If you follow my column, then you know I am not a fan of workplace donations. It seems like everyone has their hand out looking for money. If I gave a buck to everyone who asked I would probably be homeless. Just because I have a chip on my shoulder about donations doesn't mean I don't give. In fact I enjoy giving and always have.
I just choose to be selective in who gets my hard earned money.
It's that time of year where my company is soliciting cash for 'worthwhile' charities. They offer a program where you pledge to give a certain amount and they do a 50% match on the donation, then withdraw it via installment from your weekly check. Many workplaces offer a similar program.
This year I thought long and hard about who I am going to give my money to. The suggested list was full of the usual bleeding hearts who I will not name - charities known for high overhead costs, huge CEO salaries, and little in the way of actual 'help provided' to anyone.
My company sends out daily updates on what percentage of employees have donated, applying subtle pressure to those who have not. Who wants to be the guy who didn't give? So everyone just checks off a few boxes and feels redeemed for their sins.
Luckily, this donation season comes with a new option: the write in charity.
The concept is simple: if there is a charity you would like to give to that is not on the list, you can still donate if you do a little homework. I think the hoops to jump through are an intentional way of diverting cash to the suggested list. You have to look up a sort of charity code (which verifies that the organization has non profit status) and then send it off to corporate.
I am taking full advantage of the write in option this year, and stepping outside of the charity box, to support organizations that represent things I care about. Here are the three charities I will be giving to this year:
St. Judes Children's Research Hospital
Everyone has heard of St. Judes. The hospital based in Memphis, Tennessee specializes in the treatment of childhood diseases with a special focus on leukemia and other cancers. Though the hospital costs nearly $3 million dollars a day to run, they charge the patients and their families nothing.
There are some controversies over executive salaries at the hospital, but considering the overall benefit I feel comfortable giving to the charity. In fact, if I could only give to one charity - it would be St. Jude's.
Every time I see a commercial and see those kids smiling - even considering all that they are going through - I get a little choked up. I kid you not, I just looked at their website and got a little misty eyed then laughed as the kids smiled. Truly heart warming. You can give to St. Judes Children's Hospital by clicking here.
Alcor Life Extension Foundation
Here is where things get a little weird. The second charity I have chosen to support is the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. Unless you're into some far out science, you probably haven't heard of them. Alcor is a Scottsdale, Arizona based science research organization who is the world leader in cryonics research and technology.
What is Cryonics? Basically it's the practice of using ultra-cold temperatures to preserve a human body in the hopes of reviving said body once the technology is available. Re-animation of the dead. But hoping that they don't bring you back as a zombie.
Yes, it's pretty strange and pretty far out there, but considering that Elon Musk recently announced that he is working on human brain-computer interfaces, I don't think that cryonics is that far out there. Even notable people like Hall of Fame Baseball player Ted Williams thought that Alcor might be onto something: they have his frozen head and body, along with 168 other "patients" and 90 pets waiting to be revived. Learn more about Alcor and cryonics by clicking here.
International Dark-Sky Association
The third and final charity I am giving to this year is the International Dark Sky Association. Founded by two astronomers, IDA aims "to preserve and protect the night time environment and our heritage of dark skies".
What that means is that IDA and it's 5,000 members (in 70 countries) are trying to reduce light pollution. You know how everywhere you look, you see lights from a city? That's a problem if you just want a place to look up at the sky and take in the natural beauty of the cosmos. And as cities grow, the problem is only getting worse. The light bleeds out and 'pollutes' the view.
Sure, it might sound trivial but if you are an outdoorsman or amateur astronomer I think you can see the value in preserving the natural environment. Learn more about the International Dark Sky Association by clicking here.
Even if you think my charity choices are not for you, I hope that you take the time to find one that is. I find it rewarding to support causes that are close to my beliefs and values. One thing that I think is missing in modern culture is the appreciation for what we have, and forgetting that many do not have it so good.
Sure, not every cause I support is giving back in the traditional sense - but with their research they hope to create a better world for all of us. And that is what giving is all about. Comment below and tell me what charities you give to. Who would your write in charity be?
Jeremy Wright is a self described opinionated bastard with a bit of a soft side. Follow him on Facebook.