family-focused concert. (But both concerts are in a new venue this year; see web page for details.)
Room to Read
See listing under Kids.
Swarthmore College
My alma mater, still providing an excellent liberal arts education.
Wikimedia Foundation
Wikipedia is probably 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 is surprisingly paltry. Anyone want to recommend green organizations to support? Some I'm considering but haven't yet donated to: World Wildlife Fund; Environmental Defense Fund; Save-the-Redwoods League; TreePeople.

Coyote Point Museum
See listing under Education and learning resources.
Earth Island Institute
A “hub for grassroots campaigns dedicated to conserving, preserving, and restoring [...] ecosystems.” It acts as an incubator/umbrella organization “for start-up environmental projects, giving crucial assistance to groups and individuals with new ideas for promoting ecological sustainability [and] offering a wide range of professional services, from fiscal administration and program management to office space and equipment.”
Nature Conservancy
My donations to them are kind of roundabout, but I do support them. Even though they apparently gave out my name and address to dozens of other organizations last 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.”
Room to Read
“Working in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations and governments, [they] develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the relevant life skills to succeed in school and beyond.” Since 2000, they've helped local communities in Asia and Africa build 1,129 schools and 10,000 libraries, among other things. Oh, and they've donated 8 million books and funded over 10,000 long-term scholarships for girls.
The Trevor Project
They're “determined to end suicide among LGBTQ youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources including our nationwide, 24/7 crisis intervention lifeline, digital community and advocacy/educational programs.”

Medical organizations

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières
“[P]rovides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters.” 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 five years. This year, I was told that in January of 2011 they'll be moving to a new web infrastructure and they'll be changing this, so I intend to give them my last few years of backlogged donations in February. I could certainly donate by phone without giving a title, but I'm annoyed with them. Still, they do good work and are worth supporting. But I still find it bizarre and baffling that (unlike every other organization on this list) you can't donate to them online without telling them either your gender or your religious affiliation (depending on which title you pick), or both.
Haight Ashbury Free Clinics
They've been providing “free, high quality, demystified and comprehensive health care that is culturally sensitive, non-judgmental and accessible to all” in San Francisco for over 40 years now.
RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network
“[T]he nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization.” I heard about them via Sady Doyle's #mooreandme protest. I've also heard that they're not so good on trans issues, but that they're trying to improve. I tried to also donate to a trans-specific organization for balance, but I'm uncertain about whether that other organization still exists. I'll continue to look into all this, but for now figured I'd go ahead and donate to RAINN. . . . I wasn't sure which category to put this into; medical isn't quite right, but I'm not sure I have a better category, and these categories are pretty loose anyway.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
“[T]he world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists.”
The Women's Community Clinic
Another San Francisco organization providing high-quality free healthcare: “free health care for women, by women.” Came to my attention via a Jon Carroll column in 1999.

News and journalism

A progressive blog/news site. I donated to them primarily because of their excellent liveblogging of the Prop 8 trial, back in January. (They also did more Prop 8-related liveblogging later.)
The Poynter Institute
A school for journalists. On their website, I particularly like the Romenesko blog, covering all sorts of fascinating journalism-related stories, including some interesting journalism-ethics issues that often get comments from working journalists.


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.”
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
See listing under Medical organizations.
The Women's Community Clinic
See listing under Medical organizations.

Closing 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.


Impressive list. I was unsurprised, but glad, to see that Coyote Point was still on there.

This is fascinating, I always wonder what organizations other people give to. A few questions/comments, too.

* Do you give the same amount to every organization, or do you vary between them? I've always given the same amount to each one I give to, but lately I've started to think that maybe I should give less money to some, so that I can include more organizations.

* Fight Back New York: This is actually the first time I've heard of this group. The main marriage equality organization I hear about in NY (and the one I give to) is Marriage Equality New York (http://www.meny.us/). They've been around a while, and have been a major factor in the progress we've had so far in NY. I wonder if those two groups coordinate at all...

* Swat: I stopped giving to Swat a couple of years ago, when they decided it was important to have a mascot, because that whole thing really annoyed me. I should probably get over that already, though, and start giving again...

* Vote Smart: That never occurred to me, but I like it. The problem, though, is that it's hard to gather that information, and to get it out. I like the idea of what they do, but are they actually effective in doing it?

* Room to Read sounds interesting, but I admit that my education focus is more America-centric. Aside from my employer (who I don't give money to, since I'm giving them my life, but if I ever leave that job, I'm sure I will give them money), my favorite education-related charity is Donors Choose. I learned about them last year, and I've given to a lot of projects on their site in the last two years. The basic idea is that teachers can post projects that they need materials for, and how much those materials cost, and donors can pick projects to give to, and how much they want to give towards that project.

Lots of other good organizations here, some overlap with my own, some that I'll have to add to my list for next year. Thanks for sharing!

Hi, Joe! Some general thoughts about your first question:

In a given year, I give the same base amount to about half of the organizations. That amount goes up over time, whenever I feel like it's time to increase my giving.

I give a lot more to half a dozen of them (including Swarthmore), and a lot less to the rest (including some of the ones I've just added to the list and am a little uncertain about continuing with longterm).

I'm partly influenced by the levels suggested by the orgs themselves—I'm generally aiming more or less for the high end of the general-public donations range, rather than the Super-Amazing Donor Who Keeps Our Organization Running levels. (Among other things, I dislike being so high-profile that development people start trying to be friends with me.)

I tend to aim for all the donations to add up to very roughly 10% of my net income, but that's been complicated the past couple years by house-related income and expenses. But I expect to go back to that model in future years. I don't put a lot of work or attention into that; just a very general guideline in the back of my head.

The question of whether to include a lot of orgs or give a lot to a few is a tradeoff; I think anywhere on that spectrum is a valid choice.

I guess really it comes down to gut feeling for me on a lot of this; I haven't sat down and carefully thought through my specific philosophies and how they relate to each organization.

Specific notes on specific orgs:

Fight Back New York: I liked their being very focused and targeted, but it turned out that they ran general attack campaigns, not focused on marriage equality at all. Thanks for the MENY recommendation; they sound more like my cup of tea. Here's hoping neither organization will be necessary soon!

Swat: I tell myself not to be like the curmudgeonly older alums who write in to the alumni magazine saying "Your newfangled approaches are nothing like the Swat of my day! The college was great back then, but now it sucks! I'm going to stop donating!" I figure that the needs of the college and the students will change over time, and that the college was very much what I needed when I was there (and they gave me huge amounts of financial aid), so I want to support them longterm.

Vote Smart: I like the idea of what they do, but are they actually effective in doing it? Very good question. I'm sorry to say I've been losing faith in them the past few years; a lot of politicians refuse to answer their questionnaires, and I'm not convinced that voters are using the services they do provide. I'm still donating for now, but have reduced my donation the past couple years. Though I know that reducing donations makes it even less likely that they can be effective. Dunno; it's a dilemma.

Room to Read: Their sheer scale impresses me (I feel like a dollar is likely to go farther in the places where they're working), and I gather that literacy for girls is a huge factor in economic improvements in developing countries. That said, I'm totally in favor of donating to American educational organizations as well. Donors Choose sounds nifty; thanks for the pointer!

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