Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Causes

The notions of “cause” and “charity” tend to get mixed up a fair bit, and of course, while we’d see skepticism as a cause, and we might donate to skepticism, via time, money or purchases, it’s no charity.

Aside from skepticism, which I assume is your gig unless you’ve stumbled into the lion’s den; we all tend to have our favored causes, a concern usually based in events that have touched us personally. I used to volunteer for a few blind and vision-impaired organizations, which I treat here in brief.

I’m also very concerned about the lack of Tim Tams in American supermarkets…

What (and why) are your causes?

What do you do for your causes?

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26 Comments

  1. My biggest cause is animals. I doubled my bill at Mounds donating to an outfit that trains dogs for disabled people. I don’t always do that sort of thing, but I try where I can. If I had more free time, I’d be donating it to rescues for dogs and/or cats.

    I do an annual road trip vacation all over the country and remarked to a friend about how I wish I could make some money off it. She suggested since I always take my dog, Angel with me I should look into something animal related (raising awareness, fundraising, etc). I’d love to do something like that, but I don’t have a clue where to start. Still, it’s an idea I’ve been kicking around a little.

    I wish I could say I am active in any other charities or causes, but I’m not really. Politics depresses me and anytime I give money to some group it seems like I’m just throwing it away. Medical research bothers me because cancers get all the big bucks but it’s hard to find respectable charity organizations for other afflictions. Giving money to developing countries bothers me because we’re handing out fish and not teaching anyone how to fish, and frequently other people take the fish away anyway.

  2. @swordsbane: Have you checked out Heifer.org?

    My causes tend towards animal, feminist, and/or environmental. Why? I have to narrow it down somehow, I suppose. I love (nonhuman) animals, and they are not very good at representing themselves politically. Feminist causes because, well, I am one. I do a lot for a local domestic violence/sexual assault organization. And environmental because of what humans are doing to this place.

  3. @CatFurniture: @swordsbane: Have you checked out Heifer.org?

    Yeah. Same friend sent me that link a month or so ago. So far, I like what I see and have donated a little. I’m working on getting 3rd party news about them. I’ve seen enough of these outfits to know that you’re not going to get the real story from them. You need to ask around a little.

  4. One cause that I do a lot for is for liveable community because it is a local cause it gives me the ability to accomplish something even by myself. I have served on our local non-motorized board, cleared trails, helped folks get on their bikes and many other similar acts. I also feel liveable community includes kindness to animals, children and adults in need.

  5. I support lots of causes so I’ll just narrow it down to my one wish cause. If I had one wish it would to start a foundation to provide water purification plants to third world countries. I think it could do as much good for the world as GMOs have.

  6. I’m the board president of a local non profit youth symphony that provides music education and performance opportunities for middle and high school students. We provide many scholarships and make sure any student who can not afford the tuition is still welcome. My wife and I also support a local literacy organization and help a friend involved in third world micro financing of women setting up home businesses.

  7. I don’t donate money to charities. That’s not because I’m a coldhearted bastard, just I think charity doesn’t solve the problem, it just keeps things ticking over well enough so that nation-states don’t have to step in and actually do something. It’s like giving an aspirin to someone with cancer.

    As for causes that I’ll argue for or attend conferences, protests or whatever, they tend to centre around secularism and skepticism, liberalism, feminism, republicanism (as in anti-monarchy), overseas development and young people’s rights.

  8. My pet cause is animal welfare and I am a vet at the ASPCA.

    @Swordsbane: Best Friends Animal Society is often looking for people to transport animals to their facility in Kanab, Utah. Go on their website and look for Best Friends Network.

  9. Causes:
    1. ACLU
    2. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)
    3. The Innocence Project
    4. Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM)
    5. Americans United for the Separation of Church and State
    6. Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA)
    7. Institute for Justice (IJ)

    Charities:
    1. Lifestraw
    2. Play Pump
    3. Heifer International
    4. Doctors Without Borders

  10. My favorite causes are freedom of speech and privacy. Rational thought is impossible without unfettered access to accurate information and the freedom to disseminate facts and opinions without fear of reprisal. To that end I donate to the ACLU and EFF, and have operated TOR nodes when I had to opportunity to do so.

  11. Here in Australia-land all our illegal immigrants are from Britain and the US, in other words white people so the racists focus their attention on refugees. We get about a thousand boat people fleeing persecution and death usually from south east Asia. The most popular decision made by the previous government was to send heavily armed special forces troops out after drowning refugees and when the lefties got into power they copped so much flack for removing children refugees from the prisons we hold them in that they reversed their policy. I donate to the refugee council of Australia but living in the middle of no where my actual volunteer time is spent on a program we have here giving kids extra tutoring after school. I won’t post a link, I don’t really like the program. It’s done with the catholic education office and it’s a bit religious but that isn’t the kids fault.

  12. Another animal-lover, here – I volunteer several hours a week (mostly with rats) and am currently running for a set on the Board of Directors of my local Humane Society shelter.

    I’m also in the process of developing a program to bring rational thinking to school-children. I’m really hoping to have something ready to show to people at this year’s TAM, for their feedback.

  13. Local LBGQT causes for the most part keep me SUPER busy, especially here in Arizona where we are fighting an uphill battle, it seems. Plus recently I’ve started with a local music conservator. My friend is president of the board and convincned me to lend my skillz. It probably does a lot of similar things that @James Fox‘s youth symphony does for school-aged children (and adults) though it’s less a symphony, I guess, and more like a music school.

  14. I have participated in Big Brothers Big Sisters for a little over two years now. Individually I’m mentoring one girl, but together there are thousands of big-little matches. I also support Minnesota GLBT, HIV/AIDS and Planned Parenthood organizations with time (pamphlets, info tables at events), moolah, and food drives. I just recently opened an account at kiva.org, a microfinance organization.

    And – I support the Skepchicon 2010 party fund!

  15. I was a past president of a non-profit organization called Global Deaf Connection that supports Deaf college students in developing countries to become teachers of deaf children. That’s my main cause right now, but there are so many more that I’d like to contribute too.

    The question of whether charities “work” is an important one as was brought up earlier by grammarking. It’s a question that probably does not have a simple answer – but it is an askable question and it should definitely be asked.

  16. @nickelking: I like your idea. The only “clean water” charity I have ever run into is WaterAid. They provide water and sewage systems rather than just bringing in water from outside. It seems to have a pretty high overhead though – I think it is around 20 percent. Is that reasonable?

    I will not give money to any charity that tries to collect money from me by telephone requests. I tell them straight out the first time I get a call and anyone who calls again is out. So far, Doctors Without Borders has earned my highest respect in this regard. Maybe they do not even use call centers. All the better. I think my money is well spent by them. Does anyone know otherwise?

  17. At FlameTest: 20% is actually a pretty good overhead. I think that’s about the goal for most non-profit organizations. It’s pretty difficult to run an organization without that much going back into it.

  18. One of my causes is to promote cultural understanding and in order to do so I work/volunteer at an anthropology/ethnography museum. I work in one section of the museum, but I still occasionally volunteer in the education department which is where I first started.

  19. I am interested in science education. I think people are too undeducated in basic science, thereby unable to grasp the importance of certain decisions by the politicians. Although I would like to do something about it, honestly, I don’t know what to do to change things.

  20. @FlameTest: Whenever I’m looking for a charity of any sort or considering a new charity I tend to consult charitynavigator.org or some like site, they have ratings and breakdowns on the efficiency of charities. (with the exception of most religious charities as they don’t have to submit the paperwork that allows one to measure their dollar to help ratio.)

  21. I volunteer with a sexual health/HIV charity on a helpline and with awareness training. It’s as much to stop the spread of misinformation and encourage open dialogue about sex & sexual health as it is to help the users of the service. The charity itself is adamantly secular which is quite important to me.

    I’m also starting to get involved with organisations working towards leagalisation of drugs, both on the political discussion side and the pharmacological side.

    So, yeah, sex and drugs. And secularism.

    Hmm, looking at it that way, I think all that’s missing is rock and roll.

    Almost forgot Sense About Science, who I supported with some libel reform lobby action in March!

    My imaginary, self-invented cause would be to get half-n-half made available in the UK. Why is this so hard?!

  22. Well on the subject of Tim Tams if you send me the money Karen, I will send you the Tim Tams as we have too many here in Australia for me to eat,even after The Skepticzoners have had their share.As for the causes we do have a reason mainly because we are affected by situations in our life that either directly or indirectly affect us emotionally. I donate money to charity because of this to 3 separate charities in Australia, they are http://www.amf.org.au/ which is an organisation set up after a terrible shooting of 2 girls (3 and 6 year old) and their mother along with 32 others at Port Arthur(Tasmania) in 1996,the main purpose for setting up this organisation was for the belief that all children should have a safe and happy childhood without being subjected to any form of violence. Another was a way for me to contribute on behalf of a friend who suffered from a bad experience of sexual assault as a 11 year old, this donation was brought about from my problems in my dealings with her as an adult, as the past events affected her ability to trust people, and this site is http://www.asca.org.au/ and the 3rd one is http://www.rspca.org.au/ which is protection of animals in Australia as I’m a animal lover, but sometimes on the spur of the moment if I see a news item or read about something that disturbs me, I will just try and donate some time or money to contribute to a particular cause in the hope it will help someone.

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