2017 update: Greetings, folks! I just gave this a re-read and I still stand by these causes for my 2017 donation gifts. I’ll be featuring one of these causes in my first newsletter issue, out on 12/18/17, which you can subscribe to here!
Hey, folks, long time no post! 2016 has been kicking me in the face repeatedly for the past few months, and I’m hard at work on revisions for THE DISASTERS.
The holidays make demands on our time as well, including the increasingly difficult task of buying gifts for friends and family. This year, partially inspired by the outcome of the US election, I’ve decided to almost exclusively give charitable donations as gifts. Donations are a fantastic gift for anyone with a cause close to their heart, or anyone who is hard to buy for/already has everything. They also make great gifts for business associates or people who get tons of random STUFF every year (i.e. your agent or editor!).
Around the holidays, people invariably start throwing around baseless claims about this charity or that. “This charity’s CEO is a volunteer, they don’t get paid!” or “This charity spends 100% of donations on programs, no administrative costs!”. Both of these statements are almost always false, and as a librarian dedicated to information literacy, the spread of misinformation really bugs me A LOT. If you choose to open your heart and wallet this holiday season, I beg you to thoroughly research the organizations you choose to give to. What do their financials look like (if you can even find them)? What work do they REALLY do? What is the ideology behind their work? Study their website. Check Charity Navigator if they’re a large enough organization. Read, evaluate, confirm with additional sources where possible.
The best charitable gifts will speak to the heart of the person for whom the donation will be made. Are they a veteran or active duty military? Do they love animals? Are they concerned with the refugee crisis? Are they involved in a tech field? Here are a few that are close to my heart that are getting my money this year, both from me and in the name of my friends and family. Do you have any favorites? Add them in the comments below!
The Brain and Behavior Research Center, providing grants to scientists researching mental illness. They really DO put 100% of donations toward grants because their operating costs are completely covered by two family foundations. (bbrfoundation.org)
We Need Diverse Books, providing grants to interns of color breaking into the publishing industry and authors of color developing their careers. (weneeddiversebooks.org)
Islamic Relief USA, providing humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and orphan care throughout the Middle East, South Asia, Africa, and the USA. Your donation is highly customizable in that you can choose a specific country or project to donate to, or donate to a general fund. (irusa.org)
First Book, providing free books to low-income children. I’ve worked in a library where we distributed First Books to the community and we were grateful for their contributions. (firstbook.org)
The It Gets Better Project and The Trevor Project, providing resources and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ youth. Both are very social media savvy and reach teens where they’re at. I’ve witnessed the good these two organizations do first hand. (thetrevorproject.org , itgetsbetter.org)
Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code, providing summer computer science immersion programs and working to close the gender gap in tech fields. BGC especially is a young organization working to grow and expand their efforts. (girlswhocode.com, blackgirlscode.com)
The Malala Fund, working toward a world where every girl gets 12 years of safe, quality education. (malala.org)
Happy holidays to you all, and may 2017 be significantly less terrible!
(Also, basically don’t talk to me for the next 6 weeks if you don’t want to hear about BBC Sherlock. You’ve been warned.)