Where do you donate?

I just did something that I’ve done more times in the last year than in the rest of my life combined. I responded to an email asking me for money by giving some.
This time it was an email from Ira Glass of This American Life.
Last week, it was from MotherJones. I also recently gave a donation to an organization I’m on the board of, the Sistersong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective. Other times it’s been Bitch Magazine, or my college alumni association. Each time it’s less than 30 dollars. Often it’s only 5.
I am by no means a rich person. I’m paying my bills, I have some savings from my first few years working full-time with minimal expenses. My freelance income is modest.
So what’s been motivating my recent donations? Well, the economy for one. I realize that times are tough for a lot of groups and organizations, and since I didn’t really lose anything in the stock market (never had anything there to begin with), I’m doing okay. At least, not worse than I was before. I’ve decided I can spare what it costs to buy a cup of coffee, or a nice meal.
Another thing that’s changed my perspective is being on the other end of those asks. After working for non-profits for the last three years, I’ve done my fair share of donation emails. I’ve also gotten involved in boards–I’m now on the Board of Directors of two organizations, including the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, which has a huge focus on fundraising. I’m doing the difficult work of learning to ask for money as well.
When I used to think of philanthropy, I’d think of really really rich people giving huge sums of money. The culture of giving has changed, thanks to online donation programs and groups like MoveOn.org or the Obama campaign, who encouraged people to give even small amounts understanding that if many people did, it would make a big impact.
Where do you donate?

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54 Comments

  1. s.
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much for this post Miriam. My giving is a bit like yours, small amounts to organizations that I think are doing great work, and will appreciate my help.
    And you’re right, your donations do make a difference…like you, I recently joined the fundraising field, and it just happens to be with Mother Jones.
    So, from all us at Mother Jones, thank you!

  2. s.
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much for this post, Miriam. My giving is a bit like yours – small amounts to organizations that I think are doing great work, and will appreciate my help.
    And you’re right, your donations do make a difference…like you, I recently joined the fundraising field, and it just happens to be with Mother Jones.
    So, from all us at Mother Jones, thank you!

  3. laurin
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Hi Miriam,
    I am late to this post by a couple of days but just wanted to say thank you on behalf of all of us at Mother Jones for your support. Gifts both small and large make a huge difference to our organization–we truly wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for folks like you. A significant chunk of our supporters contribute at the $30 level and below and let me tell you there is strength in numbers. Collectively our smaller donors help bring in just about $1M each year! Thank you so much for helping to keep non-profit, independent investigative journalism alive and kicking!
    Best,
    Laurin Asdal
    Director of Major Gifts
    Mother Jones
    Oh, and to answer your question I support:
    Mother Jones (duh)
    Bitch (proud former Board Member)
    Obama for America
    The Global Fund for Women
    KQED (SF NPR affiliate)
    KLAX (UCB college radio)
    Southern Poverty Law Center
    Planned Parenthood
    Chicago Foundation for Women

  4. katyarizhaya
    Posted June 24, 2009 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    I usually give $30 a pop… not sure why that’s the magic number!
    Children of the Night, which helps children who’ve been exploited as prostitutes recover.
    SOME, So Others Might Eat, a local food/clothing charity
    I always buy Street Sense, the homeless issues newspaper; 70 cents on the dollar goes to the vendor- but that’s not really a donation as much as a sale.

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