I find it difficult to select charitable organizations to support with either my dollars or my time. Everybody has a hand out. Federal “not for profit” status is no indicator of good intent, much less effective action in the world. Neither is appearing in the news any kind of a clue about whether or not you ought to support someone. The recent kerfuffle over the Invisible Children organization is a great example of why you need to do your due diligence. Kony is a terrible criminal, but sending cash to Invisible Children appears to be a rather limited way to address that.
On the opposite front, there are just too many good causes and good people out there to support them all. I find that I have to make a choice and accept that, at least today, there are going to be a lot of perfectly good efforts in the world for which I have no dollars or time left.
Anyway here are a few groups that I support. I would love to hear how you decide where your limited charity budget goes.
Boston Area Charities
- The Birth Sisters at Boston Medical. These folks provide comfort, support, and good advice to women in urban Boston who really, really need it. This is a great charity. I also heard last night that their budget is simply not making ends meet.
- AIDS Action of MA: Within my lifetime, AIDS has gone from being a death sentence to being a chronic but survivable disease. AIDS Action has been a leader in both clear, honest information and effective support for more than 30 years.
- Greater Boston Food Bank
- Rosie’s Place: A Boston sanctuary for poor or homeless women.
- WGBH: I think that democracy only works if you have an informed citizenry. Public radio provides a critical service. Also? I like the weekend shows.
Women’s and Reproductive Rights: Yeah, I’m savagely pro-choice. Also pro-women. Actually, let’s go with “pro-sentient-beings.”
International, with a focus on Haiti
- Family Health Ministries: These are the folks with whom I’ve traveled to Haiti. They’re good people with their heads in the right place, and they work hard.
- Partners in Health: Paul Farmer’s organization. Highly, highly effective and visionary group addressing the root causes of disease in some of the poorest places in the world. If you want to be horrified and inspired at the same time, read some of Farmer’s books. I recommend The Uses of Haiti as a starting point.
- Amnesty International: Amnesty does direct action, but they also serve to keep certain unacceptable horrors in the world front and center in the news. They’ve been fearlessly speaking truth to power for a very long time.
- The International Campaign for Tibet: I’ve been to Tibet, I’ve seen the ongoing, deliberate, focused efforts by China to destroy Tibet as a culture and Tibetans as an ethnic group. ICT are the most effective group in the world trying to protect that culture.