favorite non-profits/foundations?

Call it tithing or call it tax-savings, i’m a strong believer that privileged people should give a portion of their income to support causes that make the world a better place. For this reason, i can’t help but smile at 10 over 100 which asks people to promise to give 10% of what they make over $100K. (Of course, personally, i think that those who make over $100K should be giving a percentage of their total income, not just what they make over $100K. And i think that many of us who don’t make $100K should still be giving back. Also, i prefer to make a promise to myself than promise a website. But still, it’s a good idea and one that i support.)

In my donation, i always ask not to receive any newsletters or other junk mail and i ask not to have my name sold. Email is fine, but i don’t want to be supporting the postal service or the paper mills with my donation. Of course, few organizations listen. At the end of each year, i re-evaluate the organizations i give to and donate again to those who sent me nothing over the year and send nothing to those who sent me stamps, packets, or other crap.

I am looking for some new organizations (and particularly foundations) that i should be considering. I am looking for 501(c)3 organizations that will not send me junk mail. I am particularly fond of organizations/foundations that work on both local and global scales, feminist and anti-racism organizations, youth-positive organizations, and environmental organizations. I am not interested in supporting religious organizations or any organization that permits discrimination of any kind (most notably on the basis of gender identity or sexuality). Do you have any that you recommend?

Already on my list of awesome organizations are:
Goma Student Fund
City at Peace

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36 thoughts on “favorite non-profits/foundations?

  1. Ranjit Mathoda

    A very interesting orginization is Kiva that helps you lend a small amount of money to a rural African businesses. The borrowers repay the money that was lent to them, plus some interest. Kiva uses the interest to fund Kiva’s barebones operations. You get back the money you loaned in full after a number of months, without interest.

    So in effect, you can use Kiva to take your money and loan it to a third world business. It doesn’t require much from you, you are likely to get all of your loan back, and it can really change lives. Check out some of the businesses that have been funded on their website (www.kiva.org).

    The basic idea of Kiva, combining micro-credit lending and internet based raising of capital, is broadly applicable not just to African businesses but to the world’s problems. I’m sure someone will pursue it soon.

  2. Mel

    David Suzuki is one of Canada’s (if not Canada’s) foremost environmentalists. A former scientist (who left academia because of increasing corporate involvement in the sciences), David Suzuki created his foundation to fund non-corporately-interested, non-governmental research on climate change, sustainability and environmental protection. He has written numerous books on the environment and has an award winning nature show on television called The Nature of things. Suzuki is my favourite environmentalist of all time. He inspired me as a kid and he still inspires me as an adult. And his foundation is funding important and relevant research initiatives. Best of all, Suzuki gets results.

    Here’s the link to his foundation:

    His Wikipedia page:

    His show, the nature of things:

  3. Lukas

    Dammit, beaten to the microfinance punch! 🙂 Anyway, Grameen Foundation, an offshoot of the original Grameen Bank that, unlike the original, operates outside of Bangladesh.


    (Difference from Kiva above is that this is pure donation – Grameen will likely get the loan back to use again, but you won’t.)

  4. Pascal Klein http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2005/12/09/favorite_nonpro.html

    If you are after supporting organisations that really do something to better the world… mhh. I’ve got two that pop to mind instantly, simply because they allow me to do everything I want to do on my computer on a daily basis. If you want to make any sort of donation to a worthy cause, I’d definitely consider having a look at the:

    http://www.fsf.org/ – Free Software Foundation
    http://www.gnu.org/ – The GNU Operating System

    The FSF is probably the better choice in this situation beecause they are more of a, well foundation. Both were founded by Richard Matthew Stallman, so anything you give to the FSF will probably better the GNU project in some way or another too. 🙂

    Kind regards,
    Pascal Klein

  5. Laurie Vasily

    I like to support organizations that are small, run on small budgets and can manage innovation and local responsiveness. To that end, I find it useful to get information from people who know the milieu (and thanks, this blog post is one way to do that!). The milieu that I’ve been involved in is human rights and struggles against caste-based and gender-based injustice in Nepal.

    I support (and recommend to others) two wonderful and very small organizations that work on feminist and caste issues in Nepal: EDWON and ETC.

  6. Jen

    I would highly discourage anyone from donating to Sierra Club. I also HATE getting massive amounts of junk mail, particularly from environmental groups. I donated to Sierra Club two years ago and now I am plagued with junk mail from every conceivable organization. In addition, they still continue to call despite my requests to be left alone. In fact, I provide my work number on my home answering machine and so they started calling me at work. Awful!

  7. randomtruth

    Seems like every charitable organization is using “barrage-style” marketing campaigns these days to try to pull their donors into every specific issue they face. I.e., it’s not enough for you to send them money yearly, now they have to go after you with mail, email and phone calls for each individual sub-cause they undertake. And, to cap it off, you’re no longer allowed to just be a donor, you have to be a “member.” They obviously do it because it works, but it’s frustrating for people that like their causes but hate that style of brute force marketing.

    I’ve watched this happen at two groups that I love and have supported for years: PBS (pbs.org) and The Tennesee Elephant Sanctuary (elephants.com).

    In summary, I fear that many of the organizations that you have found that aren’t using this practice will probably be forced to in order to compete.

    BTW – I’m not a fan of guilty absolutes like “you should give 10% of your income” – I much prefer to spread the idea that people should give what they can afford, and that they should pick issues to support not out of peer pressure, but because they’re issues that they truly care about. And if you can’t give money, giving your time is just as worthwhile and in many cases even more valuable.

  8. randomtruth

    Was just thinking about this a bit more… Maybe this already exists and someone can give a pointer, but if it doesn’t exist, perhaps it’s time has come: an online “charity broker” that keeps the donor’s personal information private.

    I.e., a service that we can use to privately donate money to any cause of our individual choice (even allowing us to enter the needed info) using paypal, a credit card, or even by sending a check. The service would then send the money to the charity (in bulk?) from itself and/or anonymous donors, while giving us the proper paperwork for the tax credit. That way we can avoid email, mail and phone calls.

    A service like this, with a searchable catalog of good causes that includes user-submitted reviews & commentary as a double-check for how the money is used might even increase the amount of money that flows into good causes…

  9. randomtruth

    Great find Danah! I think an abstraction service like this really makes sense. Also cool to see that Yahoo is involved. They should promote it more across the network.

  10. Jessi

    I’m a big fan of donorschoose.org – it’s a great way to see a small amount of cash in action, and donors have a great deal of control over where it goes. A similar charity is globalgiving.org – operates according to the same model. And neither leaves you with junk mail…

  11. zephoria

    Paul – that makes no sense. Of course you can do the math that way, but the point has to do with responsibility. Should people who only make 100K give nothing? People who only make 101K give $100? The framing of 100K as the baseline provides a problematic perception that one needs 100K to survive and that one has no societal responsibility before doing so. I’d understand if 100K was poverty line but it’s nowhere near that. I think that everyone has a responsibility to give if they and their family have their needs met. That doesn’t start at 100K.

    Also, i should probably note that 10% has broader meaning, stemming from a religious context. The word “tithe” is an old English word to mean one-tenth. Historically, tithing money was used for the church in part because the church was assumed to be the one place where charity happened. In certain countries, there was a tithing tax that was given to the church. Personally, i don’t have faith in the church to do my charity work but i do have faith in many non-profits.

    (randomtruth – i respect that you don’t believe in absolute numbers. My larger concern is how few people give back, especially those who make obscene salaries in newer industries. For those who don’t think about it, i think that the 10% number is often a good starting point.)

  12. Mari

    One of my personal favorites is the Feminist Majority Foundation. Have been giving to them for years and only ever get emails. They are active in women’s issues worldwide and are especially good at keeping an eye on legislation at all levels.

  13. p@

    I always make sure to give to my local PBS stations. They’re not really a charity, but they do provide a great social service to the communities they represent.

  14. Cassidy

    I like Doctors Without Borders myself. I’ve never received any physical mail from them (except one thin annual newsletter showing highlights of what they’ve done all year, which I’m sure I could ask them not to send). They do send out emails once every few months or so, but those are also pretty easy to ignore or send to the junk file.

  15. Kevin Schofield

    One of my newest favorites is The Smile Train http://www.smiletrain.org which performs free surgeries for children in poorer parts of the world to correct cleft lips and palates. The pictures on their web site are heartbreaking, but apart from the cosmetic thing, this is now a fairly routine surgery that completely changes the life of the kids who get it – -their ability to eat, to speak, and to carry on a normal life. And it’s near and dear to my heart, since I was also born with a cleft lip and palate.

  16. weltatem

    I’ve been impressed by the Save Darfur Coalition. While many, many organizations deserve ongoing support, like Doctors Without Borders, The Global Fund for Women, and the ACLU, stopping the genocide in Sudan is not something that can be put off until tomorrow. Rather, continued inattention and the lack of accountability that is compounded by underfunded visibility efforts is costing thousands of lives each week. Right now. Today. While you may argue that diseases malaria (with similarly ill-funded initiatives to combat them)is taking a greater toll, there is something uniquely morally compelling about making the pledge “Never Again” mean something on an individual level. The Holocaust didn’t have to happen; Darfur doesn’t have to continue. It’s up to us.

  17. amoeda

    I found out about WomensLaw.org through a friend in NYC who’s on the board. They maintain a website and hotline with free, state-by-state legal info and resources for women living with or escaping domestic violence. I’m on their list and I get mail from them very rarely, but you can also give to them through Network for Good.

  18. elizabeth

    Another good organization that has been doing “empowerment” work before it was “cool” is Heifer International. They fight world hunger and have an environmentally conscious approach. I have given to them many times over the years and they never send unrequested “stuff”. I was a vegetarian when i started giving to them, which seems odd at first glance, but to me it made sense. It’s the “teach a (wo)man to fish” idea.


  19. Harold Waldrop

    We neeed donors , we are a non profit Madison Countians allied against poverty, Madison ms. we are a all volunteer org. that builds houses and repairs houses for the very poor. Last year we built 4 new houses and repaired 60. need help

  20. mark

    Check out Neighbor Ring – they are using social network technology as a way of mapping the chain of trust to foster sharing within real life communities… a nonprofit project of TimeBanks.org

  21. djchuang

    I commend your example, and aspiration to donate & support non-profits that fit with your heart’s desires and convictions. I hope your example will be a part of shifting the tide from the observation that I’ve heard from a number of non-profit orgs that religious people still proportionally give much more consistently and in larger amounts than non-religious people.

  22. Leslie

    I need information on Madison Countians Allied against poverty. I need contact information. Their website has none. Thanks.

  23. Catherine

    They help homeless men, women and children in Los Angeles with food, clothing, housing, and medical needs. They also have a drug abilitation program an orphanage in Mexico and are currently building one in India I believe.

  24. Robin Berghella

    Hello everyone,
    My name is Robin Berghella and I am a 41 yr old female missionary volunteering in Los Angeles and going out into the homeless areas of LA and other areas and helping in all areas that I can. I am writing to inquire if any of you know where I can put my information on a site and get supporters or people to sponsor what I do. Feel free to email me at: RobinBerghella@gmail.com
    You also can write me through the Church Alliance
    at: Robin Berghella c/o The church Alliance founder Timothy Middlebrook, 2320 Glendale Blvd #6, Los Angeles CA 90039

  25. sara

    I am Ethiopian 25 years old and i have a serious heart disease which needs surgery so can your organization sponsor me to have it?

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