A friend of mine recently posted about giving to charaties and I wanted to weigh in with my agreement. In the same way that calling/writing your elected officials is important (as, aside from ellections every few years, that’s the only way they’ll know what you think!) donating to organizations you value is also really important.
I donate to three organizations right now, in automatic giving plans of $10/month for each:
- Chicago Public Radio – I’ve become an NPR junkie, listening to little else in my car, and really value the work that they’re doing. This ranges from ‘entertainment’ like This American Life and Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me (both of which can also be educational) to their excellent news coverage. As a bonus, at the $10/month level, I got a member card that gives deals at certain restaurants and arts orgs, which is great. I haven’t used it a ton, but it’s been nice to have when I’ve been able to use it.
- ACLU – The American Civil Liberties Union is out their fighting for our rights! As someone who is very conscious of government encroachment of civil liberties, having an organization fighting for rights of free speech, privacy, and so on is really valuable. (Even if our current president isn’t quite as ridiculously horrible as our last one…) That said, I don’t really agree with their position on the Second Amendment, as “the people” is used everywhere else in the Constitution to mean just that…It seems somewhat of a cop-out to say having the word “militia” suddenly changes the use of a phrase which is pretty well established elsewhere in the same document.
- EFF – The Electronic Frontier Foundation is similar to the ACLU, in that it’s an advocacy group fighting for people’s rights. The difference is their focus is specifically on copyright and technology rights. If you’ve ever downloaded music or movies in violation of the wishes of their copyright holders, or think that ‘life of the author plus 70 years’ is an absurd copyright length, you should check out the EFF.
I also have some organizations I’m trying to donate to on a less-regular basis, and some I’d like to look at donating to in the future.
I just donated $20 to About Face Theatre, which recently announced it’s in panic mode due to financial problems. They’re a Chicago-based LGBTQ theatre and do important work – I remember attending workshops for their youth theatre in high school (although I never participated in any of their shows) and the theatre they’re producing for youth and adults (and with youth and adults) really needs to be heard.
On the commercial end, I’ve been making an effort to purchase books form Women and Children First, a feminist bookstore in my neighborhood that hosts artist and author discussions, interesting book groups, and carries a wide range of books for women and children (as well as an extensive queer section). Yes, it costs me a bit more than Amazon, but it’s important to me to have such a resource in my neighborhood. I want to live down the street from a store that carries books like Whipping Girl and Yes Means Yes (and has staff who have read them!) and hosts book clubs like The Intergenerational Feminist Book Club and (way on the other end of the spectrum) the Buffy Discussion Group. That said, it’s a shame their website is so slow…
I’ve also thought of donating to the Human Rights Campaign, a (supposedly) GLBT-rights group, but there are quite a few reports that the HRC has a mixed record on pushing for trans rights. Most recently, they took a lot of flack for supporting a version of ENDA that didn’t include protection for gender identity.
Elsewhere in queer orgs, I could donate to Howard Brown, which does health service work in the GLBT community and hosts (via the Broadway Youth Center) the trans youth group I’ve been attending. I could just shop more at Brown Elephant, Howard Brown’s simply awesome thrift stores. They do allow for recurring donations, of which I’m a big fan (obviously, from the three orgs I’m currently supporting.)
Likewise about possibly donating to Lambda Legal, a GLBT legal organization that provides legal help and advocacy on behalf of the GLBT community. They too provide options for recurring donations. Seems like everyone’s doing it these days. (They should. It’s a great way to get consistent support.) (Or so NPR tells me…)
I haven’t been able to find any groups devoted specifically to trans rights, but if anyone has any suggestions on where to look I’d be open to hearing ‘em. Likewise, leave some comments on where you donate, or other places I could/should look at as possible places to donate.