Saturday, December 21, 2013

Charity 2013

For the fifth year in a row, I am posting some information about our family's charitable giving. This is a time of year when we are focused on giving to others. A time when we spend time with, and give presents to, our friends and families. And a time to support charities that do meaningful work we believe in.

For more recent bleeps, you might want to read my prior posts from 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009. In particular, the 2012 post has some tools and resources to find charities that are doing good work. These older posts lay out the "what, why and who" of our family's giving. If you are interested in similar issues, perhaps you will find some organizations you will consider supporting. If not, I still hope that this blog causes you to consider how you approach charity.

If you look over the earlier lists, you will see that there are some constants, and some changes. Some of these are because our family became concerned about a situation (Central Asia Institute), or found an organization that we felt did more effective work, or as with Envirofit, was no longer a charity after converting to a for-profit company.  Also, this list is a reflection of five peoples' choices; we don't require agreement from everyone, as long as the organization is working in one of our areas of interest. So it's fair to say that some changes are the result of changing personal interests. As I look over the past years, there are some things I am proud of, and a few that make me squirm. But we aren't deleting anything from the past-  risk free philanthropy is an oxymoron. We have made mistakes, and will continue to do so.  Our journey is to continue to learn about what works, and, frankly, what works well and best fits with our objectives. My hope in sharing is that you might avoid a few of the mistakes we have made (though you will probably make your own).

Usually, I try to sprinkle in a little wisdom to this post about what I am learning and seeing in my work as a professional in the philanthropy field. But this year, my job is quite a bit easier, since Peter Singer just wrote an excellent article in the Washington Post on how to use your head in charitable giving. So, I think I will refrain from piling on the Bat-kid.

In any event, here are the charities we have supported in 2013:

A) Environment- because we still can't live without it. (~20% of funds)
The Nature Conservancy
Trees Water People (C)
Center for Collaborative Conservation* (C)
High Country News Research Fund* (C)
Natural Resources Defense Council

B) Health- because health is a cornerstone of development- it is hard to go to school or work if you are sick. (20% of funds)
Doctors without Borders
Against Malaria

C) Social/International Development- a catch all category for organizations that are pursuing innovative approaches to long term challenges. (~15% of funds)
One Acre Fund
Women for Women International
Nepal Youth Foundation
The Mission Continues
Seeds of Peace*

D) Education- done well, education moves the needle and makes society better. (~10% of funds)
Engineers without Borders (C)
Colorado State University (C)
Akili Dada
Valentino Achak Deng*

E) Local charities- look around… there are many needs in your community. (~35% of funds; all based in Colorado)
Food, Family Farming Foundation
Growing Gardens-Boulder
FoCo Cafe
Book Trust
Alzheimer's Association of Colorado
Senior Alternatives In Transportation
Food Bank of Larimer County
Rocky Ridge Music Center*
Humane Society of Boulder*

Some people want to know how much money we give, and I don't really think that is important. Many of these organizations accept donations of as little as $10, though they are always grateful for more. Several years ago, we signed on to "The Life You Can Save" commitment of 5% of our income to help people living in extreme poverty. In addition, we (obviously) support other causes, such as the environment and local charities, including pets (which Peter Singer likely views as frivolous, but it isn't his money). Let's just say it is enough money to put a significant dent in our pocket. I don't buy the "give until it hurts" philosophy, because it doesn't hurt. In fact, it's quite the opposite.

Once again, do good and be great at it. Happy New Year!
* New in 2013
(C) based in Colorado