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Ask HN: Which charities do you donate to?
117 points by omosubi 2 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 148 comments
Also, why?





Mozilla, because we need more than one web rendering engine.

EFF, because they fight for a bunch of tech issues I support.

Software Freedom Conservancy, because they do a bunch of legal legwork for open source projects.

Internet Archive, because they're doing a bunch of good work preserving our culture.

TPT (PBS), because we should have high quality non-commercial education and entertainment.

ACLU and ACLU-MN, because they fight for important legal rights for all Americans and Minnesotans.

Planned Parenthood, because they provide critical education and medical services for underserved people.


I really want to be on board w/ the EFF because of all the good I see them doing on the legal side, but the PR department (or whoever writes for them) are just such a putoff. It makes me second-guess how effective they would be with my money. Obviously no org is perfect, I just really wish they would tone the language down to a more "level headed" message for the greater good.

This is how I feel about the ACLU. I donate to them because they're helping families separated on the southern border, but their PR is just so... Fox News. Except left-wing of course.

What do you think is wrong with EFF's message?

The lowest hanging fruit article I can dig up from memory is this: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/01/eff-pries-more-transpa...

The title and first paragraph set an unnecessary tone. There are ways to say the same thing which aren't immediately off-putting to those not "on your side" yet.


Oh yeah, Internet Archive. Good call. I need to add them to my list. They do, indeed, do super valuable work.

I usually follow Givewell's recommendations as they do a ton of research into which charities have the most impact (the maximum lives saved per $). I also like to give to some far future stuff, usually those associated or endorsed by the Effective Altruism movement just in case AI risk becomes a reality

https://www.givewell.org/

https://www.effectivealtruism.org/


I just give to GiveWell and let them distribute the money. I believe in their research and their approach, and I trust them to allocate donations efficiently.

As an analytical person I understand the value of maximum economic efficiency and value measured in these terms. On the other hand when it comes to humanitarian concerns, the human element can be somewhat more expensive and less efficient than (for example) airlifted bags of grain, but far more valuable and encouraging to the recipients. Programs like child sponsorship with letter-writing are expensive and not nearly as efficient as straight up meal delivery, but the impact, as evidenced by the children’s handwritten replies, seems to be significant in non tangible ways.

I don't think GiveWell would rule out a charity because it considers the human element in a way that makes it less economically efficient.

The question is just, is it overall more efficient at broadly "bettering people's lives" in a way they can measure? That's it. If you can show that letter writing is a worthy trade-off by e.g. looking at long-term impacts, I'm sure they'd be for it.

Perhaps you object to the fact that they require measurement. Fair enough, the best things in life are free. But the "bags of grain" (really, "bags of malaria pills") approach is already at a disadvantage to the "give someone a flock of chickens" approach, because the latter tells a story and tugs at our hearts. That doesn't mean it's worse, but I think GiveWell's thesis is, that also doesn't mean it's better.


I think the cannonical "efficient" charity would be incenticide treated bug nets. Against Malaria Foundation distributes them to entire villages, but the largest effect is for children 5 and under, for who catching malaria is much more likely to be fatal.

Grain has some potential negative effects, squashing local food industry, etc, but it's not like domestic bug net companies and a key part of the economy in the same way farming is.

I dunno, I feel like stopping kids from dying is better to focus on first compared to letter writing. But I'm a bit of a Utilitarian, and an aspie, so perhaps I undervalue the human element.


I’m for a both-and approach. But if you can only do one thing, save people through “utilitarian” means.

Absolutely, but the impact is definitely still there and I think we just need better metrics to capture the more complex results. After all, it's likely possible to do child sponsorship well and poorly.

As a side note airlifting in grain in often far more expensive than buying the grain closer to the target area, and causes significant economic harm by putting people employed in farming and the grain supply chain out of work (sometimes the very people the intervention was supposed to help). The main reason we do it is the domestic grain lobby.

> Two-thirds of food for the billion-dollar US food aid programme last year was bought from just three US-based multinationals.

> The main beneficiaries of the programme, billed as aid to the world's poorest countries, were the highly profitable and politically powerful companies that dominate the global grain trade: ADM, Cargill and Bunge.

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2012/jul/18/u...

For-profit capture of foreign aid is a much larger problem. For example, remember the news stories after Trump announced cuts to foreign aid saying many retired generals had signed a letter saying foreign aid was vital to protecting our troops? Most forgot to mention that that letter was organized by a trade organization of big defense contractors that regularly win foreign aid contracts (and employ ex-generals)

https://sites.duke.edu/lawfire/2018/02/21/should-we-be-askin...


What are your thoughts on https://www.charitynavigator.org/?

Charity Navigatior and many similar sites fixate on unhelpful stats like the percent of the budget "wasted" on admin expenses and overhead to an unhealthy degree. To operate effectively charities need to spend money on high quality leadership and support staff, and while doing good motivates many to accept lower pay they can still be pricey.

Furthermore, the more complicated what the charity is doing the more it generally costs to hire competent employees. If a charity wants to hire employees to rigorously evaluate whether their interventions are working, this will also add to overhead.

More controversially, I think the fixation on charity CEO pay is also misguided. They still generally earn less than they could working for similar non-charitable organizations, and being good at CEO-ing is a difficult skill. Hiring a bad CEO can tank an organization. (It's definitely also possible to spend a lot of money on a bad CEO, it's not a guarantee of quality.)

In fact, higher overhead (a negative factor in Charity Navigator's score) correlates with a better Givewell recommendation.

> The mean of the fundraising expense ratio for charities (the money spent on fundraising divided by the total expenses of the entire organization) that earned a gold, silver, or notable rating by Givewell (41 charities) is 0.073, while that of the charities reviewed by Givewell but not ranked well (253 charities) is 0.054 (p-value of 0.05, i.e., statistically significant at the 95% level). The mean of the administrative expense ratio for charities that earned a gold, silver, or notable rating by Givewell is 0.102, while that of the charities reviewed by Givewell but not ranked well is 0.092 (p-value of 0.35). Adding administrative and fundraising together, the mean ratio for charities that earned a gold, silver, or notable rating by Givewell is 0.174, while that of the charities reviewed by Givewell but not ranked well is 0.147 (p-value of 0.11).

(Note that I weakly suspect this person might be misusing p-values, and should be less confident in the causal nature of this correlation. However, that is still sufficient to prove that overhead isn't inherently evil)

http://freakonomics.com/2011/06/09/why-ranking-charities-by-...


> What are your thoughts on https://www.charitynavigator.org/?

Not really the same thing as GiveWell's analysis. To use the first example I checked, compare

https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summar...

to

https://www.givewell.org/International/charities/Heifer-Proj...


Among others, my wife and I donate to our church's Humanitarian Aid Fund, because 100% of the donations go to those in need (0 admin. overhead expense, regardless of membership). They can do this because of the # of volunteers involved, as well as piggybacking on other church administrative structures.

Edit: add reason: This because we believe the Lord taught us to serve others, and this organization seems particularly competent at using their significant resources very well, worldwide. I spent some time abroad when younger, and the needs were so striking, the people so humble and kind, and just reading the news now about refugees etc etc., and we wanted to do more but felt incompetent and unsure how/where to start. This fills that gap for us.

There are other stats/facts here: https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/topic/humanitarian-... and countries with project types: https://www.latterdaysaintcharities.org/where-we-work

This one says how to start at home (including there is a web site for coordinating local efforts between groups who sign up and individuals who have some time to volunteer, etc): https://www.latterdaysaintcharities.org/how-can-i-help/serve

(Edit: we are also encouraged to fast (skip 2 meals) monthly, and give the $ saved to those in need. Links w/ details at: http://lukecall.net/e-9223372036854575427.html )


Also I find worth considering:

- openbsd.org (because they do such good tech work, like OpenSSH and only 2 remote holes in the default install since ~ 1996), and

- http://batemanhornecenter.org doing research for CFS, an illness that is not well understood compared to the # of individuals affected. Biomarkers have been found, and they work toward better diagnostic tools, patient care, and physician training, including with government and others in the global research community.

- (edit) and maybe unitedway.org


Propublica, because they do really amazing journalistic work, both in partnership with large for-profit news organizations as well as independently.

The American Cancer Society, which does a bunch of amazing things, including having "Hope Lodge" facilities near major cancer treatment centers. When we were in grad school (and had less than no money) my wife needed daily cancer treatment for 6 weeks at a hospital that was hours away from our house. She and her mother were able to stay at Hope Lodge completely free for the entire length of her treatment.

Wikpedia, which I use every day.


Being in Africa I start at home. I donate to less well off relatives. There are too many so I focus on the elderly. My dad's brothers and sisters who are all above 70 years old. I then pay school fees for one of my cousins. I also do occasionally donate to Wikipedia.

Compliments to you. Being good to family is so important, for so many reasons, in so many ways...

You guys should consider donating to the International Anti-Poaching Foundation[0][1] which fights these poachers. The founder, Damien Mander[2], is an Australian ex spec-ops sniper who is using his military experience to train the park rangers since they, unlike the poachers, tend to be poorly equipped and trained as well as understaffed.

There is also the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust[3][4] which takes care of elephant and rhino orphans (most of them are orphans due to poaching). For $50 a year, you can become a sponsor of a particular animal and they'll send you photos and updates about how your sponsored animal is doing. You can for example sponsor this little fella [5][6].

[0] http://www.iapf.org/en/

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Anti-Poaching_Fou....

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damien_Mander

[3] http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Sheldrick_Wildlife_Trust

[5] https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/orphans/murit

[6] http://instagram.com/p/sigT3IAUKb


I like the Against Malaria Foundation (I first found them through GiveWell [0]).

Last week I launched a site to try and raise money for 10,000 nets for AMF [1]!

[0] https://www.givewell.org/

[1] https://giveanet.org/

[2] https://github.com/justicz/giveanet


Thank you for this. Excellent work on the site. Donated!

Yay! Thank you!

I support NGOs back in Russia from where I emigrated when I was 17, because I am more familiar with the state of things there and it makes me feel a tiny bit better knowing I can help at least somehow.

I donate to OVD-INFO, which helps unlucky residents of Russia who are victims of police/state injustice. They provide lawyers, general rights information for convicted people and have free hotline for those who find themselves repressed by police/state https://ovdinfo.org/

I also donate to https://nuzhnapomosh.ru which is an NGO that supports various charities that fill in the gaps left by Russia’s state support to people in need. My grandmother was ill with dementia and in most of Russia there is no even basic support for people with such difficult illnesses. Through this NGO I am able to choose that my donations go to an organization supporting families with bedridden family members.

I also support Charity:Water on events like birthdays and big holidays where I ask people to donate instead of giving me a gift. I like Charity:water because 100% of private (non-business) donations goes to build wells and provide clean water and because of the impact it has.

I also support organizations planting trees and preventing forest fires in a similar manner, on birthdays and big events. I simply love trees and forests.


Oh, I also love https://worldbicyclerelief.org/ and have donated to them several times through friends’ campaigns and personally. I love cycling and giving a durable vehicle that helps someone move and move things is seriously a good idea in my view.

My current favorite non-profit is the Center for Election Science [1] which advocates for Approval voting primarily, and improved voting systems in general. They write great content explaining the differences in voting models and have started to have success in their campaigns, such as in Fargo. They seem to really make the most of the modest amounts I've been able to give, which is always appreciated. Highly recommended if you're not aligned with the two major parties and/or wish alternatives were not marginalized by the vote-splitting "plurality" voting model we use in the US.

[1] https://www.electionscience.org/


I grew up in a poor, rural area of Michigan. My family was thoroughly middle class, but the houses immediately surrounding us were not quite. Some people in a quarter mile were down at or below the poverty line. As a result, my parents used to pay for semi truck from the local food bank to come out to our rural township hall so that people wouldn't have to make a 40 minute drive into the nearest small city to get the food they needed. This was quite a bit more effective than simply giving canned goods to the pantry, since they generally have a surplus and can get more at bulk rates as seconds or dented items from the warehouses for less than you can pay even on sale at the grocery store, but they don't have the money or necessarily the knowledge of where the truckload delivery would do the most good. Unfortunately, the township no longer wants to host and run that handout day anymore, so we no longer can. I'd like to see more community oriented, local charity like that, but I'm honestly not sure how to make it happen, especially now that I live in a larger, more affluent metro-region and further away from where I can directly see the need.

Otherwise, I donate to the Institute for Justice because I have yet to see a case of theirs that I wasn't entirely behind.


In the cambridge ma area we have "food for free" which might be similar to what you were talking about. But it doesn't send food outside the community.

https://foodforfree.org/about-us/


I wonder if justserve.org (a web site for coordinating local efforts between groups who sign up and individuals who have some time to volunteer, etc) could help coordinate volunteer time, or 211.org (united way), and maybe/possibly there are fundraising ideas in those or here, if one searches these thoroughly and/or asks questions?: https://www.latterdaysaintcharities.org/how-can-i-help/serve

(edited for clarity)


I donate to these:

- The Humane League, which campaigns for corporate commitments to improve the lives of chickens, e.g. shifting major restaurants to using cage-free eggs. They're doing an incredible job: ~50 years of chickens lives are improved for just $1 donated. But billions of chickens are raised per year in the US alone, so there's a lot left to do. Short-term and medium-term, this is tremendous impact on suffering per dollar donated.

- Good Food Institute, which is helping grow the meat alternatives industries, both plant-based and (eventually) cultivated meat. Crucial for animal welfare and the environment. They help at every stage: with entrepreneurs trying out new food companies, with scientists conducting research, with restaurants interested in adding plant-based items, etc. Long-term, good & cheap meat alternatives are our best shot for raising fewer farm animals.

Why farm animals? Farm animals in general (especially chickens) lead very poor lives, and their farming is a major contributor to GHG emissions. Raising fewer animals for food has both direct benefits to animal cruelty and indirect to combating climate change.

There's a lot of low-hanging fruit in this space to make huge impact: farm animal charities receive very little funding (a small fraction of 1% of all US donations) relative to the scale of the problem (billions suffering; double-digit % contributor to GHG emissions), so there's both a lot of cheap & straightforward solutions, and a lot of unexplored terrain to potentially find even greater impact.

Both charities above are recommended by Animal Charity Evaluators[0], which does in-depth investigation of both the charities as organizations, and the specific programs they administer.

[0] https://animalcharityevaluators.org/blog/announcing-our-2019...


Do you have a source for the <1% figure you cited for how much money goes to animal charities? I'm interested in seeing where the bulk of charity money goes

Sadly I don't have a single good high-granularity source on-hand, but here's a few. Plurality goes to religious groups (which I find particularly uninformative, since many religious groups provide significant social services):

- Charity Navigator donation stats ($400b annual in US; farm animals are bucketed into "Environment / Animals" which itself is 3%): https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&...

- Animal Charity Evaluators for farm animal vs non-farm-animal stats (~1% of those are farm animals, which IIRC is itself the smaller half of "Environment / Animals" by a good margin): https://animalcharityevaluators.org/donation-advice/why-farm...

- 80,000 Hours farm animal cause profile (~$20m estimate for farm animal charities): https://80000hours.org/problem-profiles/factory-farming/


I donate to the SENS research foundation (https://www.sens.org/), and help with their matching campaigns. SENS works towards solutions for aging and degenerative diseases. (I also invest in the Methuselah Fund, which funds similar research.) Because 150,000 people die every day, which is an unbelievable tragedy.

That's my major cause, which the majority of my donations go towards, as I consider it the most critical problem to solve.


Doctors Without Borders just because of their ability to get care to almost any part of the world. I consider my contributions to it a form of compensation for my tax dollars that go without my consent to fund our hungry war machine.

With the recent US tax law changes, I created a charitable giving account via my brokerage to bunch up donation contributions to the account and then parcel out this account balance during the intervening months. Edit: this also allows anonymous contributions, which tends to defeat some charities' tendency to send unsolicited commercial mail.

Big fan of MSF too. Because I'm not a utilitarian I'm ok with Givewell's downsides.

Main charities I donate money to:

* GiveWell — it would allocate funds as necessary and provide those to campaigns/organizations that have been vetted and found to be the best on EA (Effective Altruism) metrics.

* Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) — this also works somewhat similar to GiveWell, though the quality of information available on effectiveness in this area isn’t as strong as how it is with helping human causes (they GiveWell analyzes). Good Food Institute is one of the recommendations by ACE.

I also donate to a few more organizations and projects, including (but not limited to), Mozilla, Mozilla Thunderbird, Tor Project, Videolan (VLC), Document Foundation (LibreOffice), Free Software Foundation, Internet Archive, Wikipedia and some Firefox browser extensions.


In my opinion the two organizations making the most direct impact today are the World Food Programme (run by the United Nations, providing food to areas stricken by famine and war etc. https://www.wfp.org ) and Doctors Without Borders (aka MSF providing medical care to those most in need https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org ). There are a variety of water charities doing good work also. What's more immediately important than water, food, and health care?

I give 10% "tithe" of my income to the church I go to (a french-speaking, young evangelical church in Montreal), even though I'm bootstrapping a startup right now. I give it mainly because I want to honor God by giving with an attitude of love and obedience. I love my church and what is happening there.

10%! What do they do with all that money? That must be more than they need, do they redonate?

Small, local, nature based charities. My smile for example goes to some Indian River Lagoon charity. Why? I want to support smaller charities, as I think a bigger percentage of my contribution makes an impact...that is, not paying into a ton of board members and other administrative costs associated with huge charities. And why nature...well, because I love it and want to preserve it, and feel as a species we need it now more than ever.

Board members are almost never paid at nonprofits. Usually they are donors themselves, in fact many nonprofits require they be donors.

It costs about $2500 to save a life by donating to GiveWell's top charities.

And yes, they publish an absurd amount of data to back this claim up, including a carefully-annotated spreadsheet which you can plug your own assumptions into.

https://www.givewell.org/how-we-work/our-criteria/cost-effec...

It's really hard for me to argue that there's a better way to spend your money.


What does save a life mean? Everybody dies eventually, so how do you measure lives saved? Avoided premature deaths that would have otherwise happened?

Indeed there is a large amount of ambiguity in my statement. The aforelinked spreadsheet answers them.

I recntly found out about J-PAL or Jameel Poverty Action lab (MIT) which is innovating in the area of randomised control trials for finding the most effective ways to end large scale poverty.

This makes a much larger impact, often at the government policy or state level, and is backed by science.

The founders of this lab were recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.


I donate to Paamonim https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paamonim

It is an Israeli (I'm Israeli) charity that educates and assists people (eg. non interest loans) escape poverty. When I was in the military I met a lot of people who did what I thought was financially stupid things such as take out large loans to go on vacation, go into overdraft in order to buy cigarettes and soda, and not answer when the bank calls because it makes them anxious. I feel like this charity can, rather than simply give them money or a product, give them the ability to not need the charity anymore.


International Christian Concern (https://www.persecution.org/)

They provide aid to persecuted Christian minorities around the world. For example, they help rebuild villages, farms, etc. when they are raided and destroyed by radicals of other religions. They also help people (re)start their businesses after tragic life events (e.g. pastors’ wives widowed after extremist attacks).

They also work with politicians in the US to bring awareness to these issues and apply political pressure when and where possible.

Almost all the money goes toward their causes. Very little admin overhead.


Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (https://www.choa.org/). First heard about them through local talk radio that does yearly fund raisers with matching donations. Then found from work more than one coworker who has a child cared there. This is the only "for the children" I subscribe to.

St Vincent De Paul Georgia (https://www.svdpgeorgia.org/) . Grew up Catholic so I knew about them, have local donation center near me that I contribute items and time too. Simply put, these small town points are where people get help. It is far better to help at this level instead of the #support that far too many subscribe to


Compassion International. It gives impoverished children food, education, and hope. The third may be the most important. Over years of sponsoring children, we have seen some that went on to post secondary schools and even became professionals.

+1 for Compassion International. We've been sponsoring children through them for 20 years. We get to know the children personally with cards, letters and Christmas gifts.

We were just contacted by one of our first children from Nigeria. She "aged out" of the program, and we hadn't heard from her in years. She found us on FB (unique last names have an advantage). It's been great catching up with her again. Watching her go from a little girl to a mid-twenties woman has been wonderful.

I can't recommend them enough.


https://www.onedollarglasses.org/

The make affordable eyeglasses for poor countries, teach them how to make the lenses, repair the glasses etc.


Xerces Society because no one cares for the smallest among us - insects - who do all the work.

The Elephant Sanctuarybof Tennessee because the largest brained creatures on the planet are routinely abused by us for labor and entertainment.

The Pacific Crest Train Association, Appalachian Train Conservancy and the Appalachian Mountain Club because I like their projects and fantasize about quitting to take a long walk in the woods.

Bat Conservation International because if we don’t care for them they will die. Human activity is wiping them out. Bats are critical and like insects no one seems to love them.

The Innocence Project because the shift to tough-on-crime / one-victim-is-enough-evidence has put a lot of people in jail who were tricked into confessing to crimes they didn’t commit.

RIP Medical Debt because when I was younger I used to scare myself into saving like crazy by spending a lot of time reading credit repair forums. So many of the stories were profoundly sad people being endlessly hounded by 3rd tier debt holders who didn’t know their rights and who were being psychologically destroyed. Many of the stories were people with marginal finances at best who had a medical issue (it goes without saying that medical issues are unexpected) and got destroyed in the process. So real suffering here.

Edit: forgot

Wikipedia. Because I use the hell out of it.

Archive.org because I outsource my data hoarding plus I see a lot of value in what they do.


I used to assist walking large dogs at an animal shelter on Wednesdays whilst at uni. When I offered any kind of help for 4 hours a week anytime and this is what they asked for specifically. During the week it is primarily the elderly who volunteer walk, so the shelter avoided giving them the larger dogs and had to "make do" with short walks / single field roaming.

It was of course amazing for me - it didn't seem right. Huge walks with some of the best dogs in the place.

Recently I was on a small team did a lot of work validating whether a particular employment divide "startup" concept worked. We concluded that it did change prospects, but not meaningfully enough to warrant divergence from current channels. Our findings to be released soon.

I do what I believe in, and where I feel the efforts have the greatest impact. Naturally this means charity largely lands around me.

I'd like to give to Mozilla/EFF and some open source projects; but ideally by convincing employers.


I donate to the local food shelf that serves people in my neighborhood. Donating money to food shelves is about 10x as effective as donating the equivalent amount of goods purchased at retail.

How do you find your local food shelf?

I found mine because my church sponsors it, but this is a good resource:

https://www.foodpantries.org/


My wife and I do nude art photography on the side when time allows, and have a heavy focus on customers with self-esteem issues — both men and women.

We follow the "pay what you want" way of thinking, where the customer chooses how much they pay for the photoshoot — which includes zero, of course —, but also decide how much of the profit we will donate to the Laço Rosa Foundation, a non-profit organization from Brazil that helps women fight breast cancer.

If they tell us to keep all the money — happens from time to time —, we usually donate 15% of the profit anyway. Both of us lost essential figures in our lives to breast cancer, hence why we had the idea when we started doing these photoshoots.

We recently decided that the WordPress hosting company we are building will also donate a portion of our monthly profits to non-profits that are tackling data collection and other privacy issues. A part of that will probably go to open source projects we use and benefit from, like Fathom and Debian — I mean, it is only fair.

We haven't decided which of them will get the donations or how much of the profits we will give out, but are open to suggestions if anyone has any :)


Internet Archive — a lot of important culture will get lost if we don't preserve it: https://archive.org

Brooklyn Community Bail Fund — cash bail is punitive and discriminatory: https://brooklynbailfund.org (I chose this one because it's local; there are plenty of other bail funds around the country https://www.communityjusticeexchange.org/nbfn-directory)

Freedom for Immigrants — the concentration camps on our border are one of the worst things the US is doing right now domestically: https://www.freedomforimmigrants.org

National Network of Abortion Funds — abortion is healthcare even if we try to legislate it out of existence: https://abortionfunds.org

EarthJustice — climate change is possibly the most pressing issue facing humanity right now: https://earthjustice.org

And every once in a while Fund Club, because people are way more willing to support marginalized children coming into tech someday than helping the marginalized people who are here now: http://joinfundclub.com


I engage in a specific process for my charitable giving.

I give 10% of my gross income.

I give to small, local organizations that are usually overlooked and are engaged in activities that improve local lives. My donations must be kept confidential (I learned the importance of that the hard way after I did this for the first time!), and I do not give to organizations that ask me for donations. I also take the time to vet organizations, so I can have some confidence that the money will be put to good use.

I started giving when my first business became successful, in recognition of the fact that no business can be successful without substantial support from the community. I consider donating to be a way of repaying my community for that support.

I've never stopped doing this, even when I'm not engaged in my own business. I also donate 10% of my paycheck when working for others, for the same reasons.

I also donate to specific large organizations whose goals are in line with mine (EFF, etc.), but I don't count that as part of the 10%.



My two top ( by dollars and attention ) are:

- Walker School ( walkercares.org ) - special education and behavioral care for children and their families. Why Support? This is a local organization that serves a population of young children that often, but not always, have endured tremendous trauma and/or abuse, and typically have no where else to go. The Walker School helps them recover and rehabilitate and find them a permanent, safe home to re-enter mainstream society and become productive happy kids and eventually adults. A $1 to help get a kid back on track early saves a $100+ supporting someone through adulthood.

- Museum of Science ( mos.org/ ) - if you are ever in Boston, please make a trip halfway across the river and check it out. It is one of the best science/engineering museums in the country. Why Support? Not everyone is going to be a scientist, engineer, mathematician, etc, but the Museum offers vital community outreach to show what these disciplines can offer society. We can't all play for the Patriots/Celtics/Bruins/etc, but a lot of people can enjoy watching them and enthusiastically support them. I see the museum as the "Local Sports Team" for STEM.


Most of my giving is to GiveWell’s top charities, to be disbursed at their discretion. I think that as an incredibly high-earning, incredibly wealthy person by worldwide standards, I have a duty to help relieve the burden of global poverty.

It’s not tax-deductible, but I do give a little bit of money every year to scihub. I’d like to start giving to someone that fights industrialization’s assault on biodiversity, but I don’t know who that would be.


Internet Archive - not sure I need to explain why. They are just such a positive force.

PBS - one of the last remaining bastion of positive programming, especially for my kids


Nature: I like spending time in nature:

massachusetts audubon: https://www.massaudubon.org/

cornel lab or ornithology: https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/

PEOPLE: Sometimes people need a little help.

Food For free:https://foodforfree.org/

walk for hunger (My neighbor walks yearly)

kiva.org (micro loans. I found 50$ on the street and made a donation years ago. They keep paying the loans back so I've kept adding to the loans.)

TECH: Stuff I use that I want to support so it keeps up.

Libre Office, aquamemacs, sequel pro, wikimedia foundation, archive.org

MEDIA: Public radio (WGBH/ WMBR)

DON't GIVE LIST:

Groups that send me excessive mailings: and actually stuff in the mail I didn't ask for. I used to give to the NRDC, but they keep sending me so much junk mail. I got gloves in the mail from the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to animals (I have no relationship with them). World Wildlife Foundation sends me a ton of stuff too (sticker and cards), so they're off my list.


I mostly donate to http://bildbosnia.org/ since they have helped me out so much at the start of my career as a developer.

1) Larkin Street Youth Services https://larkinstreetyouth.org/

On any given night in San Francisco there are about 1,500 homeless people between ages 12-24. This is shameful. Larkin Street provides every service they could ever need and 75%+ of those who graduate from Larkin Street exit street life for good.

2) Against Malaria Foundation https://www.againstmalaria.com/

The numbers here are great. Mosquito nets ate extremely cheap. For about $2,500 (on average) they can save a human life. Most people reading this thread can afford to save multiple lives a year through AMF.

-----

Since today is giving Tuesday please look into your company donation matching policies. If your company will match you 1:1 that means a good cause will get $2 for every $1 pre-tax that you give. So the cost to you is more like $0.60 so the impact is about 3.5x what it costs you. You can afford to make a difference.


The Good Food Institute, because it is helping us develop more environmentally and animal friendly food alternatives.

The Nonhuman Rights Project, because I think animal rights should be much stronger and more wide-reaching than they are now, and the small cases this organization takes on have the potential to set some good precedent for the future.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, because it helps orphaned elephants survive and eventually strives to reintroduce them back to the wild.


I don’t know if it counts as a charity, but my college is a private liberal arts school (and a non profit) and they pretty much gave me a full scholarship and connected me to the tech world...so I give back every month.

I think if everyone, especially those who received big scholarships, gave back to their college even a little bit every month, it would help bring the cost of education down for everyone.


Not exactly a charity, but... the NRA, mostly. I’m not a fan of some of the scaremongering they do, and I wish they were more gun-centric and less Republican-centric. (And I say that as a Republican.)

But at the end of the day, they are the biggest lobbying group out there protecting a right that I hold dear. In fact, I think I’ll send them another hundred dollars right now.


> they are the biggest lobbying group out there

Are you sure they need your support then? (...and that you're not just funding Wayne LaPierre's personal slush fund?) Why not SAF, for example?


I give money to the SAF as well, and even GOA. SAF has done fantastic work, but most people haven’t heard of them.

Mary's Meals. They provide free meals to children all over the world at their schools. Without Mary's Meals those children wouldn't be able to go to school at all. I think that is the simplest and the most effective way of solving the poverty problem. They also use only locally produced food and help from local volunteers. And they claim that they keep only 7% of donated funds for operations.

A few times a year, although it be only in $10-$20 donations, I donate to St. Jude Children's Hospital. I believe they are a very reputable charity that does not charge the families of ill children anything. Other things I'll donate is the Salvation Army, military veterans, and animals.

These don't all qualify as all being charities, but here it goes:

    • Watsi
    • Kiva
    • Doctors Without Borders
    • Canadian Blood Services
    • International Rescue Committee
    • Electronic Frontier Foundation
    • MIT Open Course-ware 
    • edX/MITx 
    • GiveWell
    • Charity Science
    • Against Malaria Foundation
    • World Wildlife Foundation 
    • Environmental Defense Fund
    • David Suzuki Foundation
    • LibreOffice
    • Evidence Action
    • GiveDirectly 
    • Oxfam
    • Gift of Life International
    • Bridge International Academies
    • St. Baldrick's Foundation (Childhood Cancer)
    • Innocence Project
    • The Marshall Project
    • Khan Academy
    • 3Blue1Brown

Huge fan of my local (Syracuse) Rescue Mission. I can't speak for the other branches, but this one does amazingly good work addressing homelessness in Syracuse. They receive about 33% of my monthly giving.

We also give to MSF (Doctor's without Borders) (another 33% of my monthly giving), and our church (the rest).


Sometimes I like heading on over to GoFundMe and Kiva and donating to people directly there, particularly those who need money for health care in the US and elsewhere. I also sometimes donate to emerging initiatives on Kickstarter that I think will benefit society in some way. It gives me satisfaction to give directly to people and help small initiatives/businesses.

Should have added: Kiva's more about offering a loan, so that's not so much a donation, but I spend more time on GoFundMe

Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children - Kids in the foster care program often need an advocate and a role model. This organization is a group of amazing volunteers who stand up for those who need our help the most. There are chapters for most cities. https://casaforchildren.org/

Also don't forget your time is a valuable resource. There are many local non-profits and charities that would appreciate 1 hour of your time, even if it is drop in. Local food banks, soup kitchens are easy ways to get into volunteering. It's also a great opportunity to involve your family. If you can coordinate a group of people that helps even more!


L'Arche

They operate homes for adults with intellectual disabilities where they create community by living together with the people who assist them, and where they are encouraged to grow into adults who contribute to the society around them in meaningful ways regardless of their limitations.

I grew up in a city that is home to one of their communities and saw firsthand the good work they do.

I also believe that adults with intellectual disabilities are vastly underserved relative to other populations in need.

https://www.larche.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%27Arche


Somewhat off topic, but I very recently started working on a global charity search engine based on open data sets. The thinking is that you often care about location of operation and not (just) about base country. End goal is to provide api for other platforms to build on, like a platform about sharing donation preferences:

https://github.com/juliuszelf/global-charity-search-engine

I made an earlier attempt a few years ago, this page shows more about the 'why':

http://juliushuijnk.nl/project/charitius/


I donate mostly for religious purposes.

> They ask you (O Prophet in) what (way) they should donate. Say, “Whatever donations you give are for parents, relatives, orphans, the poor, and (needy) travellers. Whatever good you do is certainly well known to Allah.” (Al-Baqarah, 2:215)

There's an awful lot of charities that give to the poor and orphans. Islamic Relief covers a lot of that - wells, sanitation, orphan support, disaster relief, education. They're rated highly on Charity Navigator.


Regularly, I donate to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in London. Animals, I feel, are thrust into a poor situation and have less means to help themselves (not at all implying some people aren't also in this situation).

I donate to a bunch of Open Source software and games that I use and believe in.

I recently donated to: Mozilla, VLC, Veloren, Shattered Pixel Dungeon, Bitwarden

With my donations I hope to make an impact on the projects so that more people use them.


I don't donate to any 'traditional' charities but I do buy clothes, books, etc., in their shops. I don't discriminate among the different charities I just prefer my money to go to pretty much any charitable cause than to increasing the profits of big chain stores like Tesco, Walmart, etc.

I have donated to Mozilla and Thunderbird simply because both provide products that I use and I want them to keep up the good work.


I support a group called ERDG (Ecological Research & Development Group, https://www.horseshoecrab.org), which focuses on improving the state of the four remaining Horseshoe Crab species.

For those who don't know - despite being a critical part of our medical infrastructure (their blue blood is the current source for the reagent LAL, which is still used to test most pharmaceuticals & devices for bacterial contamination) they are in steep decline.


Wikipedia, it's essentially a modern day library, and amongst internet resources, it might have had the biggest impact in my life. It's always been there for me to look up a concept, settle a bet, or to explore when I'm bored.

The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom [0], because it's bizarre what is still illegal in the United States between consenting adults.

[0] https://www.ncsfreedom.org/


https://www.onedollarglasses.org/

I think it's an excellent idea done right. They create local jobs and provide the poor with glasses, something they haven't been able to afford.

They're a German non-profit (EinDollarBrille e.V.), their German website is https://www.eindollarbrille.de/


As a cystic fibrosis patient, I donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF). The foundation paid for my second CF gene mutation test when the first one (paid by insurance) came back unknown. My insurance wouldn't pay for a second one.

https://www.cff.org/


I'm surprised to hear that.

Years ago, I speculated on a CF list that the CFF must have covered some of my medical bills because I was never charged a copay at UC-Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. But I was told the CFF didn't do stuff like that.

I was deathly ill at the time that I was diagnosed and I showed up at my doctor's office and they had big signs saying they would not treat you if you owed them money, so I asked what I owed because I had never paid them a dime and they looked me up on the computer and said I didn't owe them anything.

I shrugged and didn't really think about it. I was fighting for my life and on a lot of drugs. I didn't have the wherewithal to be overly curious or try to find out what was going on there.

So I just assumed military benefits plus, oh, some charity or other.

Anyway, glad that worked out for you.


I was told that they covered the cost for all patients at the center who were still classified as unknown. This was several years after the first test.

Really?

They never identified my alleles. I had three sweat chlorides and two or three blood tests. My insurance denied my doctor's request for a more comprehensive -- so more expensive -- test at Stanford.

Thanks for letting me know.


If you haven’t tried trikafta talk to your doctor. Buddy of mine does lots of CF work and he said the efficacy of it is like nothing he’s ever seen.

I received insurance approval last night and promptly cried. My mutation is quite uncommon and was initially told by my doctor that I didn't qualify for the drug.

Just Detention:

https://justdetention.org/

Fighting against rape and sexual assault in US prisons.


Not quite the question that was asked, but Charity Navigator is a great resource for finding/evaluating organizations you might want to give to: https://www.charitynavigator.org/

We are doing a lot more donating around prison abolition these days. The one donation I end up debating a lot though is to Brooklyn Bail Fund. We're literally paying to undo individual instances of government policy. But it's not fair for those people to remain incarcerated.

I feel good about donating to Critical Resistance for the long game aspect.


Not charity, but idea propagation: Ideas Beyond Borders by Faisal Al Mutar. AKA: bayt al hikam 2.0 (Second House Of Wisdom from Iraq). Exactly the type of work that is needed to move the Middle East forward.

A couple of Syria focussed charities. Apprehensive about naming them... in case they end up having “bad ties”!

The school that I went to in the US. Not sure if my school in the ME is still around.

Robinhood and a few others in NYC area.


The Innocence Project because I can't get over the fact that the very first time DNA evidence proved without a doubt that the state was killing innocent people the Supreme Court should've immediately declared capital punishment as cruel and unusual but they did not.

https://www.innocenceproject.org/


That would be a total non sequitur (even if SCOTUS "declared" things, which they don't). Neither the plain meaning of the words "cruel and unusual" nor any of the jurisprudence based on it implicate questions of guilt or innocence.

Ok, for the pedantic people out there.

The Innocence Project because I can't get over the fact that the very first time DNA evidence proved without a doubt that the state was killing innocent people the Supreme Court didn't take the next capital case available to it and strike down the death penalty on the grounds that taking life capriciously based on a flawed epistomology is cruel.

Edit: Which the court did in 1972 out of the concern that its uneven application made it cruel and/or unusual.


Furman was a poorly decided disaster that, because courts can't backtrack, led to the weird Gregg regime.

This is simply not a matter for the judiciary to decide; by trying in Furman, SCOTUS bequeathed to us a legal disaster zone that jurisprudence has been working around ever since. In any event, Furman jurisprudence makes no reference to guilt or innocence.

Abolishing the death penalty is the domain of the people through the legislature. Get a bill passed.


We must agree to disagree.

https://www.sens.org/

They're working on solutions to problems we all face.


Effective Altruism Long-Term Future Fund: https://app.effectivealtruism.org/funds/far-future

Because I care about the effectiveness of charity, and given some philosophical assumptions, the long-term future of humanity is by far the most important cause.


Kiva.org

It isn't exactly a charity, but they give interest free loans (their partners charge interest though). I like their model, though some people have doubts about it.


Supporting Ukrainian volunteers who are helping their army to repel Russian invasion.

Mostly guilt. I've been living in Russia for many years, and was paying taxes there. Left years before the war started and never looked back, but still, somehow I feel responsible.


A lot of the software ones have already been mentioned above, along with several OSS Projects. I also donate to DataStream -(http://gordonfoundation.ca/initiatives/datastream). An Open Data Water Quality project in Canada.

Immigrants Rising - https://immigrantsrising.org/

"We empower undocumented young people to achieve educational and career goals through personal, institutional and policy transformation."

Planned Parenthood - https://www.plannedparenthood.org/

"Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of people worldwide."

San Francisco Bike Coalition - https://sfbike.org/

"Transforming San Francisco streets and neighborhoods into more livable and safe places by promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation. We are one of the largest and most effective bicycle advocacy groups in the country."

Oasis Legal Services - https://www.oasislegalservices.org/

"Provides quality legal immigration services to under-represented low-income groups with a focus on LGBTQIA+ communities. By acknowledging, respecting, and honoring their struggles, we empower immigrants so that dignity grows and integrity blooms."


In the past I've done a regular small bit off each pay to United Way here in Canada.

Outside of that I like to give to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto when I can (or take part in their fundraiser lottery). Also Heart and Stroke on occasion.

I've previously volunteered through UN Online, though I'm not sure if that counts as donating in the strict sense.

And Wikipedia at least once.


https://www.kiva.org/

They help people without access to traditional loans fund businesses, farms, etc. Whatever is paid back is easy to put right back into another loan.

I also plan on donating to the local LGBTQIA+ organization this year on behalf of a friend who requested it for her birthday.


- https://www.coloradohaitiproject.org/

> Working with community leaders in the rural town of Petit Trou de Nippes for over 30 years, supporting community-driven programs in education, community health, water and hygiene, girls’ and women’s empowerment, and agriculture.

- https://350colorado.org/

> In March 2019 Mayor Michael Hancock announced that the City of Denver had begun divesting its $6bn General Funds portfolio from fossil fuel investments.

- https://www.savory.global/

> Large-scale regeneration of the world’s grasslands.

- https://friendsoftheyampa.com/

> The Yampa River retains a natural hydrograph, annually floods its banks, scours its cobble and creates habitats that support biodiversity. The organization brings together a broad coalition of individuals and groups to protect this and other watersheds.

- https://www.wilderness.org/

> I'm a frequent visitor of wilderness areas across the U.S. and believe this category of public lands is a critical component in our portfolio of protected areas.

- https://www.eff.org/


Not charities but recurring donations to non-profit organizations: The OpenBSD Foundation & Erlang Ecosystem Foundation.

I also made a one-time donation to the Live Like Roo foundation this year as a birthday present to a friend.

Every few years I'll donate to a GDQ when they're working with Medecins Sans Frontieres.

I used to donate to the EFF, but no longer.


Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders. Always.

I also donate all revenue from my open source work, and tried to explain why I chose MSF: https://freesewing.org/docs/about/pledge/


That was a cool read, thanks for the link.

Chispa Project which builds libraries for elementary schools in Honduras. https://www.chispaproject.org

I have strong ties to the country and I think early education is extremely important to a nation that needs to build itself up.


Local homeless shelter in London (obvious reason)

Local food bank in London (obvious reason)

World Land Trust (to try and protect what's left of wildlife habitat)

Cauvery Calling (tree planting @ £0.6 per tree is great value)

I am grateful to my corporate overlord for generously matching donations 1:1 up to a limit that I am yet to hit.


I actively participate in a couple of local charities and give of my time and expertise. I don't donate money to anything because I'm too poor. I can't make ends meet as is.

Not a charity but I usually donate to my local public radio station, wherever I am. I'm not much of a local TV news person, and the radio reporters I do know have always been passionate about the work despite the low pay.

http://www.nuruinternational.org/ They have been working to lift communities out of extreme poverty in an incredibly effective way.

One that comes to mind is Reader To Reader for several reasons, including that they put books [and now a bit more] into places that don't have but need them and that I know//knew the founder.

Watsi, they seem fairly data driven, they seem honest, and that is about as much as I can ask from someone I am going to give a significant chunk of money to. watsi.org

I think I read about them originally on hackernews.


I'm pretty sure they were actually a YC company, they do seem pretty good

Not much, because I could not afford, but few dollars here & there to Wikipedia, Internet Archive, My Religious Organization online.

Khalsa Aid: https://www.khalsaaid.org/ Have met the guys who run it, and they do great work all over the world.

Signal Technology Foundation because they provide a solid messaging app. https://signal.org/donate/

The unit Scholarship fund - http://www.unitscholarshipfund.org/ mostly.

I donate to the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (Ireland); I was drawn to do it after two rugby players of world renown more or less got away with assaulting a girl.

libera[0], an italian anti-mafia charity. FSFE[1] last year. I'm not sure it counts, but Kiva[2]. Local charities.

[0] http://www.libera.it/ [1] https://fsfe.org/ [2] https://www.kiva.org


I pay taxes and I regard the state as a charity. Why? Because I'm forced to.

Wikipedia, because it's free, and I use it daily, as do my kids.

Not necessarily "charities" but organizations I have donated to in the past include:

ACLU - for the work they do on civil liberties cases.

EFF - for the work they do defending electronic / digital rights.

Free Software Foundation - because I support Free Software.

Libertarian Party - to promote Liberty.

NRA - because I strongly support the Second Amendment and am a gun owner.

Gun Owners of America - because I strongly support the Second Amendment and am a gun owner.

Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership - because I strongly support the Second Amendment and am a gun owner.

Citizens Committee For The Right To Keep and Bear Arms -because I strongly support the Second Amendment and am a gun owner.

Second Amendment Foundation - because I strongly support the Second Amendment and am a gun owner.

Grassroots NC - because I strongly support the Second Amendment and am a gun owner

UNC Public Television - historically mostly because of Doctor Who, but they provide tons of great content.

NPR - I don't always agree with the slant of some of their reporting, but it counter-balances other competing biased sources.

Wikipedia - Just because.


My local cat shelter.

A friend of mine from High School who has totally devoted her life to bottom-up organizing for social change made a FB post of these organizations which she recommends because she says that's where your money goes the furthest.

--- Lawyers for Good Government[0], which sends human rights lawyers to the parts of mexico where migrants are stuck because of this whole Fortress America thing Trump's doing

--all the groups in the community justice exchange[1], which pay people's bonds/bail to get them out of prison/detention, for example Chicago Community Bond Fund.

---Upavim Community DVLPT Foundation[2] (indigenous Guatemalan community organizing and Mayan language interpretation)

---No More Deaths/No Más Muertes[3] (every dollar = a gallon of water in the desert where migrants die of thirst, plus abuse documentation and help finding missing people)

---Uprooted & Rising[4] -organizing to change food systems for the better

[0] https://www.lawyersforgoodgovernment.org/

[1] https://www.communityjusticeexchange.org/nbfn-directory

[2] https://www.facebook.com/pages/Upavim-Community-DVLPT-Founda...

[3] https://nomoredeaths.org/

[4] http://uprootedandrising.org/


Wikipedia, Mozilla, ACLU, Heifer International, and a homeless shelter.

Local church, because they take the money and do great things with it. Dig fresh water wells, medical clinics, clothes for those in need, helping orphans, etc.

Best part: I can take part directly if I want.


Planned Parenthood and NPR

GiveWell.org, AMF

Wikipedia only.

Project Veritas, exposing corruption via hidden camera journalism

Judicial Watch, exposing corruption via FOIA lawsuits


fiut

-Wikipedia (I use it very often, I also edit it too, which is a time-donation that everyone should do!)

-LLS (Leukemia Lymphoma Society, they have had decent success in supporting some drug candidates, my family member works at LLS so I have some good perspective)

-350.org (climate change is a huge threat, 350 is one of a few that is fighting against it)

-Sam Harris's podcast (not really a charity but ...AI safety, meditation, rationality, identity politics, religion in society, he covers a lot of interesting topics).


Regularly to https://www.tahirih.org/ Tahirih Justice Center. They help immigrant women and girls.

https://www.givewell.org/

In case utilitarianism is the correct moral framework.

https://www.splcenter.org/

An attempt to slow the US' descent into fascism.

https://www.actionagainsthunger.org/

It really fucks with my head that people are starving.


The ACLU, because our civil rights are seemingly continuously under attack.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, because hate groups are enjoying a resurgence under the current administration, and I want to live in an inclusive society.

Planned Parenthood, because women’s rights are human rights, and we all should be concerned for women’s health. (And again, these rights are under attack under the current regime.)

Mozilla, because they support the kind of technology and the kind of tech industry I believe in.


I'm excited that this was downvoted into negative points! I'd love to hear why this was a bad answer.



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