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10 November 2009

Charitable giving Every month I make a charitable donation or two. At the moment, I donate regularly to three organizations (ASPCA, Planned Parenthood and Habitat for Humanity) and I'd like to increase my donation amount and add a couple more. I don't really have a particular agenda, apart from your typical liberal outlook on life :) What are some more off-the-beaten-track organizations that I should be looking into?
I earmark my United Way contribution for WomenSpace, the local women's shelter.
posted by danf 10 November | 14:04
Perhaps you could consider adding something international to your portfolio.
posted by Ardiril 10 November | 14:07
I like Freedom from Hunger.
posted by aniola 10 November | 14:10
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 10 November | 14:11
Oh, that's a good point, Ardiril. I should also note that I give to the New York ASPCA and Planned Parenthood so maybe I should spread out there.
posted by gaspode 10 November | 14:15
I've always been pretty adamant about how idiotic the gov't laws are concerning marijuana; and I have (until it fell off the CFC list in 2006) been proud to support NORML. There is also the tongue in check aspect of 'does anybody snoop on what these #'s go to on the form...' aspect.

Perhaps in hindsight the small contributions paid off. California, Colorado, Austin, Boulder, Massachusetts, Oregon, ...
posted by buzzman 10 November | 15:00
I don't have a specific organization to offer but one area of need - international - is South American and African infrastructure; roads, internet lines, phone, etc. Much of the help people need is very hampered by a complete lack of basic infrastructure.
posted by MonkeyButter 10 November | 15:02
The Hugh Janus Cruller Fund needs your help in order to provide the freshest pastries to Hugh Janus in his hours of need, 7 am - 11 am. You can also earmark your donations for coffee or orange juice, or even make special donations to the Hugh Janus Breakfast Sandwich Outreach Committee. Double scrambled with cheese on a roll for the line is a particularly sought-after and, not coincidentally, tax-deductible contribution.
posted by Hugh Janus 10 November | 15:11
I'm fond of Ally Cat Allies ( in addition to traditional shelter and anti-cruelty organizations. They're very much a grassroots deal, and at least in my area have been behind an *extremely* successful trap-neuter-return initiative that has cut down on nuisance cat complaints and on killing by shelters. I can't say enough good about them.

I also donate directly to PACs that influence (read: bribe) issues I care about. However, donations to PACs are not deductible for tax purposes. This is why some big national organizations have "firewalls" between their charitable donation sides and political sides. If you are donating to any organizations like this, you may want to consider writing two checks.

For example, most regional Planned Parenthood organizational chapters have PACs, generally named something like "Planned Parenthood Votes $REGIONNAME". On the national/Federal level, there is the Planned Parenthood Action Fund ( It is of course a personal decision how you want to split your money between the direct-action / operating expenses side (charitable) and the PAC side, but I generally do something like 2/3rds 1/3rd.
posted by Kadin2048 10 November | 15:19
Médecins Sans Frontières
posted by Obscure Reference 10 November | 15:20
On a more serious note though, if I could donate I would give to Food Bank for NYC or the Bowery Resident's Committee (I'm a volunteer for the latter, they have some really amazing programs in place to help people learn the knowledge and skills to permanently overcome poverty, addiction, physical and mental illness, homelessness, and unemployment. And that's not just boilerplate.)

In any case, no matter where you donate, thank you; you really do make a difference.
posted by Hugh Janus 10 November | 15:22
Hermitosis is a regular donor to the charity First Book, which provides new books to impoverished children.
posted by jason's_planet 10 November | 15:30
These are all awesome, folks. Keep 'em coming.
posted by gaspode 10 November | 15:31
There's the ever-popular Kiva to add an international flair.
posted by deborah 10 November | 15:52
Oh, and there are always specific health related charities. Is there something that affects your family (e.g. diabetes or breast cancer)?
posted by deborah 10 November | 15:55
I never pass up a chance like this to plug Safe Passage, a charity which works to bring a better life to children whose families lived and work inside the Guatemala City garbage dump. (The Government prohibited people from living inside the dump in 2005.)

Imagine a place where mothers wrap their babies in rags to keep the buzzards from pecking at them as they ride on their mother's backs while the mothers pick through trash to try and find enough material to sell to feed their family for another day.

Hanley Denning, a teacher, went to Guatemala to learn Spanish. After almost two years there, a friend took her to visit the dump, and that same week Hanley sold her computer and her car and began to work to better the lives of the families who live there.

Hanley was killed in a car accident in 2007, at the age of 36 but her work lives on. Safe Passage does amazing work with slim resources. They are a sound organization making a big difference for some of the poorest and most at-risk families on the planet. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

More about the dump and the families who live and work there.
posted by anastasiav 10 November | 15:59
This thread prompted me to read the entire famous Givewell thread in its entirety. Wow. Didn't know some of the details before.
posted by Melismata 10 November | 16:08
On the international side I like Direct Relief, partly because of the low admin/fundraising costs, though they're not unique in that regard.
posted by sysinfo 10 November | 16:22
(oh, I make Kiva loans, but I don't really consider that charitable giving, because you know, they're loans)
posted by gaspode 10 November | 16:25
Givewell and ilk of that sort are main reason #1 why my charitable giving is often a 5 or 10 dropped in a shopping cart of person in obvious here and now need; i.e. a worn and torn person at grocery, or even some lost hobo that would enjoy a few bucks of relief.
posted by buzzman 10 November | 16:32
Not off-the-beaten-track, but very important: Doctors Without Borders and Unicef.
posted by eamondaly 10 November | 18:21
Partners in Health. 95% of the funds raised go to their programs. Evaluation here.
posted by lukemeister 10 November | 18:35
Melismata (or some other kind volunteer),

Can you tell me the upshot of the Givewell saga? Thanks.
posted by lukemeister 10 November | 18:36
I try to avoid posting about fundraisers that are personal, but this is too important to pass up (and it's timely).

My cow-worker Elaine will be playing goalie in a hockey game against retired Boston Bruins on 11/22 in Marlboro, MA. Her donation page is here and it needs some love.

The game is to raise money for the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress. The MDSC is an organization that has benfitted my daughter and my family and extended family and teachers through education, information, and training.

The game itself is a great deal of fun (it's not entirely serious and one of the referees is a comedy referee), plus there's a free skate before the game and there's usually an awesome raffle.

I hope you choose to donate.
posted by plinth 10 November | 20:42
Tom Melee from MetaFilter hooked me up with the Rock Forge Neighborhood House and I've sponsored a family [a real family, not like a "you send $50 we say you fed a family"] for Thanksgiving there. Often I give aid to the local Food Not Bombs or Books to Prisoners projects and I often toss some money EFFs way and pay my shareware fees.
posted by jessamyn 10 November | 21:09
I donate to Free the Slaves whenever I can. They are trying to end child slavery in Haiti and throughout the world.
posted by mlis 10 November | 21:46
If you really want to make a direct impact, donate to This Child Here. I feel like I need to apologize because the web site is kind of crude, but it gets the idea across. This Child Here is basically a one man NGO/charity/ministry.

Once upon a time, Robert Gamble, pastor at a suburban Presbyterian Church, took a mission trip to Odessa in the Ukraine. He worked with The Way Home, an outreach group that helps homeless street kids in Odessa. Robert realized that he could make a bigger difference in the lives of the kids than he could at his suburban church, and took the leap of faith, starting a one-man charity, a charity that lives literally hand-to-mouth.

Robert is the friend of a friend of mine. I've met him and I believe in him and the work he is trying to do. Aside from my modest testimonial, I can't really say why you should donate to his cause over the other worthy causes people have suggested in this thread, but please consider a modest donation. Robert will notice it and appreciate it, and the kids he helps will appreciate it.
posted by Doohickie 10 November | 21:50
See also: this new MeTa thread.

(Freedom from Hunger is way cooler than its name, for the record. I strongly prefer it to Kiva.)
posted by aniola 10 November | 22:48
I buy local or sustainable as much as possible. It would be cheaper to shop at Jewel (Albertson's!) and Target, so I think of the extra cost as a kind of a donation.
posted by halonine 11 November | 10:58
I'm a fan of donating to local orgs, myself. I donate to my workplace (small non-profit health center for adolescents) and to a community garden that has a fab program for inner city kids.
posted by Stewriffic 11 November | 13:31
You're right, gaspode. Sorry.
posted by deborah 11 November | 22:41
Happy Birthday || The Health Care Bill That Passed