roundup, 2

This year’s donation roundup.

Memberships

I donated to the Free Software Foundation twice this year. In 2013, they started their donation/membership campaign in January. This year, they started it in December. I renewed my membership in December.

I also renewed my membership to the Electronic Frontiers Foundation.
Both of these groups also received donations through MollyGive (see below).

Activities for Charity

People do things for charity. Walks, runs, polar bear plunges. I decided that I would donate the same amount to each person who did one of these throughout a year. I would not make a second donation for a second activity unless it was a cause I personally cared about. Please remember this when I ask for money for the Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon. Please. The following charities/activities were a part of that.

*This amount was higher in order to complete a matching donation project someone was doing.
**This amount was higher in order for someone needed to complete their fundraising goal.
+This link is actually for their fundraising page, which explains where money goes. I love it!

MollyGive

This year I started the MollyGive Donation Matching Project. We here at MollyGive wanted to try to encourage others to participate in getting rid of their money at the end of the year. We offered a matching program: Matching per individual per organization. I donated to groups I would not have otherwise. I learned a lot about people I know, and what they care about. You can see some trends below.

Through this program, the following donations were made:

Donations

I also just made some straight up donations.

Someone I know is a clown with Clowns Without Borders. While I don’t like the “Without Borders” branding, I do like that she went to Palestine to do shows and workshops. Their schedule was super rigorous: 2 weeks, 20 shows, 3 workshops. I have a lot of thoughts about why Palestine needs extra care, and even supporting that a little bit was important to me.

After all of this, my two personal charities for the year are Give Directly and SCI. I think Give Directly is a solid group, and current research on charities and giving (and impact) align with the idea that just giving people money is actually the best way for them to help themselves (in many, but not all, aspects of life). SCI is a charity that deals with parasites. If you know how I feel about parasites, you would understand.

Take Away From the Year

MollyGive Matching was a roaring success. Along with almost every donation request, people said that they’d been meaning to donate, but hadn’t, that this gave them a clear deadline that helped, or that it inspired them to look for a new charity. One of my friends even started a similar program!

I don’t think I’ll do MollyGive again. I want to emphasize that this is only a possibility and is based on how I feel at this moment. How I feel in eleven months will be very different.

I liked what I got out of it. Seeing my friends participate in ways they wouldn’t otherwise was inspiring. I learned a lot about my friends, including that they care about giving money to things I don’t care about giving money to. I think I’m going to write a post shortly about why you should donate to technical projects and charities (even though I am not interested in doing so myself).

I am planning on scaling back my donating next year. I’ve spent years arguing with people over how donating is important, because people need help now. I need help now, but I am okay and plenty of other people are not. I feel as though the money I spent this year wasn’t actually going to help people. It was helping organizations and policies. It was impacting life on a broad scale. It wasn’t tackling things I consider to be life-threatening issues. After spending the amount of money I did (a higher percentage of my income went to donations than my student loans) on things I would have consciously chosen to not donate to otherwise, I wonder if there would be a value in taking care of my immediate solvency and existential problems (see: student loan debt). For the next year, I’m going to spend 10% of my income on my student loans, and the amount that has been currently going to my student loans on charity.

I was not able to complete all donations to MollyGive (see below). Separate from my financial plans for 2014, I will be using funds from my personal account (i.e. the money I live off of) to equalize the debts I owe to some of you (I’m looking at you, Vegan Outreach Fund donors). I have records of which donations were matched, and were the discrepancies are.

Over the course of the year, I gave and loaned money to people individually based on need. This has been a very negative experience for me, as people to whom I lent money have not paid me back and no one I “donated” money to ended up using it for that purpose. I have accepted both of these at this point, and am at peace with them. However, I do not intend to participate in either of these activities again. I will, however, continue to buy homeless people coffees and hot chocolates, hard working volunteers will get their boxes of bagels, and I will still buy cold children scarves. I view this section as a disclaimer more than anything else. This is why, I say as an excuse, that I did not donate the full amount I set out to.

I’ve learned that, in spite of what I feel can be a cold hearted attitude towards donating, I really love giving and spending time figuring out how to give. I think I’d be interested in getting involved with an organization that deals with large scale giving.

Appendix A

This is a table detailing charities and the percentage of the total.

2013 Donations

Group Type Source Percentage
American Indian College Fund Education MG 1
Bikes Not Bombs Community Activity 2
Children’s Cancer Fund Medical Activity 1
Children’s International Community  MG 1
Clowns Without Borders Community  Personal 4
Electronic Frontiers Foundation Technology MG/Membership 8
First Descent Medical Activity 1
Freedom of the Press Foundation Technology MG 2
Free Software Foundation Technology  MG/Membership 8.5
GiveDirectly Community  Personal 2
Internet Archive Technology  MG 2
Jimmy Fund Medical Activity 2
Khadafy Foundation Community MG 2
Lilith Fund Medical MG 2
MS Ride Medical Activity 1.5
OpenHatch Technology MG 10
Direct Peer Giving misc Personal 4
Pathfinder International Medical MG 2
Philly AIDS Fund Medical Activity 1
Samaritans Medical MG 2
Schisosomiasis Control Initiative Medical 1
TEAfund Medical  MG 2
Wikipedia Technology  MG 1
Total 100

Appendix B

2013-donations_022013-donations_01

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Tithe

Every month I take 10% of my gross income and put it into my savings account. However, when someone asks me about my savings and survival plans (should I lose my job, or end up in a bad situation), I shrug and say I have none.

As far as I’m concerned, these funds aren’t mine: I’m just holding them for someone else. I tithe. According to wikipedia, tradition Jews call this ma’aser kesafim. In fact, a lot of religions have a version of a tithe (a 10% tax). I don’t do this out of some sense of traditional Jewish identity. I do it because I think it’s a good thing [for me] to do.

I don’t -have- to live month to month, but I choose to. Inspired by the parents of a friend, I chose “personal tithing” as a good way to help others.

Housemate M has a cavity. While talking about it, I offered to pay for him to go get it filled. He said no, and I thought he was saying this because he knows I live month to month. I explained to him my personal tithing system. We ended up having a conversation that well mirrored one I had with R when we first talked about this.

The argument I come up against is this: It is better to pay off my loans more quickly. I will then be paying less into a damaging financial complex that perpetuates a form of indentured servitude, which results in little more than the inhibited growth of individuals and our culture and a deeper divide between classes. I would better serve the world by paying off my loans as quickly as possible and then, with my increased income, I would be able to help more people later.

My response: People need help now.

People will need help in the future–that’s the state of the world we live in–but choosing to focus on helping people (or other causes) in the future, shows a disregard of the suffering and problems that occur now. I also believe in preventative work. If I can fix someone’s cavity now, they won’t need to have a tooth pulled later. If getting the cavity fixed leads to a discussion with their dentist about dental care, maybe they won’t need to have all their teeth pulled and then dentures or no teeth at all. Regardless of trying to stave off potential futures, I find it personally unconscionable to allow others to suffer when I can help them.

But there is this really good point about trying to give less to the student loan business–that that in and of itself would make a difference. By the end of the year, my 10% tithe could pay off half of a loan I have with an interest rate of 10%. I would have less worries, which would help my health and give me more time to do other things that could help people. Additionally, I would, in general, have more resources to give to individuals or causes in the future.

In the spirit of moderation, I will say that neither is right, or wrong, but they are simply different approaches to one particular way of helping others. It doesn’t really matter what you do to help others, as long as you’re aware of what’s happening and you do something. Even if it’s just to blog or sign your name on a letter.