Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2013, Day Five: Charities

For the last four days, the Whatever Shopping Guide 2013 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.

97 Comments on “Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2013, Day Five: Charities”

  1. St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital is one of the best charities I know. They never charge anyone for treatment, and have made major advances in treating childhood cancer and other catastrophic diseases.

    I was SUPPOSED to be in Memphis this weekend running a half-marathon after raising $1000 for them, but about an inch of ice on the roads between my house and Memphis have kind of made that impossible. I would have gotten to meet some of the kids, too, dammit.

    So, drop them a few bucks. Help a sick kid.


  2. I’m plugging the charity of which my cousin is a co-founder and the Executive Director for. Programa Velasco (http://programavelasco.org/) works to empower and educate families in El Salvador. They do a lot of great work.

    The other charities I’d like to plug are whatever your local food banks. Food is always in style.

  3. My sister is the Executive Director of the Humanitarian Service Project, a charity that provides meals, essentials and Christmas/birthday gifts to needy seniors and children in the Chicago area. They’re a small group but they work incredibly hard to help hundreds of families in need. Due to their small size, every little bit helps.


  4. This is a really great idea!

    My brother started a charity called StopSAM (Severe Accute Malnutrition). He partners with a company called MANA to get life saving, nutrient dense peanut butter based food packets to starving children. The product is an amazing break through to help end childhood starvation. Check it out at StopSAM.org or mananutrition.org.

  5. Two opportunities:

    American Red Cross – http://www.redcross.org/ – Fairly obvious why, but personally for me I love their education efforts. Especially with CPR classes.

    Camp Boggy Creek in Central Florida -http://www.boggycreek.org/ – Closer to home since both my wife and friends volunteer there. It is an excellent organization that offers camp activities to kids with serious illnesses. Not only is it fun for them to get away, but they also help educate the kids about their illnesses and show them they are not alone. Fantastic place.

  6. RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline and carries out programs to prevent sexual assault, help victims, and to ensure that rapists are brought to justice. All donations until January 1, 2014 are being matched. It was named one of America’s 100 Best Charities by Worth magazine. http://www.rainn.org/

    Also, Feeding America, which is having a hard time in light of federal budget cuts. They work not only to feed the hungry but to address the causes of hunger and poverty. In my state of Vermont, the Vermont Foodbank (http://www.vtfoodbank.org/) is a provider. http://feedingamerica.org/

  7. I apologize if this borders on too political, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation is often the only group calling shenanigans on rampant and uninformed abuses of the net loudly, clearly, and credibly enough for people unfamiliar with or scared of technology to stop and listen.

    They’re the good guys.


  8. Have you heard of the Friends of the Lexington Public Library? Did you know:
    -We run the Book Cellar, a used book store, in the Lower Level of the Central Library in Downtown Lexington, KY. And we have E-Bay and Amazon stores, as well.
    -We spent approximately $79,000 supporting our Library last year
    -We fund programs at the Library, including the Summer Reading Program (over 20,000 took part this year; 14,000 kids!), One Book One Bluegrass, Little Leonardos and Daring DaVincis art programs, Afterschool Homework Help, Chess Mates, Lego Club, the Teen Advisory Board, scholarships for Library employees, and more
    -We had over 300 volunteers who gave more than 11,000 hours of their time last year
    -Find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/friendsofthelexingtonpubliclibrary
    -We could use your help to keep offering these great programs to our community. Please consider helping the Friends. A gift of even $5 or $10 can change lives.
    -Here is a link for more info, to become a member, or to donate online:
    Thank you very much!

  9. I’d like to do a general plug for local historical societies and small museums. These are organizations that rely heavily on community support and volunteers. They operate on tiny budgets and don’t attract much corporate or government help. If there’s a local museum or historical society in your community even a small donation can make a big difference in allowing them to keep the lights on and the roof watertight.

    Example of a local museum that will happily accept your donation if you don’t know of one closer to where you live: http://www.baragacountyhistoricalmuseum.com

  10. I highly suggest donating MONEY to your local food bank. They can get more for the dollar in food than you can, so just donate money, not random canned goods from the back of your pantry. And definitely don’t go out and buy spaghetti-os to give to the food bank.

    As a bit of background, there was a provision in the ARRA (stimulus bill) that increased food stamp amounts for a few years. That provision expired on 11/1, and food stamps were cut across the country. So this winter, food banks are going to be feeling the strain of filling the gap there. Anything you can do will help.

  11. Duchesne Clinic is a safety net clinic in the poorest county in Kansas. They provide professional compassionate medical care to the poor and marginalized, including undocumented immigrants and the working poor who do not qualify for Medicaid and can’t afford private insurance. They do excellent work for a really vulnerable population, and would like to do more. Every $1 given is multiplied into $3 of service through their direct work, and their network of volunteer providers.


  12. When people think of charities, they usually think of places that provide food, shelter, healthcare, safety–and of course, these things are important. But sometimes the charities that support and uplift the soul can be lost among all the rush for essentials. The National Novel Writing Month may have never done a food drive, but they’ve supported creativity, confidence, and community since 1999. Bringing together people with a simple yet daring common goal – write 50,000 words in the month of November – they provide so much more than a mere winner’s certificate if you make the goal. They provide an overwhelmingly positive group of over 300,000 writers who cheer people on regardless of age, affiliation, or goal. They provide partnerships with local independant booksellers and libraries to the enrichment of both, as well as supporting local businesses with group meetings. And they support hundreds of classrooms with compliant curriculum and free materials so that teachers can give their students the gift of writing.

    If you’re interested in more information, you can find more testimony and where the money goes here, and you can donate here.

  13. Uptown People’s Law Center, Chicago, a storefront legal clinic with an outsized footprint because of their work in prisoners’ rights.

    Locally they offer free legal services for landlord-tenant disputes, disability and social security cases, and the like. But their bigger mission in recent years has been prisoners’ rights: fighting against solitary confinement, poor health care, and general disregard of basic human rights.If you care about these issues, I don’t think there’s a place out there where your donation could do more direct good: I’m on the board and am regularly astonished at what they accomplish with their limited resources and tiny staff.

    The ACLU site has a post by UPLC’s legal director about the center’s role in getting Illinois’s Tamms supermax prison shut down:

    Uptown People’s Law Center, 4412 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60640

  14. My sister is Director of the Outdoor Program for Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, and she’s running next year’s Boston Marathon as part of a fundraiser to help give girls from low income families the opportunity to attend summer camp and make sure they can share in the same enriching experience as their peers. Summer camp gives young girls an opportunity to build lifelong friendships, develop leadership skills, and have exposure to a host of new experiences in a safe, inclusive environment. You can help make sure that’s an opportunity open to everyone, regardless of their family’s economic or class status.

    Thanks, and any donations you can make would be greatly appreciated!


  15. In memorium of his death, and recognition of his struggle, I’d like to recommend buying a copy of The Special’s “Free Nelson Mandela” on itunes, royalties still go to anti-racism and other equality charities.

    Also if you live in, or even visit, the UK then please drop a few coins into the RNLI which is the charity that provides lifeboat coverage for the UK, Ireland, and even parts of the Dutch and French coast nearest the UK. Its volunteers turn out in even the worts storms to help mariners in distress, flooding victims, and people who are swept from piers, beaches and any piece of waterfront, with no thought of the risk to themselves.

  16. Whatever charity(ies) appeal to you, please check a charity evaluator (charitynavigator.org is the largest, but there are other equally reputable folks out there) before you donate to make sure your money will go to the program services you support.

  17. I volunteer for Alley Cats and Angels, an all-volunteer foster-home based rescue in the Research Triangle area of NC. We have a wide range of programs (adoption, barn, feral cat education/assistance, and spay/neuter assistance) to try to help with the overall problem of cat overpopulation in the region. We are always in need of more volunteers and monetary donations can always be put to good use:


  18. Child’s Play is a charity that collects and distributes money and toys to children’s hospitals. Computer gamers have made this a hugely successful operation for ten years now. You can choose a hospital from the world map and be connected to that hospital’s Amazon wish list. Your donation can range from crayons or dvds to game consoles and iPads. These guys rock.


  19. I don’t have children, but every Christmas, I buy one unwrapped, new toy and deposit it in the collection box for Toys for Tots. This program is sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

  20. A great organization I’ve supported for years and now am thrilled to work for! http://www.communityfarms.org/

    From our website: “Waltham Fields Community Farm (WFCF) promotes local agriculture and food access through our farming operations and educational programs, using practices that are socially, ecologically, and economically sustainable. We encourage healthy relationships between people, their food supply, and the land from which it grows.”

  21. Two great animal rescue groups warm my heart.

    Dearest to me is Doberman Rescue of the Triad, a 501(c)(3) dog rescue that specializes in finding homes for Doberman pinschers. This group is based in Greensboro, N.C. but adopts throughout the country. Check out their website for available dogs (and ways to help) at http://www.doberman-rescue.com. Dobermans are very human oriented – they’re not happy unless they are with their people. This means they are especially miserable when lost/discarded and especially thrilled when they get a new home, with new people to love and be loved by.

    And if equine are more your speed, Saddlebred Rescue Inc. is not only 501(c)(3) but also a verified member of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS)! Located in New England, they specialize in American Saddlebreds, the majority of whom have been pulled from kill pens at livestock auctions. They are given veterinary treatment and training and go on to live very useful and loved lives. This breed is amazingly versatile. They are not just show horses – many are used for trail riding, farm work and transportation. http://www.saddlebredrescue.com

    Donate or adopt – safe a life born to give love to, and work for, mankind.

  22. I am asking all you cat friends out there to donate to the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon. This clinic provides low cost and free spay/neuter services to Portland and much of the Willamette Valley area. They operate on a strict volunteer basis and receive no government or state funding. To date they have spayed/neutered over 65,000 cats; this has saved tens of millions of potenial cats from the cruel, harsh life of a feral cat. Thank you for your support!


  23. I recommend Compassion International and love to shop from their catalog http://www.compassion.com/catalog.htm. This allows you to provide water, medical supplies, income opportunities (a chicken! a goat! a cow!) and other items to help in the developing world. I’ve supported them for years and have a friend who was a Compassion child, as well as several people who work for the organization.

    I also recommend Generosity Feeds, and organization that allows various community groups to put together food packets to feed those who have food insecurity (their term, not mine). Community events can and often do package 10,000 meals in a morning. It’s amazing and meets a real need. http://www.generosityfeeds.org/donate. You can check out their various events, maybe there is one near you, or contact them to see about arranging one in your community.

  24. Evaluating charities according to which will make the greatest positive contribution in the lives of other people takes a lot of reasearch and a fair amount of math. Thankfully, there are people out there who will do all that for you.


    I’d recommend just giving to the people they recommend each year.

  25. I am a longstanding member and presently, employee of the National Federation of the Blind. We believe that if Blind folks have proper training, and opportunity, blindness can be reduced to a physical nuisance.

    We are blind people who work to improve the lives of blind people. We are trying to make sure education, the Internet, and diverse work opportunities are available to blind people.

    We love Braille and fight to get it taught.

    We do science and Braille camps for blind kids.

    Thanks for considering us!!

  26. My recommendation is the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress (http://www.mdsc.org/). This organization has been instrumental is providing families throughout Massachusetts with information regarding medicine, education, law and advocacy that come part and parcel with having a family member with Down syndrome.

  27. The ARC helps people (children, mostly) with intellectual and developmental disabilities or delays. They do advocacy and education, but probably the most valuable service they provide is in-home therapy and teaching to help the families help their children achieve all that they’re capable of achieving. Everyone I’ve interacted with from ARC has been absolutely wonderful, and their services have made a huge positive difference in my son’s life.


  28. NEADS (National Education for Assistance Dog Services is a wonderful charity that starts with rescue dogs from the humane society, helps with prisoner rehabilitation and then provides fully trained dogs for therapy, special needs children and adults, combat veterans, hearing impaired and more. No, I have no actual connection with them, but tehy are a wonderful organization. Here is the link: http://www.neads.org/

  29. I want to encourage you to help this local charity or any like it except that I don’t know if there ARE any other charities like it. Please tell me if there are.

    Seer Farms in NJ is an animal shelter but not one from which you would adopt an animal. The folks at Seer take care of animals for families in transition so that, when the family gets back on their feet, they can bring their pets home. Divorce (or domestic violence) puts you in a position where you rent in a no pets place? They’ll help. Cancer keeping you from taking care of your pets? They got it. Displaced by a disaster? Whoo boy are they on top of it. Many families come regularly to help at Seer and to visit their pets while they work toward being back in a place to bring them home full time. It’s a fantastic thing to do for people and for animals and I want them to have all the support they need and deserve.


  30. I don’t believe in their politics or religion, but the Catholic Worker does excellent work feeding the homeless without proselytizing. They are, in no way, affiliated with the Catholic Church administration, being far left. A friend first introduced me to them, and lived in the Los Angeles house for several years. The LA house, at least, doesn’t fill out the forms for nonprofit status so you cannot deduct donations on your federal taxes. http://www.catholicworker.org

    For my father, who died on Thanksgiving (it was a blessing, not a Scott Adams type of scenario), any National Park, State, or local Park association. They are community/friends of the park-run and help fill the gaps in funding. In particular, he loved Wilderness State Park in Michigan, Big Bend National Park in Texas, Guadalupe Mountains NP, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons NPs, and Grand Canyon NP. He hiked rim-to-rim several times there.

    And another one for me: Camp Wyandot, Inc. Originally the resident camp for the Central Ohio Camp Fire organization, they have broken away from the national organization and are using the camp as the centerpiece to promoting getting kids outdoors. I was a camper, counselor-in-training, and counselor there. It’s a really wonderful experience. http://www.campwyandot.org

  31. As we’re headed into the coldest months of winter, consider local or state heating assistance programs/charities. If you’re in a cold part of the US, look for your local outfit and help your neighbors! If you’re lucky enough to be someplace warm, look for someplace that could benefit…

  32. Support human milk banking! Premature babies and others are sometimes prescribed lifesaving pasteurized, banked human milk from donors. The availability depends on the existence of human milk banks, many of them nonprofits.

    Here is an appeal from the Facebook page of the Salt Lake Mother’s Milk Donation Center, with which a good friend of mine is affiliated.

    Our donation center is part of a group working to bring a non profit milk bank to Utah. The Mountain West Mothers’ Milk Bank application has been approved by HMBANA, and we are working with our mentor milk bank to get started.

    Right now what the MWMMB needs is money! The 501c3 application has been a victim of the government shutdown, and this has made fundraising difficult. As a temporary fix, any and all individual financial donations to the Salt Lake Mothers’ Milk Donation Center will be used for the start up of the MWMMB.

    Make checks out to the University of Utah with milk bank in the memo line and send to: Division of Public Health, ATTN: Courtney DeMond, 375 Chipeta Way, Suite A, Salt Lake City, UT 84108. Be sure to include your full name and return address so that we can get you a receipt if you want one. Share widely, and thanks!

  33. Kids In Need of Desks – pretty self-explanatory. They supply desks (built locally, from local materials) to schools in Malawi. Started by Lwrence O’Donnell, and administered by UNICEF.

    Heifer.org provides livestock (not just heifers…) to communities in need.

  34. I cannot praise Heifer International enough. http://www.heifer.org/ Not only are they really doing a lot of work in alleviating food insecurity around the world, but they’re also doing research into sustainable agriculture, and have several initiatives in place to promote female empowerment and recognition of their participation in agriculture. In many countries, women provide the bulk of agricultural duties, but get very little recognition, and almost none of the money earned from what they produce. Heifer is working to change that, and to promoting societal changes that increase gender equity. I work in sustainability, and their work is consistently one of the success stories we talk about.

    If you live in the Midwest, I would also like to recommend the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. http://www.arl-iowa.org/ The biggest animal shelter in Iowa, and the only one that takes in pit bulls, they’ve won several awards and grants for their efforts to improve both how animals are in shelters as well as increase adoption rates and decrease abandonment rates. They work with pet food banks around the state, and are a central part of Iowa State University’s Shelter Medicine program for vet students. I volunteered there for four years, and did research to help them get a grant renewal, and really, they are doing everything right. You could not ask for a better shelter.

  35. One of the charities my family will be supporting this Christmas is Heifer International. They provide livestock, plants, and training to communities in need, satisfying both immediate needs (e.g. a cow’s milk output) and long-term needs (cows can make more cows).


  36. I am a director of a new organization called Interior Castle Ministries. Here is our mission statement:

    Interior Castle Ministries are called by God to seek the welfare of the communities in which we live by building communities that promote social equality and justice and build habits of public association in an atmosphere of warmth, comfort and support; by planting gardens and sharing their produce with the community and our guests; and sharing God’s hospitality as if every guest that comes into our lives is Christ.

    We don’t believe in battering folks with Bibles or threatening them with hellfire. There are plenty of folks to fill those roles. For us, it’s all about sitting down in a safe, friendly place and speaking to people with respect. Our website may be found at interior-castle.org.

  37. I’d like to give a shout out on behalf of Worldbuilders and Heifer International

    Heifer International helps people raise themselves up out of poverty and starvation. Heifer promotes education, sustainable agriculture, and local industry all over the world. They don’t just keep kids from starving, they make it so families can take care of themselves. They give goats, sheep, and chickens to families so their children have milk to drink, warm clothes to wear, and eggs to eat.

    Worldbuilders is a charity orginization that is run by Pat Rothfuss and it brings together geeks of all creeds to help with Heifers amazing inititive.

  38. South Dakota Ranchers Relief Fund – help out cattle & sheep ranchers that lost (nearly or completely) their stock/herds including the animals they would’ve sold this year and the bred stock & stock that would’ve been born in the spring as a result of an unseasonable blizzard that hit the first week of November.

    Thanks John, for giving us the opportunity to point people toward worthy charitable causes.

  39. The American Museum of Natural History. Because science education and cultural understanding are fundamental to the progress of human civilization. Also, the more money museums have, the more fossils they can keep out of private collections and in the hands of scientists.


  40. International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is the official humanitarian organization of the Orthodox Christian Church in North and Central America. IOCC offers emergency relief and development programs to people worldwide without discrimination.

    No proselytizing – just aid.

    IOCC works internationally. It has provided emergency relief aid for people affected by Typhoon Haiyan and for residents of Syria. They’ve recently begun a clean water program in Cameroon, and helped those in Alabama affected by the recent tornadoes. It’s a well-run organization. 92% of resources go towards emergency relief and development programs.


  41. I admit to some self interest here but consider helping out your local Children’s Hospice. These are not just places where kids die but a vital source of support for the families of sick and disabled children.

    It may not sound like much but my local hospice http://www.bluebellwood.org/ cared for one of my sons enabling my wife and I to take his brothers to see Mickey in Paris. Siblings so often get the rough end of the parrot as everything is normally focused on the disabled one which means that they can miss out on so much that is ‘normal’. I think Bluebell can say it better than I can:

    “Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice offers care and support to children with a shortened life expectancy, both in their own homes and at our hospice in North Anston. Bluebell Wood is a place filled with laughter and love. We give families the chance to relax, take a break and have fun, and we help support the whole family. “

  42. WMMR’s Preston & Steve just wrapped up their Campout for Hunger this year, to benefit PhilAbundance. Give them money here (http://www.philabundance.org/take-action/donate/give-money/). Their rating is here (http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=4320#.UqIFqsRDv5w)

    Yes, it’s local to Philadelphia, but it coordinates with the entire delaware river valley region into New Jersey and Delaware, and it’s a major supplier to food banks thru-out the region. And this is a bad few years for hungry people.

    If you aren’t from the Philly area and/or don’t want to donate to the Philly area, please find your regional food bank charity and donate to them. It’s bad. Really bad.

  43. I am plugging the charity I volunteer for as a member of the social media committee: Northern VA Sheltie Rescue. Their website URL is http://www.nvsr.org/

    Here is a link to a YouTube video that helps explain WHY we do this: (tissue alert!)

    Our Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/NorthernVASheltieRescue?ref=hl
    I am one of the moderators.

    From our site:
    “Northern Virginia Sheltie Rescue is a non-profit 501(c)(3), all volunteer organization established in 1999 to rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home Shelties. Most of these Shelties have been relinquished to NVSR by owners unable to keep them. Others are found in shelters, because they are strays or have been abandoned. All our Shelties are fostered in NVSR volunteers’ homes (we do not have a shelter), and medical needs are addressed promptly and fully, including spay or neuter. They are then eligible to be adopted to carefully chosen homes, where they will be loved, well cared for, and protected. For the remainder of the adopted dogs’ lives, NVSR stays in touch with the adoptive families.”

    Shetland Sheepdogs are sometimes called “Little Lassies” or “miniature Collies.” They are their own breed, related to the Collie much like the Shetland pony is related to the horse. They are extremely smart (in the top 10 for canine intelligence), beautiful, willing to please, and tend to be loyal to only a small circle of people/dogs. They will also herd anything that moves…including your kids and each other. I must warn you that Shelties are like potato chips…you can’t have just one!

    NVSR has a Sheltie Shop on our site at http://www.nvsr.org/9658sheltie-shop.html
    Here you may buy items and donate at the same time. Any amount over the wholesale price of an item goes into rescuing, vet care, and adoption costs. We have no paid staff – we are all volunteers. Please consider buying some of our items or donating to help us save more Shelties…Vet costs are very high, and some Shelties come into our hands in poor shape. Thank you for reading!

  44. The House of MAGIC Foundation for the Arts is a center that focuses on all aspects of art. Magic is an acronym for Multi Arts Gallery and Inspirational Center. They provide education and entertainment in every art form: dance, music, acting, martial arts, and more. Their mission is to support the arts through the hearts of the community, by providing an outlet for individuals to learn, see, experience, express, and achieve art in all its forms. They are located in Ventura CA and seek to keep the arts an important part of the development of our children and our society. They are just starting out and could use the support of other individuals who feel just as passionate about the arts as they do.

    To learn more about them, visit them online at http://www.thomagic.com.

  45. Please drop (gently) a new, unwrapped, toy into a Toys for Tots box. Or a check, made out to “Toys for Tots”. Thank you. Semper Fi!

  46. http://www.ucsusa.org…I support this organization because the greatest blight in our world is the lack of knowledge. Educating people to be better thinkers, and providing good information is a great start to solving the world’s problems. It isn’t better than other organizations, but more fundamental.

  47. A veteran, a soccer coach that paid for kids that couldn’t afford to play over the years, father of 3, grandpa to 4. 50 years old, and been fighting with everything he has over the last 4 years of struggle with TWO rare types of cancer, a brain bleed and surgery, removal of esophagus and stomach, living off a feeding tube during 75 rounds of Chemo and several rounds of targeted radiation therapy. His wife and he were high school sweethearts, married when she was 17 before he was deployed for the first time.

    They have spent every last penny they have, and then some to continue his treatment. Now he is tired, and ready to rest. They started hospice care this week. The week of his youngest daughters 20th birthday. They have no money to set aside for final expenses. No income after he moves on from this world, and his wife has spent all of her life caring for him and their family. She is terrified that she will not be able to find a job at 47 with no work history outside the home, and will lose their house.

    I know this isn’t a national charity… but in a lot of ways it’s so much better than that. This will go directly to helping a family in so much need, that deserves it so much. That has always given without question when they were able. Now that they are not able, they need others to step up and give back.

    You can read more of their story here: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/raising-cash-for-robert-s-cancer-fund/102659

  48. I’ve spent 40 years working on a 1928 Singer treadle sewing machine. It’s reliable, safe, I can still get parts and needles, and it’s kept me and mine fed and warm.. And I support a charity that sends such machines to self-sufficiency projects, mostly in Africa.
    Imagine trying to work on an electric machine (fragile, hard to service, power not reliable) when you could have one of these workhorses..
    The charity also sends toolkits for mechanics, typewriters, knitting machines, and gardening tools. They are utterly practical and send only tools which can be serviced and remain useful.
    It has no religious remit. I have no problem with faith or faiths, but help should not be concomitant on conversion
    It’s in the UK, but will take your money from anywhere. And there are others like this all over.. Help the people who wish to work, to help themselves
    Thanks for reading

  49. Saw the comment upthread about local historical societies and museums — I’m the executive director at the Shelton McMurphey Johnson House, a house museum in Eugene, Oregon. We operate on a teeny-tiny budget, doing local public history education that nobody else here is doing. This winter I’m looking to expand our curriculum offerings for schoolteachers, because districts in our area have seen massive cuts to history education (yes, STEM is super-important, but so is a good grounding in the humanities!) and having good resources that comply with new state and federal curriculum guidelines is a big help. Nonprofits need to step up and fill these gaps!

    We fundraise over 90% of our operating budget each year, and the time I spend fundraising to keep the doors open and the lights on is time I *don’t* spend doing curriculum development and public history programs. Your help really makes a difference.

    If you’re an Oregon resident, donations to us are eligible for Oregon Cultural Trust tax credit matching — check their web site at http://www.culturaltrust.org for details.

    You can learn more about us at http://www.smjhouse.org; we are also active on Twitter, FB, and Pinterest (links on the web site). Thanks, John!

  50. This year, the third year in a row, I donated to Wikipedia, and I invite everyone to do so. I don’t donate much, only $5, but every penny counts, right? I know many people make fun of Wikipedia, but I think it’s a great resource. Definitely not as comprehensive as, say, Britannica, but Wikipedia is free, easily accessible, and so far unmatched as a starting point in any research: scientific, artistic, literary. Millions of users love it. Someone should help pay for it.

  51. Several suggestions ….
    1) Nearest local chapter of (or local group associated with) the Brain Injury Association. So little is known about the way the brain works *normally* that when someone experiences a traumatic brain injury, as I did nearly 20 years ago, he/she and friends and family can use all the help and guidance they can find.

    2) Children’s Wish Foundation — dedicated to making it possible for a severely injured or ill child, typically considered terminal, to have a daydream become real, e.g. with a trip to Disney World or equivalent.

    3) If you want to help but can’t decide on a worthy cause, don’t forget the United Way could always use help both in time and finances. They in turn distribute to charitable organizations which are typically too small or under-financed to actively solicit on their own.

    4) Last but by no means least, remember the organ-donor stub on your driver’s license.

  52. Girls Rock Boston (one of a number of loosely-affiliated Girls Rock non-profit groups in the US and other parts of the world) is a week long summer program for girls ages 8 to 17 working to empower girls and encourage positive self esteem through music education. They are currently running a funding drive to allow them to expand to offering programs the rest of the year as well:


    I coached a band of 8 & 9 year-old girls for last summer’s program and it’s absolutely amazing to watch the girls blossom in a supportive environment! Even if you don’t choose to donate, just go to the above link to watch the video showing a bit of what Girls Rock Camp is like :-)

  53. This time of year, I think about the things we take for granted here in the post-industrial world. Chief among these is easily accessible clean and safe water. We take it so much for granted that many of us would rather buy bottled water because it seems almost impossible to imagine that what comes out of the tap is clean and safe to drink and to cook with. There are millions of people in the world who walk for miles and miles every day just to get a few gallons of the stuff that we get in unlimited supply right in our homes just by turning a knob. Imagine not being able to drink a clean and safe glass of water whenever you want one.

    That’s why Water.org is my charity of choice for holiday giving. Yes, yes, it’s Matt Damon’s thing, so many might just write it off as another celebrity ego boost. But it gets four stars from Charity Navigator and an A- from the American Institute of Philanthropy’s CharityWatch. And I can’t think of a cause more deserving of a high-profile celebrity face than one that aims to improve safety and accessibility to the most fundamental resource for human life there is.

  54. Research for children’s cancers gets only the tiniest portion of federal funding. We are losing so much potential when our kids die – my son Alan had a sharp brain for numbers. Who knows what he could have accomplished if cancer hadn’t taken him from us at the age of five this January.

    Please consider contributing to St. Baldrick’s Foundation for Childhood Cancer research.


  55. Don’t forget good old Toys for Tots. Because they are all volunteers, they have virtually no overhead. And the Marine Corps gets a toys-for-tots discount, so if you send them money it’ll go farther than if you bought toys yourself and donated them. (Many people don’t know this–I didn’t till I made friends with a retired Marine–so that’s why I mentioned it.)

  56. 1. The North Shore Animal League is one of the largest no-kill animal shelter and adoption agencies. I’ve been there a number of times and seen the work they do – their animals are well-cared-for and the folks I know (about 25 or so) who have adopted animals from there have reported their animals adjusted REALLY well. I can’t say that about any other shelter I’ve experienced in the Northeast, and I’ve been to a TON.

    2. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund specifically works on protecting 1st Amendment rights in relation to comics. I’m of the opinion that the 1st Amendment is 1st for a reason, so I often give to charities of this nature. CBLDF still does not get over 6 figures in revenues, so they’re the ones I want to mention. From their site (cbldf.org/about-2/):
    “Since 1986, the CBLDF has managed and paid for the legal defense of individuals whose First Amendment rights are threatened for making, selling, or even reading comic books. We also provide free referrals for cases before they rise to the level of a court challenge.”

    3. Think of donating to your local NPR radio affiliate if you listen. I’m in NYC and I can’t imagine life without Soterios Johnson, so I hawk WNYC whenever I can. Most major affiliates rate reasonably highly on Charity Navigator.

    4. Finally, VDay is a global organization working to end violence against women and girls. It receives one of the highest financial accountability and transparency scores on Charity Navigator. Yes, Eve Ensler started it, and I’m aware there is some criticism around the use of Valentine’s Day, but the campaigns are extraordinary… and trans-inclusive.

    I also echo the EFF, Heifer, and St. Baldrick’s (yay shavees!) references above.

  57. The Tampa, Florida, Heralds of Harmony, a chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, is a 501(c)3. “The Tampa Bay Heralds of Harmony Chorus and quartets seek to preserve and further develop the barbershop style of a cappella singing through musical excellence and through frequent public performances for the broadest possible spectrum of West Central Florida audiences, and to contribute to the cultural development of the community through responsible public service.”

    We have shows of our own, perform for other organizations, and support and fund musical activities for youth in our area.

    See our website, http://heraldsofharmony.groupanizer.com/, for more details, or to donate via Paypal.

    — Larry Clapp, President

  58. Imagine the worst of Parkinson’s symptoms and Alzheimer’s symptoms combined, and throw in some loss of reality (hallucinations and paranoia) while you’re at it. Oh, and it’s relapsing/remitting, so sometimes people show symptoms and sometimes they don’t…meaning providers sometimes wonder if the symptoms are real. This is the reality of Lewy Body Dementia, a disorder that is becoming kown and researched. Check out http://lbda.org/content/ways-to-give to learn about donations, volunteering, and education. This is an organization that provides training to doctors, education to the community, and support for caregivers.

  59. Thirteen years ago, I wound up staying at http://chad.dartmouth-hitchcock.org/pc/davids_house.html , while my preemie was in the hospital. If you’re in that area of New England, consider donating. If you’re elsewhere in the country, look around for similar places that help parents stay near their hospitalized children! I believe Ronald McDonald houses are one national version, but there may be local ones; your local hospital would probably know!

    Another thing you may wish to do is call local schools’ guidance centers and see if they have anything set up to provide backpacks of food to at-risk kids over the weekends, when they can’t access school lunches or breakfasts. (There’s a local organizational here, for my city and a few neighboring ones. The guidance counselors at the schools identify which kids need a little extra to get through the weekend, send a list of the numbers to the organization, and get a bunch of backpacks full of food.)

    (http://thebloggess.com/2013/12/accidentally-doing-good-things/ has a number of linked charity ideas, too. As well as some profanity, but as the post says, when do you get the chance to donate BEES in the name of someone you hate? BEES FOR THE HOLIDAYS!)

    Once again, thanking our kind host for these wonderful opportunities.

  60. DonorsChoose has a system where teachers in US public schools propose a project and then donors fund that project directly. The teachers and sometimes the students send thank you notes. Projects range among literature, science, basic skills, social sciences, STEM, history and more.

    What I like about it as a gift is that my recipient gets to choose the specific use of the gift. So my mom used hers for books and reading projects, my dad uses his for the quirkiest project he can find, my brother supports geology and environmental projects, my husband likes to provide computers and programming, my SIL goes for chemistry projects, I go for projects that specifically support girls of color, and my best friend seeks out oral history projects.

    We all get to support the public schools, tuned to our own hobbyhorses, and on a small enough scale that we can see the difference our giving makes in individual lives.

  61. Kiva provides microfinance to small business owners in countries around the world. In developing countries, these small loans make a huge difference to the viability of entrepreneurs.

    A related initiative, Kiva Zip, provides slightly larger loans to US and Kenyan entrepreneurs.

  62. About 60 years ago, when I was a student at U.C. Berkeley, Grant Noda (fellow-roomer in Mrs. Arita’s home) swept me off to help stuff envelopes for some Quaker charity. He also provided me with Useful Figures — the CEO and a couple of other high officials got paid approximately the national median income, and all the other work was strictly Volunteer & unpaid (possibly except for the coffee). And the field workers were plainly & firmly told that their job was to help people, and to set an example; if the people they helped were moved to become Quakers because of their good example, fine. If not… their job was still to help people, because The Spirit tells them so.

    I’m not a Quaker, ahd generally have a low opinon of Organized Religion, but the American Friends Service Committee seems to do an excellent job of moving donations to where they can be genuinely helpful in the long term (they don’t deliver bottled water, they arrange to have wells drilled, as it were). And the Friends have a political lobby in D.C. that seems to do a pretty good job of arguing agains War, and for various other Good Things.

  63. By day, I am proud to write for The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which was founded in 1855 as the first pediatric hospital in North America. It now has the largest pediatric health network in the U.S. and is consistently recognized as the No. 1 children’s hospital in the nation by Parents magazine and U.S.News & World Report. Children’s Hospital sees patients from all over the world and has a history in medical innovation, including the first vaccine for mumps, and researchers there continue to make groundbreaking discoveries that improve the lives of kids and families everywhere. If you’d like to help the Hospital give the gift of childhood, please consider making a donation at http://giftofchildhood.org.

  64. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), whose motto is “Nothing about us without us”.
    The best known autism group engages in harmful fear-mongering and refuses to give autistics input or recognize that they have any value. ASAN works to empower autistics and advocates for policies and services to help autistics and their families.

    Their mission statement:The Autistic Self Advocacy Network seeks to advance the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism. Drawing on the principles of the cross-disability community, ASAN seeks to organize the community of Autistic adults and youth to have our voices heard in the national conversation about us. ASAN believes that the goal of autism advocacy should be a world in which Autistic people enjoy the same access, rights, and opportunities as all other citizens. We hope to empower Autistic people across the world to take control of our own lives and the future of our common community. Nothing About Us, Without Us!

  65. It’s hard to keep this to just one, as there are so many worthy charities. Also, I feel like I should put something in for where I’m living now (Togo, West Africa), but…

    This group did wonders for my cousin when he was trying to kick a SEVERE painkiller (and possibly other things) addiction. He had been in bad shape; he’d event stolen the $100 my grandmother had put aside to pay her own court costs. After his work with The Healing Place, he’s been able to get and keep a job and be productive. We’re all very proud of him, and also amazed at the work the Healing Place did with him. I try to send them some support every year.

    The Healing Place

  66. I volunteer with Chicago-based Trio Animal Foundation (http://www.trioanimalfoundation.org). There are many wonderful dogs in kill shelters or on the street whose medical needs prevent rescues, most of which operate on a shoestring, from taking them in. TAF fills the gap, making it possible for sick and injured dogs to get a second chance.

    With a very special dog named Trio as the inspiration, over 2,000 homeless animals have received the medical attention that they desperately needed and thousands more will be saved.

    If you are or know animal lovers, please consider a gift to help TAF continue their wonderful mission.

  67. http://www.lwr.org
    Lutheran World Relief is a religiously-based charity, but they do *not* discriminate based on religion or make people sit through a missionary’s speech to get help. Their overhead (the percentage of money spent on advertizing and administration and stuff) is is consistently very low, on the order of 8% or less.

    They have two main branches: development and disaster relief. In a disaster, they are usually one of the first groups in and one of the last groups out. In a major disaster, (such as Typhoon Haian), Lutheran church groups around the world cover administrative costs so that every penny you give goes straight to where it’s needed. They work through local groups, so they focus on what the people there actually need, not just what rich countries think they should want. Their development work also happens through local affiliates. They work on many issues, everything from empowering women to food security to healthcare to education to small business support based on what the community needs.

    Donor’s Choose is an excellent charity for anyone who wants to help schools. Teachers in poor districts say what their classroom needs, anything from books to science experiments to other equipment, and how much it will cost. You can search the for projects to help fund based on location, how poor the school district is, or what subject you want to fund (math, science, reading, etc). Then, when the classroom gets what it needs, the kids and teacher send you a thank you.

    Interfaith Hospitality Network helps change lives. 40% of homeless in America right now are families with children, and living in shelters is almost impossible for them–besides being a bad place for children (or anyone, but especially children), shelters split families up by gender. In a town or city with an Interfaith Hospitality Network, local churches open their buildings up to homeless families, providing shelter and food and other assistance as needed: job counseling, health care, clothes to wear to an interview, etc., all designed to help the family get back up on their feet and living on their own. Find your local IHN and donate, they need help to cover costs.

  68. I haven’t seen this mentioned yet. Amazon now has a co-website. You sign up to the website through the main amazon website, it’s called smile.amazon.com. Part of the process is deciding a charity you want a percentage of purchases of designated items goes to. Once signed up, you go to that website instead of the amazon.com one. Every time you make a purchase of items that have been designated as those they will contribute to charities when bought, money goes to that charity. You can change the charity at any time, as many times as you like me, and buy a lot of stuff through amazon, it’s a nice way to send money to a charity – or charities – you like.

  69. Sigh. Sorry, messed up the last two lines. should read “as many times as you like. If you are like me, and buy….”

  70. Do you love to read? Imagine what it would be like to be an adult who couldn’t read, who struggled to read, who didn’t speak English and lived in America, or who didn’t have a high school diploma and couldn’t get a job. Project: LEARN of Medina County, Ohio provides free, one-on-one tutoring for any adult who walks through our doors.

    We have used bookstores that support our mission, but the need is great and tutoring materials can be expensive. We have professional educators that supervise our large crew of volunteer tutors to help every student reach their individual goals. We have taken students from homelessness to employment, from no diploma to GED completion.

    We turn no one away, and all materials and tutoring are free to the student. Last year, students from 24 different nations used our ESL tutoring, and 14 individuals earned their GEDs. The 2014 GED test is going to cost students $140 (this year’s test costs $40), and our organization will be trying to pay those fees for students in the new year.

    If you would like to support Project: LEARN, please visit our website at http://www.projectlearnmedina.org. We are a 30 year organization with 501(c)(3) status, so your donation is tax deductible. Thank you for reading, and thanks to Mr. Scalzi for offering all charities this opportunity.

  71. Community Food Share in Boulder County http://www.communityfoodshare.org/‎ and The Round Pantry at Westview Presbyterian Church https://www.facebook.com/pages/Westview-Presbyterian-Church/63382066752
    The Round Pantry is currently (twice a month) providing food in a shopping style environment. We served 287 families last time and gave out 6 toms of food. The average size family is about 4 people. These people need the help. the Round Pantry gets most of it’s food from Community Food Share , the congregation and local farmers.

  72. Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) is a very well-run nationwide organization that trains service dogs for people with physical and mental disabilities. They have been around for nearly 40 years and have place over 4200 dogs. Their dogs are trained to the highest standards and are precious helpers and friends. Plus, the dogs get to be with their favorite person all day.

    You can contribute directly at cci.org, or you can contribute and get a calendar with pretty danged cute dog pictures here: http://cci.org/2014calendar

    Our son’s CCI dog, Loken, is amazing. You can see photos of Loken with our son here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/walter_underwood/sets/72157617320468561/

  73. I volunteer with the North and Central Chicagoland chapter of Project Linus, an organization that provides handmade blankets to children that are seriously ill or otherwise in crisis. For example, the national headquarters collected 2,000 blankets for children in the town of Washington, IL where tornadoes destroyed entire neighborhoods last month.

    You can find more information – and holiday gift ideas – at the website: http://www.projectlinus.org/

  74. Charities do NOT need your “stuff”. Stuff costs money to store, sort, move around.

    Give money to a charity you’ve checked out. Give time only if you can commit to doing it regularly. Don’t give money to those fake charities that do phone solicitation, or people who go door to door.

    I would concur with your local food bank (particularly in the US), Donors Choose, and any other local organizations, be it your local animal shelter, shelter for abused people, city library, or local history museums. Your money will go farther and get directly to people or critters who need it.

    Think globally, act locally.

  75. Who helps out when seabirds get coated with oil, or songbirds are injured in cat attacks, or baby raccoons and opossums are orphaned when their mothers are hit by cars? Wildlife rehabilitation groups treat and care for injured and orphaned wildlife to help them get back on their feet (or wings, or whatever appendages they happen to use). You probably have one in your area that could use your money and/or volunteer hours*, and I encourage you to seek them out! If you don’t, here’s a plug for the group I volunteer with, Pacific Wildlife Care.

    Located in Morro Bay on California’s central coast, Pacific Wildlife Care takes in 2,200 animals each year of over 140 different species. From a golden eagle that crashed through the windshield of a car to baby sparrows who fell out of their nest (and couldn’t be re-nested due to injury or nest inaccessibility), from opossums with head injuries to pelicans tangled in fishing line, PWC deals with a huge variety of species and situations. PWC recently hired a full-time vet, which has improved outcomes for the animals but is pretty expensive. All of those animals also need food (do you have any idea how many fish a pelican eats per day? it is ridiculous), medical supplies, utilities (the water bill to wash all those poopy cages adds up), and more. PWC also provides wildlife education to the community.

    Some animals are injured as a normal part of living in the wild, but a lot are injured by human activity. Even when people aren’t the direct cause of an injury, we’re putting enough pressure on the populations of many species that it’s valuable to help out every individual that might yet survive and reproduce. Trained wildlife rehabbers provide an important service for the planet, the human community, and of course the individual animals.

    *If you are willing to be pooped on by animals most people never come within 30 feet of, I highly recommend volunteering at your local wildlife rehab center. Many places will also have poop-free volunteer opportunities if you desire.

  76. My “#1 charity” is World Vision. I sponsor two young girls (one in Zambia and one in the Philippines), but you don’t have to be a regular sponsor to contribute. World Vision provides necessities such as food, safe drinking water, clothing, and basic health care and education to children all over the world. Our U.S. dollars buy much more in these relatively poor countries than they do here, and very little money is used for administrative costs. It brings me such joy to see the difference my money makes in the lives of these kids, who have so little.

  77. Three clumps of charity– International down to the micro-level, but all places that have been investigated, and are dear to my heart. Because when you put a family in a safe house with a lock on the door, they are on the stairway to anything. Because when you teach someone how to take care of themselves, and then they can pass on the gift of an animal, that gift is priceless. Because children sometimes need a care package. Because bees may save us all.

    And because if you have ever been really cold for five-ten-twenty-thirty minutes? You can imagine what it is like to spend the night in 20 degree F weather.

    One–help build houses, not only in the US and Canada, but worldwide. I’ve worked with the local group, and it is amazing how far they can stretch build money. HFH started the Restore concept, too, selling builder overruns in wood, windows, paint, etc. to people who need it (including you, perhaps?)


    Two–Best Angry Bee Christmas Ever! Want to donate toward bees–or heifers–or Project Night Night? The blog readers over at The Bloggess are making it simple to help out!

    But the language is always NSFW. Just sayin’.


    Here’s another place to make a difference with a small donation. Even if you have only $5 to donate, House the Homeless gladly takes it. They are buying thermal underwear for the homeless. In Austin, TX it can get down to 17 degrees F during December and January, something that homeless people heading south for the winter often don’t know. HtH buys in bulk and gets as much as they can. What will your money help them buy?

    “$10 = one thermal top and one thermal bottom.
    $35 = one thermal top, one thermal bottom, one hat, one pair of gloves, one scarf and one poncho.”


  78. Lots of good suggestions in this list. Might I put in a plug for your local Friends of the Library group? With library funding dropping almost everywhere, often the main source of support for a small library is their local Friends group, for everything from new materials and supplies to paying for programming to chairs, bookshelves, and computers. And occasionally a new roof or termite tenting.

    I’m also gonna stick in a note for my charity that I will be giving the contents of my change jar to at the end of the year, from the Gamma Rabbit project: The Octavia Butler Scholarship Program, that gets aspiring young writers into the Clarion Workshop.

  79. Scarleteen offers free, non-judgmental, science-based sex ed for teens (and, you know, older folks if they need it). In some parts of the world, including some parts of this country, that can be impossible to get almost anywhere else. And it can literally be a lifesaver. Consider donating to Scarleteen, if only because you wished you had access to it when you were a young teen.

  80. My Charity would HAVE to be Advocates for Freedom. A non-profit that works hard to bring awareness to HUMAN TRAFFICKING in the USA! It is estimated that 100,000 t0 300000 AMERICAN Woman and CHILDREN are sex trafficked every year in our country.

  81. Crate Escape Rescue

    Crate Escape is a small family run rescue. They are a family friendly rescue with no age requirement for kids in an adoptive home. They believe that it is better to educate kids on the proper way to care for the pups so they can use the knowledge in the future. All of their pups are in foster care or in their own home. They are all vetted in NY by A.C.E Vet Hospital.

    With your help you can make their mission possible! Crate Escape Rescue specializes in saving pups and momma “pups” from the local area and the Carolinas. Believe it or not there is over an 80% euthanization rate for unwanted pups.They try to scoop up these puppies before they have to realize what shelter life is like. Shelters can be a taboo for young puppies. They carry deadly illnesses that puppies will not be protected against, such as parvovirus, distemper, etc. Their second goal is to PROMOTE, ADVOCATE, AND EDUCATE everyone on spay/neuter. All of their pups from 8 weeks + are spayed & neutered! This is so important in helping them achieve their goal!

    They rescue, rehabilitate and find loving homes for neglected and abused dogs. To date they have rescued 775 dogs and puppies and would love your support this season and all year long!

    Please click below for more information.

    Thank you!



    Also on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crate-Escape-Inc/126442574053940

  82. The CARE for Sandy project is a team of retouchers who have been painstakingly restoring damaged photos salvaged from Hurricane Sandy and giving the family the hi-res digital versions — this is a purely unfunded volunteer venture, so cannot afford to give prints.

    We’ve now started the CARE package program where you can adopt a family, or even just a picture or two, the project will send you the files to make a small framed print to send to the family. It is a small thing, but can make a huge impact for people who often lost all but one or two photos of their family and history, and you can spend as little as $12 and a bit of your time.


  83. Can someone please help me step by step apply for the Grant for writing. My technology is so limited at this time it is hard to get the information I need. It would be so awesome if someone could call me and speak with me about what i need to do please. I am a great writer and love poetry and I just want to get my words out there. I have no money nor home, but I have tons of journals and writings from way back until this day that I dream of getting\books and magazines published and into the hands of all the world. shelley.hemphill2013@gmail.com and fb me.