Gift guide: charitable giving

Last in this season’s gift guide series are some ideas for charitable giving. If you celebrate any of the season’s gift-giving holidays, it’s getting to that point where it is too late to order anything for delivery and soon you won’t have time to run out and buy something either. What’s left? You could make a charitable donation on behalf of the people on your list.

I am sure there are the usual suspects on everyone’s list, either charities that are the first to gain mention during any crisis, ones automatically associated with the holidays, or ones you donate to every year and so it is likely that you reach for your checkbook this time of year with specific organizations in mind. For example, some bloggers – like yours truly – have a history of supporting causes such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation since their mission is so closely aligned with what we do.

But in addition to the usual suspects, how about considering some lesser known charities? Is bigger always better in this realm?

Recently, I stumbled upon an interesting site called the Darfur Wall.

They have put up 400,000 dark numbers in honor of the 400,000 people who have been killed in the Darfur genocide. For each dollar you donate, a number is lit up to honor a lost life. The founders of the organization are picking up all administrative costs of the site so there is very little overhead. Other than Paypal fees (it would be nice if Paypal had a different fee structure for charitable giving), all of your donation goes to the four organizations supported by this foundation, allocated specifically to Darfur relief efforts.

You can choose the number you want to light. Instead of an extra stocking stuffer or an additional cookie platter, how about lighting up some of those numbers in honor of the people on your gift list?

Whatever your choice for giving, the Charity Navigator is a helpful resource in seeing how an organization spends its money. (I suspect because the Darfur Foundation is so new, they are not yet listed.)

In related news, the New York Times had an interesting article about charitable giving by Peter Singer the other day.

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