Boing Boing Charitable Giving Guide, 2012 edition

Here's a guide to the charities the Boingers support in our own annual giving. As always, please add the causes and charities you give to in the comments below!

Electronic Frontier Foundation
There's never been a time when EFF's mission was more important: everything we do today involves the Internet; everything we do tomorrow will require it. No one stretches a dollar further and gets more done than EFF. They've been at it since 1990, and have been at the forefront of practically every significant online rights battle through the whole era of the Internet's rise to prominence. The world I want my kid to grow up in needs EFF in it. —CD

Creative Commons
CC celebrated its tenth birthday (!) this year, a remarkable milestone from a remarkable organization. More than anyone else, CC has reframed the way we talk about creativity and copyright in the Internet era, providing practical, easy-to-use tools to make it possible for creators and audiences to work together in a shared mission of creating and enjoying culture.—CD

Wikimedia Foundation (Wikipedia)
Imagine a world without Wikipedia! Is there any other organization that does more to preserve the original, amazing spirit of the Internet, the sense that we're all on a shared mission to make the whole world a better place through communication and freedom?—CD

Freedom of the Press Foundation
Launched in December 2012, with a board that includes Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow, documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, and actor-activist John Cusack, Freedom of the Press Foundation provides you with an easy way to donate to journalism organizations dedicated to transparency and accountability. (I'm on the board, too.) — XJ

The Humane Society
The nation's largest and most effective animal protection organization advocates for animals through public policy, corporate reforms, and major campaigns to confront national and global cruelties -- and saves lives though rescue efforts, disaster response and veterinary support. — RB

The ALS Association
My father died in 1980 from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. A number of my family members have also died from it; we have a very rare familial strain. While there have been many scientific advances surrounding ALS in the decades since my dad died, little is known about how and why this disease manifests (particularly in familial strains), and what approaches may offer hope for a cure. The ALSA was founded in 1985, and leads the way in global research, "providing assistance for people with ALS through a nationwide network of chapters, coordinating multidisciplinary care through certified clinical care centers, and fostering government partnerships." The Association helps people with ALS maximize quality of life while enabling research for new treatments and, one day we hope, a cure. —XJ

The Participatory Culture Foundation
PCF keeps on growing and making me proud to serve on its board. In addition to Miro, its brilliant Internet video client, they've just shipped their ambitious Universal Subtitles project, which aims at nothing less than to render every video on the Web universal, multilingual, and accessible. —CD

Funding vital metastatic breast cancer research, METAvivor's programs sustain the power of hope for people with advanced disease. The non-profit "rallies public attention to the needs of the metastatic breast cancer community, help patients find strength through support and purpose, and make every dollar count as we work with researchers to regain longevity with quality of life."—XJ

World Vision:
An oldie, but goodie. Highly rated by Charity Navigator, World Vision is the classic way to donate in someone's name as a gift. Children, families, and communities all over the world benefit. Your friends and loved ones get to see, in a tangible way, how they've helped to improve lives. Buy 5 ducks and 2 chickens for a family or a cow for a small village. In the US, you can provide school supplies, winter necessities, and food to children and families. I once bought half a cow in the name of my grandparents. As farmers, they liked knowing that they were helping other farmers. What a great way to make connections! —MKB

Marine Mammal Center
Compassionately healing seals from diseases they did not want to contract the Marine Mammal Center then releases them into their native habitat -- if you are a marine dwelling mammal in trouble, and they can find you -- its proof positive the MMC will do their all to ensure your return to health. This tireless and heroic group of full-time staff and army of well trained volunteers need our help to continue helping beautiful creatures who can not help themselves. —JW

Doctors Without Borders:
In global disaster zones, few groups make as much impact as quickly as do Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders. The international medical humanitarian organization was created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971. Today, MSF provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters. We've published items about their work in Congo, Haiti, and I've met with MSF staff in Guatemala, where they have a project dedicated to violence against women and girls. The do good work. They get things done in places where it is dangerous and difficult to get things done. —XJ

Nurse-Family Partnership:
Provides in-home nurse visits for low-income, first-time expectant mothers and their babies. This program is evidence-based and studies have shown that it has an impact on both public health, and reducing child abuse and neglect. In 2010, it was highly rated by It's also one of Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy's "Social Programs That Work". —MKB

Breast Cancer Action
Breast Cancer Action "carries the voices of people affected by breast cancer to inspire and compel the changes necessary to end the breast cancer epidemic," and operates as a national, feminist grassroots education and advocacy organization. The group was founded in 1990 by women who realized the power of community, and the need for a grassroots organization with a unique understanding of the political, economic, and social context of breast cancer. BCAction’s members are women with breast cancer and their supporters — ordinary people who, by educating themselves on the facts and the issues related to breast cancer, have empowered themselves and others to create needed change to end the epidemic.—XJ

Friends of Gettysburg:
From Gen. Buford's heroic first day defense to Pickett's disastrous charge -- no three days more define the struggle we now call the American Civil War. Viewed as the turning point of the war and the high-water mark of the confederacy, walking the roads, fields and hills of Gettysburg truly allows you to feel a deep connection with men and women who struggled here. Sadly, developers and other creeps continually try to modify, encroach upon and invade this monument; luckily we have an organization that still fights to preserve and continually improve access and education in and around the park - the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg. They tirelessly work to preserve my favorite National Park, which is saying a lot as I live inside another. —JW

Youth Radio:
Youth Radio is an afterschool program that teaches journalism, media, and audio production skills to underserved young people, mostly high school age You can hear their stories on National Public Radio, local airwaves, and of course online. A lot of the graduates stick around for a while as paid writers, producers, engineers, and teachers. —DP

Child's Play
Since 2003, this game industry charity has worked to improve the lives of children in hospitals with toys and games in a network of over 70 hospitals worldwide. Child’s Play works in two ways: with the help of hospital staff, they set up gift wish lists full of video games, toys, books, and other fun stuff for kids. By clicking on a hospital location on a map, you can view that hospital’s wish list and send a gift. Child’s Play also uses your cash donations to purchase new consoles, peripherals, games, and more for hospitals and therapy facilities. This allows children to enjoy age-appropriate entertainment, interact with their peers, friends, and family, and have vital distraction from the experience of being a child in a hospital setting with a serious illness.—XJ

Mario Marathon
A Mario Brothers gaming marathon that raises cash for Child’s Play Charity (see above). What's not to love? Here's how it works. —XJ

The Sierra Club:
The US's oldest and biggest grassroots environmental organization. Whether it's protecting endangered species, opposing dams, or helping you learn how to green your home, the Sierra Club has spent more than a century trying to keep the wonder of the natural world wonderful. —DP

Big Brothers Big Sisters:
As a former Big, this was one of the most rewarding programs I've had the pleasure of being a part of. It also works. The Big Brothers Big Sisters approach has shown success in randomized controlled trials and it's one of the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy's "Social Programs That Work". —MKB

Facing History and Ourselves
Facing History and Ourselves is an international educational group that helps young people study issues around racism, antisemitism, and prejudice in history, from the Holocaust to today's immigrant experiences to the killing fields of Cambodia. Their aim is to teach young people "to think critically, to empathize, to recognize moral choices, to make their voices heard, we put in their hands the possibility--and the responsibility--to do the serious work demanded of us all as citizens." —DP

Fundacion Sobrevivientes:
Contact Telephone (502) 2245-3000

Fundacion Sobrevivientes (In English, "Survivors Foundation") works to end violence against women in Guatemala, where there is an extraordinarily high rate of sexual assault and gender-based violence, and where rapists and murderers operate with impunity. They provide legal aid, mental health care, and security for rape victims, including children. They assist women whose children have been stolen from them to be sold illegally into adoption. They provide support for families of the "dissapeared." Founder Norma Cruz was featured in the documentary Killer's Paradise. Her work links the murders of thousands of Guatemalan women to the country's 36-year civil war. She, her colleagues, and family are frequently targeted by those who seek to prevent the center's work. How to donate: here. —XJ

Innovations for Poverty Action: Highly rated by, IPA does the studies that find out what kind of poverty interventions actually work and where those interventions work. IPA is led by scientists and uses randomized controlled trials to help make sure that charities are reaching their stated goals and doing what they're supposed to be doing. When they find programs that work, they also assist in scaling those programs up from trials to full-scale interventions. —MKB

Free Software Foundation/Defective By Design:
The Free Software Foundation's principled litigation, license creation and campaigning is fierce, uncompromising and has changed the world. You interact with code that they made possible a million times a day, and they never stop working to make sure that the code stays free. —CD

The Internet Archive: A free repository for all of human knowledge, a bottomless source of bandwidth and storage, the Internet's collective memory, the reinvention of the library right before our eyes. I don't know what I'd do without it. —CD

National Academy Foundation:
The NAF supports Career Academies in low-income public high schools, programs that are proven to make a difference in kids' lives. Studies have shown that graduates of Career Academies see an average 11% increase in annual earnings, an effect that stays strong over the long term. Basically, they start out making more money and keep making more money. —MKB

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation:
My aunt Heather died of breast cancer when she was only 41. My whole family is now involved with the society. I don't live in Toronto and can't join the annual run for the cure there, but at least I can donate to the cause. —CD

Open Rights Group:
This was the year that the UK government broke its promise to reduce surveillance, and announced, instead, that it wanted to have warrantless, ongoing access to the nation's entire Internet traffic for police and government. It was the year that the courts began to aggressively issue censorship orders against ISPs. We live in an era where people who say dumb things on Twitter and Facebook face jail time. The UK Open Rights Group is the leading national voice on fighting the country's slide into digital insanity, a country where all rights are suspended whenever a computer is involved. —CD

Since 2005, Kiva has been a pioneer in providing micro-financing to the "working poor", offering users the ability to choose their cause of choice. Micro-financing has shown itself to be a boon to the developing world, and especially in creating newly-empowered women entrepreneurs. Kiva has focused on this goal, and makes a difference in the regions they support.—Ken Snider

(I like Kiva, too. It's a fun family activity to look at the proposals and decide where to make investments. Also, Kiva Cards are a cool gift to introduce your friends to the fun world of microinvesting! —Mark Frauenfelder)

The Gutenberg Project: The world's leading access-to-public-domain project. They have truly created a library from nothing, and oh, what a library. Last year marked the sad, premature death of its visionary founder, Michael Hart, and supporting his life's work is a fitting tribute to one of the Internet's true pioneers —CD

Mission statement: "Founded in 1991, the Institute for Justice is what a civil liberties law firm should be. As our nation's only libertarian public interest law firm, we engage in cutting-edge litigation and advocacy both in the courts of law and in the court of public opinion on behalf of individuals whose most basic rights are denied by the government--like the right to earn an honest living, private property rights, and the right to free speech, especially in the areas of commercial and Internet speech. As Wired magazine said, the Institute for Justice 'helps individuals subject to wacky government regulations.'" —MF

I've been a member of the American Civil Liberties Union for many years. They need all the support they can get to keep Americans safe and free from a government that answers only to their corporate string-pullers. —MF

The MetaBrainz Foundation:
I'm on the board of this charity, which oversees the MusicBrainz project. MusicBrainz is a free and open alternative to the evil (dis)Gracenote, which took all the metadata about CDs that you and I keyed in and locked it away behind a wall of patents and onerous licensing deals. The org that controls the metadata controls the world -- this needs to be in the public's hands. —CD

Any homelessness charity that uses Critical Time Intervention strategies: Homelessness charities are inherently local things. Find one near you, then find out whether it uses CTI, a method of reaching people during crisis situations so that they never become homeless to begin with. CTI has been found to reduce the likelihood of homelessness by 60%, 18 months after people were randomly assigned to CTI-based programs. —MKB

The Clarion Foundation:
I'm also a volunteer on Clarion's board, helping to oversee the world-famous Clarion Writers' Workshop, a bootcamp for sf writers that has produced some of the finest talents in our field, including Octavia Butler, Bruce Sterling, Nalo Hopkinson, Kelly Link, and Lucius Shepard. I'm a graduate myself, and an instructor (I taught in 2005 and 2007 and will teach again this coming summer) -- I received a substantial scholarship to the workshop in 1992 and it changed my life. I will pay that debt forward every year. —CD

Amnesty International:
Justly famed for their principled, effective campaigning for justice and fair treatment under the law, Amnesty has its finger in every pie -- freeing Gitmo detainees, defending jailed journalists, fighting torture and human trafficking, and standing up to bullies wherever they find them. They deserve every cent we can give them. —CD

Hospice Net:
I make a donation to this charity every year in memory of my dear friend, former Boing Boing guestblogger Pat York. Pat was killed in a car accident, and her family nominated this charity for memorial gifts. —CD

Two great jobs charities: Year Up is a national program that trains highly motivated, low-income young adults for well-paying careers. Candidates spend six months going through intensive training and six months on an internship. Most end up with jobs that pay upwards of $40,000 to $60,000 a year. At the other end of the jobs spectrum is The Hope Program, which focuses on getting extremely disadvantaged New Yorkers a job. The Hope Program is working with people who would otherwise have trouble finding any kind of employment at all, folks with histories of substance abuse, homelessness, and prison records. Helping people overcome those barriers and find employment can be a key to making sure they don't end up back in a bad situation. —MKB

For the liberties the EFF doesn't cover, here in sticky meatspace, we have the ACLU. Fearless upholders of the Constitution -- an org that knows that you have to stand up for the rights of people you disagree with, or you aren't in a free society. Unwinding the violence done to fundamental freedoms over the past decade (and the new assaults, from drones to wiretapping) will take time and money. The number of bad laws and regulations to overturn is staggering. —CD

Britain's answer to the American Civil Liberties Union. Every single time I read or hear a news-story about incursions on human rights in the UK, there's an articulate, knowledgeable Liberty commentator countering government's flimsy arguments and campaigning for our freedom. In an era where politicians spy on us seemingly through naked instinct, like ants building hills, it's groups like Liberty that present our best bulwark against tyranny. —CD

Child Rights and You:
I travelled to Mumbai in 2009 for research and was overwhelmed by the terrible, ubiquitous child poverty -- thousands and thousands of children, barefoot, disfigured, begging. I asked my Indian friends about it and was told that it was endemic to Mumbai and India in general, and that many children are exploited by desperate parents or criminal "pimps" who muscle them out of the majority of their earnings. As a new parent, I couldn't help but wonder again and again how I would feel if it were my child living in those circumstances. I'm no stranger to poverty -- I helped build schools with Nicaraguan refugees in Central America, worked to set up an NGO in sub-Saharan Africa -- but I'd never seen anything to rival this. On advice from my Indian friends, I investigated and made a donation to CRY. CRY works to remedy the root causes of child poverty in India, in cities and the countryside, with a special emphasis on protecting girls from exploitation. The problem is deep and huge, but the solution has to begin somewhere. CRY also maintains a UK site for British donors. —CD

Software Freedom Law Center:
As the leading legal clinic defending the interests of free software authors, SFLC is a nexus for the defeat of stupid software patents, work on free software stacks for use in defeating network censorship and shutdowns in repressive regimes, and fighting obscure but vital fights like the battle over UEFI, which threatens to make it both legally and technically challenging to install GNU/Linux on your own computer.

Neighborworks America: This national charity has done a couple of things I really, really like. First, it's a leader in providing counseling to families at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure. At a time when there are lots of scams ready to prey on the weak, Neighborworks protects and helps people keep their homes. Second, they're working for sustainable, affordable housing, making sure that all people can afford homes that are energy efficient and environmentally safe. —MKB

Software in the public interest -- it's a damned good idea. MySociety produces software like Pledgebank ("I will risk arrest by refusing to register for a UK ID card if 100,000 other Britons will also do it") and TheyWorkForYou (every word and deed by every Member of Parliament). It's plumbing for activists and community organizers. —CD

Project Noise

Project Noise creates videos and media campaigns at no or low cost to organizations working to better the world. - MF

The Foundation Beyond Belief:
This is a great one for anybody who wants to donate to one place, but have their money reach multiple causes. It's also a good charity for people who want to donate to charity as an expression of humanist values, rather than religious ones. It works like this: You donate to the Foundation Beyond Belief. Every quarter, the Foundation picks ten charities, one in each of nine categories—health, poverty, environment, education, human rights, peace, animal protection, child welfare, other worldviews—plus the Foundation itself. You can tell them how you'd like your gift divvied up among the categories. At the end of the quarter, 100% of the donations go to the chosen charities and the cycle starts over again. —MKB


  1. Didn’t there used to be an email link button? Darn encroaching social media.

    Was going to add Wikimedia but it was next one on the list after the jump

    1. Right on, Wikipedia didn’t put those annoying banners up (at least in my location) this year, in fact they shouldn’t have to ask for money anymore, considering everything they have done, especially in 2012 and it’s pivotal role in defeating SOPA and similar type laws. I’ll be forever grateful to the organisation because of this.

  2. The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco is in the midst of its annual fund drive, but we welcome financial and inkind support year-round. Money raised goes funding our gallery exhibitions, art classes, and artist presentations. Check them out — and thanks.

  3. I support the Free Software Foundation Europe, It provides a much-needed platform for supporting software freedom in Europe. Its most important project is currently Free Your Android, a drive to promote free software on telephones. The ultimate goal should be to develop a portable computer which can communicate without working as a vendor-controlled tracking device.

  4. I used to use Kiva but I read that microfinance lenders use high pressure tactics to collect the money back. The article I read gave a case where a farmer took a microloan, had his crops fail, then committed suicide by drinking pesticide because he was hounded to pay back the loan.

    So while Kiva itself seems on the up and up, I worry the 3rd party lenders which service the loans are not.

  5. Mario Marathon, but no Desert Bus for Hope? I’m surprised!

    “Started in 2007 by internet sketch comedy group LoadingReadyRun, Desert Bus for Hope combines video games and tedium to benefit charity.

    “The world’s longest running internet-based fundraiser, over the past six years Desert Bus has raised more than $825,000 for Child’s Play, making it the most successful charity gaming marathon in the world…

    “Desert Bus is actually a mini-game from the never-released Sega CD game Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors. Challenging the player to drive a listing, unreliable, virtual bus on an endless, eight-hour-long strip of highway between Tucson, Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada, it is widely regarded to be the worst video game ever made.

    “We play it for as long as donations come in. In order to keep things interesting for our viewers we have live and silent auctions, celebrity guests and a lot of silliness.”

    1. I love how Penn describes the creation of Desert Bus. That it was basically made as a fuck you to Janet Reno after she made a comment about how video games were violent and horrible and destroying our youth.

  6. The Albert Einstein Institution

    “Since our founding in 1983, the mission of the Albert Einstein Institution has been to provide the best resources possible on strategic nonviolent action to groups struggling for democratic freedoms. Whether the goal is undermining a dictatorship, preventing a coup d’état, defending against an invasion, or achieving social change, the Albert Einstein Institution helps people around the world to consider nonviolent struggle as a means to act in difficult circumstances without the use of physical violence.”

  7. Good to see Clarion listed, Cory.  Much needed.  And Clarion West is a worthy nonprofit as well–graduates of note include Andrea Hairston, Ben Rosenbaum, and, well, me.  I know you’ve taught at Clarion West.  Octavia taught here five times.  Plus when Clarion was having problems a few years back, Clarion West provided support and organizational help.  So I’m glad there are two of us, and donations to both of us can help keep it that way.  Telling stories is how humans make sense of the world; telling subversive stories can change the world.  Telling stories well is something both these workshops can teach.

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