Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about foundations, nonprofits and their impact

Giving Tuesday is, in theory, a lovely idea. Heck, if the people of this great nation want to celebrate Black Friday and Cyber Monday by spending money they don’t have on stuff they don’t need, why not set aside a day for what’s been called “an opportunity for people around the world to come together through generosity in all its forms by sharing acts of kindness and giving their voice, time, money, goods, and advocacy to support communities and causes.” Only a scrooge could object.

Still, it is worth noting that while Giving Tuesday reliably produces an avalanche of unwanted emails from nonprofits, it does not produce a measurable increase in the amount of charitable giving by Americans, which has remained more or less steady for years. People shift their donations to Giving Tuesday, and away from the other days of the year..

If there is a benefit to Giving Tuesday, it is to encourage more thoughtful giving. I’ve just written a couple of stories that, I hope, will spur people to think harder and do some research before clicking on a “donate now”  button or writing a check.

Which are the best climate change nonprofits?, for Medium, reports on the recommendations of a small meta-charity called Giving Green that seeks to guide people who want to use their donations or investments to help curb climate change. 

Why the future of animal welfare lies beyond the west, for Vox, reports on a disconnect that has long vexed the animal advocacy movement: Most giving on behalf of farm animals goes to groups in the US and EU, while the vast majority of the world’s farm animals live, and suffer, elsewhere. Fortunately, donors and animal advocates are redirecting more of their efforts to work in the global south. 

If you care about climate change or animal rights, these stories may interest you.

Unfortunately, it is really hard to identify standout nonprofits. Charity Navigator doesn’t have the staff or budget to do the job. That is why a handful of meta-charities like Giving Green, GiveWell and Animal Charity Evaluators are so valuable. Guided by the principles of effective altruism, they do deep research into nonprofits to find those that do the most good.

If you are looking for a place to give, consider GiveDirectly, my favorite charity, which simply (and very efficiently)  gives money to the world’s poorest people, trusting that they know their own needs better than we do. I first wrote about GiveDirectly here in 2015, and I’ve donated to them annually ever since.

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