Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

12 Dec 2009, 11:26 a.m.

Charitable Giving Suggestions

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2009 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

For several years I've preferred people give to charity rather than give me Christmas or birthday gifts. This year I may also just donate rather than give gifts to anyone, up to and including my husband. I hope no one takes this as a sign that I don't care about them.

Some recent recommendation lists come from BoingBoing, Jed (from last year), and Charity Navigator's guide to holiday giving. The charities that really speak to me this year are about freedom, sex, and science fiction:

Leonard, per his request, will probably get a donation to Heifer International or Oxfam. I sometimes also give via DonorsChoose, and other friends have recommended to me several charities including:

  • "the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), which operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline as well as a bevy of other really good resources for victims of sexual assault"
  • Children's Aid Society "(we appreciate its focus on New York children and families)"
  • Immigration Equality (for GLBT immigrants)
  • Robin Hood Responds (feeding the hungry in NYC)

(In talking with some people about this, I realized that "what charities are you giving to?" can be an awkward question along the lines of "what books are you reading these days?")

And please don't worry that I'm going all ascetic. I'm getting a huge end-of-year gift already, a free N900 mobile computer, from my bosses. Incidentally, this means I don't need to hunt down a Linux-friendly portable music player, but I do need to look for a guide to the best aftermarket tweaks and apps, along the lines of "Top things to do after installing Ubuntu Linux 9.10 Karmic Koala". Playing .ogg files would be nice.


Andres Salomon
12 Dec 2009, 13:33 p.m.

And hey, the EFF has a nifty new xkcd t-shirt for donations over $100!

12 Dec 2009, 17:03 p.m.

We came in way under budget on your gift, and on shipping (between you and Rachel), and the excess was spent in our way-over-budget purchasing of Angel Tree gifts for a 1 year old boy.

15 Dec 2009, 18:46 p.m.

I like. Andy and I have done that in the past...He too likes Oxfam, I like Humane Society and WWF.

Will Thompson
17 Dec 2009, 8:15 a.m.

This reminds me of Ben Goldacre's recent post about charities not wanting to publicly accept money from atheists at Christmas:

Also, playing .ogg files on your N900 is easy: fire up the app manager, and install "Ogg Support"!

20 Dec 2009, 11:42 a.m.

Three more faves:

Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, non-sellout environmental groups doing critical work at both local and international levels.

Resist Inc., which funds a wide variety of plucky local progressive social change groups

Dittos on Oxfam, ACLU, and EFF.