Charitable Giving Guide 2015

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I try to support a lot of the choices here but my choice of charity this year is the Cumbria 2015 Flood Appeal. Storm Desmond is the second or third time that a lot of these people have been flooded in the last 15 years.

I guess I feel guilty. I moved to Oxford three months before the first big flood in 2005, my family got through the floods unharmed again and I feel like I should be doing something. I may not have left Carlisle in the best of circumstances but the news pictures have affected me badly.


I’ve pledged to give 99.44% of my Facebook shares to the Billionaire’s Assistance Fund.

Actually, EFF, ACLU, local blood bank


Safe water transforms lives. Give a little, change a lot: believes people in developing countries know best how to solve their own problems. That’s why we forge partnerships with carefully-screened, indigenous partner organizations that understand, and are part of, the local culture. The result: a solution tailored to the needs of each community.

For more than twenty years, has pioneered safe water and sanitation solutions that give women hope, children health and communities a future.

(Disclosure: I like the organization so much, I work here)


The non-profit I volunteer with supports international humanitarian work around the world with maps, open data and local skills building.

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team - Please support an amazing little NGO

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My top donations this year:

  1. Environmental
    • Environmental Defence Fund: Working with and lobbying policy makers to improve laws that affect our environment and global climate change
  2. Syria and refugees
    • MSF: particularly if you’re from the US, after we bombed their hospital
    • MOAS: actively rescuing refugees in boats in the Mediterranean
  3. Social/Aid
    • GiveDirectly: Directly transferring money to poor individuals. Strong evidence indicates that cash transfers are frequently the highest-impact way you can help the disadvantaged. One of one four top-ranked charities at GiveWell

I’d particularly be interested in people’s thoughts of the most impactful way to spend money on environmental/global warming causes. Policy action to me seems like it would have the highest impact, but if $1000 can be better spent planting trees, or investing in solar companies, I’m happy to hear thoughts.


I really love all these organizations listed and also donate to a handful myself! I wanted to share the organization I work with, I believe in it so much that I left my tech job to work with the team. allows you to give directly to neighbors experiencing homelessness in your community both online and on the street with HandUp Gift Cards. It’s a transparent way to give that makes an impact you can see.


I hope folks will think about needy children in their own community.

To me, this is the most vulnerable population that most deserves our compassion. I’ve never been able to find or verify a quote I saw years ago that world wide donations fund 5 places for animals to seek shelter for everyone one place for a human child to receive shelter but it certainly feels true. My personal favorite charity for helping needy children is run by Marian Wright Edelman, The Children’s Defense Fund. My second favorite is No KId Hungry. In my area (South Texas in the US) this is the organization that is responsible for sending home backpacks of kid friendly food on the weekends with kids who qualify for free school lunches (more than half of the kids at my daughter’s school come from homes with incomes low enough to qualify).

The idea that we in the so-called “first” world can stand ideally by while the children we see everyday are underfed and under supervised is simply a sin. Like Gene Roddenberry said, we will know the future has arrived when there is no hunger and all the children can read. Peace on Earth and Good Will toward All.

I’m kind of sad that charity is only a topic around christmas - but whatever.

I donate (more or less regularly) to

  • Wau Holland Stiftung (freedom of communication and informational self-determination)
  • MSF (mostly medical emergency aid, already listed here in the comments)
  • UNICEF, WFP and UNHCR, relief organisations of the UN
  • ICRC, umbrella group of the national Red Cross organisations

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