Dec 18

‘Tis the Season to Donate

In Brief—Bay points out the necessity for ignoring the commerciality that smothers the real meaning of the season and spending your money on the worthy causes that can really make a difference.

“Ho, Ho, Ho!” Donations That Have Real Impact—

make-a-donationWe all need another tie or toy like we need water in our shoes. How many times have you smiled gamely at the giver and thanked her/him while thinking, “Oh, God! Not another gift that will never get used.” Well, here’s a solution.

For the past several years our family has agreed that we have enough “things” while there are folks who have little, who are sick, who fled their homes just to survive. We have made donations to worthy causes that address these needs and can always use more. You should do the same thing if you are not already ahead of us.

Here are organizations that can put those donations to use where they’re needed. These are the truly worthwhile organizations. I’ve also provided a list of organizations that are already receiving attention but don’t really need the money they receive. By all means remember them if you need to but give where it truly counts!

Worthy Smaller Organizations that Need Your Donations—

These organizations are just a few of those recommended as worthy causes by both Bay and the courageous journalist Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times. Most of the groups listed are relatively small and all give considerably more bang for the buck than the big guys.

Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres)—This organization provides medical treatment to all comers in areas often in conflict zones. Their personnel work where other organizations fear to tread. As if that isn’t enough, they provide much-needed treatment to sick people throughout the world where poverty is the killer.

Reading is Fundamental—This organization provides free books to kids who live in poverty in the United States. It’s a way for children to advance in America’s unequal society.

American Civil Liberties Union Foundation—Despite what right-wing whiners trying to steal our rights may say, this organization is devoted to defending the First Amendment and our civil liberties. We’d be living in a fascist country if it were not for this group and others who value our freedoms.

Afghan Institute of Learning—Operated by Afghan and Pakistani women, this organization focuses on health and teaching and builds a foundation for a civil society.

Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee—Since 1972, this organization’s mission and efforts have been focused on turning poverty-stricken people into productive contributors to Bangladeshi society.

The Fistula Foundation—Operating in 32 countries throughout Africa and Asia, this organization provides surgery to eliminate the pain and isolation arising from a childbirth gone wrong.

GEMS (Girls Education & Mentoring Services)—In New York, young women who have been sexually exploited and trafficked learn solid gender-oriented principles in how to turn their lives around.

Partners in Health (PIH)—Focused primarily in Africa but with programs in other parts of the world, this organization works hard to improve the health of the poor.

Planned Parenthood—With the unexpected election of Trump, this organization devoted to women’s health is under great threat and needs both money and your support.

Truthout—This small online news organization publishes little-known news that’s ignored by mainline media. In an era of threat to press freedoms, this organization is needed more than ever.

In addition, Nicholas Kristof annually mentions overlooked organizations worthy of support. By clicking on the highlighted (light blue) area, you can check out organizations that are both effective and in need of donations to carry out their missions.

Organizations that have More than Enough—

The following organizations may be helpful, but they get more attention and money than the smaller worthwhile groups listed above. Why do these large groups get all the attention and so much money? They spend millions in advertising, they recruit mega-stars to advance their causes, they are enormous religious organizations. Less bang for the buck. They don’t need your donations to survive.

The Red Cross—Sometimes effective, sometimes not. Enormous advertising costs. Wasteful.

The Cancer Society—Both private and government support. Enormous world-wide research focus.

The Roman Catholic Church—The wealthiest organization on earth. Richer than the United States. Global reach and influence.

The Muscular Dystrophy Foundation—Worthwhile but heavily funded by the American government. Recruits mega-stars to promote contributions.

Your Local Church—By all means drop your small contribution in the basket they pass around every Sabbath, but be aware that your local church is part  of a wealthy religious organization.

I’ve just scratched the surface of the organizations that don’t need your contribution. There are others, but be aware that these groups have more than ample support while the smaller organizations above need your contributions to carry on their work.

Give Where it Really Counts—

However you celebrate the holidays, give thought to the small organizations that work to improve the lives of people less fortunate. Make a meaningful donation today.

Note—This piece will run for two (2) weeks because many readers will be involved in activities and travel during the holidays. I suggest you post this piece on Facebook and other social sites.

The next piece will resume on Sunday, January 1, 2017.  Be there or be square.



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  1. Right on, and we gave up on Christmas gifts decades ago.

      • Don Bay on December 19, 2016 at 07:05

      You are as smart as I always thought! Beats giving a tie that will just hang in the closet. Donations to worthy charities is the way to go. We have so much while so many in the world have so little. Although the holiday season is a good time time to donate, the rest of the year is also a good time to give.

      Happy Holidays!

  2. Hej, Nicholas Kristof presented this idea in a column about four years ago, and in it he mentioned good organizations most of us would never have heard of. That was Edna Adan Women’s Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland (or northern Somalia). I liked the idea gave to Edna Adan since I have been helping Somalis at Linköping Red Cross – läxläsning and Träna svenska – for about 18 years. Then he named Hawa Abdi, Somali MD in Mogadishu and I added her and now give to them throughout the year.

    The only peoploe in the family that I was giving to, if at all were my two children and maybe their children in the USA and my dual citizen daughter here in SE. In talking about this I found a bit of resistance and have worked out compromises.

    So two weeks ago I gave to Hawa and Edna and to MSF-Läkare utan gränser. Oddly, I saw a reference in DN to Ann Heberlein where the writer said that Heberlein had argued that we give – to tiggare – just to feel good. Have not seen Heberlein’s text but she is wrong as concerns me.

    God jul och Gott nytt år DB

      • Don Bay on December 19, 2016 at 06:58

      Kristof is right to publish the little charities that don’t have the resources of the big guys. As Kristof does, it’s always wise to check any charity to learn if the money given goes to the people for whom it is intended.

      It’s clear that you give to the ones who need it. Keep it up! As to Heberlein’s alleged claim that we give to beggars on the street, it’s not altogether a bad idea, but your best giving is to the small organized charities that spend the donations on the people intended. As I point out, the big charities don’t need it as much as the worthy little ones.

      Happy Holidays!

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