Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Giving (including $500 to YOUR favorite charities!)

After writing the last post, I realized that another happy effect of my sense of financial comfort is that I'm more comfortable giving generously. Of course this is the time of year when charities are asking for money, and I want to increase my donations to some of the causes I usually support. It's also when a lot of tipping goes on. I've already put much larger amounts in the office collection for the cleaning ladies than I ever have before, and I've made a list of other people I deal with regularly that I want to give something extra to as a holiday tip. I've bought small gifts for people I work with, although my office doesn't usually have a big gift-giving culture.
In past years, I found myself feeling more constrained, worrying that lots of little gifts added up too fast, and feeling grumpy about the rampant waste of holiday consumerism. I've also tended to worry about giving to charities now when there's so much uncertainty about needing to help my own family with that money later. But this year, at least, I just want to spread my good fortune more freely.
And in order to spread my giving even further, I'd like to thank the readers of this blog by donating $500 to charities you suggest-- please leave a comment about your favorite charity and why you think they deserve it. Depending on how many comments I get, I'll split the $500 into as many as 10 donations of $50 each to the charities you choose, picking random recipients if I get a lot of responses. (The $500 will come from my "personal" charitable giving, not the ad proceeds of this blog.)
I'll take suggestions until Friday Dec. 17th at 11:59 PM EST and post the final list of donations next week.


Jeff said...

The SENS Foundation (www.sens.org)works to develop, promote and ensure widespread access to rejuvenation biotechnologies which comprehensively address the disabilities and diseases of aging.

Help our loved ones and ourselves live longer and feel younger through awesome biological research, basically the next wave of major medical advancement. I've personally met Aubrey de Grey (Chief Scientific Officer), he's brilliant, and he really cares.

Merry Christmas, belated Happy Hannukah, superbelated Happy Eid, and Happy New Year!

arsenio ball said...

Happy holidays! I've been following your blog for a few months but I think this is my first comment...

I'd suggest The Trevor Project (thetrevorproject.org). The Trevor Proejct is the only 24/7 suicide hotline for GLBT youths in the United States.

While many of us have known how desperately needed something like this is for years, I think a lot of publicity has come to the issue of suicide risk among GLBT teens this year - and that's a good thing. I just hope that it's paid off, and that groups like TTP will be able to see an increase in funding so they can continue to carry out their work.

Kizz said...

BARC or Sean Casey Rescue - they both do animal rescue and adoption in Brooklyn. Especially in a tough economic climate like this we need no kill rescue organizations. I don't have hard stats but anecdotally I've heard far more stories lately of people having to change living situations and not being able to keep their pets. Speaking of which, there's a place called Seer Farms in Jackson, NJ where a woman, Laura Pople, is taking in pets whose people are having life circumstances that don't allow them. Her goal is not re-homing the animals but allowing the people visiting rights and taking care of the pets until the people are in a position to take them back. I am in love with her idea. You can read the write up in People about her here: http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20436343,00.html

They Pink Daisy Project helping young women diagnosed with cancer. If you make a donation to them and put Mimi Ferraro in the memo that money will specifically go to help my friend, Mimi, who was diagnosed with breast cancer before she turned 30. Five years out from diagnosis she is drowning in medical bills. She's had insurance the whole time and yet, given the number of surgeries she's had and complications she's dealt with she had to pay about $30,000 out of pocket.

Good Neighbors, especially their Project Cookstoves: http://www.goodneighbors.org/projects/121
Because if it takes all day to get fuel and cook meals and both of those activities put your life in danger then you aren't going to have time or energy to learn to read and write and change the world. And I believe that little girls will change the world.

Habitat for Humanity because it was my Auntie Blanche's favorite charity because home was so important to her.

The American Lung Association, because a lot more people are getting lung cancer than anyone talks about. It's assumed that if you get lung cancer you "deserve it" because you lived in a way that put you at risk. Often that's not true. It wasn't true for my friend who died in 2007.

This is a wonderful idea. Thank you for giving me a chance to talk about some of my favorite organizations!

Anonymous said...

I think I found out about this charity on your site, but I'm a huge fan of Donors Choose (donorschoose.org). It's a charity that raises money for different schools across the country. You get to decide which class, state, subject your money goes to, and the teachers and students really appreciate it. I always give enough to get thank you letters and pictures from the kids because I don't have kids, and it brings joy to my heart to see them so happy with items I have provided.

I hope you choose one of my favorite charities, and Merry Christmas, Madame X.


Moneyapolis said...

I'm a big fan of the Tree House Humane Society and Feline Rescue Inc. They're both cageless, no-kill cat shelters in the Midwest (Chicago and St. Paul). I volunteered at the former and adopted one of my kitties from the latter, and know they do great work.

scissorbill said...

I love The Smile Train. They consist of plastic surgeons who donate their time to correct cleft palatte/lips of needy children. Such a deformity can mean social ostracism or even starvation to these poor little children. I believe $50 would pay for the medication for one surgery.

Thanks for being a giver, Madam X!

AW said...

As a New Yorker, I like the New York Public Library :)

I also like Streetwise Partners: http://streetwisepartners.org/ It's an organization that provides adult training in the soft skills necessary to succeed in a corporate environment. It started in NYC but has since spread.

mw said...

I'm suggesting a donation to Long Island Bulldog Rescue, which I support.

When we lived in Maine, we found our sweet bulldog via LIBR (a family living in Maine had to give her up due to lack of time), so you can see their reach far exceeds simply Long Island or New York state. This group doesn't have a lot of money, or a decent website (yikes! http://www.longislandbulldogrescue.org/), but they tirelessly find and provide homes for bulldogs who have been abused, puppy-milled, neglected, abandoned, or whose owners simply can't afford them anymore, especially as the dogs age and have more veterinary problems.

LIBR also provides 'Shady Paws,' a senior rest center for old bulldogs to live out their lives in comfort and with affection, also paying for surgeries and ongoing care for these animals.

To get an idea of the service they provide, read their stories of rescued bulldogs (http://www.longislandbulldogrescue.org/rescued.html).

Thanks -- Great idea!

Jonathan Davis said...

Joshua's Wish is a relatively new organization, which exists to raise awareness of pediatric brain tumors. Joshua was a friend of my (now 7 year old) son and his parents started the organization last year after he died. Both parents work full-time jobs and 100% goes directly to the cause. Currently there is no cure and very little hope for children with tumors like Joshua had. You can learn more at www.joshuaswish.org

Thanks for considering them!

Beatrice said...

Seconding the Trevor Project.

Anonymous said...

Instead of voting for a particular organization, I'll just parrot economist Steven Landsburg's argument that charitable contributions shouldn't be divided between recipients.

In a nutshell, if you needed to prioritize your giving and only give to the one cause that moved you most, you could theoretically do that. Now, whatever donation you end up giving to that cause will presumably not be the final push that helps the organization achieves its goal. Realistically, far from it. So even once you give out your first donation, the recipient organization should remain worthiest.

For example, when you give $100 to fund cancer research you imply that it is more worthy than say, access to clean drinking water. Having made that judgment, you are morally bound to apply it to your next donation. Assuming that your donation to cancer research didn't make a serious dent in the search for a cure, the research should be the recipient of you next $100 as well.

Anonymous said...

Charity: Water provides access to clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations. The site says $20 gives one person water for 20 years. They build wells so women/children do not have to walk miles carrying heavy loads of water. It's such a basic need that I know I take for granted. charitywater.org

I also like 826 NYC, a tutoring center in Brooklyn that helps students with writing skills and teachers with nurturing those talents. 826nyc.org

Jeff said...

Re ourtakeonfreedom:

That makes sense if you're confident in judging between causes, and have a clear preference. But some aren't sure which charity will have more impact, and thus hedge by donating to multiple worthy causes. And many folks aren't so utilitarian that they would feel comfortable judging breast cancer victims more worthy of help than pediatric tumor victims (or whatever).

Squirrel said...

While I agree that it's very important to support the neediest among us, I do wish people would also consider allocating a portion of their charity (or other discretionary) budget to purchase the work of struggling-yet-talented artists. It's not strictly charity, I know, but it's a help to those who are trying to eek a living out of making the world a more beautiful place.

I don't earn a living as an artist--I'm just sayin'...

Unknown said...

My charity of choice is Planned Parenthood (I give to my state's PP, but you can also give nationally), as I believe that women's rights in reproduction are a big deal, and legislators are always trying to change them or take them away from us, and Planned Parenthood is fighting the good fight. I also love how much they try to make birth control and HIV/STD testing accessible, as well as educate the general public about birth control, STD's, and the reproductive rights that women have.

Evy said...

I like Americares, Doctors without Borders and the Humane Society. A note to mw: Thanks for posting the bulldog rescue site. I will make a donation since I absolutely love bulldogs. Unfortunately,I can't have one because I'm allergic:(

Anonymous said...

I like to give to UNICEF. My favorite actress, Audrey Hepburn, said that the UN gave her food that she greatly appreciated at the end of WWII, and later in life she became a UNICEF Ambassador. She thought that UNICEF spends the bulk of its funds on helping children, rather than administrative costs.

If this charity was good for Audrey Hepburn, it's good for me!

Robyn said...

Children should have healthy meals to help them grow up, succeed in school, and make valuable contributions in society.
Parents should have a warm, safe place for their families to sleep every night.
All people should have access to affordable health care, jobs that pay a livable wage, and economic security to plan for the future. Catholic Charities USA seeks donations in support of its work, for humanitarian relief as the result of natural disasters in America and in support of the work of its member agencies who provide direct service to over 8,000,000 people who live in poverty in the United States.

Debt Guy said...

Try giving Kiva gift certificates. These are gifts of microloans that your gift recipient can then loan to a needed worker of their choosing (who will then pay it back). See my blog for more.

Katie said...

Thanks for doing this! I give to several organizations, but the bulk of my donations go to Oxfam. They're a well-established organization that tackle the worst kinds of poverty through development work, emergency assistance, and by trying to influence policy. It will be great if part of your donation goes to them!

Jessica said...

My standard choices are Doctors Without Borders (MSF.org) or Second Harvest (lots of folks with smaller budgets this year means much greater need at the food banks!)

Thank you for giving!

Anonymous said...

Dear Madame X: Happy Holidays!

I would suggest donating to a fund where they issue loans to small business entrepreneurs in the states or in undeveloped countries. I'm not sure which fund is better but I liked your water buffalo gift to your great aunt in this post:

Stephanie said...


They are a thrifty nonprofit! All of the staff is volunteer (no one with the organization is paid anything, including the director and the founder) and all of the funds go to help girls in Liberia go to primary school!

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John Papers said...

Great Post!

Personal Finance Blog 101 said...

Sorry I missed out on seeing this post in time to make a suggestion, but to anyone who happens to see this after the face, World Vision is a great charity. They give food, water, medicine, education, and churches to destitute children in third world countries. My wife and I have supported children through this program since our college days.