Boing Boing Charitable Giving Guide, the 2010 edition

Boing Boing's charitable giving guide has become a seasonal tradition of ours, listing the charities we personally support and want to give more attention to. As in previous years, we invite you to add your own favorite charities in the comments section.

Last year, the econopocalypse gave the charitable sector a rough holiday season. A year on, improvements are slow to come. But many of these charities help keep the world fair, free and healthy, so please spare what you can.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

It seems like every year, EFF's reason for existence becomes more
self-evident: from Wikileaks-panic censorship to cozy telcoms deals to
scuttle network neutrality to scary evoting mysteries to more
warrantless wiretapping… EFF was founded by people who realized that
the electronic world would quickly become as important as the real world
for many aspects of our lives, and that the civil liberties battles
we've fought in "real life" would have to be fought all over again
online, by technically skilled, principled people. EFF always gets my
biggest donation — because our future is riding on it.

Creative Commons:

Creative Commons has permeated my life in a thousand ways — on Boing
Boing and in my writing, Creative Commons is responsible for how I get
the job done and how I get paid for it. CC's advocacy of a nuanced,
intelligent position on creativity and sharing changes the lives of
creators, educators, scientists, scholars, and kids, all over the world. —CD

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

The Friends of the Merril Collection

Friends of the Merril Collection: Every library's "friends" organization
deserves your support, but the Merril is special — it's the largest
public science fiction reference collection in the world, and performs a
real service for the global community of sf writers and readers. As of
this year, Americans can also get a tax-receipt for their donations to
the Merril. —CD

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

When the earthquake struck Haiti this year, many groups asked for money, but few made as much impact as quickly as did Médecins Sans Frontières, 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

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

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

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 or Telephone (502) 2285-0100 or (502) 2285-0139

Fundacion Sobrevivientes (In English, "Survivors Foundation") works to end "femicide" in Guatemala. They provide legal aid, psychological care, and protection for rape victims — including children. They assist women whose children have been snatched from them to be sold illegally into adoption. They provide support for families of female assassination victims. 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. — XJ

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

Wounded Warrior Project

Via Susannah Breslin, whose "War Project" interviews I've blogged here on Boing Boing, a recommendation to consider the nonprofit Wounded Warrior Project. The group works to raise awareness and enlist the public's aid for the needs of injured service members; helps injured service members aid and assist each other, and provides unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members. Many veteran's charities exist, few get as much good work done for actual vets as this one.—XJ

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


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

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. —CD

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

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) — 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

Just 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


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 eight years will take time and money. The number of bad laws and regulations to overturn is staggering. —CD

Child Rights and You

I travelled to Mumbai last year 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

Canadian Charities

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

UK Charities

Open Rights Group

As Britain's slide into the surveillance society continues, as unelected officials present insane proposals to dismantle privacy and due process to catch pirates, ORG just gets more and more relevant. Membership is up 25% since the Digital Economy Bill was introduced and it continues to grow. Your £5/month pays to keep the lights on for a group of activists working to keep DRM off the BBC, working to ensure that you won't lose your Internet connection because someone in your house was accused of infringement. —CD


NO2ID stands as the nation's best, last bulwark against an Orwellian nightmare of universal tracking. NO2ID has won substantial victories against the New Labour's compulsive move towards a national ID card, keeping it at bay for years. The government wants to issue me (and other immigrants) one of these when my visa next renews, in two years. If they try to, I'll leave and take my family with me. My grandparents fled the Soviet Union rather than live under a ubiquitous surveillance system — I'm not going to be enmeshed in one two generations later. —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


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