Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2012, Day Five: Charities

For the last four days, the Whatever Shopping Guide 2012 has been about helping you find the perfect gifts for friends and loved ones. But today I’d like to remind folks that the season is also about helping those in need. So this final day is for charities. If you’re looking for a place to make a donation — or know of a charitable organization that would gladly accept a donation — this is the place for it.

How to contribute to this thread:

1. Anyone can contribute. If you are associated with or work for a charity, tell us about the charity. If there’s a charity you regularly contribute to or like for philosophical reasons, share with the crowd. This is open to everyone.

2. Focus on non-political charities, please. Which is to say, charities whose primary mission is not political — so, for example, an advocacy group whose primary thrust is education but who also lobbies lawmakers would be fine, but a candidate or political party or political action committee is not. The idea here is charities that exist to help people and/or make the world a better place for all of us.

Also, informal charities and fundraisers are fine, but please do your part to make sure you’re pointing people to a legitimate fundraiser and not a scam.

3. One post per person. In that post, you can list whatever charities you like, and more than one charity. Note also that the majority of Whatever’s readership is in the US/Canada, so I suggest focusing on charities available in North America.

4. Keep your description of the charity brief (there will be a lot of posts, I’m guessing) and entertaining. Imagine the person is in front of you as you tell them about the charity and is interested but easily distracted.

5. You may include a link to a charity site if you like by using standard HTML link scripting. Be warned that if you include too many links (typically three or more) your post may get sent to the moderating queue. If this happens, don’t panic: I’ll be going in through the day to release moderated posts. Note that posts will occasionally go into the moderation queue semi-randomly; Don’t panic about that either.

6. Comment posts that are not about people promoting charities they like will be deleted, in order to keep the comment thread useful for people looking to find charities to contribute to.

All right, then: It’s the season of giving. Tell us where to give to make this a better place.

106 thoughts on “Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2012, Day Five: Charities

  1. The comment thread here is for posting about charities only, please — don’t comment on the charities that others suggest or post questions or other topics. I’ll just snip those out. The point for this is to give people ideas for their charitable giving this year.

  2. Programa Velasco is a charity that my cousin helped to found after working in the area on a semester of service in college. It helps families in El Salvador send their children to school and educates parents on parenting and other related topics, along with doing other projects in the communities it serves. Thanks for considering! http://programavelasco.org/

  3. how about The Speedgamers? they’re a group of gaming nerds who focus on raising money for various charities throughout the year. their last marathon was pokemon themed, and raised 50,000$ for Autism Care and Treatment Today (ACT Today). their next is a mario themed marathon (they are even raffling off a wii u deluxe) starting next week. their website is thespeedgamers.com!

  4. My favorite charity is Puppies Behind Bars.

    Prison inmates raise puppies who later go on to become service dogs (mainly for wounded vets these days) and law enforcement dogs. To me the benefits here are threefold: prisoners’ lives are improved (and hopefully they won’t reoffend when released), service dogs go to those in need, and law enforcement gets the bomb sniffers needed to protect everyone.

    Don’t know if that was entertaining enough, but I tried!

  5. I am personally giving to Wikipedia, which gives ME so much during the year (so I guess I am being selfish).
    In addition, I have some friends whose Christmas gift from me will be a donation in their name to a charity I know they like, e.g., I am “giving” a librarian friend a donation to the Enoch Pratt Free Library. This is a great way to please both the charity and the friend!.

  6. Books For Keeps: Help get kids in Athens, Georgia, Books to read over Summer.

    This is one of the poorest school districts in the United States. This Foundation aims to give kids 12 high interest books to read over summer. In many cases, these are the only books that these kids will own. This also will help prevent Summer Slide, helping kids stay at grade level.

    A donation of $25 will buy 12 books for one kid… Or Sponsor a class for $480. They also will take book donations… see the website for my details: http://booksforkeeps.blogspot.com/.

  7. Nurses House provides financial and social support for nurses in times of crisis, whether it be on the job injuries, sickness, or family situations, Nurses House helps those who care for us be able to take care of themselves. Note- I’m not affiliated with them. I came across this charity this year, as my company donates to them.

    Also, CURE Childhood Cancer (research group) and the Make-A-Wish Foundation have touched my life by providing support and fulfilling dreams for two former students with cancer. Specifically, the Alabama-Georgia chapter of Make-A-Wish has done wonderful things but is struggling to keep up with demand.

  8. This may *border* on the political, but Rolling Jubilee, an offshoot of the Occupy movement, is a pretty intriguing concept. They use donations to buy “distressed” debt (i.e., debt that the original lender/vendor is having difficulty collecting from the person who owes money) for pennies on the dollar, the way debt collectors do, except instead of trying to collect the debts, they forgive them. They’re trying to start with a focus on medical debt. The ratio of buying debt is usually about 5 cents on the dollar, so if you give $100, you’re essentially forgiving $2,000 worht of debt.

  9. Heifer International helps the poor and hungry by giving them farm animals to raise and teaching them how to both take care of the animal and make money off the surplus. Families helped by Heifer are also required to pass on the gift to someone else.

    Donations can be shares of an animal (a whole milk cow is $500) or complete sets (3 rabbits – $60). They run programs all over the world.

    The Ark donation for $5000 buys two of every animal in the catalog.

    http://www.heifer.org

  10. On my list (I budget these):
    * Food banks. I support one in Arizona and one in New Mexico.
    * Crisis Shelters. Because when the shit hits the woman, she needs somewhere to go — IMMEDIATELY. And by the way, they usually need furniture — beds, cribs, etc. especially.
    * It’s getting cold out there. Find out who’s putting clothes on people and help them do it.
    * Mental health services. ‘Cause the State ain’t doing near enough.
    * Planned Parenthood. Of course.

  11. PARTNERS IN HEALTH

    http://www.pih.org/

    Bringing health care to the world’s neediest. What I like best about this organization is the grassroots nature of their work. Rather than just parachuting in to heal the sick, PIH trains and employs locals to do the work. The communities benefit not just from health care but from jobs and education.

  12. I particularly like Girls Inc. (specifically the Indianapolis branch, but really any of them). They focus on providing young girls and teenage girls education they desperately need but may not be taught in schools. Depending on the age, this can include positive body image, self esteem, self defense, respecting others, how to be financially independent, overall health, positive romantic relationships (and what to do when you’re in an unhealthy one), science/math appreciation and so much more. I interned at the Indianapolis branch some years ago and their summer day camp programs are really fantastic. Many of the girls come from lower income families, so part of the donations go towards scholarships for these girls so they can participate in as many courses as possible. I highly recommend supporting them. http://www.girlsincindy.org/

  13. For the last 10 years I have volunteered with the Elf Louise Christmas Project, a San Antonio organization that delivers gifts to children who would otherwise not get a Christmas present. It’s a wonderful, grassroots, all-volunteer group that could use a little help this year.

    On a more personal note, we have started a fund at MD Anderson Cancer Center to endow a research fund in my son’s name to support pediatric sarcoma research. Pediatric cancers and sarcomas are both underfunded cancers with too little research. These tax deductible donations will go directly to MD Anderson – we won’t see a cent, but would be so grateful for the support to search for a cure and a way for my son’s name to live on.

  14. New Orleans Neighborhoods Partnership Network (NPN) is a non-profit, 501c3 organization formed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They are devoted to helping neighborhoods in New Orleans work together to punch above their weight and have a voice in the rebuilding of New Orleans. Note – my wife works for them, so I am total bias, but I think they do good work.

    http://www.npnnola.com/about/

  15. An autism intervention research project is currently in our last week of crowdfunding as part of the #Scifund Challenge. The laboratory of developmental neuroscience at Penn State is raising funds so that we can build and test an autism intervention game. Crowdfunding allows the community to be directly involved in the process of helping make our innovative research possible! Give the gift of science for improving autism interventions! http://www.rockethub.com/projects/11877-autism-intervention-seeing-faces-as-a-whole

  16. I give to Food for the Poor. They do exactly what they say — provide food for those who need it in places like Haiti. They also have some of the lowest administrative costs (4%) you’ll find anywhere.

  17. I work for a small non-profit with a big mission – trying to restore a star-filled night sky over our cities. For all of human history the stars have inspired science, art, philosophy and more, yet the stars are fading from our skies. The International Dark-Sky Association (http://www.darksky.org/) doesn’t want to kill all our lights, but instead strives for better lighting. Proper outdoor lighting, what we call dark-sky friendly lighting, actually improves visibility on the ground and in the process it saves money/energy, cuts glare, reduces the impact of the lighting on the natural world and more. In the U.S. alone, over 2 billion dollars are wasted each year through misdirected lighting.

    IDA helps to preserve and protect dark sky places where people can still see the stars. We have helped to create dark sky parks and reserves in Canada, Namibia, New Zealand, Hungary, and the UK. Here in the U.S., Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Texas, New Mexico, Utah and Washington have created dark sky parks. More soon are on the way. In our cities we work with private citizens, governments and more to educate them about light pollution, help them develop and pass outdoor lighting ordinances to put reasonable controls on outdoor lighting that still provide what is necessary for public safety, but keep the lighting at appropriate levels and pointed downward where it is needed.

    As a small organization IDA every dollar donated helps us to fulfill our mission. Please consider joining as a member, making a donation or just visiting our website to learn how you can make a difference with your own outdoor lighting. Thank you and happy holidays!

  18. The Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit organization that promotes openness, innovation and participation on the Internet. Without Mozilla, we wouldn’t have had the last ten years of continuing browser innovation, and the web would be in a much sorrier state than it’s now. You’ll know them from Firefox (the browser, and soon also the mobile OS), but Mozilla does much more to advance their mission: Universal subtitling, their recent “webmaker” initiative, and a ton other other small initiatives to get people more involved with – and contributing to – the open web. They make a decent amount of money from Firefox, but for the foundation to keep its non-profit status (and to keep directing the efforts), actual contributions from supporters are necessary.

    An even better way to contribute than giving money would be to get involved with one or more Mozilla projects; you can of course help out by programming (Firefox is open source!), but also by testing, documenting, translating, teaching, helping answer questions of other people, etc, etc.

  19. I’d like to suggest that people who’ve probably been generous to the American Red Cross because of Sandy take a few minutes to educate themselves on everything the Red Cross does and consider supporting the day-to-day operations of the organization. Most people think we’re “blood and hurricanes,” but as a disaster volunteer in Detroit where we’re on call 24/7/365 and respond to 3-7 house fires per day with immediate one-on-one food, clothing and shelter assistance, I can say that there’s always a need. The money donated for Sandy isn’t going to the other 70,000 disasters to which the Red Cross responds in the US each year, or to our Service to the Armed Forces efforts where we help military families and veterans in crisis, or to health and safety training of everybody from first responders to babysitters, or to the international efforts of the Red Cross in areas of natural disaster or wars.

    The American Red Cross is at redcross.org. If you’re interested in what the Red Cross/Red Crescent is doing worldwide, check out IFRC.org.

  20. Citizen Schools
    http://www.citizenschools.org/

    Citizen Schools partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities across the country. We bring high quality academic support and hands-on learning opportunities that help eliminate the achievement gap and reduce the opportunity gap for the students we serve. We bring passionate volunteers into these schools and let them teach what they love, from rocket science to cooking to art.

    Operating in more than 30 schools in 8 states across the country, our goal is to double the number of students that we serve over the next five years and we need your support.

    Thanks,

    Will Nourse
    Chief Information Officer (and loyal reader of Whatever!)
    Citizen Schools

  21. Triumph Over Tragedy is a (mostly) speculative fiction anthology containing stories from over 40 authors. All proceeds go to the American Red Cross for relief efforts in relation to Hurricane Sandy. Authors included are:

    • Robert Silverberg (Hugo & Nebula Award winner)
    • Marion Zimmer Bradley (Locus Award winner) (donated by the MZB Literary Trust)
    • Timothy Zahn (NYT Bestseller & Hugo Award winner)
    • Michael Stackpole (NYT Bestseller)
    • Elizabeth Bear
    • Michael J. Sullivan
    • Mark Lawrence
    • Bradley P. Beaulieu
    • Philip Athans
    • Adrian Tchaikovsky
    • Tobias Buckell

    And over 30 more. Donate AND get some great reading.

  22. Wildcat Creek Wildlife Center (www.wildcatwildlifecenter.org) in Delphi IN is a 501c3 not-for-profit wildlife rehabilitation and education center. They take in any native wildlife species and do their best to rehabilitate and return them to the wild. They are funded entirely through donations and grants, and are staffed entirely by volunteers. They appreciate any support you can give! Any donations go directly to fund the rehabilitation of the injured and orphaned wildlife and to conservation education.

  23. Child’s Play Charity — http://childsplaycharity.org/

    Providing video games (and other distractions, like coloring books) to sick kids stuck in hospitals. Ever been with a sick kid in the hospital? This charity helps put stuff on the “game cart” that comes around. Makes being in the hospital that much more bearable for the kids AND parents. Husband and I donate every year. This year my toddler picked out her favorite things on an Amazon wish list and we shipped them to our local hospital.

  24. I am a supporter of Miami Worship Choir. The Miami Worship Choir is a non-denominational collaboration of worship leaders, singers, and instrumentalists from all over Miami and the surrounding areas. The mission of the Miami Worship Choir is to present diverse and engaging musical experiences of exceptional quality and musicality, that we might enjoy ecumenical collaboration, promote the local Church and serve the people of Miami in the name of Jesus Christ.

    Miami Worship Choir is participating in a fund raising drive called Give Miami Day through the Miami Foundation on 12.12.12. More than 100 other organizations that support Miami are participating, so you can find tons of options to where to donate. It is a great opportunity to help organizations serving a diverse and complex area of our country. A percentage of the funds donated to organizations that day on Miami Foundation’s website will be matched by Miami Foundation.

    For more information about Miami Worship Choir, go to: http://www.miamiworshipchoir.com
    For more information about Miami Foundation and Give Miami Day go to http://www.miamifoundation.org or http://www.givemiamiday.org

  25. I’ll go ahead and suggest The Wilderness Society for anyone that liked “Fuzzy Nation”

    You know how magical and pristine and utterly wild much of the planet Zarathustra was when Jack Holloway was prospecting it? What if I told you there were places that were that special and wild far closer than 178 light years away? And worse, what if they were under the same kind of threat that Zarathustra found itself under?

    Those places are the wild lands of America today. Places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Crown of the Continent in Montana and Idaho, or the heart of the New England forest are under threat from oil and gas drilling, logging, and sprawl. These are places that belong to all Americans – literally. They are federally owned lands, which means they belong to all Americans.

    And we’re the Fuzzies. We’re the ones that lose out to the borderline sociopathic mega-corporations. We lose our clean air, our clean water, and our own natural treasures.

    Please consider The Wilderness Society this holiday season.

    http://wilderness.org/

  26. I volunteer with and support SAGE USA, which provides services and advocacy for LGBT elders. This is a population which is, at least currently, often underserved – especially for older generations, coming out could result in social stigma and isolation from family, meaning these elders often have less family support than other elders. In addition, many have lost partners to age or illness, especially during the AIDS epidemic. And finally, our current federal and state social services programs are often set up in such a way that elders who are partnered are excluded or challenged in accessing these services. SAGE lobbies for legislative reform and funding, but also provides guidance, counseling, and social affairs for this group of people, and has accomplished quite a lot over time. I hope that they will continue to do so!

  27. I’m going to post about the charity I work for again this year, which is apt because the first day of Hanukkah is about to begin.

    I work for Jewish Children’s Regional Service, which is the oldest Jewish children’s aid society in America. It was started in New Orleans to house widows and orphans in the 1800s during the Yellow Fever epidemic.

    Today, I’m going to be mailing out what I hope is our final Hanukkah package of the season. We send out bags of gifts to needy families and state hospital residents every year. This year, I think we served around 300 people, but we always get a few last minute sign-ups (hence why I’m still shipping out gifts). We serve a seven state region that includes Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Tennessee.

    We’re not just about Hanukkah, though. We also provide funding so families can provide special needs services for their children, offer college financial aid, help fund summer camp experiences, and provide Jewish themed books to children for free through The PJ Library program. While we focus specifically on helping the neediest members of the Jewish community, we occasionally spread our reach; we also mailed out Christmas presents and gave out disaster aid after Katrina.

    Our website is http://www.jcrs.org.

  28. Global Fund for Women advances the rights of women and girls worldwide by investing in women-led organizations. We envision a just, equitable and sustainable world in which women and girls have voice, choice, and opportunities to realize their human rights, and we work to bring that world about through our smart grantmaking, network-building, and advocacy.

    Some of the issues we focus on include access to education, health and sexual rights, and economic justice. We fund in 174 countries in every region of the world, and we are the largest nonprofit devoted exclusively to women’s human rights.

    Your gift will support women worldwide who are fighting to secure a better future for themselves and their daughters. Please donate today.

  29. Against Malaria Foundation – http://www.againstmalaria.com/

    Malaria is still a major problem in Africa. There is a relatively inexpensive way to prevent deaths, with insecticide-treated bed nets, which is what this charity focuses on. These nets cost only $5 per item. Organizations which rate charities according to their effectiveness and transparency, like GiveWell, give the Against Malaria Foundation top grades.

  30. I would like to submit a charity that is extremely important to me personally, the Straight Spouse Network (http://www.straightspouse.org/home.php).

    Millions of homosexuals are married or have been married to unsuspecting straight people. When the homosexual comes out, the straight spouse is left shattered, isolated, and completely misunderstood. “How could you not know?” or “Hey, just like Ross in Friends, LOL” are typical responses from families and friends. Worse, people don’t know how to deal with the straight spouse, and just ignore them in the coming out celebration.

    The Straight Spouse Network was created 20 years ago to help those left behind. The SSN is run and staffed by straight spouses, so everyone involved can help connect to this strange and tragic situation. Through counseling, mentoring, internet resources, and meetings, the SSN works to help people pass through an extremely difficult situation as best as possible.

    I can personally say that I probably would not have made it through the end of my first marriage without the kind, funny, and devastatingly accurate help from the staff and members of the SSN. Heck, that is where I met my new wife!

    Please note: This organization is in no way anti-homosexual. We are EXTREMELY pro gay marriage, and work with and help organizations like PFLAG and HRC.

  31. Consider going local. Nationwide charities get all the press and recognition but I guarantee there are smaller charities near you, struggling to make ends meet while helping your neighbors. I work for one such charity in Delware (http://www.lcsde.org) but there are similar organizations all over and they need your help! Do a little research (http://www.idealist.org is a good place to start) to find a similar place near you. Consider volunteering too. My agency employs 6 full-time staff, 1 full-time stipended volunteer, and 8 part-time staff to help 75,000-90,000 people in a year. It’s the 400+ volunteers we have who make that possible.

  32. I’d like to suggest The Ada Initiative, a non-profit group working to increase the participation of women in open technology and culture.

    The Ada Initiative developed a template Conference Anti-Harassment policy, and works with conferences to enact policies that will make them more welcoming to women and other marginalized people. More than 100 conferences, including tech, science fiction/fantasy, gaming, and skeptic/atheist conferences are now using a version of their template.

    They also provide free consulting services to groups and organizations trying to increase the participation and retention of women and trans people, and they run an ‘allies workshop’ to equip men with the tools they need to stand up for women and other gender minorities in geek spaces.

    If you want to encourage women in geek culture, the Ada Initiative is certainly worthy of your support.

  33. Mid-Atlantic Border Collie Rescue (mabcr.org) is a rescue for Border Collies that have been discarded, neglected, abandoned or stray. Many of these dogs are turned into animal shelters through no fault of their own, but because their previous owners found themselves unable to handle the challenges border collies offer or because changes in their lives left them unable to properly care for their dogs.
    Every dog pulled from a shelter saves two dogs lives.
    This organisation runs on a shoestring budget and can use our support.

  34. Do you love/like/wish for Dobermans? Here’s a great dog rescue specializing in dobermans – Doberman Rescue of the Triad, based in Greensboro NC, http://www.doberman-rescue.com. This 501C3 group takes great care of their Dobes, especially their health needs, and takes great care in making sure their next home will be a good match for both dog and adopter. Check out their website for donations, cool dobe related items for purchase , and of course – some great dogs for adoption. You can also help at no cost by designating them as your charity if you use a Food Lion MVP card, Goodsearch.com or iGive.com.

    If equine are more your thing, then check out Saddlebred Rescue, http://www.saddlebredrescue.com. This group specializes in buying and re-homing saddlebreds that are being sold at horse auctions for the meat market. (Yes, you read that right.) If you’ve never been around saddlebreds – as a breed they are surprisingly versatile and very people oriented. These horses have a whole lot of life and ‘use’ left in them – amazingly so considering some of their circumstances. This 501C3 group is also a Verified Member of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) – and that is not an easy accreditation to achieve.

  35. I chair a local advisory board for http://firstbook.org

    First Book provides books to kids in need to keep for themselves.

    The #1 barrier to literacy is lack of available books. First Book attacks this root cause by working within local communities to provide books for kids to build their personal library.

    You can search for your local chapter, or donate to the national organization.
    Any money the local chapter brings in stays in the community.

    (Or you can donate to my advisory board: http://firstbook.org/NorthernVirginia-donate)

  36. I’ll start out plugging my employer. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has a reputation that precedes it, but at its most fundamental the ACLU protects your right to have your own opinion and to express it without government censorship or penalty. That seems like the kind of thing Whatever readers should get behind. Some folks may say this is “political,” but the ACLU stands for principals, not politics, and it always will. For the record, I was a member for ten years before I joined the staff. You can join or donate at aclu.org.

    I’ll also plug a few organizations I give my dollars to support: Humane Farm Animal Care administers the “Certified Humane” label, which carnivores like me can trust to ensure the animals we eat weren’t tortured or made to suffer while they were alive. It’s not a government label; their criteria are strict and their inspections rigorous, and you can trust Certified Humane. I’d strongly encourage you to read more about the organization, and donate. Certifiedhumane.org.

    Cell Motion BioBus was founded by a friend of mine. It’s quite literally a bus that’s been retrofitted into a mobile science classroom, complete with solar panels, traditional and video microscopes, petri dishes, and a living grass roof. They drive around New York City (and occasionally much further) to bring hands-on science education to students whose school districts don’t have funding for things like microscopes and petri dishes. It’s a great cause, and very desperately needed. Biobus.org.

    Lastly, I will plug Wikipedia, and if you aren’t donating, SHAME ON YOU. I know for a fact you rely on Wikipedia because I know you have an Internet connection. If you’re like me, you probably read it one or more times each day. We currently have instantaneous access to the greatest collection of human knowledge the world has ever seen. Most of us carry it around in our pockets daily. That’s an incredible thing to pause and realize–and Wikipedia has taken on responsibility to play librarian for that knowledge. It isn’t perfect, sure, but it’s getting better every day. You should be helping. You already know the URL.

  37. Those of us with kids know how tough and critical the early weeks and months are. It’s true even under the best circumstances. Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) works with low-income first-time moms with nurse home visits through their pregnancy and the first couple of years.

    Extra geek cred: NFP is one of the few organizations whose methods have been shown to be effective by randomized, controlled trial.

    http://www.nursefamilypartnership.org/

  38. I donate to the George Mark Children’s House, they provide palliative pediatric care to any family in need. Although I’ve never required these kinds of services, for which I am very grateful, the fact that the are the only stand alone facility of this type just blows my mind.

    http://www.georgemark.org/

  39. Rwandan Orphans Project – a small not for profit with about $140k a year budget looks after 80 boys in Kigali (plus pays for school for a smaller number of girls) – runs on a shoe string, no admin overhead costs.

    Their videos are short on starving looking kids, but do have plenty of happy ones! A lot of bang for your buck here.

    http://www.rwandanorphansproject.org/

  40. I work with Reach Out and Read – http://www.reachoutandread.org/interstitial/?ref=%2f – in Kansas City because I’ve always loved to read and I love sharing my passion with children. RO&R provides children books for free at their child wellness exams and encourages parents to read to their children. They also provide books to children for summer reading programs and books to other charities that encourage reading in children and adults.

    Also, I second that Big Cat Rescue – http://bigcatrescue.com/ – is an awesome charity. I love what they do for rescued cats and with legislation to try to help us as a society treat animals better.

  41. I run the Filaments Project.(www.filamentsproject.com) I collect used guitar and other strings from musicians, some very very famous, and make jewelry out of them. We donate 100% of the profits from sales of bracelets to Sweet Relief Musicians FUnd: http://www.sweetrelief.org, which administers financial aid for working musicians without insurance in life threatening situations; and profits from pendants (bobbles) go to the Humane Society in New Jersey for post-Hurricane Animal & Pet rescue.

    Currently on auction on eBay (http://tinyurl.com/8xmb6ad) are bracelets from Jackie Greene, Tony Franklin and others. In stock you may direct order pieces from Crosby Stills & Nash, David Lindley, The New Riders of the Purple Sage, Roy Rogers and dozens of other musicians. For the Twitterati, I have in stock two precious strings left from Paul and Storm. In the past we’ve had donations from U2 and Richard Thompson and are expecting strings from Elvis Costello & Buddy Miller. Donor list here: http://tinyurl.com/cxlwjct

    We have gifts in every price range, bracelets from $10.00.

    Do you play guitar? Can we have *your* striiiiiiings?
    Support a good cause or two and receive a piece of musical history

    Thank you John Scalzi for this showcase.

  42. Futures for Children
    This charity develops leadership skills in the native youth of the Navajo, Hopi and Pueblo Nations.
    You can mentor a youth or you can just donate directly. It has a great record of 40 years and at present a 96% high school graduation rate, which is remarkable in the Native community.

  43. I am always reluctant to ask people for money, but as a library worker, I ask that you seriously consider your local public library as a charity worthy of your consideration. Most would let you direct the funds to a select topic (books on cancer, literacy, or kids books etc), so you can usually marry it with another cause dear to your heart.

    My thanks to John, not only for this post, but for all the support he has given to local libraries, especially on this blog.

  44. Please consider the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL-IA). http://www.arl-iowa.org/ One of the best shelters in the Midwest, the ARL-IA has received several grants to study shelter medicine and behavior and how to help animals get adopted, as well as how to cut down on animal abandonment. They have programs that provide free/low-cost spay/neuter services to low-income families, and no pet is ever turned away. They have adoption programs highlighting pets that might not get adopted, such as black dogs and cats, pit bulls, and special needs pets. My girlfriend and I got our cats from there, and I’ve been a volunteer there for two years. They’ve won several awards, and for good reason – everyone who works there is so dedicated to these animals, it’s inspiring.

  45. There’s one organization you can pledge a donation to right now, and it won’t cost you a penny. On average 18 people die every day because of the shortage of donated organs. You can help by registering to be an organ and tissue donor.

    Register at http://donatelife.net/register-now/
    Q&A at http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/organ-donation.cfm

    And if you also want to donate money, Donate Life America (donatelife.net) or your local donor organization (which you can search for at donatelife.net) will gladly take your contribution.

  46. CA House is an inclusive, progressive campus ministry serving college and graduate students of all faiths in and around the Davis community. Through action on issues of peace and justice, we support individuals in discovering and fulfilling their human and spiritual vocations. We are a diverse, open community, seeking to follow the example of Jesus in the midst of the university.

    CA House is a More Light, Open and Affirming, and Reconciling organization, committed to the full participation in religious and spiritual life of people of all sexual orientations, personal backgrounds, and human conditions.

    http://cahouse.org/2012/

    Or for something more global:

    UMCOR is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to alleviating human suffering around the globe. UMCOR’s work reaches people in more than 80 countries, including the United States. We provide humanitarian relief when war, conflict, or natural disaster disrupt life to such an extent that communities are unable to recover on their own. Because it’s supported by the UMC all donations go straight to mission, administrative cost are covered through the church, and you can pick the mission to give to.
    http://www.umcor.org/Search-for-Projects/Search-for-Projects

  47. Want to borrow a dog on your next trek through the national parks in Utah? Stop by Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and help rehabilitate a dog to get him ready for adoption. This is just one of many innovative programs begun thirty years ago by a group of friends.

    I volunteered there for a week and had a blast working with bunnies, birds and dogs. The Sanctuary bordering on the breath-taking Bryce Canyon rehabbed the Michael Vicks considered too far gone by the courts.

    Best Friends rescues animals from disasters like Katrina and closed down shelters, taking horses, pigs and “Wild Friends”.

    They travel across the U.S. & encourage feral cat programs and the like.

    Check out their web site or find them on Facebook for cute photos and hilarious videos.
    http://www.bestfriends.org

  48. John, feel free to screen this if it violates the thread guidelines, but I feel it’s important to raise awareness. Organ donation, as KevinM suggests, is a terrific cause–and one I, and many other willing donors, are not allowed to support. The FDA still will not allow donations of blood, organs, tissue, bone marrow, or sperm from men who have (or have had) sex with other men (AKA “MSM”). It’s an idiotic and unscientific policy based in homophobia and superstition, and it bars people like me, who would happily join the marrow registry and donate blood, from helping other people in need.

    The marrow registry is especially important because there are so many variables, and finding a match can be extremely difficult. It’s also a painful donation, and so fewer people are willing to be donors.

    It is absolutely a good cause to support–and if you’re willing, that support should consist of both registering to donate yourself, and also calling the FDA and your local politicians to insist they end (or at least soften, in light of modern scientific understanding) the ban on donations from MSM.

  49. Another library lover here! Somehow, my favorite charities always seem to revolve around books for kids.

    Local to me (SF Bay Area):
    Green Branch Library is a new non-profit that encourages literacy through social justice topics like environmentalism, anti-racism, and community activism. Right now they operate on a shoestring out of the director’s house and at the local farmers’ market, but plans are in the works to purchase a Bookmobile and bring these books to a wider audience. They accept monetary donations, but if you have some favorite titles in mind, you can buy a book from the Amazon wishlist and it will become part of the library collection. My mom, a grade-school teacher who retired this year, donated bags and boxes of books from her classroom.

    Local to you? (NYC):
    I was touched when I heard the story of Brooke Jackman, a young woman who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11. Her family created the Brooke Jackman Foundation, which supports disadvantaged children in the New York area with programs like Brooke’s Books and Family Literacy Workshops. They’ve also reached out to kids affected by Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 Haiti earthquakes.

    National:
    DonorsChoose.org hosts projects from schools around the country that need funds for things like picture books in Spanish, art supplies, and field trips (stuff that teachers often pay for out-of-pocket or go without). You can select a particular need, location, or school to support — and you can order gift certificates for others to choose their favorite causes!

  50. I volunteer with a no-kill cat shelter, Katie’s Place, in Maple Ridge, BC. We are 100% volunteer, so other than some very small (I think 1-2%) administrative costs, all of the money you donate goes straight to helping the animals – vet care, food, litter, electricity for the building they live in. Most of our cats are last-chance. They’ve been rejected by another shelter as ‘unadoptable’ or ‘problematic’. With a lot of love and patience on the part of our volunteers, we’re able to turn most of those stories around. There is a Paypal link on our website, or you can mail in a cheque or money order.

    My second item is our local Renaissance Festival, which is in need some of benefactors and might be a good gift for the performers or historians on your list. My friends run this, and it is a good event. They have struggled to make it financially viable – we’ve never had a yearly event like this in the area and not enough people are yet aware of it. They’ve started an indiegogo campaign and would be glad of any and all donations. The campaign is here. There is also a link to their main website if you want to learn more.

  51. Project Linus http://www.projectlinus.org gives handmade blankets and hats to critically ill children.

    This organization has touched my family personally. My daughter had an infection that turned septic (infection of the blood) and she was in the Pediatric ICU at a week of age, fighting for her life. She was given a Project Linus blanket. It made me feel a little better seeing her with a blanket someone had taken the time and care to make and donate, as opposed to a hospital blanket (or at least over the hospital blanket). (For the record, we were lucky–Ellie survived and is a happy and exasperating 4 year old, just as I dreamt she would be.)

    If you’re a knitting-able person you can look up how to donate a blanket or hat. If, like me, you’re not, you can give $.

  52. Two of my favorites (other than my favorite but purely local arts and animal welfare organizations) are Donors Choose and charity: water.

    Donors Choose lets teachers post requests for projects that won’t be funded through their normal budget. You get to look through the projects and decide which ones you want to help support. I’ve been able to help the schools I went to buy music stands for fifth graders and graphing calculators for advanced math students.

    charity: water brings clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. They have an interesting model in which 100% of donations go toward water projects. All administrative and overhead costs are covered by private donors, foundations and sponsors. It’s hard to imagine not having access to clean water, but there are plenty of people in the world who don’t.

  53. Happy Tails (http://www.happytails.org/) is a no kill pet sanctuary located in Sacramento CA. The organization is run by more than 200 hundred awesome people!! Happy tails offers programs to help the pets of the elderly and the homeless. They also offer help with emergency vet services and have several feral cat colonies in Sacramento. They trap, fix and vaccinate all the feral cats. Volunteers also put out fresh food and water daily.

    I am a pet Mommy to two sweet babies from Happy Tails and I try to donate food or money every year. :)

  54. For my husband and myself, our favorite charities tend to be international organizations that promote education, and in particular education of girls. I firmly believe this is the best path for ending poverty world-wide. We look for organizations that are small scale, so that less or their resources are wasted running the organization and more can go to actually achieving the goals. Also, we look for groups that have been vetted by foundations and charity evaluators we trust. So here are a few we have found that are doing good work and aren’t that well known:

    Akili Dada: Working to educate and develop a generation of empowered African women who will bring about social change.

    Room to Read: Building libraries and schools in several under-developed countries. They have a specific goal of increasing education of young girls and they also publish children’s books in local languages (to be stocked in the libraries they build).

    Polaris Project: Works to end human trafficking and slavery around the world. It doesn’t exactly fit with our education theme, but it does fit with the idea of saving the next generation.

  55. I highly recommend Autistry Studios, a non-profit in California that helps teens & adults with Autism, Asperger’s and other learning differences become successfully independent by leveraging their interests and talents. The CEO/Exec. Director is a good friend of mine. She founded the organization as part of an effort to help her own son, and it grew from there.

  56. GiveForward is basically like Kickstarter, but for charity fund raising. My friend Lynn has desmoid tumors and needs help paying for doctors bills, MRI scans, medicine and just generally keeping the lights on both physically and emotionally. She’s already reached 50% of her goal but if you have a few spare dollars (and any amount will help!) please think about contributing.

    Here’s her GiveForward page.

  57. Have any of you wondered what happens to children in our foster care system after they age out at 18? They are on their own, and often – their former foster parents are not in any position to help them financially or emotionally after their 18th birthday.

    Foster Care to Success (http://fc2success.org) helps young men and women who have aged out of the foster care system by providing housing assistance, help with medical expenses/needs, scholarships to attend college (and to also support the costs of attending college that we often forget foster care alums won’t have access to) and much much more.

    The young men and women who age out of foster care are some of the most under-served in our society. I hope anyone who is interested checks the website out – it is truly an amazing organization, highly rated in terms of how it spends it resources and making a tremendous difference in people’s lives.

    John – thank you for offering this platform to so many worthy charities. I hope everyone reading is moved to support one of the charities on this list.

  58. My current charity focus is charity: water it’s a great non-profit that helps bring sustainable clean water to people and places that need it throughout the world. What I love is that it’s sustainable – they build wells, train people how to maintain them, and also create councils in villages etc, to manage it. Even better, women are often given leadership positions and able to participate in the water councils.
    Best, 100% of public donations go to projects on the ground, that you can follow with their reports which even provide GPS coordinates so you can see exactly what happened with the money you gave.

  59. I’m actually not sure if this counts as political or not. Apologies if so.

    But I want to recommend the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. It’s pretty much what it says on the tin: autistic people advocating for the autistic community–“Nothing About Us Without Us”. Unlike various charities run by non-autistic people, ASAN focuses on inclusion, advancement, and support. From their website:

    “ASAN was created to provide support and services to individuals on the autism spectrum while working to educate communities and improve public perceptions of autism. Our activities include public policy advocacy, community engagement to encourage inclusion and respect for neurodiversity, quality of life oriented research, and the development of Autistic cultural activities. We provide information about autism to the public through a number of different educational, outreach and systems change related projects.”

  60. My family and I like to contribute to the Elephant Sanctuary at: http://www.elephants.com/. It’s an elephant sanctuary (aptly named!) in Hohenwald, TN, a large tract of land where the elephants get to exist without being gawked at. They rescue zoo and circus elephants among other things. I love the idea of elephants hanging out in a big old field in my home state of TN!

  61. WHY Hunger (previously World Hunger Year, founded by the late Harry Chapin) works against hunger on the “teach a man to fish” end of the spectrum, supporting groups that not only provide nutritious food, but work for sustainable solutions to hunger.

    The Lustgarten Foundation funds research aimed at curing pancreatic cancer, which is one of the ugliest, most painful, and least curable cancers out there. One major plus for them is that their expenses are paid by the founders (Cablevision heirs), so that donations go directly to their work.

  62. I’d like to call attention to RAINN (www.rainn.org), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. At one point it was the US’s only 24 hour hotline for victims of Rape or Sexual Abuse. They also operate the only hotline dedicated to victims in the military, The DOD Safe Help Line. They’ve been working for years to improve the lives of survivors working with over 1,100 local hotlines and shelters, and they are also working through state and national legislatures to improve victim’s right. Currently they’re working on getting the SAFER act passed, which will reduce the backlog of untested rape kits.

    And on a more selfish note, the USO (uso.org) has been supporting US Service members for over 70 years. Founded in 1941 to provide entertainment to soldiers oversea, they have been working to make sure that soldiers quality of life is better no matter where in the world they are. They provide safe havens at airports, make sure every service member that is deployed is provided with hygiene and entertainment products, provides “USOs in a Box” which come with computers and satellite internet for keeping in contact with family and friends back home, and numerous other little things that make life better for our troops.

  63. Thank you for this opportunity, John! Having lost my brother to cystic fibrosis (CF), I passionately support the CYSTIC FIBROSIS FOUNDATION http://www.cff.org/ in its mission to find the cure and controls for this horrible disease. CF is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide).

    In January of this year, the FDA approved the drug Kalydeco which treats CF at the cellular level for patients with a certain mutation of the gene. Clinical trials are underway right now for drugs that will do the same for those with the most common gene mutation. We’ve made tremendous strides and need help to cross the finish line!

    The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is one of the most efficient organizations of its kind and is an accredited charity of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. Approximately 90 cents of every dollar given goes to research and programs that directly benefit CF patients!

  64. Three general fields I’d personally suggest — no URLs available since I’ve been out of touch with the specific groups for years.
    1. Local or regional brain-injury or head-injury association, or national HQ if there’s nothing local. I took a spectacular fall down the basement stairs about 15 years ago, and my skull lost the ensuing argument with the concrete floor. My family was told not to expect me to survive that first night, but here I am drawing old-age benefits. A TBI (traumatic brain injury) survivor changes so much both in abilities *and* personality that status-quo becomes almost sacred to us. There is (or at least used to be) a lot of good support groups online, but a local “real” group, where you can meet face to face with others in the same situation, is a major improvement for morale.

    2. Groups which provide door-to-door transportation to the disabled for medical appointments and other essential trips. It was only after about 2 years following my injury that I got a referral to a neurologist, and he set me up for a battery of testing at McMaster’s marvelous Nuclear Medicine unit (for things like MRI and PET scan), about 40 miles from here, so I could get approved for disability benefits. The local RAISE project (sorry, can’t remember what’s behind the acronym) would send a car to take me there, wait and bring me back, at no charge to me.

    3. Men’s hostels … I once was charged with domestic assault, and while I was released on my own cognizance, awaiting trial, one condition was not to go home or have any contact with my family. The interim two weeks, since I didn’t know if I’d ever be permitted to return home, had to be the worst period of my life. I stayed at the local House of Friendship, which was some help … at least they had TV and reasonably amenable staff and residents, and food was fairly good.

    When my benefits were finally approved and I got a sizable retro payment, I made a point of contributions (about $100 each) to the latter two, and had already contributed time to the local HIA (no longer around these days, due to lack of funding) as a cashier for their fund-raising bingos.

    Sorry if this is overly long … my most significant damage was right-frontal, and I’ve been told that my communication style is good for almost a dead-on diagnosis even without testing.

  65. I usually lurk-read now and then, but I saw your Tweet about this and think it’s a great idea. So my suggestion is for the San Antonio, TX “Elf Louise Christmas Project” and it’s been going on since 1969. It was started by a then-college student named Louise Locker. You can read their “About us” page here: http://www.elflouise.com/about.php

    Every year I at least volunteer my time, but also, if I can, money and/or gift contributions. For me it’s personal. When I was growing up in the 80s and our family was quite poor and really couldn’t afford Christmas gifts, my mother signed us up for receiving free gifts through this charity. I will always remember this kindness and since I am now an adult and capable of it, I make it a point to give back to the charity that made our Christmas for several years. I hope it will make some other kid’s day like it once did mine.

  66. Appalachian Mountain Advocates – http://www.appalmad.org – is a small nonprofit environmental law firm fighting to end mountaintop removal mining and help central Appalachia prepare for a more sustainable and diverse economic future.

    I’m the communications director for the group. Our lawyers and policy analyst do tremendous work. It’s work that, ideally, state and federal regulators would be doing. But too often it takes citizen suits of the type we bring in order to convince regulators to actually follow the law. Recently, our work helped convince Patriot Coal to get out of mountaintop removal mining.

    Mountaintop removal mining is enormously destructive. A growing number of scientific studies is linking it to health impacts on nearby communities, including increased birth defect and cancer rates. We are a 501(c)3, so any contributions to us are tax-deductible.

  67. Sanctuary for Kids

    From their website:

    The mission of Sanctuary for Kids is to improve the lives of children around the world who need protection and are in crisis – those who are exploited, dispossessed and threatened.

    S4K will accomplish this mission in two fundamental ways:

    – Fundraising through online auctions and donations
    – Donating those funds to existing programs around the world where it has been determined an immediate need is evident and a tangible difference will be made by applying these funds

    S4K was founded by Amanda Tapping, Damian Kindler, and Jill Bodie through their connection to the television series Sanctuary.

  68. I skate with the fantastic Tilted Thunder Railbirds, a banked track roller derby league based in Seattle. We’re a 501(c)3 group and our mission is to empower women through sport. I’ve grown so much as an athlete and as a person since joining the league earlier this year! More than just me, though, I get work with our junior program (girls ages 6-17) and it’s amazing to watch them grow and become confident and committed citizens.

    At the moment, you can help out by sponsoring me (Square Ruthless) through our Bank with a Rail Bird fundraiser. Besides helping us continue our important (and fun!) work, you get some cool roller derby swag :). Donate here: TTRB

  69. Thanks for opportunity to share.
    Local to the SF Bay Area: The BAY AREA CRISIS NURSERY is a nonprofit designed to give parents under serious stress a break. It’s a non-punitive place for people to park their kids for twenty-four hours or up to a month while they get the rest of their lives under control. Stressors like a new baby, a critically ill parent or partner, or plain old anger management “let’s all take a breather” types of things are what typically bring a family. The center offers infant care, food help, counseling, and other confidential services while caring for the kids in a clean and comfy homelike facility. Started by a nun thirty years ago, this non-religious shelter is a real help to parents trying to do their best.

  70. I am writing to ask for your support for a great organization that I’ve been volunteering with for 12 years – Reading to Kids. Reading to Kids is a grassroots organization dedicated to inspiring under-served children with a love of reading. Every month, we hold reading clubs for an average of 800 to 1,200 kids at seven elementary schools near downtown Los Angeles in financially low-income areas where English is not the first language for the students.
    At the reading clubs, volunteers read to the kids and work with them on a craft project
    that relates to the book. Each child receives a book at the end of the reading clubs (we’ve given out over 110K books to kids) and all of the school libraries receive hundreds of books from Reading to Kids each year (we’ll be donating our 20,000th book to a school library in December). Parents also benefit – during the reading clubs the parents receive training on how to encourage their children to read at home.
    I have really enjoyed volunteering with Reading to Kids and can tell you personally that this is definitely a worthwhile local organization that is making a huge impact on the lives of these kids and their schools and families.
    A contribution from you would make a big difference to the organization. A donation of $25 – $50 would be great, but ANY amount will help!
    Checks should be made payable to “Reading to Kids” and can be sent to:
    Reading to Kids
    1600 Sawtelle Boulevard Suite 210
    Los Angeles, CA 90025.
    You can also find out more about the organization and/or make a secure online credit
    card or PayPal donation at Reading to Kids Fund Drive.

  71. My dad was a child abuser, and at that time – late fifties, early sixties – there was no place to go and no one to whom we could turn. The experience made my interest in this charity more than merely philosophical. Check out Safe Horizon and help about victims of child abuse. 24 bucks a month; what a deal.

  72. http://www.heifer.org/

    Heifer International provides sustainable farming resources to people in poverty. They have gifts of cow, goats, rabbits, lama, chickens or ducks up to irrigation pumps etc so that people can feed themselves

  73. I’d like to draw your attention to a charity in Portland, OR called Cerimon House. The easiest way to describe this ambitious vision is to quote from their Welcome page:

    “Cerimon House is a Sanctuary for the Humanities…and a place to be restored.  We create innovative programming & events: a fine balance of Community (citizens), Curiosity (education), Creativity (culture) & Ceremony (celebration). We are named for a character from Shakespeare’s play Pericles, who is beloved for her altruism. Modeling our work on that of the Circuit Chautauqua, we’ve assembled a consortium of artisans, teachers, and philosophers – and with your help we’ll construct a harbor for their work and yours.”

    I am proud to say that I served on their Board of Directors for a time, and am every bit as excited for where they are now as I am for where they want go.

    Thanks!

  74. Two national charities:

    Mazon : the Jewish reponse to hunger, to everybody’s hunger (not just for Jews)
    the crohns and colitis foundation of america: dedicated to helping people with the disease, including funding research. if you know anyone with crohns or colitis (or that has a weak stomach and/or lots of trips to the bathroom…) the support of this charity will help them.

  75. I’d like to introduce my friend Randy who runs 20/20 Vision Quest. When he’s not climbing mountains with his guide dog Quinn, Randy educates kids about mobility awareness and gives motivational talks about reaching past perceived limits.
    This year, 20/20 Vision Quest raised enough to present $10,000 contributions to each of two key charities — New Hampshire Association for the Blind (NHAB), and Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
    You can find Randy, Quinn, and the rest of the team at:
    http://www.2020visionquest.org

  76. For years I’ve made donations in the names of friends and family to some of MY favorite charities – Mercy Corps, ASPCA, Humane Society of the United States, Feeding America, Best Friends, and others. This year I’ve suddenly realized (lightbulb!!) that maybe it would be more meaningful to donate to some of THEIR favorite charities. For example – my friend in California is receiving a donation in his (and his cat’s) name to his very needy local animal shelter. My brother will receive a donation to his church. It doesn’t take much digging to find out what causes my friends and family feel strongly about.
    So while, yes, I’d certainly like the entire world to support MY favorite charities – maybe I’m finally figuring out what charity is all about anyway.

  77. I’d like to suggest Feeding America – http://feedingamerica.org/ primarily because their food bank in Southwestern Virginia is the main avenue for the food my mom uses in the backpack program that gives meals to kids over the weekends when they can’t get free/reduced lunch and breakfast at school, so that they stay fed. But they also provide food to a number of food banks and other charities throughout the region, as they do nationwide.

  78. http://www.riverkidsproject.org is a grass roots charity helping children and families living in slums in Cambodia. Their focus is education, but you can’t teach a hungry child, or one who’s been sold for sex work, so they tackle those problems too. They make every cent stretch to the max, and you can donate tax-efficiently from the US.

  79. I’m a big fan of greyhound rescue organizations. They’re everywhere, but http://www.greyhoundfriendsforlife.org/ is the one close to me and gets my support.
    I also like http://www.mercycorps.org/, a global charity that fights hunger and poverty. They make it easy to make a gift donation in someone’s name. Last year, I bought a latrine for my brother (which sounds better than saying I made a $45 donation in his name). He loved it.

  80. Continuing the dog theme: http://www.corgiaid.org/ supports corgi rescuers. Rescuers (individuals and organizations) can request funds to care for ill or injured homeless corgis and corgi mixes, with a goal to getting them healthy and ready to go to permanent homes.

  81. My wife works at a family homeless charity here in Phoenix Arizona. It is called umom New Day Centers. They give housing and other essential needs to homeless families trying to get them out of homelessness. They also have slots open for homeless veterans. http://www.umom.org/

  82. I work for an unusual sort of nonprofit organization – we provide IT services to other nonprofits. For several organizations here in Oregon, we maintain their computer networks, host email, train and teach their staff, and help them plan the infrastructure that they need to provide direct services to our community; for several organizations around the country, we develop and host their websites as well. IT systems and infrastructure are overhead – the kinds of needs that most people aren’t interested in giving to – but they make the difference between being able to serve 10 needy people in a day and helping 30.

    http://www.netcorps.org

  83. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network – http://autisticadvocacy.org/ – is important because, unlike some other autism groups, it provides a voice to people with autism. Their motto is “Nothing about us without us.” ASAN was created to provide support and services to individuals on the autism spectrum while working to educate communities and improve public perceptions of autism. ASAN’s activities include public policy advocacy, community engagement to encourage inclusion and respect for neurodiversity, quality of life oriented research, and the development of Autistic cultural activities.

  84. Want to help protect kids (et al.) from malaria-carrying mosquitos? Contribute to the U.N. Foundation’s Nothing But Nets! I lived in Africa as a child and this charity resonates with me strongly. Ten bucks helps purchase a long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed net, distribute it, and educate communities on its use. $20 buys two…etc. ;-) Join me and some NBA player I’ve never heard of (I’m more of a gymnastics fan)–save lives!

  85. To keep myself off charity mailing lists, I donate almost exclusively now to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which works in nearly 70 countries providing medical aid to those most in need regardless of their race, religion, or political affiliation. Whenever there is a humanitarian crisis, I notice they’ve usually already got doctors on the ground in that particular country. Fabulous organization. [Also, I've noticed they haven't sold my name to other charities.]

  86. This one definitely lands lower on the Peace on Earth to All spectrum, but I’m hoping that it’s just fun enough and odd enough to appeal to the Whatever readership.
     
    The Beat Goes On Marching Band of Portland, Oregon (a 501(c)(3) organization) is an all-adult marching band committed to delighting Northwest and National audiences while reliving the best parts of the marching band experiences that we fondly remember. The band is renowned for its upbeat attitude, feel-good musical selections, and emphasis on audience interaction. Though its musical tastes are eclectic, TBGO features a high-energy, brassy, rock and roll style – we may be a marching band, but we’re more likely to play Lady Gaga than John Phillip Sousa! Our current show is still heavily rooted in rock and roll favorites, but we also play patriotic tunes, funk, jazz, soul, a polka or two, and yep, even a couple of marches. The band (which includes a dance team, color guard, and a twirling squad) ranges in age from 20’s to 80’s. Band members hail primarily from the Pacific Northwest but come from as far away as Ohio, Texas, Arizona, and California for special events.
     
    With the onset of winter and outdoor events, the band has recently purchased new uniform jackets and is now working to pay for them. Part of the cost is being paid by members, but we are fundraising to help with the rest. See our online fundraising page for a video and more info about the band, including the fun band souvenirs we are offering as rewards to donors. Hope you’ll stop by and visit even if you don’t plan to donate — and thanks John for the opportunity to share our story!

  87. Habitat For Humanity (www.habitat.org) builds affordable homes for low-income families. In return, they require the future home-owner to contribute 500 ‘sweat equity’ volunteer hours. HFH relies heavily on donations and volunteers. Look up your local chapter to donate and/or volunteer!

  88. someone in the u.s. is sexually assaulted every two minutes. the rape, abuse and incest national network (rainn) provides free and confidential help for victims and survivors of sexual assault as well as community and national support for legislative changes that benefit victims. visit http://www.rainn.org to find out more or make a tax deductible donation. just $10 allows rainn to help one abuse survivor with the national sexual assault hotline.

  89. It doesn’t look like anyone has yet mentioned Modest Needs, so let me mention them. Modest Needs provides one-time grants to low income individuals and families in times of crisis to fill a gap that other charities and social services don’t cover. They focus on preventing low income working people from slipping into poverty or homelessness because of a single missed opportunity. Grants are typically only a few hundred dollars, allowing someone to pay the rent while waiting for their first paycheck, pay off a car so they can keep their job, keep the electricity on after a family funeral tapped out their savings, etc. Donations of any amount help, and you can browse through the current applicants to decide whom you wish to help.

    You can find them at: https://www.modestneeds.org/

  90. OK, it’s very Old School, but I still donate regularly to The Salvation Army. I do so because they provide help to those most in need, help in disasters and emergencies, and, frankly, are among the most efficient charities out there. More of your dollar goes to providing real help to those in need than from the majority of charitable organizations out there. (Disclaimers: I am not affiliated nor am I even a Christian. I just like their mission and methods. I drop a buck or more in the red bucket every time I pass one.)

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