With it being the last day on the calendar to make your charitable contributions this year, I thought I would share some ways that I give back to all those organizations that fight the good fight. And if you are cash-strapped, there are many other ways to contribute, with your time and talent (in addition to your treasure).
1. Give Your Time. Volunteer your time to help a cause or organization you love! Work at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Help pull weeds at a community garden or if you’re lucky, a startup farm. Or start your own non-profit! I find volunteering to be one of the most gratifying activities, especially when I get the blues. The best way to cheer yourself up is to help someone else.
2. Give Your Talent. As an entrepreneur/cubicle jockey, I’m pretty good at computing, I love to write, and also love thinking about ways to expand or promote a business. I used these skills this year to help a few farmers get plugged in to social media; and helped some other small/local businesses to discover social media/review sites (like Yelp) that they can use to expand their reach. I also started up this little website.
3. Give your Treasure. Providing an exhaustive list of worthy organizations would be, well, exhausting. Here are a few organizations to which I like to give my stored energy (aka money). And if you work for a corporation, be sure to ask your HR department whether your company offers a donation matching program, as many do nowadays! If an organization is classified as a 501(c)(3), then donations are tax-deductible. If it is classified as a 501(c)(4), then it is considered a political lobbying organization, and donations are generally NOT tax-deductible.
Theres an old adage which reminds us to never discuss religion or politics. At the risk of violating this rule, I’m providing a list of some of my favorite organizations. My intention is never to offend, but chances are someone is not going to agree with one or more of my choices. Apologies in advance! (UPDATED FOR 2012).
- Weston A. Price Foundation- Spreading truth and wisdom about traditional diets. Donate here.
- Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (501(c)(4)- fighting for the little guy against Big Ag/Big Gov food industry cronyism. Donate here. (The Farm to Consumer Foundation is a 501(c)3 which is tax-deductible. Donate here.)
- Heifer International- working to end poverty and world hunger by providing livestock and sustainable agricultural practices to the developing world. Donate here (bonus– you can donate specific things like flocks of chicks, or irrigation pumps.)
- Raw Milk Institute/Mission of Cow Share Canada- working to provide universally accessible, clean, safe raw milk through education and establishing standards. Donate here. They are a tax-deductible organization. The website says the status is pending but I looked it up. IRS Tax ID 45-2466227.
- Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice- Advancing school choice for all children. Donate here.
- Cato Institute- a libertarian think tank that lives inside the belly of the beast (i.e. the Beltway). Donate here.
- Local art museums- Find yours here.
- State parks- are chronically underfunded. Find a favorite here.
4. Buy a Membership. Another way to contribute directly to organizations while giving a little something to yourself! Why not buy an “upgraded” membership level? That way, a portion of the price membership is tax-deductible.
5. Kick-start a great idea. Kickstarter is a “crowdsourcing” portal in which you can donate a small (or large!) amount towards an idea someone has posted. Usually they are looking for seed money to make their idea a reality. Here’s an example for an innovative way to grow grass for dairy cows. Usually you get a gift depending on your donation level.
6. Spread the Word. If there’s an organization you’re passionate about, why not tell the world about it? Clicking the Share button on a facebook page or retweeting a tweet takes less than a second and helps spread the word to your friends and followers. Or, print some flyers or pamphlets and leave them in conspicuous places. Be guerilla about it or shout it from the rooftops. My personal rule: its not spamming if you truly believe in it!
How about it, Fermenters? What ways do you like to give?