Archive for November, 2016

Recommendations for donations, 2016 edition

It’s the giving season, and this year I’m trying to learn from previous years and give some advice before everyone else in the world finishes their yearly donations.  :)

To a large extent, the recommendations I made last year still hold.  And I still endorse most of my criteria from a few years back (but see other posts in my donations tag for further updates and caveats).  So mainly, I want to post those links as a resource for anyone giving now or soon.

The truth is, though, the recent US election has changed some of my own giving priorities.  I’m not going to stop giving to the research causes or the worldwide health efforts that I gave to previously, but I’m going to increase some of my domestic giving to causes that I think are now more at risk.  I’ll be posting more of my thoughts and decisions as I do more research into new organizations — and I’d love your input along the way.

I’ve previously supported civil liberties (primarily ACLU), reproductive rights, criminal justice reform, and investigative journalism (primarily ProPublica) [edit: also LGBT rights] — I plan to increase my donations to such causes, but will revisit and update the specific recommendations.  Additionally, I want to evaluate more organizations supporting racial justice, immigrant rights, human rights, and more, before making any decisions or endorsements.

So far my candidates for evaluation include:

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Talking to Congress (and getting them to listen)

I’m still reeling from the recent U.S. election, as I know many are.  But I already see lots of folks mobilizing to start communicating more with Congress.  So I wanted to pass on Former Congressional staff member Emily Ellsworth’s tips on communicating effectively with your Congress peeps.  A few key points:

  • Phone call > letter > email > Facebook or Twitter feedback
  • The most effective way to express your opinion to the staff is to call the state district office (rather than the D.C. office)
  • If you want to talk to your representative in person and have a back and forth discussion, go to a town hall meeting.  They’re usually sparsely attended and just the same faces; big potential impact if you bring friends.
  • A more specialized point: if you do any local advocacy work, invite staffers to your advocacy events.  They will enjoy attending, better understand the situation on the ground, and then treat you as a resource/expert to consult in the future.

If you happen to be in D.C. when Congress is in session, you can also meet with your representatives and senators in person (or in some cases their staffers), just by making an appointment.  Check the tips on how to be effective in such a meeting.

Edit: more specific hints on how such a phone call should go — and a sample script — below.

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