This year I decided to grow up and donate like an adult. I’m eventually
trying to hit the average,
which I haven’t done.
Which is embarrassing, but it’s one of those things where you have to re-evaluate
your situation and realize circumstances, priorities, and world environments have changed.
If you’re in the same situation, I figure this list would be useful as a starting
point. I don’t think anything here is particularly risqué, but it does reflect a
generally mainline liberal, pro-free-speech, technology-aware viewpoint.
- GovTrack: support via the GovTrack Patreon.
The information leverage per dollar of GovTrack is incredible: it’s only one
or two people at the helm, but providing a continuous service for democracy -
specifically, recording and publishing it. GovTrack is a bastion of facts,
a key way to strengthen primary source journalism.
- NYCLU: the New York wing of the ACLU. I donated to this
one since it was a Christmas present for my sister and brother-in-law, but would
encourage supporting whichever region you live in or care about: most of them
do very well on Charity Navigator.
- Public.Resource.org: another slim and efficient
non-profit organization rallying for truth, government transparency, and primary sources,
and doing so since 2007.
- The Internet Archive: the Internet is famously forgetful:
major resources like GeoCities have
disappeared in a flash. The Internet Archive not only keeps the Wayback Machine,
a literal ‘internet archive’, running, but also serves as an archive for public domain
and copyleft media that, unlike so much else, doesn’t disappear. Heck, I
uploaded a recording of the William & Mary Appalachian Music Ensemble
in 2009 (the year I played in it), and it still exists.
- WABA: the Washington Area Bicycle Association is Washington, DC’s
‘bike lobby’, and it’s a great one: this year they’ve been successfully rallying
to reform DC’s negligence policy for crashes.
- Planned Parenthood: you’re probably aware
of Planned Parenthood: this one’s a no-brainer, especially considering the challenges
they’ll face in the coming administration.
- ProPublica: a vision of another kind of journalism:
ProPublica is a non-profit but has great critical writing, as well as a team
with impressive technical ability. I’m optimistic that they’ll become more
and more influential and provide a pattern for how to do ‘journalism in the public interest’.
As the year moved on, I moved from technology-centric donations to more general
rights-based ones, like NYCLU and ProPublica, and I think that trend will continue:
I’ll keep supporting bastions of technology culture and freedom like the Creative Commons
and EFF, but focus on on-the-ground efforts that more
directly affect disadvantaged people. Because that’ll be the priority very soon,
for obvious reasons.
Disclosure: I know people at GovTrack, Public.Resource.org, and WABA, because
I care about those things and hang in those circles.