Year-End Donations

It’s now officially the middle of crazy season. We celebrated Larry’s birthday last night with a quick dinner out. Tonight a movie, to be followed by shopping, cleaning, cooking, etc. etc. etc.

We went to see Invictus as a fundraiser for quad rugby. I will review this brilliant, stirring movie tomorrow. For those unfamiliar with the sport (I call it full-scale war) of quad rugby, it involves guys in wheelchairs playing the incredibly brutal game of rugby on hardwood floors. The movie about it was appropriately called Murderball. The only differences between quad rugby and regular rugby are that the guys in the wheelchairs don’t have as far to fall when they go down, and they can use their chairs as well as their bodies to ram into each other.

As for today’s topic, this time of year always gets me thinking about where to send one or more charitable contributions. First thing I did was to donate my old cell phone. The local police station has a box where one can drop them off after purging all identifying info. The police hand out the phones at abused women’s shelters and the like. I discovered in the process of wiping all my phone info that there’s a web site where one can locate places to make the donations.

I’ve also got a few items of clothing to drop off at Good Will. Most of my clothes are only good for cleaning rags by the time I finish with them but here and there I manage to salvage a shirt or skirt or a sweater.

As for the rest, I made annual contributions to the Middlesex County Community Foundation until a couple of years ago because I served on the board and established a fund in my parents’ name. And I gave to the foundation’s Women & Girls’ Fund for its first years. Those obligations are fulfilled, and I’ve been looking around for another organization in the spirit of “spread the wealth,” or in this case spread the pittance.

Last year I gave  a bit of money to Connecticut Public Television when I answered phones during one of the UConn women’s basketball games. May do that again especially since they lost some big corporate sponsors. May switch to public radio, though I find the beg-a-thons beyond annoying. Plus the station I listen to managed to go off the air just as the program was engrossing me this morning. And that’s not the first time.

I probably will not give money to a local theater again. I sent the check in mid-December, and it took until March to receive an acknowledgement. I realize it’s an artistic endeavor, but the place still needs someone to manage the business side.

Other possibilities are a different theater, or the food pantry, which is serving more people this year than ever. In general I like to give to money for arts-related activities but may rethink that in the next few days.

If I want to stick to the arts I can choose from one of the many solicitations from libraries, historical societies, museums, and theater groups all over the state.

Or I may go global, though I prefer to keep it local because it’s easier to see results and also to keep tabs on possible mismanagement. There were good reports on Donors Choose, which connects gift-givers to classrooms around the country. Teachers post their needs, and donors select which projects to fund. I was impressed with the concept but disappointed that so many of the requests are for high-tech equipment, though one second-grade teacher in Connecticut requested a rug for his students to sit on that “will allow my students to focus on the other end of their bodies … their brains.”

Going even more global, Kiva is more about loans than donations, but the concept is fabulous. The organization continues to help many people, mostly women, out of poverty by giving them micro loans. If I donate there I’ll just keep putting the repayments back into the pot.

Half the Sky also got me thinking about education for women in places where they don’t always have access to it. The book, and an article by NY Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn has engaged Oprah, so I’m sure the funds to support their efforts are forthcoming and will continue to flow.

While I’m making up my mind I’m surfing through the links at Charity Navigator.

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