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Your Take: Which Local Charities Do You Support?

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Maryland Food BankA couple weeks ago I wrote a controversial Devil’s Advocate post – Don’t Donate Money to Charity. In that post, I argued four reasons why you shouldn’t donate to charity and some of you really let me have it (rightfully so!). I expected it, and I appreciate the honesty, because I don’t believe those four reasons are good reasons not to donate. Every year, my wife and I support several charities and the good work they do (we have the increase in mail to prove it!); while we’re aware of what to look out for when supporting an organization, we don’t let it handcuff us into inaction – sounds like many of you feel the same way.

The banter was all over the map but one topic we discussed was the effectiveness of national charitable organizations versus local charitable organizations. Saladdin recommended that I run a post where we can all recommend the talk about the local charities we support. For us financially, it’s the Maryland Food Bank. They’re a local food bank that runs several programs and distribute a staggering 14 million pounds of food each year through five programs – Fresh Foods for Families, Second Helping, Harvest for the Hungry, Bread On the Water, and Kids Cafe.

Please share your favorite local charity, some of the things they do, and next Friday I’ll randomly select one charity to donate $100 to. The only requirement is that it must be a 501(c)(3) charity.

{ 26 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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26 Responses to “Your Take: Which Local Charities Do You Support?”

  1. Right now beyond my local church my favorite charity is me.

    I was laid off a couple of months ago and thankfully was hired by another company, but for about $15,000 less than what I was making. Given my idiocy handling finances, living above my means and with the mentally of “I’ll pay it back later,” I am now my favorite charity. Beyond our local church we used to give money to the $1 charities while checking out at a grocery store, buy these flowers to donate to some cancer society, etc. Right now I am focusing on getting everything in line at home so that I can afford to give more than I am right now. I hate not being able to do more, but I am barely making it as is.

  2. laura says:

    I prefer to focus my donations on local animal shelters and rescues, especially those that focus on spaying/neutering animals inexpensively, including feral cats and dogs, and those that try to find homes for all animals, including pit bulls and sick/injured animals.

    My local favorites:
    FACE low cost spay/neuter (http://www.facespayneuter.org/)
    Anderson (Indiana) Animal Care and Control
    Alliance for Responsible Pet Ownership (http://www.adoptarpo.org)

  3. In our soon-to-be 501(c)3 fundraising organization we try to focus sending our money (raised locally) to local groups. Note that this may also mean we’re donating to a local chapter of a national organization. So the money raised locally stays local but there is the added legitimacy when fundraising that most people have already heard of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, ALS Association, etc. (And if they haven’t heard of them then it is very good publicity for the charity themselves).

    And thanks in part to this blog, Bargaineering, sponsoring the 2009 Ghent Winter Bar Tour we raised over $20,000 for our local Make-A-Wish Foundation chapter! So there’s going to be at least four happier kids in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. Thanks Jim!

  4. Terry says:

    Our local farm through a CSA program
    The local food bank
    The library – with used books for their semi annual book sales
    On an international scale, Goal USA which reaches out to the ‘poorest of the poor’

  5. Kate Kashman says:

    We support a variety of charities. My husband tends towards environmental groups like the Nature Conservancy and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. We donate to the Washington DC food bank through our CSA. We give food to our local food bank, SPAN. I donate to several military related charities, including Soldier’s Angels, Project Valour IT, Honor Thy Service and others.

    Thanks for offering this contribution, Jim!

  6. Bill says:

    It sounds a little frivolous but I sponsor local kids 3rd grade through 8th grade to play football, it’s pretty expensive and some family’s can’t afford it. My wife is really into supporting the local library.

  7. Yana says:

    Two good local organizations are Weimar Institute and the Salvation Army – specifically the SA’s Community Thanksgiving dinner. Weimar Institute is a Seventh Day Adventist organization, but they have extended charitable community service to people outside their faith. I am not religiously affiliated with either of these, but think they do good work.

    http://short.to/28ye Weimar Institute

    http://short.to/29oj Auburn Sentinel about Thanksgiving dinner – third item

  8. Luke says:

    My mainstays are my church, kids’ schools and University where I attended, be one group we have chosen locally is Hannah’s House that is an organization for pregnant mothers who do not have a support system around them.

    http://www.hannahshousemichiana.com/

    We also give to La Leche League International, which, of course, has local groups all across the world.

  9. Roger W. says:

    The Roberts Family Development Center in Sacramento is like an oasis for kids in a troubled area of Sac Town.

  10. MissMartha says:

    I’ve always been a big fan of “Send a Kid to Camp” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-adv/marketing/camp/front.html) sponsered by the Washington Post. It helps to provide “opportunities for less-fortunate children to attend summer camp.”

    The other local charity that I used to send babysitting money to as a kid was for the Children’s Hospital of DC. (http://www.childrensnational.org/) I chose to donate some money for their charity group since I had to spend some time there as a kid and the doctors and nurses were wonderful!

  11. K.S. Katz says:

    Women in Distress of Broward County, Inc (http://www.womenindistress.org/) – This charity helps women who are in abusive relationships get out of that environment and setup new lives.

    In January 2009, National Domestic Violence Hotline published a study showing that there is a link between financial stress and domestic violence. Now more than ever we need to support this organization, because the recession is only making things tougher for these women.

  12. I support Greg Mortenson’s (Three Cups of Tea & Pennies for Peace) work in promoting peace through education. http://www.ikat.org, I support CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), which advocates for children as they make their way through the foster care system – http://www.frontiercasa.org is my local branch and my local library. I support a bunch of other charities too but those are my primary three. Very nice of you to do this!

  13. I’m with Mr Plasectomy, although in a totally different boat. I was laid off in December and – partially by choice so far – I haven’t gone back to a job yet and I’m trying other forms of making money. But my favorite charity, in the short term, is myself and my family.

    That having been said, we have given for years to the Russian Children’s Welfare Society and will give again this year. They do great work with some of the most helpless and hopeless kids in Russia, orphans. Since I lived and worked in Russia for years and my wife emigrated from the Soviet Union when she was younger, we are both understand the terrible plight of Russian orphans.

  14. Jackie Vezina says:

    Our favorite charity here in Vermont is COTS, the Committee On Temporary Shelter. Our homeless rate is high in this state and getting even worse as the economy gets weaker and the job rates plummet. Families are among some of our most pitiful and heartbreaking cases as well as the homeless vets. Every dollar donated to COTS gets squeezed until it cries! Our Vermont population has a huge heart and when things are really tough going COTS only needs to put our plight into the awareness of this population and the response is wonderfully generous. A great organization and certainly needed locally in a huge way.

  15. Karen says:

    My favorite charity is the Frederick Rescue Mission. They serve men with addictions. I knew the previous director, and they do great work, restoring men’s faith in God, themselves, and therefore, their dignity.

  16. Kelly says:

    I live in MD and for my mom worked for a large soup kitchen and food pantry in Baltimore. I learned through her that MD Food Bank sells their food to other programs, albeit for a very small cost. But that is not info the public is often aware of. Since learning that I have made it a habit to directly support a food pantry so my money directly benefits the poor these programs are set up to help like the CARES program, Our Daily Bread, Franciscan Center.

  17. Kathy says:

    We support a student staff member of our local chapter of Young Life in western Washington. Young Life’s mission is to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and to help them grow in their faith. The young woman we help support is a college student who spends countless hours building friendships with kids in order to “earn the right to be heard” by the middle school girls she cares so much for.

  18. PD says:

    We support our local foodbank, but also support the local Boys and Girls club. What a godsend for lower income families. We have used them in the past for a safe place for our boys to go during the summer.

  19. Doug M says:

    To those of you that answered “my church”, what do you mean?

    a. money in the collection plate they pass around?

    b. Special cause, IE “we’re raising money to send bibles to Zimbabwe / support our missionaries” or whatever, so put money in this special envelope?

    c. Special cause, raising money for the soup kitchen / shelter we run or support?

    I’ve got to say, that if you answer a or b, you are not giving to charity. You are either throwing money at what happens to be your own religious organization, or actively supporting people trying to spread your own religious beliefs further.

    That’s not charity. That’s a self-sustaining tax-free organization, that perhaps does some actual charity on the side, possibly with strings attached (“listen to this sermon while you eat”), possibly not.

    Just my $0.02.

    Doug

  20. Doug M says:

    The charity my household supports the heaviest is called “Child’s Play”. I just checked their website, and I don’t see anything about 501(c)(3) status, so they probably do not qualify for the drawing. They do have a tax ID number though…?

    Either way, I’m glad for the opportunity to post something about them (thanks Jim). Note, I just contribute, and am not involved directly.

    Child’s Play is a charity set up by gamers that sends toys and games to sick kids in over 60 hospitals worldwide (that number grows every year).

    They are interesting in several ways;
    1. You donate to the hospital of your choice. Chances are they have one local to you. I go for Children’s Hospital here in DC, since it’s local to me. +1 for local.

    2. Overhead is ZERO in most cases, low in others. Every November, when the drive starts, each hospital sets up an Amazon wish list with dozens and dozens of items.

    Everything from video game consoles & games to coloring books, crafts, etc. You find the hospital you want to give to through their website, purchase whatever you can afford from their Amazon list (some items are very inexpensive), and have it shipped directly to the hospital. +1 for zero admin costs.

    Apparently if you donate cash directly there is some overhead/Admin. 2-3% used for shipping items to the hospitals. I’ve never gone that route, preferring to select the actual gifts & games the children will receive. More than once I’ve had an “Aha, my son and I loved that game, add that!” moment. It’s a lot of fun.

    3. It works! Some of the items are kept in the Hospitals from then on, and used by any kids there. Imagine you are a sick child in the hospital, going between scared & bored, and the nurse wheels in an Xbox or Playstation and some games for you. How cool. Other “one shot” gifts are given to the children over the holidays, and they get to keep them (books, crafts, etc).

    I know it works because a soccer teammate of my son was hospitalized last year for a hernia. Had to have an operation. In talking with his Dad, it turned out just as expected. The boy was there, bored & a little scared, when the game cart got wheeled in…

    Anyway, maybe they aren’t changing the world, but they are putting smiles on the faces of sick children, it makes me happy to contribute to that, and I know that 100% of what I give ends up where it’s supposed to.

    They have an About page here:
    http://www.childsplaycharity.org/about.php

    Doug

  21. BrewCrewFan says:

    I’m a proponent of think globally, act locally, so my wife and I support the local food bank (http://www.waunakeeneighborhoodconnection.com/index.htm). Right now, they are soliciting donations to supply local residents with an Easter dinner. For Christmas, they supplied holiday dinners to about 100 families. In the fall, they were able to fill the school supply lists of over 150 students in need.

  22. Doug M says:

    So. Which charity won the $100? :)

  23. Jim says:

    The Nature Conservancy, I donated $100 as part of their Plant a Billion Trees initiative.

    • Doug M says:

      Cool! I hope you did it electronically though.

      Imagine the irony of mailing a paper check in a paper envelope… to plant trees. Heh, just kidding.

  24. anita says:

    I have a softspot for animal shelters. I donate to howard county animal shelters in addition to SPCA(the ones on tv with the sad animals Ugh I can’t bear to watch that.)


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