Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2014, Day Five: Charities

For the last four days, the Whatever Shopping Guide 2014 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.

108 Comments on “Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2014, Day Five: Charities”

  1. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society http://www.nationalmssociety.org/

    Funding research and support for those who have been diagnosed with the autoimmune disease MS, which causes nerve damage and plaques in the brain. My mother has battled MS for over 30 years and her mantra is “The Cure is Coming.”

  2. 2020VisionQuest.org

    I’ve known Randy Pierce for almost 25 years now and he never ceases to inspire.

  3. I usually donate to CosmoQuest. From their site:

    “Our goal is to create a community of people bent on together advancing our understanding of the universe; a community of people who are participating in doing science, who can explain why what they do matters, and what questions they are helping to answer. We want to create a community, and here is where we invite all of you to be a part of what we’re doing.”

  4. Anyone in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area (or really anyone with a functioning soul) should take a hard look at donating to Meta House: http://metahouse.org/

    They are a really terrific organization that focuses on women who are trying to overcome the cycle of addiction and relearn (or just learn) crucial parenting and life skills. They offer a comprehensive residential program and have demonstrated years of measurable, significant steps in breaking the cycle of abuse. I really cannot say enough good things about them.

  5. Vermont Foodbank: http://www.vtfoodbank.org/ They do a lot of great work gathering local foodstuffs and distributing to thousands of Vermonters in need, and their BackPack Program, which gives kids kid-friendly, nonperishable, vitamin fortified food from all five food groups, is an awesome way to support young minds and bodies. To reduce any stigma, packs of food are placed into the backpacks of those children participating in the program while the students are not in the classroom. 1000 kids will receive backpacks each week during the 2014-15 school year. In a year’s time, the Vermont Foodbank will package approximately 35,000 bags or 123,000 pounds of food for children in need. Thanks Scalzi!

  6. I’m generally fond of giving to my local public library whenever possible, and encourage you to do the same! Other good charities:
    RAINN – They help survivors of rape, incest, and abuse.
    KaBOOM! – Not just a joke on “Parks and Recreation,” they’re a real, legitimate charity helping build playgrounds for kids for the past 15+ years.
    AnySoldier.com – Send a care package to a random soldier who needs a boost. The site helps you figure out what is most needed, and you can filter various military units by branch, state of origin, etc.

  7. Broadway Youth Center in Chicago assists at-risk queer youth.

    Howard Brown, also in Chicago, provides healthcare to the LGBTQ community, STD testing clinics, and educational opportunities. The clinic serves a lot of uninsured clients.

    PAWS Chicago is a no-kill shelter that makes it easy to give a home to a non-homo sapien person who needs one.

  8. There are three charities I give to and would like to recommend:

    Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors Without Borders – doing amazing work, not just during the Ebola outbreak, but all-year round.

    Medical Aid for Palestinians is a UK charity which does exactly what it says on the tin – provide medical relief, expertise and equipment. It’s a charity even the UK government trusts and funded, in the aftermath of this summer’s conflict, and the medical aftermath of that conflict, widespread homelessness and flooding in Gaza mean that the crisis there is not over by any means. UK citizens can reclaim GiftAid on donations. (Citizens of the USA might consider UNRWA as alternative). I know that some people will see anything doing work in that region of the worlds as political, however, these organisations put medical and humanitarian relief first, any politics & campaigning second.

    Worldbuilders / Heifer International – Pat Rothfuss’ way to get geeks to do good, with a huge raffle, thousands of prizes, many auctions and other things.

  9. This Star Won’t Go Out:

    It was started by the parents of the late Esther Earl, to help families of children with cancer make ends meet. They recently had a kickstarter event with some great perks, and raised over $7,000 to help some of their families have an actually Merry Christmas.

    I would love nothing more to see TSWGO grow into this huge, powerful force. I’ve seen too many friends die from childhood cancers (but the APPALLING state of funding for these diseases — there’s no money helping cure such a small gross portion of the population — is another can of worms).

    Wayne and Lori are doing such great work, and I would love nothing more than to dump my entire paycheck into their digital change jar.

  10. I ask that, whatever you do, find a charity that means something to you, that gets a good rating online (visit reputable rating organizations like Charity Navigator) and spends a high percentage of its donations on programatic activities. And then donate regularly. Set up an autopayment, make it part of your monthly budget, whatever. Charities report a bump in donations around the holidays, but the need is year round.

  11. TATL foundation provides food, clothing, transportation & variety of other things to support those in need. Perfect organization!

  12. I volunteer with a dog rescue group called Underdog Ranch. We agreed to take in a dog we were told had a “bad leg”. Turns out she’d been hit by a car and not given medical care by the rural shelter who had her (don’t get me started on that). The leg has set with a bone jutting out and nearly breaking the skin. You can donate towards her surgery and hear more about her here.

  13. A friend of mine has been collecting donations for METAvivor, an organization specifically devoted to funding research on metastatic breast cancer (and a support community for people with metastatic (stage 4) breast cancer) and founded because many other BC charities focused more on funding screening programs than research on better treatments.


  14. I have to recommend Patrick Rothfuss’ organization Worldbuilders. http://www.worldbuilders.org/
    He partnered with Heifer International and has a lot of other authors and gamers involved too. If you donate you get a chance to win a lot of great prizes too.

    I also have to recommend his books as well. Once you’ve read all of John’s first :)

  15. Compassion.com is a fantastic child advocacy and anti-poverty org, and one of the top rated NGOs anywhere. $38 a month provides everything a child needs: schooling, clothes, medicine/medical, and food.

  16. I’m personally not from Arkansas but this charity,”Lucie’s Place”, is one of many in middle America trying to make a difference for LGBTQ homeless youth. They often don’t receive the amount of aide that larger metropolitan centers such as NY and LA and SanFrancisco receive (who themselves still struggle to meet the demand). Donating a small amount , even $5 helps them provide LGBTQ youth with mobile phones, toiletries, bus passes, safe beds, medication and job training.

    Donate Here: http://www.luciesplace.org/support-us.html

    Lucie’s Place site Mission Statement:

    “Lucie’s Place is a dream in response to the nightmare that is many young Lesbian. Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer (LGBTQ) peoples lives. The board of Lucie’s Place is working to open a long-term transitional shelter in the Central Arkansas area, which will be open specifically to LGBTQ identified young adults.

    Only 5-10% of the general population identify as LGBTQ, however 20-40% of the homeless population share this identity. Although equality for LGBTQ people has come a long way in the past 50 years, harassment and violence (verbal, physical and sexual) are commonly experienced by youth and young adults coming out as LGBTQ at home. A study found that nearly one-third of homeless youth “left home specifically because of sexual abuse by one of their parents.” Once homeless, many young adults find survival sex necessary (sex in exchange for food, shelter, money, etc). A Canadian study found that LGBT young adults were almost 3 times more likely to engage in survival sex, than heterosexual young adults. A 2009 eight-city study found that “homeless youth and young adults who engaged in survival sex were 4.5 times more likely to have attempted suicide than those who had not engaged in the behavior.” “

  17. I propose that people consider charitable giving on a micro-scale rather than large NP organizations.
    Maybe your new favorite “charity” could be one person or a couple of people in your community.
    Instead of $100 to Komen – you could give that $100 to a single mom with breast cancer.
    Instead of $50 to an animal organization you could buy a few bags of dog food for a poor person whose only companionship is his dog.

    Instead of $500 to a research org you could give $100 gift cards to 5 families, particularly single parents, who have disabled children.

    There are so many ways to do this and you can even do it anonymously.
    Bypass administrative costs and politics altogether and give to individuals in need. You’ll be making a real and immediate difference in a poor person’s life.

  18. I am a fan of Bat Conservation International.


    They just pulled off an amazing coup, saving Bracken Cave, the country’s largest bat cave, from a developer that was one step removed from Snidely Whiplash. (Seriously, putting a massive development a hundred yards from fifteen million bats, on the principle that once people move in, you’ll be able to have the cave sealed because rabies, is cartoonish super villainy. Even without the middle of the night zoning deals.)

    Plus they’re funding research into White-Nose Syndrome and are generally fighting the good fight for one of nature’s most essential and misunderstood mammals.

  19. The Mozilla Foundation has a mission to keep the web open, to have people be in control, not corporations. Firefox is of course their best known tool for this, but they do so much more behind the screens, fighting for open standards with choice and privacy baked right in from the very start, so that by the time it gets to browsers to be implemented, it’ll be good for us by default. You can donate money, which is very welcome, but even better, you can participate in many dozens of ways. You don’t need to be a software engineer for this. Translating, testing, teaching, …; skills you have can probably make a difference.

  20. I so admire the work done by Save the Redwoods League. http://www.savetheredwoods.org/ These folks have been working since 1918 to protect, restore, and do useful science in one of the most unique (and endangered) ecosystems on our planet.

    In their own words: “We protect redwoods by purchasing redwood forests and the surrounding lands needed to nurture them…[And] by acquiring conservation easements or agreements, which grant the League the legal right to safeguard the forest from harmful land use practices forever.”

    They do great public outreach, research, and education programs, some of which you can participate in with just a camera and the Internet. They also provide grant funding for scientific research on habitat disturbance, climate change, non-native species, etc.

  21. Direct Relief gives medical assistance to people around the world who have been affected by poverty, natural disasters, and civil unrest. Low overhead, no religious or political agenda.
    I should disclose that my employer, a non-profit healthcare organization, gets some aid from DR. But DR got on my radar long before I started working there–it was after one of the large quakes in Indonesia, and I knew I needed to send in as much money as I could, and I wanted to be sure it was well spent. After some investigation DR came to the top: efficient, transparent, focused, agenda-free.

  22. What weighs 60-90 pounds and thinks it’s a lap dog? A Doberman Pinscher! These great dogs crave human interaction. There’s a wonderful rescue group, Doberman Rescue of the Triad, dedicated to finding new homes for dobes who have lost theirs. http://doberman-rescue.com Donations are always needed, but the easiest – cheapest – way to give is to let your on-line shopping for yourself benefit them. By registering and using iGive.com, Goodshop.com or smile.amazon.com and designating Doberman Rescue of the Triad as your charity, the retailers will donate a percentage of your purchase back to the this rescue group. It costs you nothing! So shop with a smile – you just helped a life that was helpless. And there’s an app for iPhones and Androids that lets you sign up at wooftrax.com, designate Doberman Rescue of the Triad as your charity, and when you walk with your dog – or even a virtual dog – the rescue receives a donation for each mile. Hey, you were going to walk anyway, now you‘ve accomplished two things! And last but not least, if you’d like to experience being adored 24/7, check out the dobes for adoption on the website. The rescue’s experience with hundreds of rescued Dobermans shows that they crave human companionship.

  23. A charity few have heard of but it’s doing great things, http://www.worldbicyclerelief.org/ World Bicycle Relief is bringing mobility and training to sub-Saharan Africa. By teaching people to make and repair bicycles, and then giving them away, they are changing the way people live at the lowest levels.

    An interesting note: After the first year, they have given 75% of the bicycles to women, because men would keep the bike at home and treasure it, while women would put it to work, and loan it out when they weren’t using it themselves. A bicycle given to a man would sit unused for hours a day; a bicycle given to a woman would never sit still. I thought that was a fascinating insight into human nature.

    Their American overhead is underwritten by the SRAM corporation (although SRAM oddly doesn’t talk about that much). The money donated goes to Africa. I am a charity skeptic (having done tax returns for a couple of years in Washington DC), and these folks have seriously impressed me with what they have achieved and how little goes to administration.

  24. As a certifiable “cat lady,” I tend to donate to local animal welfare charities.

    Angels of Assisi, in Roanoke, VA – http://www.angelsofassisi.org/get-involved/donate/

    Angels is a non-profit, low-cost pet clinic and shelter, and is where I adopted my lovely one-eyed pirate cat, Odin.

    Roanoke Wildlife Rescue, in Roanoke, VA – http://www.roanokewildlife.org/

    Roanoke Wildlife rescues, rehabilitates, and releases injured, orphaned, diseased and displaced wild animals. My friend volunteers with them, and if you’ve never seen a baby raccoon be bottle-fed, let me tell you, you’re missing out.

    Also, on a personal note, a co-worker of mine is currently in a financial crisis due to his wife having costly cancer surgery. Joe and his wife are wonderful people, and if anyone deserves some extra help this time of year, it’s them. http://www.gofundme.com/h6r4go

  25. The Portsmouth Area Arts Council & Children’s Theatre is a non-profit that provides live, educational, theatre and art experiences to students in Southern Ohio. Their mission of “integrating the arts into the lives of children” is realized by main stage and outreach shows, art competitions and a season of locally-produced student shows.

    They reach thousands of students each year as audience members and hundreds participate in productions and workshops. Cost for student matinees range from $2-$3 a seat and there is never any cost for student actors to participate in shows.

    As one of our local principals recently said:

    “Many schools are experiencing economic stress, limited resources, and pressure to perform on standardized tests. These factors can frustrate educators and their students. The partnership with the PAAC is a fantastic bridge to overcome those barriers. The following passage from the National Standards for Arts Education helps reinforce the importance of arts education:
    “. . . the arts have been an inseparable part of the human journey; indeed, we depend on the arts to carry us toward the fullness of our humanity. We value them for themselves, and because we do, we believe knowing and practicing them is fundamental to the healthy development of our children’s minds and spirits. That is why, in any civilization – ours included – the arts are inseparable from the very meaning of the term ‘education.’ We know from long experience that no one can claim to be truly educated who lacks basic knowledge and skills in the arts.”
    The Portsmouth Area Arts Council is a leader in outreach and main stage productions (over 16,000 local students just last year). Their programs remain affordable and focused on their mission of “integrating the arts into the lives of children.” The spark of imagination and wonder in the eyes of a child is, indeed, a sight to behold.”

    For more information about their work in Appalachia along the Ohio River, please visit http://www.paac4kids.org.

  26. I’m a healthcare provider and I have a soft spot regarding global health inequalities. Two groups that do fantastic work and could always use more support:

    http://www.pih.org/ Partners in Health (Paul Farmer was on Colbert last night) Supports healthcare, education, and training in underserved, mostly developing countries

    https://watsi.org/ Watsi, crowd sourcing for healthcare in developing countries. Contribute towards a child’s cardiac surgery or something as equally life changing!

    https://crowdfund.ucsf.edu/project/541c8b5909206564a0807c11 HEAL Initiative is in their last day of a $50,000 crowd source funding drive. Support training of healthcare providers to work in disadvantaged areas of the US or underdeveloped countries.

  27. I work at a VERY small 501(c)(3) organization. Actually, I volunteer. There are NO paid positions.
    The Belen Area Food Pantry does not even have a web site — none of us have the skills to set one up. We serve roughly 1/2 of Valencia County, New Mexico. The County has around 75,000 residents. In every month, we provide food to around 1,400 people. That number has been increasing.
    Contributions may be mailed to:
    Belen ARea Food Pantry
    P.O. Box 225
    Belen, New Mexico 87002

  28. My granddad lost his dairy farm in the Great Depression of the 1930s. Instead of turning bitter or drowning his sorrows in the bottle, he devoted the rest of his life to helping other farmers achieve the success that had eluded him, an example that stuns and humbles me to this day.

    Granddad was one of the earliest supporters of http://www.heifer.org/ (known originally as the Heifer Project), and for several decades, he was the regional chair for the eastern US. Well into his 70s and 80s, he was a peripatetic advocate for the cause, hauling pamphlets and posters in the back of his old Ford all across upstate New York to do presentations at elementary schools, churches, Sunday schools and anywhere else he could find an audience. And I still give to Heifer in his memory every year on his birthday.

    The thing I most appreciate about Heifer is that they don’t just dish out money and walk away. Farmers who benefit from Heifer get premium livestock bred specifically for the climatological and geographic challenges of their area, and they get training and education to help them make the most of their new assets. And each gift of livestock comes with a string attached – the offspring are to be given to other farmers in the area to help them improve their own herds or flocks as well.

    A gift to Heifer truly is a gift that will go on giving for a long time to come. And being the frugal sort, I like to think of putting my charitable dollars to work in such a long-term productive way, giving people a hand up instead of a hand-out.

    And most of all, every time a shipment of piglets or chicks or heifers puts another farmer on the path out of poverty, I know that Granddad is smiling.

    Happy holidays, all.

  29. A significant chunk of my money goes to the Red Cross. I know it’s not as popular as it once was, but they do a lot of good work. My volunteer hours are spent on a Red Cross team that treats single family fires like the disasters that they actually are. The mission doesn’t really get the publicity of the big disasters, but to those families it’s still a big deal. We make sure they have clothes, food, and a place to stay because sometimes insurance takes days to kick in and stability is the first step toward healing.

    These smaller disasters don’t bring money in like the big ones, so it’s important that the Red Cross gets donations in times when there haven’t been a lot of hurricanes, tornadoes, or terrorist attacks.


  30. Make a Difference Rescue, on Facebook.
    a metric trait based canine rescue dedicated to helping abused and abandoned animals.Help “us” make a difference for deserving animals.

    I have fostered five dogs with this group and ended up adopting the last two.

  31. There are millions of people all over the world right now who are refugees, having been forced from their homes by political or military unrest. This is a particular problem in Syria, where nearly half of the country’s population has been displaced, either within the country, or to other countries altogether. Wherever they are, they don’t have nearly enough to provide for themselves, and many of them are living in squalid conditions, because the international community won’t provide enough funding for them. You can help change that by donating to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Go to donate.unhcr.org, and throw them a few bucks. Believe me, you’ll feel a little better.

  32. Hackers for Charity.

    Not bad guys who do wrong to Charities, but Hackers in the original sense of the word that use their know how and skills to improve and assist small charities in general. A major thrust of HTC’s work is built on the will of Johnny Long, currently living in Uganda, growing the local community and helping people make their lives better.

    Hacking conferences around the world raise many to assist in Johnny’s work, and a few make a pilgrimage to The Keep to help provide materials as well.


    One personal story of seeing the work and contributing


    Amazing work done by these people worldwide, and lives are changed for the better!

  33. So many great charities here! But I would be remiss if I didn’t add the all-breed dog rescue group I volunteer for – Waggin’ Tails Dog Rescue in S.E. Michigan. We do a lot of fundraising so that we can take in the dogs with more expensive issues that other rescues can’t, and also donate any surplus to other rescues. You can help us out in several ways, but the main ones are:

    You can donate directly, of course: http://www.waggintailsdogrescue.org/

    You can purchase various products and designs at our Zazzle store: http://www.zazzle.com/waggintailsdogrescue*

    And, of course, if you’re considering adding a new family member and you’re in or near southeast Michigan (we don’t adopt too far out of our area, as home visits are part of our process), you can consider adopting one of our dogs! http://www.adoptapet.com/shelter72830-pets.html (we’re on Petfinder too, but it hasn’t been working very well lately).

  34. TransYouth Channel is relatively new (just got their official 501c3 status in January). They help trans and other LGBTQ youth who don’t have or know about resources in their communities. From their site:

    “It is estimated that 2/3rds of our online communities are either not out yet or stealth. Of that, almost a 1/3 are in the closet because they feel they would be in danger, or they don’t have the resources necessary to transition.”

    Their mission is to help alleviate some of that danger by connecting these youth to resources and provide information, encouragement and support. Their YouTube channel is https://www.youtube.com/user/TransYouthChannel

    To donate or learn more, visit the TransYouth website. http://www.transyouthchannel.org/donate.html

  35. I recommend Worldbuilders, which is a fundraiser initiated by Pat Rothfuss to help Heifer International “help people raise themselves up out of poverty and starvation. Heifer promotes education, sustainable agriculture, and local industry all over the world.”


  36. For the cat lovers: Big Cat Rescue, in Tampa, Fla. http://www.bigcatrescue.org,

    Big Cat Rescue is the largest accredited sanctuary in the world dedicated entirely to abused and abandoned big cats.

    We are home to about 100 lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars and other species most of whom have been abandoned, abused, orphaned, saved from being turned into fur coats, or retired from performing acts.

    Alley Cat Allies http://www.alleycat.org promote trap, neuter, and release programs for feral cats.

    Nothing but nets work to combat malaria by sending mosquito nets to afflicted areas. http://nothingbutnets.net

    and a group that does research into charity claims, http://www.givewell.org

  37. If this is OK, I’d like to point people to the fundraiser for the family of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy who was shot and killed by police in Cleveland.


    The people who’ve been circulating this on Twitter are people I trust for their work since Ferguson, so while I can’t 100% guarantee it’s legit, I’m pretty sure.

    If you’re looking for an organization that’s fighting for better policing, these are two groups that have been doing a lot of work in the St. Louis area.

    Organization for Black Struggle http://obs-onthemove.org/

    Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment http://www.organizemo.org/ (this is the group that’s been doing jail support for protestors who get arrested)

  38. A cause near and dear to my heart is First Book. Their entire focus is to get books into the hands of low income children in the United States and Canada.

    Ninety-seven percent of the money donated goes directly toward providing books for children in need.They welcome donations as low as $1, or as large as John’s last book advance.

    Forty-two percent of the children in the United States live in low income households and the majority of those children own no age appropriate books. The schools they attend are poorly funded and have few resources. First Book helps schools obtain new, high quality books for their libraries at greatly reduced prices, and they also give low income children books of their very own for free.

  39. 1) The World Food Programme works with the United Nations but receives no funding through them. Their entire program is funded through donations. These are the people who have been going in to Syria to feed the people who are trying to live after their homes have been destroyed and feeding the refugees in the camps in Jordan.


    2) Also, donate to your local libraries. In the past 5-7 years I have seen more traffic at our little local library than I have ever seen at a library. And this isn’t just folks checking out books. I saw families picking out videos, people looking for jobs using the on-site computer access, individuals grabbing the latest CD, audio-book, or new release.

    At one point I was buying books from their in-branch book sale and was told that the city was cutting library funding, again. All of the money (quarters and dollars, mostly) went directly to the library. Now I try to make sure that when I stop in I buy at least one book.

    3) Give to an animal rescue. Our current fur-baby is a malamute that we got from Polaris Malamute Rescue (Colorado). Again, most of these groups run entirely on donations. If you have a rescue pet consider giving money to the people you got them from or an organization in your community.

  40. Sasha Bruce Youthwork is a great Washington, DC organization that has been helping homeless, runaway, abused and neglected youth and their families in the Washington DC area for 40 years.


    Another good DC area organization is House of Ruth. From their website: “Founded in 1976, House of Ruth helps women, children and families in greatest need and with the fewest resources build safe, stable lives and achieve their highest potential. At House of Ruth, we are ending homelessness and life-long abuse.”


  41. My wife and I do our charitable giving primarily by recurring monthly donation. This is our current list with a few addenda. Text mostly cut-and-paste.

    Robert Holback already mentioned Doctors Without Borders / Medecins Sans Frontieres. Amazing, tireless group.

    The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the First Amendment rights of the comics medium. They provide legal aid, education, and advocacy to protect the First Amendment rights of the readers, creators, retailers, publishers, and librarians of comics, manga, and graphic novels.

    Scarleteen: Sex Ed for the Real World provides inclusive, comprehensive, and smart sexuality information and help for teens and 20s.

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation defends civil liberties in the digital world, championing user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development.

    Captain Awkward is a moderated group advice column that has helped my wife more than once.

    On the future list as we can afford:

    Wikimedia Foundation. Wikipedia ain’t free to operate.

    The Hero Initiative creates a financial safety net for yesterdays’ comic book creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work.

    And topical:

    The National Bar Association (which is not the American Bar Association) is a network of of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges. They are currently fundraising for a “War on Police Brutality“. Don’t be put off by their not-very-good website.

  42. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)

    CASA recruits, trains, and supports volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children while their families are in the dependency court system. Advocates meet with their child regularly, work with everyone involved in the child’s life, and inform judges, attorneys, and social workers about the child’s needs. Think Big Brothers/Big Sisters but with a huge responsibility for the child’s overall welfare. In many cases, a CASA Advocate is the only consistent, reliable adult presence for a child during what may be the most difficult time in their life.

    My wife and I have been volunteer advocates for several years and have seen the difference that having an advocate can have on a child’s life. Please consider donating to the national CASA organization or your local CASA/Guardian ad Litem program.

  43. Please consider donating to St. Baldrick’s Foundation. http://www.stbaldricks.org
    They are the largest private funder of research to treat childhood cancers. All 100+ types of childhood cancers split less than 4% of federal cancer research funding, and get even lower percentages of major national funders like the American Cancer Society donations.
    Kids like my 4-year-old son are alive because of the clinical trials St. Baldrick’s has funded. Pediatric cancer treatments are not profitable for drug companies so they don’t find the research and development needed to treat the more than 600,000 kids diagnosed each year.
    Seven kids die every day from cancer, and in the last 40 years only two drugs have been developed specifically for pediatric cancer patients, both of those drugs for forms of leukemia. Every day, kids develop secondary camera from the drugs used to treat their original cancer. They develop heart, lung, kidney and liver disease, they lose their hearing. All from the drugs made to treat adult cancers that are the only ways to treat cancer today. Isn’t that worth forgoing a latte or two to help?

  44. Please check out Rhode Island charity Olivia’s Heart Fund.

    Olivia’s Heart Fund is a non-profit organization raising funds for vital and promising research, increasing public awareness and education, and supporting those affected by CHD. CHD is the #1 birth defect in the world and the leading cause of infant death.

    I’m also creating and donating a series of Art Heart paintings for them (representing other children and their experience with CHD) that they also sell as cards and prints (all proceeds to OHF).

    The paintings have a lot of symbolism that is meaningful to each participant (I work from essays written by the family) and I try to make them beautiful and positive.

  45. Mercy Corps which is highly rated by Charity Navigator http://www.mercycorps.org/. These people are always there first and best in natural disasters and other disasters, and they don’t pay themselves huge salaries and drive swank cars
    Your local humane society, because how can you not?
    Habitat for Humanity http://www.habitat.org hoping that they will branch out into tiny houses for the unserved homeless!

  46. Just wanted to give a plug for Best Friends Animal Sanctuary based in Kanab.Utah. Their goal is to “Save Them All” ; eliminating the killing of healthy dogs and cats in shelters. They are active in a number of states with programs to spay/neuter and adopt. At their facility in Kanab they house several thousand “unadoptable” animals giving each one lots of human attention and turning a large percentage into adoptable pets. A visit to their enormous sanctuary can be an uplifting experience for any animal lover visiting southern Utah (bring tissues).

  47. Cure CMD. Cure CMD Raises money for research towards curing Congenital Muscular Dystropy, including some very rare variants for wh9ich there are no treatments at all right now. It is a 501(c)3

  48. I wanted to mention the Big Apple Circus for its community programs, which include:

    Circus For All, which provides free and steeply discounted tickets to organizations who serve people who have all kinds of disabilities as well as people who are economically disadvantaged, so that everyone can have a chance to see performances

    Circus of the Senses, These are performances tailored for people with visual or hearing impairments and other disabilities. adaptations include live description of the performances by the circus’s founders (really nice guys–I’ve met them a couple of times), ASL interpreters, and touch sessions. these performances are offered free of charge

    Circus After School, currently offered only in NYC because when the circus is on tour, it isn’t in one place long enough to do this: 12-week after-school sessions for at-risk youth where they learn circus skills, see a performance, and at the end of the session, put on a show for family and friends.

    Vaudeville Caravan, which sends circus performers to nursing homes and assisted living facilities in various parts of the US

    and the grand-daddy of all their programs, Clown Care, created in 1986 by circus co-founder Michael Christensen. Clown Care currently operates in 16 pediatric hospitals across the US and makes around 225,000 visits to sick young people every year.

    I know there are a lot of serious and worthy causes out there, and I support many of those too. But I also think the arts are important, and the joys of circus are so special that I want everyone to be able to enjoy them.

    In case you’re worried about elephants and big cats and such, let me assure you that Big Apple does not have wild animals (they did in the earliest years of the circus but stopped decades ago). They do have horse acts most years but most of their animal acts involve cats and dogs, many of whom are shelter rescues. The circus organization has received high marks from animal welfare organizations over the years.


  49. One organization that does amazing work providing service dogs to children with all sorts of difficulties is http://4pawsforability.org/. I became aware of them via an article in the New York Times Magazine section several years ago, in which was described the experience of a child not eligible for a service dog from traditional sources but whose life (and that of his whole family) was vastly improved by one the the 4 Paws for Ability dogs.

    I also recommend supporting your local library, food bank, and senior center.

  50. Scott’s Run Settlement House provides for the most basic needs for those in Monongalia County, West Virginia. Our Backpack Feeding Program serves 870 children in six elementary schools every weekend! Children receive a bag with two breakfasts, two lunches and a variety of snacks to ensure they don’t go hungry over the weekend.
    Our food pantry provides groceries to over 7,000 people. We have seen a 50% increase this year in new clients seeking service.
    We run entirely through the support of the community and do not receive state or federal funds. You can make a difference in the life of someone in need by supporting our programs and services.
    Thank you for caring about those who struggle with food insecurity and poverty.

  51. Sepsis Alliance works to raise awareness of sepsis (aka “septic infection” or “blood poisoning”), and educate both public and professionals in early detection and effective treatment.

    Untreated or under-treated medical problems can lead to runaway infections, sepsis, that kill thousands every year, and leave many more with physical and mental impairment from post-sepsis syndrome.

    I’ve known several people in their 20’s and 30’s who “just had the flu” and ended up dying from septic infections. My wife Hilde had sepsis twice in 2009; she got to the hospital quickly and recovered well, but both times were scary as hell.

  52. Sanctuary for Kids

    (The text below is from the S4K website)

    Back in 2008 Amanda Tapping, Damian Kindler, Jill Bodie, and Carole Appleby (our newest board member) set out to form a charitable organization that helped children in crisis around the world. We spent a year researching different not-for profits and meeting with business leaders in an effort to get our project right. We wanted to create an organization that established real relationships with our charities. We wanted to service them in the best way possible and really establish on an ongoing basis what their specific needs were. We didn’t just want to write cheques, we wanted to be a part of the initiatives that they needed to continue their work. We knew that we would be harnessing the tremendous support, generosity and power of Sci-Fi fandom but we had no idea how formidable that power would be.

  53. Imagine sleeping under the church porch on Christmas day. My little brother did. Homelessness is horrible, so find your local shelter and help out, please

  54. three cheers for wikimedia foundation, and the comic book legal defense fund, previously mentioned here.

    lambda legal is a legal support organization dedicated to the rights of the LGBTQ community and those living with HIV/AIDS. http://www.lambdalegal.org/

    the mockingbird foundation supports music education for children through charitable proceeds from the band phish’s larger community. they do good work and prove that the music industry and its community can have a wonderful soul: http://mbird.org/

  55. Cards Against Humanity pointed me toward Donors Choose last year. Teachers can list their needs in low-income areas or schools with other challenges for crowdfunding. And if you help a project get funded, you get handwritten thank you notes from the kids, which feels GREAT.


  56. After we volunteered in Haiti after the Earthquake in 2010, my friend Olivia co-founded a charity to give Haitian kids the chance to go to school. All donation go directly to local contacts, no middlemen involved, and Liv & Emma keep track of every single child.


  57. I encourage people to check out local GoFundMe campaigns. There are often families who need assistance with various crises. A few dollars can make a huge difference to someone in your community who may not qualify for other forms of assistance. I try to do a local search once a month or so to see who needs help in my area.


    Thanks for this thread. I’ve already found a couple of other charities through this that I’m going to research.

  58. <a href="http://www.quinnscrusade.org/"Quinn's Crusade" is a non-profit started by the parents of Quinn Rosalie Seymour, who lived her very short life with Epidermolysis Bullosa, a birth defect that causes the skin and tissues of the body to blister like 2nd and 3rd degree burns, leading to massive infections, and ultimately for Quinn, her death when she was less than a year old, after being the youngest member of a clinical trial for a blood marrow transplant they had hoped would cure her.

    Your donation will make a difference in the lives of the families who are coping with this at the hospital where Quinn received her bone marrow transplant.

  59. From Mark Crislip, MD and his web site Pusware he suggests the following Uganda charities:

    Or, as noted in Quackcast 86, send some money where it will do some good instead:

    http://www.aahuganda.org and follow the instructions to donate; to donate to the clinic projects, people must specify for the donations to go to the Bupoto clinic project. For Partnership Uganda, people can go to http://www.partnershipugandainc.org and follow the directions under the “Support” tab.

    Or if you want to promote science based medicine here in the USA try Science Based Medicine

    Or if critical thinking is more up your alley you can try The Skeptics Society

  60. Perhaps some may consider this political, but I donate significantly to the ACLU. I specifically donate to the ACLU of Washington Foundation, but monies are shared among the states and the national organization, so that state organizations that might now have as many donors as Washington are supported as well. The ACLU is active in protecting rights for all of us*, especially in privacy, voting, civil liberties, and social justice.

    (*in the US, though not limited to US citizens)

  61. Science
    American Association for Cancer Research aids research into preventing, finding more effective treatments, and curing cancer.
    CosmoQuest who does great work in astronomy based citizen science projects, educational projects and resources, and science education.

    Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières who does phenomenal work delivering medical aid wherever and whenever there is dire need.

    Project Aware is an organization for ocean conservation which works closely with the SCUBA community to help protect the oceans.

  62. The Heinlein Society furthers the legacy of Robert A. Heinlein by providing volunteers to run local blood drives and also to provide lesson plans for Heinlein and other SF writers to promote the idea of teaching SF. (These plans are available for homeschooling parents.) Our newest and most exciting program is “Heinlein For Heroes” where we donate SF books to serving military and their families. Over 3000 books donated and shipped across the world last year. We’re a 501(c)3.

  63. This summer, the small town of Weed, Calif., (town motto: Yep, we’ve heard that joke) suffered a devastating fire that took out many homes and businesses, including the town’s library. If you like books and libraries, or even if you just like Weed (heh heh), please consider throwing a few dollars their way.
    Information can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Weed-Friends-of-the-Library/710319789061470
    I grew up in a small town, though not this one, and can’t imagine what it would have been like without a library.

  64. Thanks for letting me share this. This is for the mother of a child I drove to school until two weeks ago. He had a brain tumor and had surgery to remove it but didn’t survive. His mom runs a day care to provide for the family but she had to close it while he was in the hospital. We organized this to help her get through this tough time.
    Thank you!

  65. The Child’s Play charity provides hospitals and domestic abuse shelters with video game hardware and software appropriate for children and teens. These games provide periods of much-needed normalcy to kids who are spending a large amount of time in these facilities, either because they or a close family member are seriously ill.


  66. It’s not pure charity, but I like Thistle Farms. It’s an outgrowth of Magdalene House, a ministry that takes in women who’ve been affected by homelessness, prostitution, substance abuse, etc.

    They make wonderful personal care products for men and women. (Their lip smoothies are my jam.) They’re all natural, organic, etc., and made by the women in the program.

    They’ve expanded their reach to where they’re buying shea butter from a women’s collective in Africa, so they’re helping women on the other side of the globe from Nashvegas.

  67. Virunga National Park. Because gorillas. Because orphaned, baby gorillas that are impossibly cute. Virunga is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on the border of Uganda and Rwanda with the continent’s most biologically diverse protected area.


    Got turned on to this after seeing the Netflix film “Virunga”.

    It’s a good cause. You’ll feel better for it.

  68. Buy a goat to help a family get out of poverty. If you don’t like goats, Harvest of Hope also provides school supplies, medical equipment, medicines and loads of other stuff. It’s a religious outfit but don’t let that stop you. They make peoples lives better and that’s all that counts.


  69. Please consider supporting your local legal aid organization. In the U.S., defendants in criminal cases and in certain specified cases have a constitutional right to an attorney. But if you’re a party in a civil case? (Facing eviction or foreclosure, predatory collection actions, wrongful termination of benefits… I’m sure you can imagine more.) Nope.

    Legal aid organizations are available to provide assistance for people who would otherwise be unable to afford a lawyer. This assistance can range from full representation to assistance with filling out forms to counseling and explanation.

    In all 50 states, legal aid is funded in no small part by interest on attorneys’ trust accounts. This makes sense for a variety of reasons… but when interest rates are low, this source dries up. And where have interest rates been ever since The Great Recession? Yup.

    There’s also a major federal source, the Legal Services Corporation, which would be a useful source to fill the gap… except that federal funding for LSC has also been declining of late.

    Just for fun, contact your local legal aid organization, and ask how many attorneys they have on staff… and then ask how many they had on staff five years ago. And then think about how many people fall into the category of “people who are unable to afford a lawyer, and would really need one if someone tried to take advantage of them” and how that population has been rising.

    Supporting your local legal aid organization provides vital assistance to people in your community. Yes, I’m a legal aid attorney, and our organization does fantastic work and would appreciate your support, but don’t help me; help your neighbors. Contact your local legal aid organization for more information.

  70. Whoops; forgot to include a link… except that I’m not aware of a full fifty-state guide to legal aid organizations. (The aforementioned Legal Services Corporation has a full index, but not all legal aid programs are LSC-affiliated.) Probably your best bet is to type “legal aid [name of your state or city] into a search engine, and go from there.

    Apologies for the second post.

  71. My charity of choice is Childhaven International (http://www.childhaven.ca/) who operate 9 homes, primarily in India and surrounding countries, for destitute children.

    I love a number of things about this organization but most important to me is that the focus is truly on giving these children safety and security, an education, and job skills to get ahead in life and not as a secondary purpose to pushing whatever religion the ‘charity’ supports or pushing Western culture on them. The children are raised within the local culture (they actually support destitute elderly individuals who repay this by passing their culture on to the children) and are able to participate (or not if they choose) in their own faiths.

    The second thing I love about Childhaven is that they focus on ultra-practical technology to improve the lives and economy of not just the children but the local community. Things like low-cost sanitary napkin producing machines (88% of women in India use newspaper or leaves during their periods!), the ‘SoyaCow’ a cheap and effective soymilk producer, or biogas waste disposal toilets (especially valuable in the Nepal and Tibet houses where fuel is virtually nonexistent).

  72. I volunteer for a pro-choice charity called the Abortion Support Network: we help women from Ireland and Northern Ireland (where abortion is illegal, for all intents and purposes) with the information and money they need to travel to England for legal abortions.

    We’re crowdfunding at the moment for our first-ever paid staff member next year – apart from the warm fuzzies you’ll get from being pro-choice and pro-awesome, we also have some swag, behind-the-scenes info for supporters, and goodies to give away. Check us out here: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/asn-the-next-level/
    And thank you!

  73. Wikipedia is my greatest resource of frequent use as an author and researcher. So please consider an essentially free educational source available in almost every written language a priceless gift worth supporting– not over immediate physical charitable causes, but along with them, because Wikipedia allows access to very accurate, facile, diverse, uncensored educational information to anyone with basic literacy and internet access. Wikipedia and email are perhaps the greatest gifts the internet has given us. Thanks.


    Also, I second the giving of blood as one of the easiest ways to make a profound and positive impact on the lives of many strangers.

  74. Thanks for the opportunity John. I’m a day late with 3 that I like. My cousin Glennis is going to Tanzania with EFCA to a medical mission program half time with the other half training women to run small business. http://www.efcaorg/give-now will get the money on-line Henry IMA# 2017. This mission program is run by evangelical Christians if that will concern you. Mail checks to EFCA, 901 E 78th Street, Minneapolis MN 55420.

    My church, Westview Presbyterian Church, is running twice a month a food distribution program called The Round Pantry (All four church buildings are round.) We get a lot of food from local sources; bread, produce, espresso flavored potato chips. but could use money for extras, keeping refrigerators running. No online method for the church but if you label the check Round Pantry and send it to Westview Presbyterian Church, 1500 Hover street, Longmont CO 80501-2465. The pantry regularly distributes several pounds of food and a gallon of milk per person to between 250-300 families each time we are open. The families average about 4 people each. Clients regularly Thank us for treating them with respect. It is a semi shopping experience where they run past tables where they have some choice of what to take i.e. white or brown rice with the quantity depending on family size, type of canned vegatable. Our dream is to build a separate space so we can leave things up

    Community Food Share provides us with a lot of food, communityfoodshare.com; is a major source of our food. Community Food Share supplies food to local nonprofit organizations, that in turn distribute the food to their clients, free of charge. A dollar to them will provide 3 meals.
    Thank You

  75. St. Baldrick’s Foundation


    Childhood cancer research is severely underfunded – only 4 cents of every dollar spent by the federal government on cancer research and virtually nothing by the pharmaceutical companies. Childhood cancers are different from adult cancers – they can’t just use scaled down adult treatments. One in five children will not survive their diagnosis (my five year old didn’t) and those that survive will be dealing with long term effects (speech and fine motor deficits, secondary cancers, heart problems as just a few examples) for the rest of their lives as a result of their treatment.

    St. Baldrick’s funds research all over the US and through partnerships around the world. Please consider helping.

  76. I just donated a car to Good News Garage.http://www.goodnewsgarage.org/About-Us.aspx This group fixes up donated cars for families in need, who would not otherwise be able to afford a car. They were able to pick up the car at my house in CT. I wish there were more organizations like this… They mainly serve New Hampshire and Vermont, but pick up in CT and MA.

  77. Additional Chicago links:

    Center on Halsted is an organization that helps to serve the needs of Chicago’s LGBTQ community. (No mention of IA on a quick scan of the website.) Among their services:
    * sliding-scale therapy, support groups, and help with incident reporting for victims of violence;
    * a legal clinic
    * senior programs, including meals and volunteers to visit those who can’t travel to the Center;
    * a ton of youth programs
    * vocational programs

    Tree House Cat Shelter, “A cageless, no kill humane organization specializing in the rescue and rehabilitation of sick and injured stray cats.”

    The American Indian Center (of Chicago; there are others) works with both Native Americans (employment resources, youth events) but also on promoting understanding with non-Natives as well. They’ve done some awareness training with the Blackhawks organization. Apparently they also throw an amazing powwow!

    All three of these also need volunteers if money’s not an option for you.

  78. A national organization that does great work on a small, local level – Project Linus. We (I’m the chapter coordinator in my area) collect handmade blankets for children in need. You know, like the Peanuts character Linus and his security blanket. Kids in hospitals, homeless shelters, foster homes – a handmade expression of love and caring can mean the world to them.

    Our mission is twofold: First: Provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer “blanketeers.”

    Second: Provide a rewarding and fun service opportunity for interested individuals and groups in local communities, for the benefit of children.

    Each local chapter (and there is at least one chapter in every US state, as well as some in Canada) is required to do some fundraising to defray expenses, and this can be a burden on the dedicated “blanketeers” who make and distribute the blankets. So if you can’t make a blanket, please consider a monetary gift. You can donate online at the Project Linus website – www. projectlinus.org – and specify your local chapter. There is a list of chapters on the national website, and most local chapters have their own website, too (like ours! https://plhi.shutterfly.com/).

    Thanks to Mr. Scalzi for the opportunity to promote Project Linus!

  79. AbleGamers works and advocates on behalf of the disability community to increase the accessibility of video games and to achieve further inclusion by those who need special considerations. I’ve met some of the lovely folks behind this and listened to their philosophy in gaming panels. I’m behind this one 100%.


  80. Late reply, but following up Sherrie Ricketts. AbleGamers is under attack by the group you’d expect. Please consider giving especially now, but be patient with their website — part of the attack is DDoS.

  81. Critter Camp Exotic Pet Sanctuary (http://crittercamp.weebly.com/) is my charity of choice. Located in German Valley, IL, Critter Camp rescues exotic animals (no cats or dogs) that were acquired as pets (or to sell as pets) and either abandoned or surrendered. Many are sick, and all are allowed to live out their normal life span. Currently over 300 animals reside at Critter Camp – from rabbits, mice, gerbils, fertes, hamsters, rats and guinea pigs to hedgehogs, sugar gliders, kinkajous, an Arctic Fox, and a Sulcata Tortoise. Thanks for the opportunity to share this information!

%d bloggers like this: