Some Thoughts About Giving Tuesday

This coming Tuesday, many organizations will be asking for money — your alma mater, religious organizations, the charity you gave to during a natural disaster years ago, and any group that crosses your social media feeds or that has acquired your email address.

First, it is possible to donate to archaeological sites — just look up one of interest to see if there is a foundation or fund associated with it. You can also donate to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, and donations will finance projects around the globe.

Beyond that, here are a few to consider. Remember: Even offering $5 makes a difference.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

MSF is active in many parts of the world, and they partner with communities (and their infrastructure) to deliver health care. MSF has a lot of routine medical services that it provides to communities in need around the world. Some of its crisis response initiatives are widely known — it has helped people during the Syrian Refugee Crisis, the ebola outbreaks, and more. Here’s more information on how it determines when to intervene.

In my opinion, complaining about humanitarian crises without putting pressure on your elected officials (if you can’t afford a donation) or donating to organizations who have the infrastructure to put aid on the ground is not an effective way to help. When picking orgs, it is absolutely crucial that they don’t have untoward ties to missionary activity. (While MSF is not religious, it sometimes does partner with local infrastructure to deliver services, which may include mosques, churches, temples, and religious orgs.)

Life After Hate

There are at least 11 million people in the United States who hold white supremacist views. LAH works with people who are exiting extremist movements in the United States, typically white supremacy, and much of the LAH leadership has firsthand experience with leaving such groups. There are not many organizations that do what it does despite the widespread, increasing need for hands-on deradicalization support, and during the Trump administration, money it received from the government was rescinded. Read more about its mission and programming here.

Some people radicalized into hate groups start practicing a polytheistic religion (usually Heathenry or Asatru), a fact noted by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Extremist groups also appropriate runes and other symbols from pre-Christian European cultures, so they become associated with hate instead of with the religion itself or with heritage (i.e., that Norwegian sweater controversy).

While deradicalization infrastructure alone cannot fix everything, it does help.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

I complain about the misguided use of technology and the miasmic effects of out-of-control social media a lot on this blog. If we want to be solutions-oriented, giving money to those who can work on (or lobby about) policy to make things better is important. The EFF works on digital privacy, free speech, and innovation. It’s concerned about things like face surveillance, social media data, invasive tech and apps, and people being forced to disclose passwords.

Note: Related to symbols, I know this may seem impossible, but my midsis — who just started practicing Asatru after lapsing from UU/Neopaganism to try out various forms of Christianity — had no idea that runes were being systematically appropriated by white supremacists or that she’d have to be careful when selecting jewelry and visible symbols to make sure that they couldn’t be viewed as hate symbols in public. I had to explain this to her on the phone last month, and she’s very angry and creeped out by it. I was surprised that she didn’t already know. Then again, her life is very busy, and working a demanding job while raising kids and doing housework is no joke. I have no idea what content social media algorithms are serving her, either.

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