Thursday, June 01, 2006

My giving plan: donations to support social justice and social change

I said I'd finish it in April. But better late than never, here's my giving plan.

I started by attempting to articulate my priorities for organizations to donate to. I came up with three major ones: a) address issues and problems I care about; b) empower the people affected and disadvantaged by those problems to help address them; and c) look at the underlying issues and work for fundamental social changes.

Then I looked at my 2006 target amount ($3,000, or 10% of my take-home pay), and divided it into $2,000 for U.S. and $1,000 international. In the past, I have strongly focused on U.S. groups, mostly because it's what I'm most familiar with. But considering that the vast majority of people on the planet are non-Americans, I want to put at least one-third towards international causes-- hopefully 50% or more in future years as I become more educated about international issues and organizations.

Finally, I made a list of important issues to me and then started matching them up with organizations that I liked. This took a lot of research, but I finally have a rough plan that I'm happy with.

So, without further ado...

$2000 U.S.:

$1000 international:
  • $480 to Oxfam ($40 monthly deductions), which works on an incredible number of issues including hunger and poverty, fair trade, global debt relief, indigenous/minority rights and women's issues, microcredit, workers' rights, disaster relief, and more
  • $100 to La Base fund which makes loans to democratic workplaces in Argentina
  • $100 to MADRE, an organization focusing on women's human rights internationally
  • $70 to Doctors Without Borders
  • $200 (25%) not yet allocated
As you can see, I chose to leave 25% ($750) unallocated. That amount can go towards new organizations I learn about, disaster relief, miscellaneous donations, etc. It will also hopefully help fill in some of the gaps that remain in my current list (pending more research) such as low-income women and children's issues in the U.S., and more on international medical needs.

Now it's time to start carrying out this plan, and I feel confident that I can do it, despite the fact that I've never reached my giving goals before. I'm going to set up my Oxfam recurring deduction right away, and then draw up a rough schedule to start knocking one or two $100 donations off my list each month.

Let me know if you have any thoughts about my plan, information (good or bad) about the groups I've listed, or ideas for other groups that I (or others) might be interested in giving to! And I highly encourage you to try this for yourself. It is very thought-provoking, helps you clarify and weigh your values, prompts you to learn a lot about what people and organizations are doing to address the issues you care about, and (hopefully) leads to greater follow-through on good intentions.

All the credit goes to Claire, of course; please check out her original post on this subject.


Tiredbuthappy said...

Hi, Penny.

Woohoo, I'm so excited to read this post. I can't wait to show it to my spouse. We keep a folder of info on groups we may want to donate to and I'm going to print out your post and put it in that folder. I'm glad I inspired you but don't think I should get the credit. This is a hard thing to take on and you did a great job of it.

For disaster relief: Common Ground is of course a nice alternative to the Red Cross. But a close friend of mine has been in N.O. since the hurricane working with Common Ground, and she's told me things that make me not so keen to give to them again. (I did donate to them, and Red Cross, right after the hurricane.)

Alternative groups that have better community relations than Common Ground (according to my friend's firsthand experience): People's Hurricane Relief Fund, People's Institute (altho their site seems to be experiencing technical and grammatical difficulties), and INCITE! New Orleans.

I'll go home and look through my folder of groups and see if I can find any that you might be interested in.

Thanks for being so vocal about social change in your blog.

Penny Nickel said...

Thanks, Claire, that's exactly the kind of information I was looking for. There's only so much you can pick up from researching online, and your friend's experience is good enough for me. So I'll take a look at the other groups you mentioned (thanks so much for those!) and try to come up with an alternative.