Whatever Holiday Gift Guide 2021, Day Five: Charities
Posted on December 3, 2021 Posted by John Scalzi 44 Comments
For the last four days, the Whatever Gift Guide 2021 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.
3. It’s okay to note personal fundraising (Indiegogo and GoFundMe campaigns, etc) for people in need. Also, other 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. I would suggest only suggesting campaigns that you can vouch for personally.
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.
Dobermans: In real life, not the movies, they are people-oriented dogs that crave human companionship. Doberman Rescue of the Triad, DRT, (based in North Carolina but adopting to other states) is a long standing 501c3 dog rescue that specializes in finding forever homes for Dobes that have none. Since being founded in 1997, they have placed over 1,918 Dobes.
DRT does not pick and choose which Dobes are rescued (short of severe temperament problems). Since there’s typically a waiting list for dogs to get into DRT’s program, one might think that DRT would take in only the easily placed Dobes. But DRT believes that every Doberman deserves a good home with a loving family. So regardless of their health or age or condition, they are welcomed. DRT provides medical care to every Dobe that enters the program, with the goal of bringing each animal to the best possible health before they go to their new home. And DRT makes a commitment to every Dobe that comes through their door: ‘You will never be homeless again.’ That’s why the adoption contract states that if for any reason the new adopter cannot keep the Dobe, ownership reverts to DRT and the Dobe must be returned. When you choose to support DRT, this is the kind of commitment you are supporting.
All the work is done by a group of very loyal volunteers. But the necessities – medical care, food, shelter – require money. Rescue is much more expensive than most people would imagine. DRT’s veterinary bills alone exceed $20,000 per year, as many rescues arrive with heartworms and other medical needs, plus any neutering that must be addressed before the Dobe can become part of a new family. Please consider adding Doberman Rescue of the Triad to the organizations you choose to support. Your aide helps DRT continue saving lives, turning the homeless into homed. Their motto is ‘Rescue One, Until There Are None’!
You can view the Dobermans available for adoption, put in an application, bid on silent auctions and make donations on the DRT website: https://www.doberman-rescue.com/dogs. (They are also on Facebook.)
The Heinlein Society was founded by Virginia Heinlein–this year we celebrated our 22nd anniversary. THS exists to preserve the legacy renowned writer Robert Anson Heinlein left us in novels, essays, speeches, and short stories that remain as fresh as ever. We intend, in Heinlein’s words to “PAY IT FORWARD” since we can never pay back the benefits that we got from him and his work. We provide free educational materials as a download for teachers, librarians, and homeschoolers. (Learn more at: http://www.heinleinsociety.org/thseducation/ .)
In 2021, our scholarship program for STEM granted three $3000 scholarships, including our “Ginny” scholarship which is open to female STEM students only. In our previous 10 years of scholarships, we have awarded a total of $39,250 to 27 winners. We have already committed to raise the number & amount per scholarship to four- $4000 each in 2022 due to the generous support of our members and friends this year, even in this pandemic environment. As we have in the past, the additional scholarship has been named, this time in honor of Robert A. Heinlein. We are now busy figuring out a sustainment plan so that we can continue to offer this level of Paying It Forward. A donation to this program could help us sustain the dollar amount and the number of scholarships we can continue to support in the future.
We also promote Heinlein Blood Drives at conventions. Since Robert Heinlein devoted a lot of energy to volunteer blood drives this is one of our core missions. We have now collected over 44,000 units since 2001. If you attend a convention that doesn’t have a blood drive, contact our Blood Drive Chairman at BloodDriveChair@Heinleinsociety.org and talk to him about volunteering so we can make an even greater impact. This year we have been doing a virtual blood drive–if you want a pin from the Ghost of Robert Heinlein as thanks for donating this year, email our blood drive chair. As the pandemic restrictions lift, we are looking forward to being able to resume in-person blood drives.
Our Heinlein for Heroes (H4H) program supports military members and veterans by providing copies of Heinlein’s books, as well as other science fiction books to deployed troops and military hospitals. Since its inception in 2013, we have shipped over 35,000 books to service members around the world.
As a private, nonpartisan 501(c)(3), The Heinlein Society survives on membership fees and donations to support “Paying it Forward”. As these resources plateau and the demands on our organization increase, we are asking for your support with a direct gift to the Society to support our mission. So, if you have ever grokked, shared water, been amused by or owned by a cat, loved AI computers, or have longed for the stars, pay it forward just a little bit by considering making a tax-deductible donation or by becoming a member. If you donate, you can choose which of our programs your donation supports http://www.heinleinsociety.org/
Your membership also supports publishing the Heinlein Journal. Members get the new issues delivered electronically and article submissions are welcome from member and non-member alike. See https://www.heinleinjournal.com for more information.
Also, even though we’re a charity at heart, one cool benefit for members is the chance to win a “Virginia Edition” leather-bound set of all of Heinlein’s published works. We’ve given five sets away so far and will be giving another one away for members in 2022. Thank you!
Director, The Heinlein Society
Insects are some of the most basic members of ecological systems (we’ll pass on microorganisms which do more good than anyone can even contemplate!). Without bugs we’d be buried in waste! We’d have almost no food, certainly not your favorite almond milk! Because of this, I support the Xerces Society, which also supports plants, which, in a virtuous circle, support insects! So go support your neighborhood bugs, http://www.xerces.org
If you have an arthouse / independent movie theater in your town, they’ve probably been hit pretty hard by Covid and could use some extra support, either by becoming a member (which has its own perks) or by just donating. Keeping these places funded has the additional benefit of allowing them to keep Covid protections in place, since their business model typically relies on them crowding a lot of people into a very small space, so the longer they can keep running at restrictions on attendance the better.
I make periodic donations to the Sabin Institute (https://www.sabin.org/), which does great work with “neglected tropical diseases”: things that may not kill someone, but that can really mess them up or make them miserable. They no longer post their return on donation but it used to be (highly unreliable memory) something like protecting 5 people against 12 diseases for a buck. They have a four-star rating from Charity Navigator (https://www.charitynavigator.org), which is a decent site for investigating charities.
On a related note, one of the best ways to make monetary donations work better is to contact your favorite charity and ask them whether they do “matching donations” (times when a rich donor or organization) will match your donation. If they do, ask to be put on their mailing list for when they announce such events. For example, Oxfam does this, and I’m on their mailing list. When I donate, I know I’m getting twice as much bang for my buck as a donation on other days.
If you periodically replace your computer (or tablet or phone or other electronics), consider the possibility of donating it (assuming it’s in good working order). Local groups who help new immigrants get established or organizations that help impoverished families are a good place to look.
For giving online without becoming a magnet for other online donations, try https://www.nfggive.com/home
They’re run by Network for Good, and list 501c3 organizations and distribute the money either with your name or anonymously. I’ve been using them for years without getting bombarded with requests from charities (they themselves only send out a couple messages per year).
They charge a 5% processing fee, but that too is tax deductible (as far as that goes under the current tax law).
The center for which I work belongs to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/donate/
All the charities I donate to tend to be animal based. These are two of my favorites for the outstanding work they do.
Queen’s Best Stumpy Dog Rescue
Queen’s Best Stumpy Dog Rescue is a Corgi specific rescue that takes in special needs corgis from high kill shelters for rehabilitation.
They take care of all medical needs, do relationship-based training to manage the sometimes weird and obnoxious behaviors that come with untrained Corgis, and find them the right forever home.
They post videos on their training methods, some of which helped me with my own stubborn Corgi. You can also donate needed products through Amazon.
Save A Fox
Save A Fox rescues sick, injured, and orphaned foxes from furfarms. They take in surrendered foxes that were once pets and originally came from breeders. They also take in and rescue found pet foxes.
They have an awesome Facebook page with lots of videos showing the foxes at play, relating to humans, and playing with toys like dogs. And making the most interesting noises!
Pawsitive teams is a organization that trains service dogs for those that need them and at times can’t afford them. The also bring dogs to hospitals/retirement homes for visits to lift spirits. They bring dogs to underprivileged areas to provide assistance to children in those areas that are in need of structure and direction in their lives. All of these, other than the service dogs, are the members own pets and the members volunteer their time for this community out reach. Truly a non profit that gives all back to the community out of the goodness of their hearts and willingness to share the love that dogs give us everyday. Pawsteams.org to see what they do, make a donation, and/or help sponsor a service dog.
Some time back you recommended RIP Medical Debt. They take contributions they use to buy medical debt for pennies on the dollar, and then cancel it. Wonderful idea. I have been donating ever since.
I work in a tiny museum that (particularly as we emerge from the pandemic) could use some love. The American Bookbinders Museum celebrates the history of the book as a physical object–how it has evolved in the West, how it was made prior to the 19th century, and what industrialization meant to the availability of books for the rank-and-file human–and for literacy and education.
Fun fact: Gutenberg and the printing press was only the first revolution in the spread of information. David McConnell Smyth’s Book-sewing Machine #3, patented in 1879, was the second. Up to that point even mass-produced books were hand sewn.
And thank you!
Family Dogs New Life Shelter: A no-kill dog shelter in Portland, OR that provides care for all dogs but specializes in hard to place cases. It’s amazing to see dogs that came from other organizations because they were deemed “unadoptable” go to happy, loving homes through the hard work of the staff and volunteers that rehabilitate them.
Old Dog Haven: A foster organization in western Washington state dedicated to providing quality homes and health care for abandoned senior dogs. From simple rehoming to providing “final refuge” for dogs at the end of life, they make sure the dogs live out their days in love and comfort.
The Mary Parrish Center: An organization in Nashville, TN that provides safe housing and support services for survivors of interpersonal violence and their children, as well as services to help them get a fresh start.
The charities that I contribute to are Doctors Without Borders and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Consider donating to your local food bank because there is a lot of food insecurity in communities.
Two charities that are special to me:
Taos Whole Community Health – https://taoswholehealth.org/nonprofit – a NonProfit Health Center serving Taos NM; a large proportion of their patients are low income, and they serve many Indigenous folks. They literally saved the lives of two of my friends, so I appreciate anyone who looks them up & donates.
Tabby’s Place – https://www.tabbysplace.org/ – is a cage free, no kill cat sanctuary that specializes in cats with special needs.
Support people of color to have leadership positions in non profits by donating to Rainier Valley Corps https://rvcseattle.org/
The Santa Barbara Zoo has been great to and for our Baguette for a decade now.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network gives voice to people who are actually autistic.
L.A. Animal Services has brought us together with Wicket, then Butch and Sundance, and now Rudy, and every person we’ve met there just cares so much.
I donate to and am on the board for Healing Art Missions (https://healingartmissions.org/news), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Granville, Ohio that supports a several projects in rural areas of Haiti.
The largest project is a medical clinic in Dumay, Haiti, a rural area east of Port au Prince. The clinic serves over 13,000 patient visits a year with medical care, vaccinations, medical labs, birthing, and surgeries. In addition to medical services, the Healing Art Missions clinic provides consistent employment for about 30 people. The economic benefit of consistent jobs provides additional benefits to the area.
Because the medical director and clinic nurses and staff are Haitian, the clinic has been able to operate and even expand services through the various disruptions that have occurred in Haiti over the last several years.
You can donate to Healing Art Missions at https://healingartmissions.org/donate.
Food Banks need money. They can buy much more food wholesale than you can retail, and they know what is needed and what isn’t. (Hint: it’s not that can of chili you forgot on the back of the shelf.) If you don’t have a favorite, Google “food bank near me” or put in a zip code of an area that would be in need.
If this week’s SCOTUS hearing has you worried about the rights of people with uteruses to decide what stays in there, please consider supporting the National Network of Abortion Funds with a donation. The National Network of Abortion Funds builds power with members to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access by centering people who have abortions and organizing at the intersections of racial, economic, and reproductive justice.
This week I contributed to the Collective Power Fund, to provide direct support to travel for people who need an abortion but live in a place where it’s hard to get, and because I needed a reminder that I do have power if I join with others and we work together.
I’d like to recommend Guardians of Mental health. From their site:
Guardians Mental Health is a 501c3 nonprofit mental health organization that is focused on promoting mental health awareness and meaningful resources throughout the gaming community. We provide first step support with gathering resources, peer support and where to find a mental health professional near you. We are not a replacement for dedicated professional help.
One of the coolest things they do (of many) is to provide mental health resource kits to those that request them, free of charge. A recent kit they built, for example, supported those on the autism spectrum. The kit included sensory items, a special coloring books, health resources, and more.
They can be found here: https://guardiansmh.org/
Books! Reading! Giving books to young readers! What’s not to love? A Detroit-based nonprofit founded by a friend of mine in her spare time. Rx for Reading Detroit: Raising readers, one book at a time. https://rxreading.org/
I founded and run Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM), which works with students from low-income and historically marginalized communities to help them become scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and computer scientists. It’s my life’s work and, not surprisingly, I believe deeply in it.
We work with kids beginning in 6th grade and continuing through college graduation. We give them access to advanced math that really prepares them for college and much more challenging problem-solving in the future. We stick with them, helping them navigate high school, get into great colleges on scholarship, and succeed at college.
More importantly, we create a deep community of people who love math. They find out that there are lots of people from their same backgrounds who love it, and they make friends for a lifetime.
Here’s a video that shows our work in general as well as during the pandemic.
Right now, we have a matching challenge where the first $500 of any new donation is multiplied 10x, and all donations (or amounts over $500 for new donors) is multiplied by pi. (We’re nerdy that way.)
If you’re interested, get more info or donate here.
A reproductive rights organization with international scope:
MSI Reproductive Choices https://www.msiunitedstates.org/about/
In the area of support for immigrant’s rights and needs there are a lot of national and local organizations, and but I’ll just list two that I’ve supported: Immigrant Defenders Law Center https://www.immdef.org/, and on a more down-to-earth level, Immigrant Families Together https://immigrantfamiliestogether.com/.
And I’ll throw in a cheer for RIP Medical Debt, mentioned above, which seems brilliantly conceived.
Through donations I make during the biannual Games Done Quick video game speedrun marathons (gamesdonequick.com) I support two charities.
The Awesome Games Done Quick event held in January benefits Prevent Cancer Foundation (F cancer!) The next such event will occur January 9th-16th of 2022.
The Summer Games Done Quick event held in the summer benefits Doctors Without Borders.
The GDQ events have raised over $30 million for those two charities and others.
If you’re looking to donate now or throughout the year I recommend these two charities, either directly or via a GDQ event.
The Gateway LEGO User Group is a fun organization to be a part of (building LEGO displays that families are invited to see!), but we also have a charity arm that works with FairyBricks, a UK-based charity that partners with LEGO User Groups around the world to help deliver new LEGO sets to children’s hospitals.
We are an official 501(c)(3) organization, and all donated funds go directly towards getting LEGO sets to St. Louis, Missouri-area children’s hospitals. You can read about past set distributions and donate through either Paypal or Amazon Smile on our website: https://www.gtwlug.org/about/501c3/
Did you know your library probably has ebooks, streaming video, consumer info, streaming music, job finding assistance, not to mention many good SF books that are often a goldmine for teens. And in North America they are mostly free – a total bargain! So donate to your library. Yes I work in one, but support your local library, and don’t forget to checkout all the services they provide.
As a board member for BSFS, I feel I should mention our club.
The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (bsfs.org) is a 501(c)(3) organization that promotes literacy and provides a home for sff fandom. Our continued existence depends on the kindness of strangers and our friends.
Annually, we put on BALTICON (balticon.org) – a 4-day celebration of science fiction and fantasy (going into our 56th year, including 2 virtual years). Memorial Day weekend/end of May (we know, it’s a popular weekend.)
[You can find 100+ hours of programming from our virtual years on our youtube channel: youtube.com/BaltimoreSciFi ]
We support reading/literacy through:
– writers’ groups
– writing contests w/prizes for amateurs, young writers, & poets
– donations to local programs to give books to low income kids
– maintenance of a 14,000+ library open to the public
– Compton Crook Award to help launch a new writer on a career in SF w/$$ prize & more
Most of what we do year round is given away for free (thanks to the work of volunteers):
– movie nights
– anime socials
– book discussions
– the library (which needs some work in our building to provide room for growth.)
– an annual picnic
– and more!
If you’re local to the Baltimore area, we’d love to have you. If you’re not, you can still get involved online with our social media and discord server.
If you love theatre and Broadway, Broadway Cares has done wonderful things to keep the community going over the last 2 Covid years.
And WWOZ has kept me hopeful by providing amazing programming that I can access even in the wilds of Saskatchewan.
This is my annual plug for the Sheldrick Foundation, https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/
They rescue and rehabilitate mainly elephants, who return to the wild when they’re ready. They also run an anti-poaching team.
I also support and recommend, amongst others, Medecins Sans Frontieres
Landesa works for women’s equity, addresses climate justice and empowers rural people in the global south. If you care about women, the planet and rural people living in poverty support all three with a gift to http://www.Landesa.org
Bats are much maligned but essential animals. They eat billions of dollars of crop pests a year, and one little brown bat can eat up to 1500 mosquitoes in a night. Other species are important pollinators and fill other vital biological niches. Yet these wonderful animals are misunderstood and vilified in many parts of the world, and many species are critically endangered. That’s why I contribute regularly to Bat Conservation International as well as Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation. Merlin Tuttle is the founder and president emeritus of Bat Conservation International, and was and has been instrumental in making the world more aware of these wonderful animals and their plight.
A little less than 1 in 10 people in the world doesn’t have access to clean water. Getting them that access can be a game-changer, and that’s charity:water’s mission:
I will second the recommendations for your local library, food bank and community services center. Help your neighbors!
Your local community pantry.
My church has been running ‘The Round Pantry’ at Westview Presbyterian Church in Longmont, CO for well over a decade. Numbers have tripled since Civic hit. Westview doesn’t need money right now. It does need volunteers.
Your local food shelf, community food share, pantry does need both money and volunteers. I don’t care where you live! There are people who need food.
As always, your local food pantry. Bonus points for giving at other times of the year, too – people need food year-round, not just in November/December.
https://www.donorschoose.org. Donors Choose allows teachers to post lists of what they need for their classrooms – from books to art supplies to basic stuff like pencils and paper.
And I love these folks: https://ofsds.org. Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary provides love, care, and “Forever Foster Homes” for older dogs.
There is a great organization that provides training to caregivers for old people – whether professional or family caregivers – called the Validation Training Institute. They offer online and in-person trainings throughout Europe, in some locations in the US, in Japan and China. Their website is https://vfvalidation.org. If you have family members or loved ones with dementia, check it out!
Right on MichaelH about your local library — your library needs love, especially since (as a service organization) they are just as prone to have people lashing out at staff if they have had a bad day.
As a corollary, your local Friends of the Library organization could also use help, whether by volunteering or donating money or materials. Most Friends groups are 100% charitable, and a high percentage of funds they raise go to help libraries directly.
I’d like to recommend two local charities here in the DC region:
In DC proper there is Martha’s Table. They’re a 501c3 and have been around for over 40 years. They offer nationally accredited early childhood education, after school enrichment programs, and college and career readiness training to promote lifelong success. They also offer daily Martha’s Table Markets, monthly Community Markets, a network of monthly Joyful Food Markets, and McKenna’s Wagon aim to increase access to healthy food and support children and their families in making healthy choices. They are committed to ensuring parents and caregivers are both supported and supportive. The Family Engagement program helps strengthen the home-school relationship for students and connects caregivers to critical resources. Martha’s Table provides education, food, and opportunity to families in DC. https://marthastable.org/
Friends of Guest House is a charity I support that is based in Northern Virginia. It is a reentry program for women. The US incarcerates an enormous number of people and does very little to support those people when they are released. They offer a residential program, an aftercare program, an outreach program (so there’s a residential to aftercare continuum), a workforce & life development program, a non-residential outreach program (not everyone needs a “halfway house”) and mentoring programs.
They provide case management, mental health and substance abuse counseling, and life skills training across all their core programs. they work within the greater D.C. Metropolitan area social services network to refer clients for special services, child custody assistance, emergency services, and whatever else they may need to succeed. Their clients have an extremely low recidivism rate. https://friendsofguesthouse.org/
Support access to education in rural Tanzania with a donation to Jifundishe. Along with a free library and computer lab, they run an Independent Study Program – like the GED in North America – for those who are unable to afford fees and textbooks or have aged out of the system.
In the US, you can also donate through Global Giving to receive a tax receipt. https://www.globalgiving.org/donate/43962/jifundishe/
Food for life , the world larvets food relief organisation, distributing plant based meals globally during natural disasters, at warzones, in low informera areas, etc. https://ffl.org
Also building up education, gardering, training to combat food insecurity and malnutrition
On this site some years ago, I saw a plug for APOPO, which trains rats to sniff out landmines in order to clear fields, roads etc. They also sniff out diseases like TB, to get treatment where it’s needed. https://www.apopo.org/en
After 44 years, one of the last independent bookstores on Long Island, NY, The Book Revue, closed its doors forever. It was a hub of the Huntington community, a place that offered space to up and coming artists, that regularly had book readings and book signings from authors, artists and other notables.
The store closed not because business was down but because the landlord decided that they could make more money from a business that wasn’t a bookstore.
I was crushed, along with literally thousands of other longtime patrons (in my case, 30+ years).
One of the Book Revue’s managers, Mallory Braun, is trying to start a new independent bookstore from the closing of The Book Revue, which, if the Kickstarter project is successful, will be called The Next Chapter.
For anyone who does not want to see the last surviving independent bookstores die off one by one, or have Amazon as the sole option for buying anything and everything, here is the Kickstarter page.
Even if you will never visit New York or buy a book there, please consider the chilling effect of the relentless march towards monopolization of business and industry.
The Next Chapter is not just intending to be another book business but as a social space for the community and starting point for local artists, performers and authors.
My dear friend grew up in and out of foster care, but learned a passion for theatre from an awesome teacher in high school. In 1986, he moved from WA to NYC and was involved in off off Broadway theatre for the rest of his life. He died suddenly of a stroke last summer, but the organization for whom he was Tech Director the last few years of his life ran with my idea to set up a scholarship in his name. The Brooklyn Children’s Theatre now offers the Ed Morrill Memorial Scholarship Fund, which funds places in their award winning theatre programs to children in the foster care system.
My charity of choice for many years has been “Ethiopia Reads.” This amazing organization builds libraries, provides training for librarians and teachers, and gets books in the hands of kids. Take a look: http://www.ethiopiareads.org/
The Philadelphia Justice Project for Women and Girls is a 501(c)3 organization that supports incarcerated women and girls in Pennsylvania. PJP provides direct assistance as well as research and advocacy on gender and mass incarceration. The organization is fairly new and run by a well-respected sociologist with long experience in this field.