Dec 17

‘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—

We 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 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 overcome America’s inequality while giving an intellectual boost to the kids.

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.

Freedom of the Press Foundation— This is a group focused on freedom of the press under the First Amendment. Without groups like this and the ACLU the government would starve us of the right to know the truth. It’s always important, particularly when governments at the state and national level seek to bury or belittle the press.

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. The Taliban wants to destroy good stuff like this.

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. It’s focused on helping women.

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.

In addition, Nicholas Kristof annually mentions overlooked organizations worthy of support. By reading Nicholas Kristof’s recommendations you can check out organizations that are both effective and in need of donations to carry out their missions.

By clicking on either of  the light blue highlighted areas above, you will find several additional worthwhile non-profit organizations that can use your donation to better thousands of lives.

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. 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 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 appear on December 31, 2017. If you subscribe to this blog, you will get only a simple heads-up every time I publish a new piece. No harassment. I promise.



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    • Kathy on December 17, 2017 at 17:40

    I like to give to animal-related groups, like wildlife rescue, the Nature Conservancy, or local animal rescue groups. There are always so many people giving to other people. Nature and the animals have no voice and are so often forgotten.

      • Don Bay on December 17, 2017 at 18:55

      A donation to benefit animals is truly admirable. The needs of animals are too often forgotten, so your donations can save animal lives. The Xmas season moves people to donate to worthy causes, but donations can be made at any time of year. Whether it’s people or animals, that donation can make a difference. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Donna Boe on December 18, 2017 at 05:14

    A great idea, Don, and one that you and Ewa practice. We have tried to give donations instead of unneeded and unwanted gifts for several years now.
    One problem I see in 2018, if I read the tax reform information right is that married couples will get a $24,000 deduction, but no deductions in the future for charitable contributions (501c3)s. Since the tax reform seems destined to pass next week, I plan to check this more thoroughly. If it is true, then we will try to give as much as possible of 2018 contributions before December 31 this year.
    Whatever, those of you not under the US tax laws need not worry. The rest of us will figure it out somehow.
    I hope everyone takes your advice on Christmas presents.

      • Don Bay on December 18, 2017 at 07:03

      Since you are more familiar with the horrible Republican tax bill than I, it’s safe to assume that if the loss of the deduction for charitable contributions comes into effect, charitable contributions will drop. I hope I’m wrong about that, but if contribution drop, it’s a test of American generosity.

      I’ll have to read the tax bill more carefully, but as Yogi Berra is reputed to have said, “It ain’t over until it’s over.” As I understand it, the bill hasn’t yet passed. If the Republicans pass this gift to the wealthy at the expense of the rest of Americans, the Democrats would be out of their minds to not beat the Republicans over the head with it.

      Further, on the chance that average Americans are paying attention, 2018 elections will see a sharp drop in the Republican presence in congress. That said, there’s a lot of hard work ahead to get rid of the pernicious Republicans at both the national and state levels.

      Donna, you have managed to transform my plea for charitable contributions into opening the door for my political diatribe against the Scrooge-like Republican Party. Bless you!

      In closing…Contribute to a worthy cause. There are people out there who need the chance of a leg up.

    • Brenda on December 25, 2017 at 00:23

    I believe you failed to mention Good Will under those who have plenty (and the CEO earns over $300,000). Very unsatisfactory organization.
    Included under those who utilize their donations responsibly should be Best Friends Animal Shelter in Kanab, Utah.
    Helpless animals are so often forgotten.

      • Don Bay on December 25, 2017 at 06:59

      The springboard for this donation piece is our Swedish family’s practice of giving “donation gifts” to each other by donating to organizations that assist people less fortunate than we (causes, too). Part of that is that we have more “stuff” than we need, the holiday has become far too commercialized and the majority of the planet’s inhabitants live daily on less than we have as change in our pockets.

      Another reason why I felt that it would be a good time to remind people of those in need is that the New York Times’ principled journalist Nicholas Kristof writes a yearly column devoted to letting readers know of organizations that are overlooked and get more bang for the buck. People need to know that such organizations exist.

      You are absolutely right that our animal friends are too often overlooked regardless of the season. Animals suffer, too. Donations to animal organizations and shelters often mean the difference between life and death.

      Human or animal, donations help. The caveat is to always make sure the group is legitimate. There are organizations devoted to that.

      • Kathy on December 26, 2017 at 23:49

      Best Friends did so much great work on the ground during the hurricanes, getting to the animals left behind, reuniting animals with their people and finding homes for those who needed them. You’re right, Brenda. They’re a great organization to donate to.

        • Don Bay on December 27, 2017 at 06:16

        Thanks for your support for donations to legitimate animal organizations and for underlining Brenda’s comment. Animals are our friends and must be remembered regardless of the cause.

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