Welcome to the annual charitable giving list for 2009! These are just some of the ways you can give back while indulging in the mass-consumer, gift orgy of the December holidays.
And as always, I don’t get anything for posting this but a smile.
There’s a lot on the list that hasn’t changed from last year but I’ve done my best to offer new and relevant options and remove that which is no longer useful.
I’m only human and this list is probably only a fraction of what is possible. If you have any suggestions, be sure to leave ‘em in the comments to share with everyone.
** New charities, causes or items on the list have been denoted with a double asterisk (**).
[Important note: Charity Watch and Charity Navigator are great resources for checking out charitable orgs.]
**New this year: The Sin City Siren’s Favorite Causes: **
This year I asked for your votes on charities and causes that you wanted to see on the list. I believe I like this and will do it again next year. There were a lot of good choices! For the first time since I started this list, I’m going to call-out some organizations that get The Sin City Siren’s official seal of approval.
- **FACT (Family and Child Treatment of Southern Nevada): The 25-year-old non-profit helps children and families heal after sexual abuse traumas. As a survivor myself, this is a cause close to my heart.
- The Rape Crisis Center: It is brave, difficult work that the Rape Crisis Center does. It’s not a cause that gets a big following because people don’t want to think about rape. But for the survivors and their loved ones who get help there, it is a lifeline.
- Domestic Violence: I can’t choose between either of the valley’s two great organizations that do good work on this issue: Safe Nest and SAFE House. Check out their wish-lists, donate money, donate time, donate a suitcase for the women who show up with all their worldly belongings in a garbage bag.
- **NALA: This 40-year-old local non-profit provides quality pre-school on a sliding scale, senior services and much more. And our community couldn’t be in a situation of greater need.
- The Nevada Women’s Lobby: One of the best ways to help a variety of different causes! The Lobby is pro-choice, pro-equality (including working to help pass the new domestic partnership law) lobbies for the rights of Nevada’s women, children and seniors. This 20+ year-old organization lobbies to make Nevada better, which helps people of all different populations. (Full disclosure: I’m on their advisory committee.)
- My one non-local Fav is the **Pangea Project. They take at-risk teens and connect them with local and international community service opportunities. It is a unique and incredible organization. Although it doesn’t have an out-post in Las Vegas (yet), they do work all over the United States and the world.
We have some great local organizations who do important work year-round. Foreclosures, lay-offs and cut-backs to state and local budgets for many of our safety-net programs have left too many locals in desperate need. Unfortunately, this has put an added strain on many of our local organizations who are scrambling to help more people with less donations. Remember: You can always give a donation of time, money or goods in honor of a gift recipient.
- This year for me, the bare-minimum is donating some food to local pantries. Donations are down but the number of hungry folks is way up. According to **Three Square: One in 10 Nevadans will go hungry this holiday season. For just a couple dollars you can buy someone a hot dinner at the Las Vegas Rescue Mission. Or you can bag up some non-perishable food and give it to the Salvation Army or Catholic Charities, among others.
- Another great idea is to check out the Wish Lists of local orgs. Sometimes the simplest items — toothpaste, baby blankets or office furniture — can help these organizations help so many.
- Miracle Flights for Kids is based here but helps children all over the country get to medical care they need.
- The **Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth does some great work. They need all the help they can get.
- Also try **Shine A Light, a new charitable organization co-founded by Matt O’Brien, in collaboration with other community leaders and organizations who work on homelessness.
- **The Gay and Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada (aka The Center) has really stepped up their political action this year and done some great work in the community.
- Justgive is a great site! It has links to gift and donation options for several charities benefiting children, the homeless, people with AIDS and cancer, the environment and animals. I particularly like their recommendations for sites with holiday cards and on another page they have a link to use if you are shopping on Amazon.com, which will automatically give to charities supported by Justgive.org. They also have links to charity malls and charity auctions. Sweet!
- A great charity mall site is Igive.com. If you start your shopping there and select participating stores then a certain percentage of your purchase is automatically credited to a charity or cause of your choice. (No extra charge to you.) Awesome! And it works all year long!
- Another charity mall site is Greatergood.com. They support a few different charitable causes including helping the rain forest, fighting breast cancer, promoting child health and literacy.
- Similarly, check out Goodshop.com.
- Global Exchange specializes in fair-trade items made from recycled materials with a focus on benefiting human rights.
- eConscious Market features socially responsible goods from progressive, ecologically minded companies. The site gives 50 percent of net profits from each purchase to the charity of your choice.
- Equality: I believe that hate and intolerance are the root that manifests in different forms such as racism, homophobia and sexism. To me, hate is hate no matter what label you put on it. So here are my favorite equality causes to support — NOW (National Organization for Women) and HRC (Human Rights Campaign) for starters. I also like business and organizations that promote anti-hate ethics like Asian Man Records.
- Rights: I don’t think you need me to explain why this is important. ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Amnesty International.
- Sexual Assault: Nationally there is the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (aka RAINN). I highly recommend their gift options.
- Cancer: There are a loooot of sites catering to all forms of cancer. There is no way I could list them all here. So here are some big ones: The Susan G. Komen Founation, Livestrong and the American Cancer Society.
- AIDS: Locally there is **AFAN, which provides many important services and support to those with AIDS in our community. Product RED. Starbucks, GAP, Converse, Hallmark and so many more have joined the RED campaign since it’s launch in 2006. This campaign is perhaps the best embodiment of what mindful capitalism can be (at least to me). If you’re already going to buy a GAP t-shirt or whatever, check first to see if there’s a RED version. You can get the AIDS silver bracelet at Until There’s a Cure.
- Domestic Violence: Donate your old cell phone to help victims of domestic violence through programs like Call to Protect or the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
- Literacy: One of my biggest passions! First Book strives to make sure every child has at least one book. The American Library Association has a nice little site with goods to promote open minds and open thought (as in, no banned books).
- Poverty: There’s FINCA International, an organization dedicated to ending poverty in developing countries, and Trickle Up, a global charity that grants money for new businesses to low-income women and people with disabilities.
- Hunger: Perhaps the most unique gift you can give is an animal through Heifer International, which helps impoverished people in developing countries by giving them a hand-up not just a hand-out.
- Education: If you’re upgrading your laptop send your old one to a child in one of 61 countries through Worldcomputerexchange.org.
- Environment: Liberate someone from their junk mail and help the planet at the same time by giving a gift subscription to Green Dimes. For the music fan: For every song downloaded through Tunes for Trees (an offshoot of iTunes) a tree is planted.
Greeting Cards & Gift Wrap:
- UNICEF. Oldie but a goodie with great cards and gifts.
- With Good Cause Greeting Products you can buy holiday cards that benefit the charity of your choice from a pretty healthy list. It’s kind of awesome.
- Drawbridge is a San Francisco-based arts program for homeless children. They sell cards with designs by homeless children as well as gifts.