Archive for the 'Charity/Donations' Category

Sharpen your vocabulary for a good cause

Friday, January 4th, 2008

Time Sink!

I haven’t posted one of these in a while. (Although this was on my latest links list, I’ll give it a separate entry.) The twist: this one has a worthy cause attached to it.

Free Rice

Test your vocabulary skills and donate rice at the same time.

It’s interesting to note which countries have already fulfilled their pledge in international aid to address world hunger, and which countries haven’t taken any concrete steps. Can you guess?

End-of-year giving

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

A few hours to go in the US to make charitable donations that qualify as tax-deductible contributions for federal income tax purposes for 2006. A friend and loyal E-blog reader emailed me yesterday to share some ideas for what to do with one’s “non-existent end of the year bonus”. Her list included organizations such as Planned Parenthood, the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Bitch Magazine. I wasn’t familiar with all of these organizations so it was helpful to get her note. (Before donating to any organization, you want to check their status to make sure contributions are tax-deductible, assuming that’s of concern here.)

I went to the Charity Navigator Web site and started looking around for information about some charities. While on the site, I noticed that arts and cultural organizations were the only type of non-profits to experience “a substantial decline in giving in 2005″. That’s worthy of note and depending on when you read this, you may have a few hours to make a difference.

In the future, I would love to find an organization that supports arts activities for children. I know that lots of such organizations exist, but I don’t know enough about them. Earlier in the year, I made a donation to the Having a Ball program of the Chicago Public Schools when the 1st Northwestern Ballroom Classic was raising funds for them. That program is like the one featured in the documentary Mad Hot Ballroom about a similar initiative in NYC, which served as an inspiration for the subsequent program in Chicago. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for kids and I can relate to its focus given that I am an enthusiastic ballroom dancer so that’s a cause I can easily get behind.

In other arts-related giving, I made my usual contribution to the Smith College Museum of Art. In addition to the general merit of supporting a museum of that type, I have particularly fond memories of it, which is why I like to support it. I had an absolutely amazing experience there as a senior when I trained in their museum guide program. I was just sorry I only got inspired by my senior year and thus didn’t have that many opportunities to give tours before I graduated.

You’ve heard me mention certain other organizations here before such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Creative Commons. It looks like the latter is less than $1,700 from its goal of $300K for the year. Hopefully with the weekend donations they’ll make it over that mark.

I’ve posted about the Darfurwall already. I made two additional contributions in the last couple of days. (They only give you the option of picking one number to light up per donation so I don’t know what other numbers were lit for each additional dollar in any one donation.)


I lit 330033 on darfurwall.org I lit 306603 on darfurwall.org

Links on the wall: 330033 and 306603.

Supporting the ACLU is a bit complicated from the tax deduction perspective. Since the ACLU itself does a lot of lobbying, those contributions are not tax-deductible. However, there is also the ACLU Foundation, to which donations are tax-deductible. It seems that both are important to the overall cause of supporting civil liberties so I tend to split my contribution between the two.

Those are some of the organizations I have supported this year and thought I’d mention in case you were inspired to make some last-minute donations. Suggestions for arts organizations that work with kids are welcomed.

Of course, the amount of money I am able to give to any one charity isn’t going to make much of a dent and I suspect the same is true for most of my readers (this is where we circle back to the comment about non-existent year-end bonuses). But my understanding is that charities need to raise some amount from the public to justify their status so in that sense number of donors should matter, not just the amount they give.

Finally, here is a link to the IRS’s Web page with the basics about charitable contribution deductions in case you’re not familiar with the specifics. Happy giving!

Gift guide: charitable giving

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

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.

‘Tis the season…

Sunday, December 4th, 2005

.. when you’ll be getting more solicitations than usual from organizations asking for your donations. Obviously, there are lots of worthy causes. I thought I’d put in a plug for Creative Commons. They are having a Fall fundraising drive. John Quiggin over at Crooked Timber had a helpful post about Creative Commons as a default rule a few months ago. This would be a good time to catch up on that reading if you missed it.

One of my favorite applications of CC is its use on Flickr. I use the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License as the default in my photostream. Occasionally I’ll change it to Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs. But so far I have come up with no reason to post anything specified as All Rights Reserved. It is really heartening to see that millions (over six million and constantly growing) of photos on Flickr are posted using a Creative Commons license. Of course, many many are posted under the traditional circled C license. I sometimes wonder if at least some of those people opted for C over CC, because they don’t know enough about the latter. If I hadn’t known about CC before starting to use Flickr, I am not sure I would have thought to or gotten around to specifying the above-mentioned licenses.

Larry Lessig comments that one of the reasons CC launched such a fundraising campaign this Fall is that the IRS requires this kind of public support for non-profits in addition to donations they may get from foundations. Please consider supporting this cause.



Creative food drive

Sunday, November 20th, 2005

Browsing people’s Flickr accounts I came across pictures from CANstruction.

Canstruction® combines the competitive spirit of a design/build competition with a unique way to help feed hungry people. Competing teams, lead by architects and engineers, showcase their talents by designing giant sculptures made entirely out of canned foods. At the close of the exhibitions all of the food used in the structures is donated to local food banks for distribution to pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, elderly and day care centers.

The official Web site has pictures of this year’s winners, but I think it’s much more fun just to browse the Flickr photos tagged with “canstruction”. Check out the list of participating cities to see whether you can still catch the show somewhere.

Support the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Friday, November 18th, 2005


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