Very soon I’m going to give $500 to various charities. It’s something I have wanted to do for some time. Last year I gave nothing to charity, and in 2006 I gave almost nothing. (Probably after this year I’ll give a more regular sum). Over the last few months I’ve contributed $25 each to John Edwards and Hillary Clinton, and that’s like charity (kind of). I don’t regret spending that money because John Edwards raised important issues in the debate. Frankly, the most important priority of 2008 for the world is getting rid of the George w. Bush presidency and replacing him with someone sane.
I’m still deliberating over which charity to contribute to. Here are some initial thoughts:
- I think I’ll be donating $100-200 to Jamendo musicians who are giving away their music for free. These musicians deserve our recognition.
- I want to give something to arts and literature charities. Creative commons, small arts organizations, etc. do amazing work, and I value these institutions more than most people.
- Although I want to give the majority of my donations within Texas, I would like to give about $100 to a charity overseas.
- I’d prefer giving to smaller charities but I don’t have a problem giving to larger umbrella organizations if I felt they ran their charity efficiently.
- I want to support PBS and the noncommercial radio station in Houston (KPFT) which does remarkable stuff.
- I’d like to give donations to creative commons artists and writers. Strangely, aside from musicians, I really don’t know a lot of CC authors or visual artists.
- I’d like to support causes which don’t normally attract big donations.
- Although I don’t have a lot of time to appreciate natural settings, I believe in the principle of supporting nonprofits dedicated to preserving wildlife. (Maybe $50).
- Although I can contribute to advocacy groups, my preference is not to. Also I prefer a charity that “teaches a man to fish” philosophy rather than gives handouts.
I would welcome suggestions and input about charities and causes to support. In about a week or two I’ll announce my choices.
While writing this post, I realized a few things.
First, giving a charitable donation is not the only way to show your support. Another way is to be a smart consumer…to use your dollars to help the good guys. Buy a book or newspaper or something produced by fair trade conditions. On the other hand, charity is not to be confused with consumption. Buying a vase by an African kid just because it helps get them started in business does not necessarily put the money to good use.
Some people contribute their volunteering time to causes they believe in. Frankly, someone who volunteers at the church or at Big Brother or the soup kitchen is also making an important difference (especially if your personal contribution is unique). On the other hand, money can make a huge difference, especially in fields where it is scarce. (Food banks receive lots of donations and volunteers, so not so much cash donations.
I look forward to hearing your ideas!