likes this Post written by Feral
about two years ago
"This is an awesome post with information on charities where a little bit of money can go a long way. It is too easy today to blame the economy and look the other way. This post is proof that you can still help out on a limited budget."
I had a very interesting conversation with MrMister about buying entertainment luxuries vs. donating to charity.
We didn't come to any hard and fast rules, but between that conversation and some recent experiences, I've come to the conclusions that (1) too much of anything is bad, (2) most Americans err far too much on the side of buying entertainment luxuries, (3) we could all give to charity a little more, and (4) it's harder to actually do that than it should be because social status is so tightly bound in one's ability to buy entertainment luxuries. It isn't terribly socially acceptable to say to your friends, "Sorry, I don't want to go out drinking tonight because I just donated $40 to a malaria foundation. You guys go ahead, though."
The homeless in America generally don't need basic essentials.
This is actually untrue, partly because it's a self-defeating prophecy (the opposite of a self-fulfilling prophecy). Food stamps don't buy things like toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, soap; you may or may not qualify for non-food-stamps cash assistance depending on what county you're sleeping in and whether or not you have kids. So if everybody thinks, "homeless people don't need basic essentials" then nobody's going to buy homeless people basic essentials.
Whole Foods used to run a promotion where you could spend $6 at the register to buy a toiletries kit for women in shelters and I used to do that every time I'd go. I thought it was a great idea. I don't know of any charities off-hand that do that exactly, but there's a similar example I can point to. WEAVE
helps abused and raped women and they identified an interesting problem: if you're a woman and you are in the hospital because you were raped, there's a good chance that law enforcement is going to take some of your clothes as evidence. WEAVE will give basic panties and sweats to women in this situation so they can at least leave the hospital wearing something more than a gown.
People in places like The Congo, Somalia, Haiti, etc. have limited access to clean water, shelter, food, etc.
I'd love to help these people through some form of aid group but it seems like a lot of this money is just disappearing.
True. Social & political turmoil keeps aid from reaching some of these populations.
That's not an excuse not to try, though. I recommend reading Giving What We Can
. They have identified four causes where your money can buy particularly good value in charity - maximizing the total moral utility of your charity dollar. Specifically, there are diseases endemic in tropical environments that we have the technology to treat cheaply and effectively; these remedies are unavailable to people in these environments because of poverty rather than political strife; therefore you can literally save dozens or hundreds of lives with relatively cheap donations to these charities:
These conditions can each be treated/prevented by taking the appropriate medication every 6–24 months. Recently people have started using a combination of five drugs, known as the rapid impact package, which allows all of the above diseases to be treated at once.
Charities which focus on neglected tropical diseases often advertise their cost-effectiveness in terms of the amount of money it takes to distribute one drug treatment:
Organization - Advertized cost per annual treatment
Schistosomiasis Control Initiative - $0.50 (rapid impact package)
Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases - $0.50 (rapid impact package)
Helen Keller International - $0.50 (rapid impact package)
Carter Center - $0.18 (schistosomiasis only)
Global Alliance for the Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis - $1.
For 50 cents a year you can literally stop one person's kidneys from being destroyed by flatforms.
That strikes me as reason enough to skip going out to the movies once in a while.