Long-time friends will probably realize that with the coming of the new year comes a revisit to my annual donations.
This year's donations are larger than any previous year, but largely fall along similar trends as in the past. The larger donations this year (about $1,000-worth) go towards non-profit organizations. The choices this year were hard. After consulting with a few friends, I decided to donate to two new categories: Environmental and Anti-Gun.
Finding a good environmental organization to give your money is HARD. After a few hours of research, I had looked at many organizations that were doing good work. But a lot of those organizations were still trying to prove the point that climate change is an issue, or were focused on small-scale issues. These are both noble goals, but I think what we need now are big solutions on an international level. I'm no expert in this topic, by far, but I'm fairly convinced that individual decision making isn't going to solve the problem fast enough. It's great if we all learn to recycle and to consider environmental impact in our daily lives. That, I don't disagree with. But I don't think it's enough. I think we need to start forcing governments and organizations to be cleaner. I'm convinced that so long as the economic incentives are in place that have led to the current behaviors, the market will follow those incentives. I'm hopeful that my donation to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions will help bring changes to these incentives.
Finding an anti-gun organization is easier, especially given the current state of affairs after Sandyhook Elementary School. While I'm not so sure that anti-gun legislation is going to solve any truly big problems, I hope that donating my money here will help strike while the iron is hot. I simply can't believe that the 2nd Amendment pro-gun lobby is as successful as it is, and I am hopeful that we'll be able to change the dialog around guns over the next few years. Gun ownership is trending down in the U.S., and I hope that we can accellerate that trend, bringing a cease to the needless gun deaths violence we currently live with.
The other big donations in this year's list go mostly towards organizations that I've donated to in the past. Fair Vote and Rootstrikers are organizations that work to fix the current political system. Most Americans (about 70%, I believe) agree that the current Federal legislation system is corrupt, and these organizations are working to fix that. I'm pessimistic that until these organizations find success, we won't be able to deal with the small or large issues facing the country, so these organizations continue to get the plurality of my donation ($400 between them). I think the ridiculous fiscal cliff "negotiations" are testament to how bad things have gotten. Our political system is paralyzed.
Other organizations that did well this year include a handful of open-source foundations that I rely on, but which otherwise give away their work for free. My livelihood and these very donations rely on these bits of infrastructure we take for granted, so I figure I should give them some money to keep 'em going.
Here's the nitty gritty breakdown of my donations this year (as well as last):
As always, I welcome input on these decisions, and suggestions for the years ahead. Those that made suggestions for this year, I truly appreciate your help.