One more day in 2016 for charitable giving

If, like many people in the United States and elsewhere, you give money to charities at the end of the year, you have only a few hours left. (Note that for tax purposes, a gift made using a payment card occurs in the year when the transaction is initiated — not when it posts and not when you pay your bill. So there’s still time to make contributions for 2016 if you are eligible. IANATLORA, TINTA.)

Historically I’ve limited my giving to just a few organizations, preferring to give larger gifts in a more focused way. But this year, particularly since the election, I wanted to support some organizations that are really going to need the help, and I’d encourage everyone to do the same. I also gave to some of the organizations I more typically support.

So here are some suggestions, in no particular order:

  • Médecins sans frontières — I gave through Zeynep Tufekci’s year-end matching-gift campaign, which is motivated particularly by the situation in Yemen but is not earmarked, because MSF is better positioned to decide where the greatest need is. (And by the way, whenever you give to a crisis charity, that’s a really good idea — let the experts at the charity determine where and how best to use resources. Events can move fast.)
  • Lambda Legal
  • American Civil Liberties UnionN.B. not a charity but a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, so donations are not tax deductible, but there is a parallel 501(c)(3) charity if you don’t want your gift spent on political activity (it will still be put to good use)
  • Planned Parenthood Foundation of AmericaN.B. PPFA is the charitable 501(c)(3) which provides health-care services to vulnerable women, but there is also a parallel 501(c)(4), PPAF (Planned Parenthood Action Fund), which does political work; you can give to both if so inclined
  • Human Rights Watch reports on human-rights issues around the world and brings them to the attention of global media and policymakers
  • Center for Responsive Politics, which organizes and makes searchable the mandatory campaign-finance filings of federal candidates, political parties, and political committees
  • Constitutional Accountability Center a think-tank and public-interest law firm supporting a “progressive textualist” approach to constitutional law
  • Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the most prominent civil-rights advocacy organizations (note that some people are critical of SPLC’s financial and fundraising arrangements)
  • The FreeBSD Foundation supports the continued development of the FreeBSD operating system as a platform for research, experimentation, education, and day-to-day use. (Disclaimer: I was one of the early leaders of the FreeBSD Project, which is legally separate from the Foundation, and I am still a FreeBSD developer. I have no connection with the Foundation and receive no direct benefit from its activities.)
  • The Wikimedia Foundation supports the operation, international educational mission, and legal defense of Wikipedia and its sister projects (including Wikimedia Commons, one of the world’s largest repositories of freely-licensed images and multimedia, and Mediawiki, the software that Wikipedia runs on). (Disclaimer: I am an inactive Wikipedia, Commons, and Wikiquote editor, but I have no connection with the Foundation and receive the same benefit from its activities as everyone else on the Internet.)
  • Radiotopia is a partnership of PRX and Roman Mars, a distribution platform for independently-produced podcasts, financed on a public-radio model

Some other organizations you might consider supporting, but I ran out of time, money, or patience with badly designed Web sites: WNYC is the producer of numerous public-radio shows and associated podcasts, including “Studio 360”, “Radiolab”, and “On The Media”, but doesn’t provide a way to make a donation to those specific shows; Media Matters for America is a progressive media watchdog; the Center for Democracy and Technology and the Electronic Frontier Foundation support civil liberties and human rights online; EMILY’s List is a progressive Political Action Committee (so not a charity) supporting female candidates for public office. A few others that I think are worthy but didn’t consider this cycle: Human Rights Campaign, Bi Resource Center, ProPublica, your local public radio and TV stations, Amnesty International, PEN, International Committee of the Red Cross (not the American Red Cross), and the friends of your local public library.

As an aside: some of these organizations do a pretty terrible job protecting their donors and Web site visitors from snooping. They could probably use some IT help, from people who understand that anything any US-based provider knows, the Trump Administration has access to after January 20.

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4 Responses to One more day in 2016 for charitable giving

  1. thekohser2 says:

    OC, you should know better than to recommend donations to the Wikimedia Foundation — grossly bloated organization that needs only a small fraction of what it takes in, to keep the sites running.

    • You’re welcome to your opinion. I’ve read the financials and consider WMF to be a reasonably effective charity, although 72.5% program expenditures (as a fraction of all expenses) is a bit lower than I’d like to see.

      • thekohser2 says:

        Problem being, many of their so-called program expenditures are (and were) for useless activities that nobody requested and that are (ultimately) rejected by the community. How many millions of dollars were wasted on the “Flow” discussion page extension? After a short trial in field, the WMF pulled the plug on that project. And how about Visual Editor — one of the longest-running software debacles at the WMF… it’s been in place for over a year, yet only about 3% of editors actually use it.

      • I actually support the Visual Editor initiative, although I’ll never use it myself — I’m not the intended audience. It’s important for Wikipedia’s future that the wiki markup not be a barrier to entry. (You can argue, I think legitimately, that “rules creep” is a more significant barrier than the markup is, but the general problem of WP editing being restricted to people with desktop computers and related skills has only intensified.)

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