My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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giving back

As those who have followed this blog for a long time know, December is the month where I contribute 10% of my salary to worthwhile charities and encourage you to do the same. This is my modification of the traditional tithing practice, but I prefer to give to the charities of my choice instead of to the church. This year, I chose to give to a wide variety of organizations based on advice from my friends, but I would like to highlight a few that mean something to me personally in case you’re looking for a good cause to support. My personal emphasis this year is on women’s issues and education.

V-Day. Most known for their productions of The Vagina Monologues, V-Day works to end violence against women and girls worldwide, addressing issues like rape, domestic abuse, female genital mutilation, and rape as a systematic tactic of war. This is V-Day’s 10th anniversary and I’ve had the honor of volunteering and working for V-Day since 1998. I’ve always been super proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.
Planned Parenthood. Much to my horror, 2007 has involved numerous judicial and legislative setbacks to women’s rights, particularly around their right to choose. The upholding of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act doesn’t even allow women to choose an abortion if they’ve been raped or are likely to die if they carry the baby to term. Aside from the amazing work that they do on the ground, helping young women get sex ed information (in a culture of abstinence education), PP also is one of the few lobbying organizations that has the power to push back at both federal and local levels. We’re going to desperately need them in the upcoming years, regardless of who is elected.
Wikimedia Foundation. As the foundation behind Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation helps make information broadly accessible to the public. My favorite aspect of Wikipedia is that it is completely transparent. You can learn who created what information, understand their biases, and challenge what content they produce. For me, this project is essential to the future of education; it is the cornerstone of media literacy. We need to help educate people to think critically about how content is produced, regardless of medium. In the meantime, we have to help Wikipedia grow.
Goma Student Fund. Started by one of my friends, Goma Student Fund is dedicated to providing quality education to children who are growing up in wartorn Congo. Personally, I think that education is the path to stopping war and I think that it is dangerous to not educate children who are growing up in wartorn environments. I love this modest but doable project as a result.
Central Asia Institute. A slightly bigger project, the Central Asia Institute focuses on community based education for girls throughout Central Asia (think Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other areas ripe for education-based corruption). This is the project that is documented in Three Cups of Tea.

In addition to these great women’s rights and education organizations, don’t forget EFF, Creative Commons, and ACLU – three worthy groups trying to project our freedoms online and off.

Finally, if you are like me, you detest receiving snail mail from organizations after you’ve donated. For this reason, I’m a big fan of donating anonymously through Network for Good – it’s a good way to make certain you never receive mail of any kind while still giving you the tax credit.

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5 comments to giving back

  • Thanks for supporting the Goma Student Fund, danah! I was just over there, helping the new school kick off its second year of operation with over 250 students. It was so cool to see how hard the kids study, even when sharing books and pencils. Your donations and kinds words over the years have really made a difference.

  • Erica

    Hey danah!
    I hadn’t heard of the Central Asia Institute or the Goma Student Fund. Awesome idea to use Network for Good. Always thinking..!
    My friend and I are helping with the charity gift wrap for AIDS family services this weekend. Better brush up on our wrapping skills!
    Take care and stay warm! It’s cooling off here in Buffalo!!
    -erica-

  • I’m going to check out the Goma Student Fund, this is the first time I’m reading about it.

  • Ray

    I don’t know how religious you are, but please don’t relate your generosity to tithing. That brings home guilt-driven obligations for giving when it should be based on what you choose to do so as to make the world a better place.

    I used to tithe, but eventually stopped when I realized I was doing it only because I was being pressured to do so.

    Give if you want to. Give what you want to. Give what you can.

    There is nothing special about 10% as a number either.

  • Ray

    I don’t know how religious you are, but please don’t relate your generosity to tithing. That brings home guilt-driven obligations for giving when it should be based on what you choose to do so as to make the world a better place.

    I used to tithe, but eventually stopped when I realized I was doing it only because I was being pressured to do so.

    Give if you want to. Give what you want to. Give what you can.

    There is nothing special about 10% as a number either.