I just finished my end-of-year donations; not quite as last-minute as usual.
In case anyone's interested, here are some of the organizations I'm donating to. Much of this is repeated from last year's entry, but there are some updates too.
I really ought to categorize these for ease of scanning; the organization names don't always make obvious what they are or do. But that would add an extra layer of work to the process of posting this that might keep me from doing it altogether. So this year I'll just stick with an alphabetized list.
There are some further notes on other organizations at the end.
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.
- American Civil Liberties Union
- Supporting civil liberties, especially freedom of speech, in the US. Donations to the ACLU are not tax-deductible, though.
- 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 during the reign of the Taliban.
- 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." They started taking memberships this year; for $50, you can become a Founding Member, but I think only 'til the end of 2005, so act fast! Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be a way to sign up online; I printed out their PDF membership form and mailed them a check.
- Center for Constitutional Rights
- Public-interest lawyers who continue to work on improving the legal situation for the detainees at Guantánamo Bay.
- 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. Three CW alums won World Fantasy Awards last year. CW has some matching grants going; if they raise $1000 in donations this month, two alums and Microsoft will each match that money, so that $1000 will turn into $4000. So if you've considered donating to them in the past but haven't, now would be a great time. Unfortunately, they don't seem to have a way to donate online; I wrote them a check and mailed it.
- Coyote Point Museum
- A nature learning center here on the Peninsula; I'm most interested in their wildlife program. See my entry a couple weeks ago describing Kam's and my most recent visit. This is the one organization that I haven't donated to yet this year, but I'm expecting to do so before the end of the year.
- 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 a year ago, but like most of the organizations listed there, they also do good work worldwide and year-'round. I figure it's important to keep supporting tsunami-relief efforts even though that's largely dropped off the radar for Americans; also important to keep supporting general worldwide relief efforts and not just target specific big disasters.
- Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières
- "[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." They do good work, even if they do have wacky ideas about titles.
- 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. . . ." I sometimes disagree vehemently with their phrasing and approaches, but I strongly support most of the work they do.
- 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 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. I should probably also support the other public radio stations in the area, but I almost never actually listen to them.)
- Peter Hartman Fund
- My father taught at a community college near Tacoma, WA, called Pierce College. After his death, the Pierce College Foundation set up a fund in his name for providing math books for disadvantaged students. If you'd like to donate it, make out a check to "Pierce College Foundation--Peter Hartman Fund" and send it to 9401 Farwest Dr. SW, Lakewood, WA 98498; Attn: Cherry Tinker. You can also donate online by following a link from their giving page, but you can't specify a specific fund on that page; if you donate online, then stop by their contact page to let them know what you intended the donation for. (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 extremely useful information about ballot measures and candidates.
- American Red Cross
- I got a little dubious about the American Red Cross a couple years ago, when I heard rumors that a lot of money that had been donated to them earmarked for specific purposes had been put into their general fund. But I can't deny that they do good and important work. 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. Turns out there's a lot that ordinary people can do to help out the Red Cross beyond donating blood.
- 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." Looks like they're once again involved in the annual John McCutcheon concert in Santa Cruz, this time taking place on the evening of January 20 (with a family/kid-oriented concert the next morning).
- 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 140 schools and 2200 libraries, among other things. Oh, and they've donated 1.2 million books.
- As Mary Anne noted last year, this is the organization that Arthur C. Clarke recommends supporting in Sri Lanka. They've been doing good work for 45 years. See above note re tsunami; just 'cause it's been a year since the disaster doesn't mean the rebuilding work is done. Last year donations to them weren't tax-deductible in the US, but this year 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.
- 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."
- 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 in 1999.
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.
Last year I wrote about tithing. This year I didn't manage to donate 10% of my income--more like 6%. That's partly 'cause my income was higher (due to stock options), so total donation amount in dollars was higher than last year; and partly 'cause I had some big expenses, like a car. Still, I could've afforded 10% this year; I just didn't really think about it 'til I was halfway through my donations list. And I hate to do one-time higher donations to nonprofits, because they always think I'm going to keep sending them money at the new level. Also, I made some extra donations earlier in the year; for example, my company matched some donations I made for Katrina relief, above and beyond their usual generous donation matching. Still, I should spend some time thinking about whether I'm satisfied with the level of donations I gave this year. I've still got a week to give more if I decide to.
Okay, I think that's all for now.
Reminder: 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.