Feministe Feedback: Where Should I Donate?

Feministe Feeback

An excellent question:

I was pretty disgusted to find out that the economic stimulus checks are going to be sent out instead of increasing benefits for the poor (if I recall correctly, unemployment and other public services were going to take a hit so that people could get $300 to spend on stuff). I’m not really that well off, but am well off enough that I don’t really need the $300 check when it comes, and I’d love to donate it to an organization that is both pro-woman / feminist and helps the poor. If I keep my $300, I’d probably just spend it on something unnecessary, and I don’t want the money to trickle up to people who are already swimming in gold coins. I’d like it to trickle down to people less fortunate than myself.

I’m sure you all have lots of suggestions, so let’s hear ’em. And this is a really great idea — maybe those of us who don’t need an extra $300 could follow suit.

67 comments for “Feministe Feedback: Where Should I Donate?

  1. Hawise
    April 22, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Right now the best place for a spare $300 is anything that supports feeding the world’s poorest, the displaced, the marginalized. Food prices are skyrocketing, the NGOs can’t keep up with demand and it is starting to effect the stability of governments that were marginally holding it together. We really are at start with the basics. People who are less malnourished are better able to work to support themselves and their families and the majority of those at risk are women, young families with children and the elderly.

  2. OTM
    April 22, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Go local. Find an organization that benefits local women (three that immediately spring to mind in Chicago are Genesis House, Chicago Abortion Fund, and the Chicago Women’s Health Center) doing work that you think is important and give them the money. Your contribution will have a more direct benefit if it doesn’t have to filter down through layers and layers of organizational bureaucracy.

  3. torgana
    April 22, 2008 at 11:17 am

    I guess you have to think about what issues are most important to you and then do your research to figure out which organizations are best. My personal preference would be to donate locally and to support those in my community who are oppressed–whether it is from poverty or institutionalized racism, classism, or sexism. The recent Supreme Court decision regarding the death penalty also makes me want to step up in the fight against the prison-industrial complex. But in the end, I think time spent volunteering is more important than donating money. I know people are busy, but if we all pitch in it will make a difference.

  4. Ann
    April 22, 2008 at 11:19 am

    How about doing a micro-loan to a woman starting a business elsewhere in the world?

  5. Shinobi
    April 22, 2008 at 11:23 am

    I really like this group called heifer international. http://www.heifer.org They give gifts of livestock to families and communities, so rather than just feed a family they give them a renewable source of food. I just donated a flock of chicks, ducklings and goslings in honor of a friend’s wedding. You can donate everything from trees to Water Buffalo.

  6. April 22, 2008 at 11:26 am

    I’m all about the local organizations – check out what’s around your area that could use the $300. Pair that with some volunteer work if you could spare the time and you will not only be helping give towards a cause you support but also helping your direct community.

  7. April 22, 2008 at 11:28 am

    I’m all about the local organizations – check out what’s around your area that could use the $300. Pair that with some volunteer work if you could spare the time and you will not only be helping give towards a cause you support but also helping your direct community.

  8. April 22, 2008 at 11:29 am

    (sorry for the double comment…. and this comment apologizing for the double comment :) hahahahaha)

  9. nonskanse
    April 22, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Charity Navigator may help you. I’ve only really used it for orangutan and rainforest saving charity lookup, but they have a big database that I’ve surfed.

    Try “*yourcity* food bank” in their search engine… The site is really useful. Its not as good for women’s shelters, though it does list YWCA branches (the YWCA is really hit or miss though, some branches are not well run).

    Since you seem to feel this money was “taken away” from America’s poor and given to those who don’t need it, I’m guessing you want to give back to them specifically.

  10. April 22, 2008 at 11:38 am

    I second heifer. They are a great, great organization.

    The org. I work for builds schools in the developing world and make communities we build in commit to educating girls and boys equally. We also have a community-specific adult literacy curriculum that focuses on health, sustainable farming techniques and political engagement; over 80% of the adults in our classes are women.
    I work for our US program which engages high school students in community. I work with a leadership team that is primarily (90%) young women of color, training them to be community activists while giving them job skills, college skills and leadership experience.

  11. April 22, 2008 at 11:38 am

    I’m not sure we qualify for the stimulus check, but if we do get it, I’m going to be pretty disgusted. We’re fortunate we’ll be able to give it all away. I have my favorite charities, of course.

    If you don’t like PETA but support animal rights:

    Farm Sanctuary
    Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

    If you want to give to women’s issues but aren’t sure where to start, I’m a fan of

    Global Fund for WomenEMERJ (Expanding the Movement for Empowerment and Reproductive Justice)

    And if you like chinchillas:

    Matilde’s Mission

  12. April 22, 2008 at 11:39 am

    I’m not sure we qualify for the stimulus check, but if we do get it, I’m going to be pretty disgusted. We’re fortunate we’ll be able to give it all away. I have my favorite charities, of course.

    If you don’t like PETA but support animal rights:

    Farm Sanctuary
    Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

    If you want to give to women’s issues but aren’t sure where to start, I’m a fan of

    Global Fund for WomenEMERJ (Expanding the Movement for Empowerment and Reproductive Justice)

    And if you like chinchillas:

    Matilde’s Mission

  13. Shinobi
    April 22, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Kiva.org does microloans.

  14. skirt
    April 22, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Thirding heifer international, but there’s always Habitat for Humanity (my personal preference would be to donate to my local affiliate, paired with a day of building on the construction site – they take unskilled volunteers – rather than sending the $$ to headquarters), your local rape crisis center, your local homeless youth shelter, domestic violence shelter, or food depot/kitchen.

  15. April 22, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    If anyone needs the money to buy stuff, there are some great fair trade websites that help different charitable organizations and those who make the fair trade goods (mostly women). I like Greater Good. One of their stores is Global Girlfriend. I think the link on Greater Good’s site is messed up, so there’s the link.

  16. April 22, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    It’s http://www.greatergood.com. The link in my previous post doesn’t work.

  17. April 22, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    If you’re not in the mood to donate or give back, put it in a savings account of some sort. The idea that our credit-screwed country should be given more money with which to waste isn’t exactly on sound footing.

  18. April 22, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    I think places like chairtynavigator can be a very good resource but they have some problems. For example: an organization can achieve a high charity navigator rating by not paying it’s staff a living wage or by overly relying on americorps. It’s very important to me, as a non-profit worker, that organizations that pay well and offer benefits be rewarded, not penalized. Also, an organization can be very financially efficient and still not serve the community as well as a more grassroots, inefficient organization. The best way to learn about organizations is to volunteer.

  19. evil fizz
    April 22, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    I suspect this is a slightly odd suggestion for a secular feminist website, but Interfaith Hospitality Network is a really cool organization. Churches, temples, and mosques in a given area rotate providing emergency housing to homeless families. Other congregations kick in food, books, craft supplies, all kinds of stuff.

  20. prefer not to say
    April 22, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Please please please donate to your local homeless shelter or food bank. These charities are being hit by hard times that are unprecedented since WWII — they desperately need help at a time when increasing numbers of people desperately need them:


    (link includes a way to find your local food bank)

    Having grown up in a household that encountered major money problems, I can say that if there weren’t people out there who had helped us with food expenses, we wouldn’t have been able to keep our household together. And that would have led to many more problems than we already had.

  21. MC
    April 22, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Does anyone know of a list of places in various states and cities (for me specifically, Phoenix, AZ) that are looking for volunteers? My broke ass can’t afford to donate much if anything but I’ve wanted to volunteer for some time now. I just don’t know where to start, and my Google-fu doesn’t seem to be working right now.

  22. MC
    April 22, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Specifically, btw, I mean femenist organizations. I’ve already done some other volunteering but am interested in femenist-related orgs right now. Sex ed and the like would work too.

    Also, I think I’ve overdosed on coffee, ugh.

  23. gardengirl
    April 22, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    I plan on donating my check to Planned Parenthood. When I was in college and had a limited income, I regularly took advantage of many of their services and our local PP (in DC) serves some of the poorest women in this country. PP is pro-choice in every sense of the word – it gives women the power to take care of their health, informs them of their choices, and allows them to make them safely and affordably. Also, donating to an organization that is vilified and hated and de-funded when possible by the Bushie give me a warm sense of satisfaction. I may even write a letter to George informing him of my choice :)

  24. MC
    April 22, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Also, I smelled feminist wrong TWICE. O_o

  25. Bitter Scribe
    April 22, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    This isn’t a feminist organization, but I’m going to give most of my rebate to Veterans Village of San Diego. They help homeless military vets—you know, the people Bill O’Reilly says don’t exist.

  26. susaneb
    April 22, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    I was already planning to donate mine to Planned Parenthood. This is partly because I can never afford to donate anything when I go there for any kind of services, though — I probably have gotten several thousand dollars worth of stuff from them over the years and I kind of feel like I should pay it back.

  27. ripley
    April 22, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    there’s also DonorsChoose, who are pretty great. Lots of educational projects by underpaid and undersupplied teachers.


    but these days, yeah, the food bank might be a good option. Or investing in a community garden/farmshare for a poor neighborhood?

  28. Sickle
    April 22, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Southern Poverty Law Center.

  29. April 22, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Right now I’d give to the National Network of Abortion Funds.

  30. Adrienne Travis
    April 22, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    I am a huge advocate for Modest Needs.

    Their mission is really cool: they try to help people who … well, people who are like a lot of my friends. People who are more or less okay, living paycheck to paycheck, or on some small fixed income — until some unexpected or large necessary expense comes up. The kind of thing where your car breaks down so you can’t get to work, so they fire you, so then you don’t have a job, so then you can’t get your car fixed. That’s how what they call “the cycle of poverty” starts. Modest Needs gives one-time, specific-amount grants to cover that kind of shit. In amounts up to $1500.

    Because the problem is, people who are working and have an apartment aren’t poor ENOUGH to qualify for most charitable aid, or gov’t aid. But once they get poor enough, they need a lot more help than if they’d just had the fucking $400 or whatever in the first place. They’re a really neat organization.

    I have a $20/month pledge to them, which is matched by a foundation grant and turns into $40. Which isn’t much, at all, at all. But they really are devoted to the idea, there, that every little bit helps. One particularly neat thing about them — and they publicize it, because it’s so neat — is how many of their grant recipients go on to become donors. It’s some ridiculous number — over half. Some of those people only give a couple bucks. Fuck, for some of them it’s a stretch to even do that. But that they want to … it really says something about the difference Modest Needs is making. They really change people’s lives.

    Also, they keep all their books online. Not just the yearly statements that the law requires nonprofits to make — real-time donation/expense/grant info.

  31. April 22, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    may i suggest the organization i work for, The Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST). We work with victims of human trafficking who are trafficked in the LA area for forced labor and sexual exploitation. CAST employs a client centered, empowerment based model. CAST’s clients are often the very poorest, those who sought work in a land of prosperity and were enslaved in their pursuit of the American Dream. Any financial gift to CAST is tax deductible and you can specify where you would like the donation to go (ie. in the past we have had donors specify that they wanted their funds to pay for swimming lessons for our clients, for educational purposes, for food or toiletries for the residents of our shelter, etc). Make a contribution here!

    If you would like to use the stimulus package to purchase items for the needy you can also buy grocery gift cards, international calling cards, or an item from CAST’s wishlist here.

  32. magikmama
    April 22, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    there’s a really great charity called modest needs – http://www.modestneeds.org

    the point is that small bills – $1000 or less – can often be the difference between keeping your head above water and sinking. They provide the money for those one-time emergency necessities – a medical bill, a car repair, a special tax assessment – that can sometimes put someone who is just making it under the water.

    the thought behind it is the founder realized that when he was young and college-poor, he had the ability to go to friends or family when these things inevitably happened – but that for most of the poor, their friends and family are also just making it. so his point was to sort of give them that safety net that many of the middle class take for granted.

    it’s a really fabulous charity – especially since over 95% of donations go directly to recipients. They keep their administrative costs insanely low – mostly by conducting nearly all business online and having only a couple of staff members.

    i’ve been donating since 1999 when i received a grant from them for a deposit for a new apartment after my landlord sold my building and my lease was broken. while i eventually got my original deposit back, it took 2 years of legal action, and in the meantime i needed a place to live but was living paycheck to paycheck and couldn’t come up with the deposit for a new place. Ever since I recovered from that, I began donating back, and given that nearly all the people they grant money to eventually become donors, I’d say it is an extremely successful charity.

  33. Karinna A.
    April 22, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    I’m spending part of mine paying down my credit card. I’m also donating the rest to some local organizations. The more I think about it, the more I can come up with just local organizations that could use the money–the various centers working to help integrate refugees, the Latino youth center in the poorer part of town, the food banks, homeless shelters, domestic violence shelter, and more.

    I’ve decided to donate to the local Planned Parenthood, a local youth organization, and an arts organization, because they’re important to me, personally.

    So I’d advise looking around your community (or general neighborhood, depending on the size of your town), and make a list of local organizations or local branches that could use some extra cash. Give to a couple that matter to you.

    (Idea! Would some sort of blog consortium, around the time the economic stimulus payments are to be made, encouraging readers to donate what they can from that money, be feasible?)

  34. HelenaHandbasket666
    April 22, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    I second pochina’s vote for the National Network of Abortion Funds. You could also see if there’s a fund that serves your local area, e.g. CAIR in the pacific northwest, TEA in Texas, DCAF in Washington DC, etc.

    Thanks for your generosity by the way – whatever you choose to do, someone in need will benefit from your stimulus check and that is great.

  35. April 22, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    I can’t resist tooting the Mad Housers horn, a group I’ve worked with for years. It’s an all-volunteer Atlanta area nonprofit that builds individual shelters for homeless and gives them away for free – sort of a bandit Habitat.

  36. April 22, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Thirding Pochina and Helena: Give to your local abortion fund, who helps pay for abortions for women and girls who cannot afford the full price of an abortion on their own. You can donate directly to the National Network of Abortion Funds or go to their website to find your local fund and donate to them.

    Abortion funds are grassroots, usually all-volunteer organizations that directly serve women- and even a donation of 50-100 dollars can mean the difference between a woman getting the abortion she needs and being turned away.

    Also, if you want other ways to be involved: volunteers with your local AF or start one.

  37. Shae
    April 22, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    I must throw in a plug for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organizations in this country.
    It’s not all about time donations, they do still need cash donations to function.
    I have been a mentor for 5 years and it is something that gives me great joy and an amazing way to see very directly how you make a difference in someone’s world.

    And I know this is a feminist website but can I just say that I have seen men commenting here and I know that many of you are in relationships with good, decent upstanding menfolk–Big Brother orgs around the country are DYING for volunteers. If any of you knows anybody who might be interested PLEASE suggest it to them. My “little sister’s” brother has been waiting OVER 2YEARS for a mentor.

    BTW: That Modest needs sounds amazing. Thanks for the heads up–I had no clue that existed, I will support!

  38. April 22, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    You could send it to The Silvia Rivera Law Project. They help poor trans*folk with legal representation. Everything from helping with name changes to defending them in court (trans*women, especially WOC, are profiled as prostitutes even when shopping or at a friend’s house) to changing policies that hurt trans*folks. They’re really great, if I had money to spare I’d donate to them…

  39. Mnemosyne
    April 22, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Since I ended up owing $615 to the IRS this year, I was hoping I could refuse the “stimulus” check, send them $15, and call it even, but apparently not.

    And, no, I do not have a huge income — one of the three jobs I had last year screwed up my withholdings (as in, they didn’t withhold anything but SS and Medicare) so I got socked with two big tax bills from the IRS and from the state.

  40. Peanutcat
    April 22, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    . . . . . Who the fuck can’t use an extra $300?

  41. April 22, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    . . . . . Who the fuck can’t use an extra $300?

    It’s not that some of us couldn’t find something to spend it on. But there’s a difference between being able to put it to use and really needing it. I don’t need more toys or more clothes. I’m fortunate, comfortable, what-have-you — and I don’t apologize for that. On the other hand, I’m exasperated at how little I’m taxed. I pay taxes because I want the government to do good things with it, because I believe that there are some thing private charities simply cannot do: build good roads, pay police and teachers, provide health care, protect public spaces, send astronauts into orbit. We may not qualify for the rebate, and I sort of hope we don’t, because if we do get it, it’s going to be infuriating.

    To not give that money away would be to concede the rebate was a good idea. For the fortunate, it wasn’t and isn’t.

    Why won’t someone please raise my taxes?

  42. Red
    April 22, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    I actually have a friend who has started an entire project based around giving back with your refund check. The Pentecost Project’s mantra is “invest in others, share possessions, reduce debt.” The website encourages people to at least try to do a simple act of kindness, if not something more grand, like paying down debt or investing in people through micro-business loans. It’s building into a nice community of people planning and sharing ideas.

    For more information, visit here.

    Don’t be put off by the slightly Christian bent. These cats are actually cool, open-minded people who care about the environment, the poor and the elderly. They even get tattoos. And they don’t like George Bush. AND SOME OF THEM EVEN ENJOY…SEX. Gasp.

  43. April 22, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    Hey, pretty cool project, Red. Thanks for listing it here.

    Yeah, I was going to add Kiva.org to the list, too.

  44. sarah
    April 22, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    GLOBAL MAMAS!!!! you’ll be contributing to the interests of women, especially the marginalized populations, education for the more privileged but still conscious, AND sustainability practices. check them out at globalmamas.org

    (similar to the afore mentioned Global Girlfiends)

  45. 1st_of_5
    April 22, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    wow…what a great show of responses! while i will probably use most/all of my ‘rebate’ to pay off debt this summer, i’ve now got a whole list of new charities to keep in mind for donations later this year! i’m definitely making notes for when the bank balance is a wee bit higher.

  46. April 22, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Thanks for the plug, Red. I’d love to hear more comments from readers of feministe.

  47. Broce
    April 22, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    Women for Women International is another good organization, which targets its assistance to women in war-torn areas. They’ll take whatever you can give, but for $30 a month you can sponsor a woman for a year though their education program, which gives the women a skill they can use to support themselves and their families. You can find them at http://www.womenforwomen.org

  48. LeggoMyMeggo
    April 22, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Actually, OTM, Genesis House closed due to embezzlement… I cringe just typing that.

    I really like Women for Women International… besides helping women survivors of war support themselves, their families, and their communities (via education & skills training, small business development, microcredit loans, etc.), you get to communicate with the woman you are supporting!

  49. ktorre
    April 22, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    There’s an organization in NYC called GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services) that helps girls who are underage and have been in the sex trade. They give them housing, food, child care, legal help, vocational training, you name it.

  50. April 22, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    i suggest your local harbor house or other domestic violence shelter.

  51. cooper
    April 22, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    I do Women for Women International right now, and have done monthly contributions since I was in college. I like the organization and what they have done.

    Here we have a local “Habitat for Humanity” which is funding, starting in May, a “Women Build” project. I ‘m participating already, so that is where my money, should I receive any, will go.

  52. Robyn
    April 22, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    sorry, i didn’t know how to fix the linkage! but you get the idea!

  53. SarahS
    April 22, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    I would suggest thinking about your local domestic abuse shelter. And you know, if you are already thinking about giving your check to another worthy org, think about cleaning out your basement. One of my best friends works for a DVS and they ALWAYS need children’s toys, women’s and kids clothes, and basic household things like dishes. They really try to make the shelter seem like home when they are in it, and they try to set women up with clothes and dishes of their own when they can get out on their own. Just taking a weekend to clean your closet, attic, or basement can mean the world to someone.

  54. April 22, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    I always like dontating to my local boys and girls club–it’s obvious, but still a good thing.

  55. April 23, 2008 at 8:16 am

    ktorre– Thanks for the shout out to GEMS. I work there and I can tell you we can definately use all the donations we can get! Money from individuals– regardless of whether your gift is large or small, keep our doors open and pay for things that money from other sources often don’t–like say, the light bill. And funny how we need lights in order to work.
    Also– donations from individuals help keep us independent and start new projects and programs for the girls that aren’t funded by other sources. We really appreciate every donation that we get!

  56. scamps
    April 23, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    I can’t work, so I don’t get a check. But my fiance is getting one. The whole concept makes me angry, because unlike most of these people, I DO need the extra money.

  57. April 23, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    dean spade has a really interesting article up on money redistribution in general, and it includes a bunch of suggestions for organizations…
    see here and also here.

  58. willygus
    April 23, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    How about a needle exchange in your area? In the US federal funding is banned:


    … and a fact sheet at the Harm Reduction Coalition (pdf, second link in “Policy briefs”)


    It is an effective, evidence-based public health response to drug use, built on a foundation of respectful collaboration and engagement.

  59. NicoleGW
    April 23, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    I realize I’m late responding, but this thread reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. Giving medium to large sums isn’t a great option for me, partially because there are so many great organizations out there and I can’t choose, but I can always spare a bit of cash every month. I just finished signing up with four different groups to make small, repeating monthly donations. I like to think that over the course of a year these donations add up to make a difference, but the individual sums are small enough that they’re very manageable for me.

    Thanks to everyone who made suggestions and shared information! It was a very valuable guide, and it definitely lit a fire under my ass.

  60. Mo
    April 24, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Camfed is dedicated to fighting poverty and HIV/AIDS in rural Africa by educating girls and investing in their economic independence and leadership once they complete school.

    and although I know someone above mentioned Kiva, I’m going to pitch it again. You can put your 300 bucks in a Kiva account and loan it out (all at once or 25 dollars a shot) directly to women around the world who are borrowing money for their family businesses. Many of the on the ground microfinace folks involved (there’s lots of specific info on the site) lend solely to women in an effort to increase women’s status within their communities.

    Best of all in four or six or 12 or 18 months, when the loan is repaid, you get the cash back and can lend it to someone else doing something else somewhere else!

    It’s very addictive.

  61. April 24, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Yesterday on my bus ride home, there were three women who were paying for people’s bus fares (for those who don’t already get rides for free through an employer) and giving out snacks and water to riders. If people had already bought a day pass, they gave them a new pass to use another day. If they were paying cash, the women had their own passes that they swiped instead. I thought this was a fairly thoughtful project, if you’re interested in directly helping local individuals in some small way rather than donating to an organization.

  62. April 25, 2008 at 10:39 am

    i’m late to the party, but i also wanted to suggest donating to women of color bloggers who are fundraising to get to the allied media conference this june in detroit. go here: http://amcrgv.wordpress.com/
    and here: http://kameelahwrites.blogspot.com/2008/04/hi-my-name-is-and-this-year-i-am.html

  63. Mac
    May 21, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    I highly recommend a gift to Medical Students for Choice. They have already received a few gifts from people wishing to donate part of their economic stimulus check.

    Medical Students for Choice works with medical students to improve reproductive curriculum at their schools, and helps medical students and residents find abortion training. These initiatives directly increase the number of abortion providers throughout the U.S. and Canada. The decline in the number of abortion providers over the last 15-20 years is an issue that threatens to make legal reproductive choice obsolete.

  64. Michelle
    July 3, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Check out http://www.PerpetualEndowments.org…great website and they think outside the box.

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