I've been looking for a new charity.
July 14, 2001 6:50 PM   Subscribe

I've been looking for a new charity. Of course I support the Internet's greatest resource (Thanks Matt) And, I click here from time to time, but I want to do more. Are there any charities that you support/don't support? Why or why not? I'm leaning towards Literacy Volunteers of America by the way.
posted by willnot (32 comments total)
LVA is a noble cause. Helping to teach a person to read is, quite simply, taking the shackles off a person's mind and giving him or her the freedom to realize their potential.

Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll demand lobster.
posted by MAYORBOB at 7:20 PM on July 14, 2001

I believe strongly in supporting our local animal rescue league. The lack of hidden agendas among charities that support our animal friends is refreshing.
posted by machaus at 7:21 PM on July 14, 2001

I've supported the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. You'd be surprised how easy it is for comic stores to be destroyed by a small burst of trumped-up public outcry.
posted by JDC8 at 7:29 PM on July 14, 2001

you could do worse than give to the electronic frontier foundation. i am relatively poor, and they've got some of my money if that says anything. anyone who uses the internet etc. should value this group.
posted by cheesebot at 8:19 PM on July 14, 2001

I love the heifer project. they give livestock with one stipulation: that the offspring be given to someone else in the village so that the gift keeps giving....
posted by rebeccablood at 9:05 PM on July 14, 2001

I gave money to these acid heads last night.

But generally, I support charities that deal in mental illness and ones that help spinal cord victims (my best friend was a quadrapalegic for many years before his mom accidentally flipped over his van and killed him -- if you think you are having a bad day, think of him.)
posted by drunkkeith at 10:19 PM on July 14, 2001

Literacy is one of the most powerful tools that we have to make the world better. Go for it!
posted by davidmsc at 10:26 PM on July 14, 2001

Despite the potential of the Internet as a fund-building resource for charities, I feel it's somewhat underused, and find that the most effective and rewarding charities are still the local ones. Walk out on your street and find something you'd like to change. If you're having a wedding or birthday, ask people to donate to the local homeless shelter instead of giving you stuff. If you hear about a bike ride to benefit breast cancer or autism research, well, saddle up. It makes you feel good when you do it and when you see what it's done. Trust me.
posted by transient at 11:57 PM on July 14, 2001

I am strongly opposed to the LVA. Just this evening I was in a tavern when I noticed that the guy in the booth behind me was alone and reading the hobbit. Every illiterate person just means one less bottle I have to smash over someone's head.
posted by ttrendel at 2:21 AM on July 15, 2001

Amnesty isn't an original choice, but it's one that gets both my money and my active support.
posted by holgate at 5:07 AM on July 15, 2001

i've previously worked for Farm Africa, who do some impressive work. the heiffer project has a similar approach.
posted by quarsan at 5:55 AM on July 15, 2001

I'm involved with a local (Chicago) group. The Cabrini Green Tutoring Program gets as much money as I can spare along with a considerable chunk of time. The look on some of these kids' faces when they finally get a math problem or a vocabulary word correct will erase any crappy day I may have had at work & put things back into perspective. Plus you haven't lived until an 8-year-old sharks you at Sorry.

Also, if you're not already aware of it, iGive is a great portal that donates a percentage of your purchase to your cause--even a local homegrown one like mine!
posted by thc at 6:22 AM on July 15, 2001

"Every illiterate person just means one less bottle I have to smash over someone's head."
'chip the glasses, crack the plates, that what bilbo baggins hates'
posted by clavdivs at 7:35 AM on July 15, 2001

id make one check out to cambodia.
posted by clavdivs at 7:36 AM on July 15, 2001

or spalding gray.
posted by clavdivs at 7:36 AM on July 15, 2001

Every illiterate person just means one less bottle I have to smash over someone's head.

Huh? What the hell is this supposed to mean? I assume it's supposed to have some kind of meaning because it appears to be words, but damned if I can decipher it.
posted by kindall at 7:45 AM on July 15, 2001

Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, American Diabetes Association, Alzheimer's Association...AIDS-related organizations, cancer-related organizations...

Or you could always go to Guidestar, a listing of non-profit organizations. or Give.org, formerly the National Charities Information Bureau. Check 'em out before you donate. :)
posted by metrocake at 8:20 AM on July 15, 2001

posted by andrew cooke at 9:20 AM on July 15, 2001

Ditto, kindall.
posted by jragon at 9:35 AM on July 15, 2001

You could do worse with a buck than the ACLU.
posted by dong_resin at 10:05 AM on July 15, 2001

Warning: self-link ahead...

Organizing the Blogathon has helped me discover a lot of fantastic charities. While I prefer to stay close to home, I could donate to much the same cause on an macro level with The Hunger Site. There are also a lot of bloggers stumping for RAINN, the national sexual assault hotline.

Anyway, peruse the list and you'll find some very unusual, interesting, and worthy causes.
posted by frykitty at 10:12 AM on July 15, 2001

Or you could give to an umbrella-type organization like the United Way.
posted by davidmsc at 10:16 AM on July 15, 2001

The Heifer Project people Rebecca mentioned are fantastic; they've got some hoof and mouth disease-specific programs at the moment, if that's a special concern of yours.

Doctors without Borders, winners of the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize, is another incredible group.
posted by snarkout at 10:51 AM on July 15, 2001

I support the National Rifle Association. They may not be a charity per se, but I believe in what they stand for.

One thing I hate is charities that are headed by CEOs earning many millions in annual compensation. Like United Way.
posted by Witold at 6:11 PM on July 15, 2001

Oh yay! Please dad, can we start an NRA vs. gun control flamewar? I'm in the mood to abuse drunken hillbillies who mouth non-sequiturs like "Guns don't kill people, drunken hillbillies people kill people.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:16 PM on July 15, 2001

Sorry, that was a troll and a thread hijack. Me and Witold can take it outside...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:49 PM on July 15, 2001

Close your tags, STWC, that's a good chicken.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:52 PM on July 15, 2001

I would put my support behind RAINN, which is the *only* (another rant altogether) national hotline for survivors of sexual abuse. And in memory of my uncle, the American Liver Foundation.
posted by calistasm at 9:53 PM on July 15, 2001

Witold, executive compensation in non-profits is all salary. There are no stock options, and pension fund choices are limited. That's why salaries are higher than you'd expect (though still low compared to companies with the same amount of "business"). What, you thought that because it's a non-profit, the employees should take less money out of the goodness of their hearts? NPOs compete for a limited pool of executives, just like businesses, and if executive salaries have run up in the profit world, for the same reason with NPOs.

I think the NRA qualifies as more of an advocacy group than a charity (unless they have some hidden free-guns-for-the-gunless program of which I'm unaware). As a conservative/libertarian, Witold, are there any actual charities which you would support? What about a microbank, which gives no-interest loans to poor people in 3rd-world countries wto start businesses?

For myself, one of my favorite charities is Habitat for Humanity, which does so much to build homes for people who need them, but requires sweat equity and stringent reliability requirements for its applicants. I give money only because I haven't had the time lately to work on a project, which I find much more satisfying in the long run. The only problem, alas, is that Habitat has one of the most dogged professional donation-follow-up programs in the industry: since giving I've been hit up by phone for "emergency" donations, sent easily a half-dozen expensive come-ons to join the higher levels of giving, and been put on scores of NPO mailing lists. I wish I could just give my $50 and not be bugged, because I dislike the guilt trip. I'm trying, dammit! Anyway, I remain loyal despite the corporate approach, and hope to help with a hammer again soon.

I used to belong to a wonderful volunteer/social group called Rotaract, an offshoot of Rotary International for 18-30 year olds. (I'm in Evanston, where RI has its headquarters; and my Dad was a Rotarian for about 15 years.) There are thousands of clubs worldwide, though fewer in the US due entirely, I believe, to misunderstanding by would-be sponsoring Rotarians. But if you can find one (and if you're overseas, especially in England, India, and a few other countries), it's great fun, you'll make lifelong friends, and you'll get to do great things for your local community. Our club's motto was service with a social twist.

Also, I've been riding my bike again, hoping to eventually join some charity rides like the AIDS Ride. Though criticized frequently for the problematic net donation ratio, I feel they're worth it for a lot of reasons. People who just give money (like my Habitat example) don't feel connected, and next year might give their $ to somebody else. People who do an event like an AIDS Ride come back year aftere year. The high level of amenities keeps them coming back, though I agree it might be better off reduced. Usually the corporate sponsorship, if you look at the big picture, can kick in to double pledges -- and pay for most of the carrying costs of the event, while generating tax deductions all around. These have been sharply criticized, but people don't often look at the balance sheets of NPO events that aren't as often outsourced, like art fairs or fundraising dinners. In truth many of those have high costs as well, but it costs money to bring in money. The shoestring nonprofits exist, but they often fail, too.
posted by dhartung at 11:39 PM on July 15, 2001

Unfortuantely, they have no site for it. But those in the Metro Deroit area, On July 28th is the Life Walk for Organ & Tissue Donation on Belle Isle.

those who want more info should contact me via email
posted by tj at 9:20 AM on July 16, 2001

My charities of choice: The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, America's Second Harvest and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Help the kids, feed the hungry, find a cure.
posted by Dreama at 10:08 AM on July 16, 2001

dhartung: I mentioned NRA as it is the only organization getting my dues. Although it may not necessarily qualify as a "charity," I thought it fit in the thread nevertheless. (maybe having just come back from the range had something to do with it!) I didn't mean to start a flamewar, and thankfully, the comment hasn't done that.

As for my statement regarding high paid CEOs of some of these charities, I would tend to disagree. I never saw charities as "businessess" and never thought they need to be run like businessess. Yes, they have to be efficient, but at the same time I expect that organization to only hire those that want to further and fulfill the org's mission statement. If that mission statement is to distribute as much money to a given group--poor single-parent families, for example--I don't think the CEO or the organization is living up to their goals if they decide to pay their CEO millions of dollars. CEOs are hard to find, but I'm sure that if they look harder, they can get someone cheaper and that person will do as good of a job as their current multi-million dollar man.

Great suggestion on microbanks, though. The concept particularly strikes my fancy. Also, some of these institutions operate in the US as well, so it's not purely an foreign operation.
posted by Witold at 2:32 PM on July 17, 2001

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