Worthy Causes

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Thad
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Worthy Causes

Postby Thad » Wed Feb 01, 2017 1:14 am

Been meaning to do this for awhile (since, oh, about November 9): a thread about different charities/activist organizations you can donate your time or money to.

To start with: it's not my intention to guilt or pressure anybody. I've just come off a decade of being either unemployed or underemployed; I know what it's like to be worried how long your savings can last. If you can't afford to contribute, whether that's money or time, you don't need to feel bad about that; take care of yourself. You're no good to any cause if you don't. If you can contribute, great; if you can't, that's okay too.

Second: feedback is fair game. No organization is perfect. I've long disagreed with the ACLU about money as speech, and TA recently made a valid criticism of the CBLDF's ill-conceived criticisms of a consumer boycott. If anybody names an organization and you have a criticism, that's okay; try not to be a jerk about it, but informing people about a group's downsides is a totally valid thing.

Third: this list doesn't need to be specifically anti-Trump. I can definitely see emphasizing civil liberties groups, but if you want to talk about a cancer charity, please do. I don't want this to turn into a relative privation thing; I certainly believe there's some urgency to pushing back against the current government's rapid encroachment against immigrants and minorities, but if you'd rather talk about the Hero Initiative or Make a Wish, then please do.

ANYWAY.

To start right off, I'll go with the most obvious pick: the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization that lobbies for civil rights and provides legal aid to people whose civil rights are threatened. It's in the news a lot lately, including, these past few days, for defending immigrants; it's already launched a lawsuit against the Trump Administration for its Muslim ban.

If there's one argument to make against donating to the ACLU right now, it's that everybody else is already doing it.

Grath wrote:Over the last weekend, the ACLU received $24 million in donations. In a normal, sane year they usually receive $3 million to $4 million.


This is amazing. And if you want to donate some money to the ACLU, then do it, by all means.

But there are a lot of other organizations that do good work, too. The ACLU's doing fantastically right now, so if you'd rather contribute to an org that's a little less flush, that's where I'm leaning right now.

So, for my next pick, I give you the Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal advocacy group best known for its tracking and cataloging of hate groups. It's spent decades suing the KKK and other, similar groups, and has done serious damage to them through multimillion-dollar verdicts.

A donation to the SPLC is like an anti-donation to the Klan.

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sei
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Re: Worthy Causes

Postby sei » Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:56 am

Might be worth setting up Amazon smile with your favorite charity.

Also, interested in your thoughts on the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
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Brentai
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Re: Worthy Causes

Postby Brentai » Wed Feb 01, 2017 3:48 am

My Smile's been pointing at dosomething.org (a charity essentially about being charitable) for a few years now, I tossed a couple hundred in back at AGDQ, and I'm looking for an organization to dump all my various consumer credit card rewards points into.

...none of which is bragging, since I consider myself to be not-particularly-charitable. The first requires minimal effort on my part, the second was really me entering a raffle sideways, and the third is a tax writeoff since the conversion rate turns out to better that way.

Well actually, now I just sound like a douchebag. My point is that it's fairly easy to support charitable organizations without outright making a monetary sacrifice of $xxx.xx for which you will be rewarded with people asking for more and occasionally yelling at you for not giving enough (the latter experience is obviously not typical but has occurred often enough to be the main reason I'm wary of any straightforward handouts). If you have money burning a hole in your pocket and you want to do something "good" with it then you can always go on a Humble Store spending spree with the slider turned up on the charity metric, or troll Kickstarter for fun things to gamble on, or any other number of donating-but-not-really-donating sort of things.

I mean, obviously, if you feel strongly about a certain organization and you just want them to be well-funded and giving them some of your own juice is reward in itself, then fuck, go for it. Don't let your dreams be dreams. But if you're like me and somewhat unguided and somewhat suspicious of most organizations then there are ways you can sort of let your natural self-centeredness funnel into better causes without your thinking or worrying about it too much.

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Thad
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Re: Worthy Causes

Postby Thad » Wed Feb 01, 2017 11:03 am

sei wrote:Also, interested in your thoughts on the Electronic Frontier Foundation.


They've been fighting the good fight for twenty years. They're not always as effective as I'd like, but as far as civil rights groups with a focus on computers and technology go, there's nobody better.

Over the past couple of years, we've finally started seeing victories against patent trolls, and indeed there have been court opinions that suggest software patents themselves may no longer be defensible. We've also seen a push toward more exceptions to the DMCA's anti-circumvention clause, such as jailbreaking (I thought this exception had been made permanent by Congress but I can't find a source, so maybe it's still temporary and at the discretion of the copyright office). Some states have introduced bills guaranteeing the right to have your devices repaired by third-party vendors. And I could definitely see the push for an exemption for security researchers gain long-term traction.

All of which is important, but the biggest issue now is online privacy. EFF's got our back there, too, from providing general advice and education to opposing policies targeting immigrants' social network information at the border to supporting bills preventing state databases from being used to target immigrants.

So yeah, they're the good guys.

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Silversong
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Re: Worthy Causes

Postby Silversong » Wed Feb 01, 2017 11:54 am

My bf supports the NRDC https://www.nrdc.org/ as a good environmental charity.

I donate to the NAACP LDF. http://www.naacpldf.org/ and the ACLU (but who doesn't rite)

And my friends who use Planned Parenthood praise them as doing good things.

I don't have the bandwidth or knowledge to do much myself. Donating to charities who do is the only thing giving me any comfort these days.

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pacobird
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Re: Worthy Causes

Postby pacobird » Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:11 pm

Plugging the Sierra Club. The realistic goal isn't to beat Trump but to bog him down until the next election, so while there are a lot of good environmental charities the SC, which has become particularly focused on litigation, is in a much better position than most to stymie the process.

Obviously this logic applies to the ACLU as well. There are a lot of causes to support, but I'm focusing on the environment, because (and forgive me if this sounds callous) civil rights abuses can be remedied further on down the line.
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Grath
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Re: Worthy Causes

Postby Grath » Wed Feb 01, 2017 7:01 pm

So it would be totally uncouth to plug the charity where my sister is executive director, right?

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pacobird
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Re: Worthy Causes

Postby pacobird » Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:39 pm

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Thad
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Re: Worthy Causes

Postby Thad » Wed Feb 01, 2017 11:18 pm

pacobird wrote:Plugging the Sierra Club.


I'm not gonna lie: when I look through my book of ballot props and I see an argument "FOR" or "AGAINST" with the Sierra Club's name on it, I just vote how they tell me.

...I mean, okay, I actually read their argument first. And the opposing arguments. But to date I've gone with the Sierra Club position 100% of the time.

Grath wrote:So it would be totally uncouth to plug the charity where my sister is executive director, right?


It would be a dick move to do it without telling us that. But now that you have, no, you're good.

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Bal
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Re: Worthy Causes

Postby Bal » Thu Feb 02, 2017 8:27 am

I always give a few movies or toys every year to the local children's hospital through Child's Play, I dropped $75 on AGDQ this year, and I point my Amazon Smile at MSF, which is by far my favorite foreign aide charity, with the added benefit that even my specific Smile contributions are known to me to be enough to get shit done.

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Grath
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Re: Worthy Causes

Postby Grath » Thu Feb 02, 2017 11:11 am

Thad wrote:
Grath wrote:So it would be totally uncouth to plug the charity where my sister is executive director, right?


It would be a dick move to do it without telling us that. But now that you have, no, you're good.

Well, if Thad says it's fine...
Because my sister is the executive director of the US branch of it, I've been directing my charitable donations to America Solidaria, which is a non-profit focusing on connecting skilled volunteers with projects aimed at providing advancement opportunities for children, youth, and families living in poverty throughout North and South America.

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sei
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Re: Worthy Causes

Postby sei » Thu Feb 09, 2017 5:40 pm

Thoughts on https://www.fightforthefuture.org/?

FFtF on charitynavigator isn't rated, since review was in 2014 and they made < 1MM.
FFtF on greatnonprofits.org has some reviews, but sites like this don't provide detailed reviews.
FFtF financial statements are available, but I'm not really sure how I'd read them or what I'd be looking for to verify that most of the money going in actually goes towards their causes.
A comment from a FFtF employee talks about a name ("Center for Rights") they may've operated under, but it didn't come up in search on charitynavigator. FFtF is based in MA, nothing with a name even similar to "Center for Rights" exists in MA.
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Thad
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Re: Worthy Causes

Postby Thad » Mon Sep 25, 2017 12:55 am

Operation USA is a humanitarian organization that's been around since 1979, and has a reputation for putting as much money as possible into disaster relief, and spending a bare minimum on upkeep/administration operations. If you donate, you've got the option to choose where your money goes (relief ops for Harvey, Irma, or Maria, Haiti, or the earthquakes in Mexico), or to let OpUSA direct it wherever it's needed most.

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