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Fellow lobsters!

It’s that time of year again, and in the spirit of giving, I figured it’d be nice to have a thread about organizations that are worth supporting through charitable acts, either in time or skill or money.

Make sure to list any local groups you would like to see supported.


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    General charities:

    Houston and Texas-specific charities:

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      Also, Wikipedia.

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          I didn’t post it to get into a debate. I’ll continue donating. Everyone else can make up their own mind.

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            Both are valid. You posted it as an organization you believe is beneficial that’s worth donating to (I agree). You are and will continue donating to it. ptman’s comment might help others concerned about whether there money should go to one good cause or another. Such people, myself included in that group, are often concerned about (a) do they already have a lot of money or representation in donations and (b) are they spending it well enough to justify more? The article gives that crowd some info to act on.

            So, I value both your comments even if there’s no debate to be had here.

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      We spent two Christmases ago in the ICU at the local children’s hospital, where my six month old daughter had open heart surgery. As a result, we gained a new appreciation for the good work of the Ronald McDonald Houses, and so we give them a gift every year, as well as dropping off food donations at Sick Kids. I encourage people to do the same, if one is looking for a worthy cause.

      ETA: She’s doing great, thanks for asking. Then and now.

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        My youngest had heart surgery this year, we also used a Ronald McDonald house, they provide an invaluable service. Modern health care is a wonder. Glad to see she got better!

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        I donate money on a monthly basis to the Against Malaria foundation, since they are one of GiveWell’s top rated effective charities.

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          You are awesome. Stay awesome.

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          If you’re interested in promoting open science and free, openly developed scientific software, perhaps consider donating to NumFOCUS: https://www.flipcause.com/secure/cause_pdetails/Mjc2NTg=

          Currently they are matching donations so your donation will have double impact. NumFOCUS legally represents 20 or so open source projects in the Julia, R, and Python ecosystems, including NumPy, Jupyter, matplotlib, Julia, ROpenSci. In addition, they organize workshops and conferences to promote sustainable software development and inclusive practices in scientific software development. You can find more information about NumFOCUS on their website: https://www.numfocus.org/.

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            Trans Lifeline provides a vital service to the transgender community (I believe their scope is all of North America, but it’s at least the entire US). Trans people generally don’t find most suicide hotlines helpful, due to not being able to talk about the issues most likely to be causing us distress. Additionally, nearly all suicide hotlines will call 911 on people they can’t help, and for trans people that can do even more harm because paramedics and psych wards do handle trans issues badly, both due to lack of knowledge and due to discriminatory intent. Trans Lifeline makes the nearly-unique promise that they will not call emergency services without express consent. They’re a relatively new charity with a fluctuating budget, and could really use your help.

            The Autistic Self Advocacy Network. Unfortunately, autistic people have to deal with the well-known, well-funded Autism Speaks, an organization which includes no autistic people on its board and advocates policies most of us oppose. If our voices aren’t going to be drowned out, we need better funding for our own organizations.

            The Internet Archive has always done vital work to preserve history in the digital era. They do far more than just scrape the web; their preservation efforts require a wide variety of expertise, and their scope is always expanding. This is even more vital given recent political attacks on the very idea of truth. Librarians are often the only ones who understand how important archival is. They could use more money. :)

            Your local food bank - mine is Second Harvest (SF bay area).

            Your local blood bank - mine is Stanford Blood Center.

            There are reasons that many people choose not to donate to most national food banks, homeless shelters, and blood banks in the US. I generally feel these reasons are valid, but local ones don’t get nearly the volume of donations. So I urge you to look up yours and help them out.

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              Here’s my experience:

              I’m an ongoing member/supporter/associate of the FSF, FSFE and EFF; they’re my “charity begins at home” choices where “home” for me is the technology industry. While neolibertarians in the Valley are trying to disrupt the concept of owning my gadgets and hoover up all my data for their analysis, it’s important to support people who respect my freedom to use, study, share and improve software as I, and my community, see fit. As a technologist (I’m guessing), you’ll be able to find ways to donate time rather than money to those organisations. And if you use any free software (GNU, OpenSSH, GNOME, Eclipse, LibreOffice, anything) you could consider donating to the charitable foundation that supports their work, which may be the SFC or the FSF.

              Museums are also great for donating time, or even having a house clearance. Near me there are a few computer history museums, one of which has taken a van full of old tech from my house (the Retro Computer Museum in Leicester), and the others have taken my time (the Museum of Computing in Swindon and the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge).

              I also believe strongly in the mission of charity:water. Pulling people out of poverty in many places starts with ensuring they don’t have a full day’s travel to get their drinking water. I have two books up for sale on Leanpub, and 10% of author royalties from each go to Charity:Water.

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                Nothing too original, but here’s my list:

                I also support matrix.org via patreon and am a huge fan of Matrix as a replacement for Slack for open source organizations and people who value privacy.

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                  Trans Lifeline are good and important.

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                    Since climate change is the largest and immediate threat facing humanity, the bulk of my donations go to groups pushing for government policy changes and action on climate change:

                    • 350.org
                    • Greenpeace (even though I disagree with some of their positions, they are one of the most active organisations in the climate change area)
                    • Forest & Bird (a New Zealand organisation)
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                      My favorite charitable orgs right now:

                      1. Meta Mesh Wireless Communities - non-profit wireless network company building PittMesh, a city-wide mesh network, and providing free and low-cost Internet service to low-income areas of Pittsburgh.
                      2. Code & Supply Scholarship Fund - awards scholarships to attend and speak at software conferences to unemployed and underemployed folks as well as members of underrepresented groups in the software community.
                      3. Parsemus Foundation - non-profit medical research company working on Vasalgel, a male contraceptive. I convinced them many years ago to accept Bitcoin.
                      4. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) - protecting digital rights and more
                      5. ReactOS Foundation - an open source Windows clone financed by a non-profit
                      6. Wikimedia Foundation - runs Wikipedia and other very important websites
                      7. Freedom of the Press Foundation - fights for journalists detained at the border, reporters arrested covering protests, and whistleblowers prosecuted for telling the truth.
                      8. Haiku - open source BeOS clone financed by a non-profit

                      ^(Disclosure: I’m on the board of the first two and I’ve donated a lot to most of these organizations over the years.)

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                        If you’re in Toronto and the surrounding area, consider donating to CBC’s Sounds of the Season, which supports local food banks.

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                          For net-based NGOs, aside from the ones already listed (EFF, Wikipedia, Internet Archive), I also like:

                          Some of the non-partisan non-tech charities I like include:

                          • MSF (US) - medical relief where it’s needed
                          • Pro Publica - journalism that doesn’t rely on the ad economy
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                            https://landinstitute.org/ are working on perennial grains (with some initial successes), which would massively reduce the ecological impact of grain farming.

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                                Computer and video game history museum in Switzerland:

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                                  Doctors without borders does good work, I donate regularly.

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                                    Consider making a donation to Django

                                    and also here are top recommendations by GiveWell

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                                      Shameless plug: my wife is the programs director at Fair Credit Foundation, a financial capabilities center offering financial and credit counseling, budget preparation, etc. - generally helping low-income people, or people in large amounts of debt, to manage their finances as well as possible. They do great work, and could always use the help. I believe they’re relatively regional to the mountain west (based out of Salt Lake City).

                                      Edit: another local option, Shelter the Homeless is relatively new but has an influential board of directors including at least 2 local elected officials and can hopefully make a big impact with our (in my opinion) tragic homelessness situation here in Utah.

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                                        I support the Equal Justice Initiative with each of my paychecks, along with the Wounded Warriors Project and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Granted, $5 bi-monthly for each is kinda low, but gotta start somewhere.

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                                          After working in the space for a while, George Tankersley and I put together a list of projects that would use (even a little) money well towards Internet freedom and infrastructure.

                                          It comes with direct links, proportions and explanations: https://donating.tech

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                                              In addition to all of the wonderful organizations listed, can I also humbly add two with which I am happy but sad to be very familiar:

                                              Usher Syndrome Coalition and Usher 1f Collaborative

                                              Both groups are doing amazing work to raise funds and awareness to directly fund research into Usher Syndrome, which is the leading cause of deafblindness. Cochlear implants (think DSP hooked to your auditory nerve) have helped enormously – now we just need to cure the blindness…

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                                                You should not donate to charities.

                                                Like they say, give a man a fish, he becomes dependent on handout for the rest of his life; teach a man to fish, he becomes dependent on foreign expertise for the rest of his life; do nothing, and a man must learn to fish for himself or die, thus making available more land and other resources for other men who figured out how to fish thus creating a self-developing independent and thriving society.

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                                                  Minor PSA: This comment, while I don’t agree with it, is neither uncivil nor off-topic. Please don’t downvote things just because you don’t agree with them.

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                                                    I don’t know… it looks to be off-topic to me. Reading this thread I expected to see links to charities and discussions about them. I did not expect posts claiming that donating is pointless - it might be, but this is not a topic (or imho site) to discuss this.

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                                                      Yeah I’m not sure how I feel about it. I spent a bunch of time thinking about whether I should reply asking whether it’s sarcastic (it’s hard to fathom that anyone could mean it seriously, though I ultimately concluded it probably is serious), but I ultimately think not engaging is better.

                                                      I hardly blame anyone else for downvoting though.

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                                                      So what do you recommend some person/organization to do instead donating to charity for say, attempting to prevent malaria?

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                                                        Yeah, Johnny! You muscle through that cancer and pull yourself up by your bootstraps! The free market will evaluate your worth! /s

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                                                          You got where you are because people helped you. If your mother had not helped you as an infant you would have starved to death in a month. You want to deprive others because you have all that you need. If everyone had your attitude you never would have lived. It’s such a stupid, idiotic, uninformed, self-serving attitude that will one day leave you destitute.