Monday, December 3, 2018

10 Witchy Ways to Give This Season

10 Witchy Ways to Give This Season

One of the reasons I love this time of year so much is because suddenly the majority of people become a little more charitable. Every year I adopt a local family to buy presents for, I donate canned goods and clothes, and if I am able to, I give up some of my precious time to help others. I'm particular about the charities I get involved with, as many use the opportunity to make money instead of giving money. It's even harder when there are conflicts of faiths. For example, I absolutely LOVE the idea behind Operation Christmas Child, but I HATE that they go into developing countries and use God as a weapon against children. I don't support that ideology one bit. So what's a witch to do? I've done the legwork and came up with a list of 10 witch-friendly charities to give to this season. I've also included instructions on how you can find local charities to support and how to find the ratings of those charities.

Pagan Pride Project Inc

Even been to a Pagan Pride festival in your local area? If so, this is the organization that helps fund and coordinate those events. They are a nonprofit organization that not only brings together pagans but also promotes social responsibility by hosting a food drive at all of their events. If you've ever been to one, you've probably "paid" to get in with canned goods. The local was rented using donated funds, so to keep these events going around the world, consider a small cash donation through PayPal.

Spiral Scouts International

A neo-pagan alternative to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, that offers a welcoming environment to children and families of all faiths. They do essentially the same things as Boy/Girl Scouts but are more inclusive and they focus more on caring for our Earth and honoring her in a way befitting us all. Currently, there are about 45 circles and hearths all over the world. Consider starting a circle in your area or make a donation to keep their programs running. If you are looking to get a little something out of your donation, they have a beautiful Goddess Coloring Book and Pagan Kid's Activity Book that would make a wonderful Yule gift to the child in your life.

ACLU Foundation

Not directly pagan/witch, but these are the people fighting for our religious freedoms and protections in the United States. The ACLU is the people who fight for you when your employer tries to fire you for being a witch. These are the people that fight for you when our government attempts to pass a law banning pagans or LGBTQ members from our military. According to Charity Watch, the ACLU Foundation has an A+ rating which means they are using most of your money to support their mission, not pay their top executives a hefty salary.  In other words, they are putting their money where their mouth is. They do good work to keep us safe.

Center for Biological Diversity

Again, not very witchy, but extremely important to environmentally conscious people like ourselves. The Center for Biological Diversity helps preserve and protect threatened and endangered species through advocacy, research, and environmental protections around the world. These are the people fighting to keep tigers, elephants, leopards, red wolves, and a host of other species from going extinct. While you may not think an individual species is important, as a biologist, I can assure you they are. Loss of a single species often causes a cascade effect in the ecosystem. This means less diversity for us to enjoy, whether it be for pleasure or for scientific or commercial use. Biological diversity is extremely important to the survival of all life on Earth. According to Charity Watch, The Center for Biological Diversity has an A.

Arbor Day Foundation

I love this charity. The Arbor Day Foundation is a US-based charity that plants trees where they are needed the most. In light of current deforestation issues, these are the people world diligently to plant more trees to increase habitat, reduce climate change, and just make the world a better place to be. Charity Watch gives the Arbor Day Foundation an A-. Why not donate 10 trees in the name of a loved one this holiday season? I used to do this every year and will be sure to pick that tradition up again this year.

The Trevor Project

A large number of witches and pagans are a part of the LGBTQ community, and while we don't often talk about it, suicide is just as prevalent in our community as in others. Founded in 1998, the Trevor Project provides crisis and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youths under 25. They do incredibly good work and offer a host of services to keep our LGBTQ community safe. According to Charity Watch, the Trevor Project has an A rating. If you are looking to continue to support the LGBTQ community, also consider giving to my favorite charity, Lost-n-Found Youth. This is an Atlanta, GA-based charity that provides shelter, food, and support to homeless LGBTQ youth. They are the only LGBTQ-friendly homeless shelter in the Atlanta area. I love their work and support them every year. They are always looking for monetary gifts, but they also have an Amazon wishlist if you would rather donate food, clothing, bedding, or backpacks.

PetSmart Charities

Okay, this one may seem a little odd because PetSmart is such a huge company, but they are one of the highest-rated animal adoption charities in the United States. If you are looking to help get some pets adopted, PetSmart Charities is the charity to donate to. They spend less money to raise funds and 93% of donations go directly to getting animals adopted. If you have ever been to a weekend adoption at PetSmart, this is where the funds came from to help run the event. They also help support local animal shelters and provide low-cost spay and neuter. I adopted my cat, Oscar Wilde, from a PetSmart adoption day and it's the best thing I ever did. If you are looking for other ways to give back to the homeless pets in your community, try volunteering at your local animal shelter or consider gifting your local animal shelter with used towels and blankets, pet food, and cat litter. These gifts go a long way.

Operation Homefront

For those of you who don't know, my little brother has been serving in the US Army for several years as a combat medic. He did two tours in the Middle East and is currently stationed in Hawaii, the buffer between the US and North Korea. Operation Homefront is a charity that helps provide assistance to military families in the form of financial aid. Honestly, charities like this shouldn't need to exist, but because our government is too cheap to pay our service members enough to take care of themselves and their families, many families end up relying on outside help. Operation Homefront provided military families over $22.5 million in financial assistance last year, 18% of which when to help families buy groceries, 16% for rent/mortgage assistance, and 15% to keep utilities on for our military families. They also provide backpacks and academic scholarships so military children have what they need to succeed. Charity Watch gives them an A rating, with 92% of funds raised going to support our military families so they don't have to choose between food and keep the electricity on.

Scholarship America

Scholarship America helps students and communities by aiding in the development of scholarship programs around the country, specifically targetting low-income areas and families. Global scholarships are available as well. They also design and deliver high-impact education programs to make a difference in these same areas to promote education as a way of rising out of poverty. There is a running list of active scholarships available on their website to ensure students can easily find and apply for scholarships across the country. I know many in our community cannot afford for their children to go to college, so consider helping support a local scholarship through Scholarship America, which has an A+ rating from Charity Watch. If you are looking to give to a pagan/witch-specific scholarship, try one from this list or donate to Michigan Pagan Scholarships.

Global Fund for Women

This charity works to ensure that women around the world have reproductive and sexual rights, freedom from violence, leadership, and economic justice. They partner with other local groups to advocate for women and keep women globally safe and represented. According to Charity Watch, the Global Fund for Women has an A rating. The majority of our community includes women, and women witches in other countries are not as safe as women in the United States, Europe, and Australia. There are modern-day witch burnings still occurring, most of which are directed at women. The Global Fund for Women seeks to end violence of all types against women, no matter their religious affiliation.

Looking to stay local? You can use Charity Navigator to find charities in your area that meets your standards. Charity Navigator also lists the charity's rating, if it has one, and a short description of the charity so you can donate your money and time wisely. You can also give to Charity Ratings, which is a nonprofit organization that unbiasedly rates and reviews charities. Their ratings are well-respected, accurate, and transparent. They also allow you to search for your favorite charities to learn more about them. While not every charity is on there, the big ones are. I always search Charity Ratings before I give, unless I've worked with the charity directly before.

This list is by no means all-inclusive. I tried to pick charities that do work related to paganism and witchcraft in some way or that support a vast number of our members. If you have a charity you love to donate to, please leave a comment below. I'd like this to be a running list of great charities for witches and pagans to donate to make the greatest impact on our community. Remember, charitable giving doesn't have to be expensive. Just $5 goes an incredibly long way. I donate $5 to charities all the time. They are happy for the donation, and while it may not seem like a lot, it does a whole lot of good, I promise. I used to work in a donation call center; we loved $5 donations! I hope you'll find it in your heart to give this holiday season and may you have a very happy holiday!

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