Toward the end of the year, many folks thoughts turn to giving. Either giving a monetary donation, or time and energy. I think there’s a number of reasons for that: In the US at least tax deductible donations are something people want to get in before the end of the year, people know more about how much they might have to donate, as well as having more time away from the pressures of work to think about groups that might be worthy to donate to. Whatever the case, I thought I would share a few thoughts around such donations.

First it’s good to ponder on what kind of gift you might be able to provide. Sure, if you have some money you can allocate thats great, but there’s lots of other ways to give back. Try asking what you can do to help and most any non profit group will have a long list of helpful things to choose from.

Next take a look at what groups you want to support. This of course is highly personal, but do take a look at information about a group before donating to them. For example, many of us in the US will see people outside shops and stores ringing a bell and asking for donations to the Salvation Army. At first glance you might think this a worthy group helping the less fortunate, but looking for further information will show you that the group is highly religious ( for example requiring people they help to listen to them proselytize their beliefs ) and discriminatory to LGBT folks. ¬†Additionally, look at how much of your donation might actually get to the people the group purports to help and not get used for “overhead”. Legit non profit groups are required to publish their finances.

Once you have decided to give to some groups, look and see if there’s any matching fundraisers going on or planned. This is where existing members will match new member donations over a time period to try and help the group and add more members. Your donation can go further to help the group if you wait and donate at such a time. Also, check with your employer, many companies have matching programs where they will match your donation to non profit groups. This is another great way to get more money to the non profit you are wanting to help.

I’ve decided to donate some money to three groups this year:

  • Electronic Frontier Foundation – I was able to donate a few weeks ago when they were doing a matching fund drive, and also my wonderful employer (Red Hat) offers matching funds, so I was able to get them 3x what I donated. If you are at all active in on line rights and freedoms you know who the eff is. These folks do great work and everyone should support them.
  • The Software Freedom Conservancy-¬† They are also currently holding a matching funds fundraiser and my wonderful employer (Red Hat) offers matching funds, so again I was able to get them 3X the funds of just my donation. These folks are doing great work handling legal and paperwork for open source groups as well as being the only ones willing/able to fight for enforcement of the GPL. They lost a number of spineless corporate backers this year with their GPL enforcement battles and its very important that we help them to keep going.
  • Colorado Greyhound Adoption – This is the greyhound group that I have worked with in the past and got my wonderful pups from. They do great work, but just one dog with high medical bills can wipe out their entire medical budget. Sadly, I wasn’t paying attention and there was a matching day on the 8th that I missed, but at least my employer (Red Hat) will match my donation to them, so they get 2X as much as my donation.

I hope you all will think about giving back to the groups that help advance causes you believe in.