December 3, 2007 8:41 AM   Subscribe

Charity for Christmas?

I have pretty much everything I need (although not necessarily everything I would like). This year, I decided to ask for charity contributions instead. I'd like a list of charities that help people directly (such as MADRE and the Wheelchair Foundation)

Any that you know about that seem good to you?
posted by Pants! to Society & Culture (17 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Kevin Kelly (of Cool Tools, among other things) did a profile on these micro-loan programs that I've been interested in for awhile.
posted by jquinby at 8:50 AM on December 3, 2007

I cannot recommend Modest Needs enough. Their mission is to prevent people from entering the cycle of poverty by assisting low-income households to meet the short-term emergency expenses. You can ask for (or give) gift certificates , which can then be redeemed and used to either fund individual requests (all requests can be viewed), or go into the general fund.
posted by darsh at 8:51 AM on December 3, 2007

I am personally find of Seva and Doctors Without Borders for this sort of thing.

Another approach would be to look for charities that are local to you which help people in your own community with some sort of direct service or action. I'm often interested in the wishlists of the local humane society, food shelf or community action organization that need things like blankets, printers, labelmakers, etc. Sometimes if there are relatives hellbent on goods, not donations, you can order off of someone else's wishlist and just walk the thing over there. Craigslist used to have a feature that did this, but I'm having trouble locating it now.
posted by jessamyn at 8:53 AM on December 3, 2007

Well, there're about a zillion great organizations out there that help people directly, but if I had to pick one right now I'll recommend WORLD (Women Organized to Respond to Life-Threatening Disease). Their mission statement:

WORLD is a diverse community of women living with HIV/AIDS and their supporters working together to:
• Provide support and information to women with HIV/AIDS and their friends, family & loved ones.
• Educate and inspire women with HIV/AIDS to advocate for themselves, one another and their communities
• Promote public awareness of women's HIV/AIDS issues and a compassionate response for all people with HIV/AIDS.

They run on the tiniest of shoestrings imaginable, but their impact on the women they work with is amazing.

Disclaimer: my partner is on their board, and I've met a bunch of the folks who run it.
posted by rtha at 8:55 AM on December 3, 2007

If you like the micro-loans idea, Kiva also has a feature where gift certificates can be bought and redeemed, so that specific people/ideas can be funded
posted by darsh at 8:56 AM on December 3, 2007

I like Donor's Choose. Public school teachers submit proposals for materials that they need in their classrooms, and you can search by area or keyword to find a project that's meaningful to you.

You can also set up a gift registry or challenge.
posted by amarynth at 8:57 AM on December 3, 2007

The Heifer Project is also the kind of direct assistance you like.
posted by Miko at 9:01 AM on December 3, 2007

I'm a big fan of Child's Play, but I think that's mostly because my wife won't let me play video games.
posted by iamabot at 9:06 AM on December 3, 2007

Charity Navigator can help you evaluate the charities before you choose.
posted by matildaben at 9:11 AM on December 3, 2007
posted by goml at 9:21 AM on December 3, 2007

Seconding using Charity Navigator.

Also, is pretty cool because it isn't really charity and you can keep helping people with the same money over and over and over...

My mom thinks it's the SHIT! Not that she puts it that way, of course.
posted by Seamus at 10:04 AM on December 3, 2007

the kenya mobile library project.
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:37 AM on December 3, 2007

I like St. Jude Children's Hospital (donations at my grandfather's death were sent to St. Jude and to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children), and I second Child's Play.
posted by Cricket at 11:41 AM on December 3, 2007

These are all great suggestions.

I met Robert Gamble a couple months ago. We have a common friend, and he used to be the pastor of a Presbyterian church in the U.S. He formed a foundation, This Child Here [caution: amateur webmaster!], that ministers to street kits in Odessa in the Ukraine. You can read about how he got involved in the whole thing here. If you are looking for an organization where a small contribution can make a big difference, this is one.
posted by Doohickie at 12:32 PM on December 3, 2007

Have you considered checking with social services in your area? Frequently, they run Christmas drives, where you can 'adopt' a local family for Christmas. A form is provided to you with the family's wishlist and details, and you purchase what you can afford. I think it is a plus to keep my donation local, and the bonus is that since I am not donating to a large national or international agency, there is no threat of my name being sold AGAIN to other NGOs that are going to make every attempt (and misspend heaps of cash in the process) to wring a donor dollar out of me.
I do love Kiva, though.
posted by msali at 12:43 PM on December 3, 2007

I'll second Heifer. It's what all the Godparents will be getting for Christmas this year.
posted by genefinder at 1:17 PM on December 3, 2007

Seconding micro-loans, they're awesome.

Is there an organization in your community that needs support? By supporting them, you'd get to see first-hand where your money goes.
posted by divabat at 5:03 PM on December 3, 2007

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