Looking for awesome charities for holiday donations
November 26, 2009 6:25 AM   Subscribe

One of the things I do as holiday gifts for folks is make donations in their names to charities. I prefer to use lesser known (and/or local) charities, that are doing awesome work and have a focus of interest to the gift recipient. I'm looking for more ideas. Suggestions?

I'm in the US, in Somerville, MA. Charities/programs I've used before include adopt-a-penguin, local homeless shelters, arts in reach (to whom i first donated in soulbee's memory), and a group helping mentally retarded folks in western MA. (Inter)Nationally, yeah, there's MSF/Doctors Without Borders and Heiffer, but they're both pretty high profile.

I learned about the Fistula Foundation on the blue recently, and that's an example of a group I had not heard of before who are doing great work. What other awesome charities out there are doing great focused work that I've never heard of? Tell me your favorites!
posted by rmd1023 to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: [insert givewell joke here]
posted by rmd1023 at 6:25 AM on November 26, 2009

I think you can't go wrong with food bank donations, they're hurting this year.

Greater Boston Food Bank

or donate in the towns where your gift receivers live.
posted by saffry at 6:34 AM on November 26, 2009

Donors Choose lets you sponsor a specific classroom need in a specific town. For instance, projects in MA. It strikes me as a good way to give locally.
posted by sciencegeek at 6:44 AM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

I never miss a chance to plug Safe Passage a small nonprofit that works with the children of families who, until recently, lived inside the Guatemala City dump. They're awesome, small-scale, and a great example of what one person can achieve in the world.
posted by anastasiav at 6:47 AM on November 26, 2009

If your recipients live in Somerville, the Somerville High School Scholarship Foundation is wonderful.
posted by dzaz at 6:47 AM on November 26, 2009

A lot of smaller ones may have profiles on Razoo, do a search for Somerville in MA
posted by Think_Long at 8:00 AM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

It is not local to your area, but The Smile Train is doing great work for poor kids with cleft lips and palates around the world. The Oscar winning short documentary Smile Pinki is about their work.
posted by gudrun at 8:29 AM on November 26, 2009

One that is dear to my heart is Cabeceras Aid, which helps bring tools and medicines to isolated indigenous people in the lower Amazon basin of Peru. I spend a lot of time in the Amazon, so I especially like to give to Cabeceras (which means headwaters in Spanish).
posted by cachondeo45 at 9:03 AM on November 26, 2009

AHOPE for Children is an incredible organization in Ethiopia that provides a home and schooling and love for HIV+ children who are orphans. You send your donation to the US-based, tax-deductible foundation, but it all goes to Ethiopia.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:51 AM on November 26, 2009

The Rose Project funds programmes in Kenya and Malawi which address maternal and child health, with a particular focus on prevention of HIV transmission in pregnancy.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:35 PM on November 26, 2009

Give to Wikipedia!

(Wikipedia is obviously really well-known, but very few people know it's run by a charity. The Wikimedia Foundation's funding model is fairly similar to NPR/PBS. "You use it, you like it, donate to keep it available for yourself and others.")
posted by Susan PG at 4:16 PM on November 26, 2009

I personally like donating to Dogs for the Deaf.

"Rescuing homeless dogs and professionally training them to enhance lives is what Dogs for the Deaf is all about. In over 30 years, Dogs for the Deaf has rescued and placed over 3,000 dogs in homes as Hearing Dogs, Miracle Mutts (Special Dogs for Special People), Harmony's Hounds (Dogs with Special Needs), and Career Change Dogs."
posted by HopperFan at 4:39 PM on November 26, 2009

Is there a way to get the recipients to choose or help choose the charity? I'd be a lot more excited if someone gave money to something I really cared about in my name than about whatever they thought was cool at the time. I don't know what you're planning in terms of volume, but I know I'd like to have a say!
posted by iliketolaughalot at 9:24 PM on November 26, 2009

Response by poster: iliketolaughalot: oh, i like making gift donations to charities that the gift honoree cares about. i'm just looking to expand my repertoire of charities with lesser known groups.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:24 AM on November 27, 2009

Respond, Inc. is a domestic violence shelter and community-based program in Somerville. Also, Pathfinder International is headquarted in Watertown and they do excellent international work.
posted by boofidies at 11:56 AM on November 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: a couple of other charities i've found that are cool. in the interest of helping the next person who ends up wanting to ask a question like this, i share:
remote area medical, conservator's center.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:54 AM on December 17, 2009

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