Boing Boing readers' charitable giving guide - the best of your picks


31 Responses to “Boing Boing readers' charitable giving guide - the best of your picks”

  1. Memoriesalive says:

    I’m a fan of LINK Niger which supports missions in one of the poorest countries in the world. Volunteers build schools, churches, clinics and wells in Niger, Africa. They also develop loving relationships with the people there.

    This is one of the charities supported by my business. 100% of all donations to THE LINK are used for direct support to Niger.

  2. Scott V says:

    My charity of choice is African Mother’s Health Initiative. AMHI has a few different initiatives surrounding childbirth and mother’s health in Malawi, but the part that really speaks to me is that they support children whose mothers die in childbirth – both with tangible items, formula and food, and to make sure that the community steps in to care for the children growing up.

    One of the board members spends most of her time in Africa, working as a nurse and working for the charity in her free time. Her blog is amazing and moving –

    And, something that is very important to me when giving to a charity – 98% of donations are going to the projects in Africa. No large charity overhead to support.

  3. anekarao says:

    Canadian Stem Cell Foundation

  4. Sharkhunt says:

    …and another +1 to Child’s Play. It’s really a great organization for putting people in touch with their local children’s hospitals. I like knowing exactly what my contribution is being used for and being able to pick a local hospital to receive my gift. Their focus is on games, but each hospital makes their own list and there’s a need for other types of items as well.

    Learn more at

    • Gloria says:

      Yes, I love that I may have just introduced the entire Back to the Future trilogy to a kid in Toronto.

      I don’t know about the other lists, but the Sick Kids one is definitely inclusive — games and systems and accessories, books, music, and movies. I discovered Rockabye’s lullaby versions of AC/DC through that list.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The Pre-Law Summer Institute for Native Americans and Alaskan Natives and the American Indian Graduate Center, both of which helped me prepare for and finance law school.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’m a big fan of imagine1day.

    They are a nonprofit charity based out of Vancouver, Canada and their goal is to provide quality primary education to every single child in Ethiopia by 2020.

    It’s a huge goal, but their model is great because 100% of any donation, whether it be 1 dollar to 1 million dollars, goes directly to the schools and students in Ethiopia. Not a lot of organizations can say 100% of what’s given actually goes to the cause.

  7. geetus says:

    My issue with Kiva is that they bury the fact that the loans made to the individuals on their site are high-interest loans made by local microfinance organizations.

    What they put up front is that that YOUR loan is interest free (and this phrase “interest free” is all over their press materials — it’s promoted). This interest fee loan is not to the individual in need but to the microfinance middle-man. This isn’t the end of the world, but, it’s unfortunate that people often make loans thinking it’s a direct relationship, and, that no interest is being charged.

    I contacted them to complain. They said they worked to make their organization as transparent as possible. Nothing has changed on their site.

    I second Partners in Health.

  8. madprime says:

    People should choose charities that have the highest impact on saving and improving people’s lives. I highly recommend people read the reviews made by GiveWell ( and choose charities based on that. (We found this site based on a recommendation made by Peter Singer in “The Life You Can Save”.)

    A common complaint is that aid to the developing world does not work (indeed, it often doesn’t, and many at-home programs are also fairly useless). GiveWell does a very thorough job of evaluating charities, not based on what percentage “administrative costs” they have (a silly metric), but based on how much net cost they have per life saved (or operation performed, etc).

    Based in part on GiveWell’s recommendations my husband and I, to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary, donated 4% of our annual income for this year to a set of ten charities (Doctors without borders, Fistula Foundation, Fred Hollows Foundation, GiveWell, Hunger Project, Interplast, Oxfam, Partners in Health, Stop Tuberculosis, VillageReach). I encourage everyone to give! But give to the places that are the most efficient. :-) I believe together we really can end suffering due to global poverty if we all chip in.

    Peter Singer’s 2006 NYTimes essay is a good read.

    I’m sorry I didn’t see this conversation earlier, I really wish I had. I think we have a moral obligation to try hard to ensure that our donated dollars do actual good, not merely make us feel good.

  9. gilowyn says:

    I am missing MY favorite charity, that isn’t really a charity:

    Micro loans of at least $25, pooled together to enable people to start or extend their business, getting them out of poverty through work. You choose which projects you want to support, anything from market stands, sewing collective, etc.

    Loans are paid back over time, and you can then either re-loan, possibly add some more cash, donate, or just take your money out again.

  10. SamSam says:

    I wish I had seen the original post. There are a bunch of charities I really like and would have noted.

    I’ll just put one I like here, which is probably fairly well known: Central Asian Institute, by the guy who wrote Three Cups of Tea.

    The CAI builds schools in countries like Afghanistan. The schools are mostly built by the people in the villages, so the people have pride in them and don’t allow them to get bombed by the Taliban. The schools obviously improve education, but also women’s standing in these countries.

    I think Nicholas Kristoff has said something to the effect that if Greg Mortenson were to use the money being spent on the Afghan war to build schools instead, the country would already be at peace.

    • MelSkunk says:

      I wish I had replied to that thread myself.
      My personal charity is Heifer International, which helps people all over the world develop independence through sustainable agriculture (trees and livestock) and the encouragement of sharing the resources they develop and the knowledge they gain. Every year I donate the equivalent of an animal or tree to them financially, and at one point did some major fund raising for them in Second life.

      I’ve always admired their principles of helping people help both themselves and others, much like Habitat for Humanity but less well known.

  11. Anonymous says:

    carefully selected non-profits in the USA, Israel and around the world that meet the ‘efficient and effective’ criteria of using funding….

  12. Steven Stwalley says:

    I tried to post The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund the other day, but the comments on that post weren’t working for me for some reason…

    Defending the Comic Industry’s first amendment rights since 1986!

  13. efergus3 says:

    Whatever your favorites, you might want to check here.
    With me it’s Save The Children and EFF.

    • SamSam says:

      I had always used Charity Navigator and their associated Network for Good as well, but then I decided that Network for Good took a little too much off the top. Nearly 5% of every donation to them goes into their coffers, instead of 3% if a charity uses PayPal directly. This article made me not want to donate through them any more.

      Now I still use Charity Navigator, but only for bookkeeping purposes. However, I do regret that it is more difficult to make donations anonymously now.

  14. asterisk says:

    FogQuest is a non-profit, registered Canadian charity dedicated to planning and implementing water projects for rural communities in developing countries. We utilize innovative fog collectors as well as effective rainfall collectors to make optimum use of natural atmospheric sources of water.… and FAQs

  15. efergus3 says:

    And Make A Wish.

  16. michaelocc says:

    +1 on Child’s Play. Hadn’t heard about that until the comments here. Awesome.

    Also, I’d heartily second the mention of above. Fine, fine people doing a wonderful thing.

    Oh, and many thanks for lifting up the HoHoTO link too. Yay!

  17. rishathra says:

    World Hunger Year, a group that works to end hunger with both short- and long-term solutions, has been doing great work for seemingly ever.

    Also, add another vote for Medicins Sans Frontiers.

  18. Day Vexx says:

    For something a bit more local, consider making a donation to your nearest independent or community radio station. While I’ll more than happily plug WDBX-FM here in Southern Illinois, I’d be pleased to know folks had made a donation to any community broadcasters doing their best to bring good music, discussion, and ideas to their listeners.

  19. mindysan33 says:

    I like Women for Women International. I’ve been interested in Kiva, which gilowyn mentioned.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Safe Passage. We are making a second service trip with 20 others again in June. Well run, very effective and very efficient and very good work. This is a bottom-up organization. They ask the target population what THEY need and then try and provide it.

  21. turbokoala says:

    If you ever have any spare dough, Wikipedia’s always a solid choice. True, it’s not saving any lives (so it should come after charities for more urgent causes), but it has a good mission. Free knowledge to all!

    In Hebrew the word for charity is “tzedakah”. It doesn’t translate directly, though. The word stems from the root TZDK, which means justice. Similarly, “mitzvah”, which is a good deed, comes the root MTVH, meaning commandment. More accurate definitions of the English terms, I think.

  22. ursonate says:

    I give to No More Deaths ( which provides humanitarian aid along the US/Mexican border and to Have Justice Will Travel ( which provides services to victims of domestic abuse.

  23. UndefinedMemory says:

    Given the subject of the discussion I thought it appropriate to link to where I work, the World Society for the Protection of Animals ( I work in the UK branch of the organisation, which deals exclusively with animal welfare issues around the world.

    Please note I am not doing this to solicit donations but did not see the charity on the list! As a concerned citizen in the UK I will be donating my Christmas present money to Open Rights Group, NO2ID and Liberty.

  24. The Gunner says:

    The charity I’d put a big shout out for is MINDROOM, dedicated to helping children and adults with learning difficulties. You can find it at

    I watched this charity grow from nothing, created at a kitchen table by one feisty and determined friend fed up with pulling her hair out with frustration at how hard it was to get clear, useful information when her daughter was diagnosed with learning difficulties. Now it is not only a clearing house for all the best and most current thinking in the field, it’s VERY Boing Boing: through conferences and global outreach it pulls together interested parties in wildly differing disciplines from across the whole spectrum, from the mainstream to the maverick, on the principle that when it comes to helping people, and especially children, the best idea should always, always win, no matter who had it, or where it comes from.

    It’s close to realising its dream of setting up its first one-stop-shop centres (literal bricks-and-mortar Mind Rooms) so that parents and children and adults can easily get the clear advice and practical help that the founder had to fight so hard to to get for her own kid…

    On a personal note, I support these guys because;

    a) you can’t NOT be impressed seeing friends build something so globally positive out of personal adversity with extraordinaRy determination coupled with an unfailing sense of humour.

    b) because I lucked out in life: I had a great education and had no obstacles to comprehension or processing that education (other than my own tendency to daydreaming and looking out the window which, since I write fiction for a living, turns out to have been a pretty damn useful grounding anyway…): long story short: my hardware unboxed and plugged in just fine. Even more of a blessing, my two kids don’t have to fight a learning difficulty either. They lucked out too – but 1 in 20 children are born with brains that don’t unbox and plug in glitch-free: Mindroom is aiming to provide tech support for them and their parents, without the annoying call-centre experience.

    Happy Holidays Boingpeople. And thanks for providing the best catch-all opportunity for displacement activity on the known web….

  25. phenocopy says:

    For the supporters of Kiva, just be sure you have read the fine print. I am a big fan of microfinance, but you do NOT actually choose who gets your money.

    This is not to belittle the work they do- just don’t be shocked that you haven’t actually lent money to a specific person.

  26. nisuspi says:

    Ah – wish I’d seen the original post. I went to Zambia earlier in the year to write for an innovative educational charity, LearnAsOne, that funds schools and self-help projects in Africa. All wonderfully transparent thanks to the power of the web. It’s here:, and there’s some excellent pics of the kids they’ve helped here showing off their aspirations here:

Leave a Reply