Monthly Archives: November 2017

MollyGive 2017

Monday launches one of my favorite parts of the year: MollyGive.

Frequently Asked Questions, Frequently Questioned Answers

What is MollyGive?

You donate up to $100 to a charity and I match it. I know many of you will be waiting until the last minute to donate (I do that too, usually), but I’ll be traveling December 24th – 31st. So, donations in by December 24th at 10AM EST.

How many charities can I give to?

As many as you want! I actually have a really hard time getting people getting people to tell me about their donations during MollyGive (maybe I have bad branding?), so, srsly, go wild.

What counts as a charity?

A 501(c)3 in the United States and something kind of flexible for non-US entities.

What about GoFundMe?

GoFundMe is not and should not be a substitute for public welfare and support. Unfortunately, it is. I give to medical GoFundMe campaigns and then make a donation to match that one to a healthcare reform advocacy group or Planned Parenthood.

Families USA is one President Barak Obama likes, and they do reasonably well on their CharityNavigator ratings on metrics I think are important.

Can you match my donation to the Linux Foundation?

No. You can’t really donate to the Linux Foundation. It is 501(c)6. This is a not-for-profit, not a non-profit. You could -give to- or -join- the Linux Foundation. Additionally, it’s a member based organization. They’d likely take my money separately if I contacted someone there, but I doubt I have enough for it to be really worth their while.

Where else won’t you give?

  • Organizations that are not 501(c)3s, with a special bitterness towards those who misappropriate terms like “donate” or misrepresent themselves.
  • Red Cross
  • Organizations that sell or “rent” donor lists
  • I’ll also be grumpy about ones that -share- donor lists, but I’ve been trying to do better with being grumpy about it.
  • Charities known for misspending funds.
  • Charities that are doing work I just disagree with.
  • I prefer to not donate to charities with high budgets because they simply don’t need the funds as much as other organizations.
  • I prefer to not give to groups who have highly paid EDs.
    • There are lots of reasons why one should pay an ED well–namely that a nonprofit is in direct competition with for-profits for qualified and skilled EDs. I just don’t think -anyone- needs to make that much.
  • The FSF. I should say, I won’t -match- donations to the FSF. I am a member and donate in addition to that during fundraising campaigns. I also work there. You should still totally donate to the FSF.

How do I pick a good charity?

That’s…up to you. I like to use Charity Navigator to help evaluate charities. (Disclosure: Charity Navigator gives the nonprofit for which I work a near perfect score, so I am a little partial to their judgment.)I’ve used GiveWell in the past, but am a little disillusioned with their methodologies at the moment. I’ll spare you all why for now.

Where do you donate? I don’t want to give somewhere you’re already giving.

If I donate there, I probably already care about it and would welcome the chance to give more. 🙂

I failed to do an analysis of my giving from 2016 (or 2015 for that matter, I’ll uhh, try to get up on that). You can however read a bit about past years.

I work in the digital rights sphere, with an emphasis on free software. In addition to my paid and volunteer time, I donate to a number of groups including the EFF, Fight for the Future, the FSF, the Open Source Initiative, and the Software Freedom Conservancy. The ACLU and ACLU of Massachusetts do a lot of good work around digital rights as well.

I care a lot about environmental justice, gender justice, and prison reform and support.

I like to donate to charities that aren’t things I work on. Deb Nicholson once said: whenever I feel like I’m not doing enough for a particular cause, I donate to it, to support those who are working on it.

You named it after yourself?

Actually, no! David Nusinow did that.

Why are you doing this?

This has become a more complicated answer over the years.

Why: Option 1

I tithe–that is to say I set aside 10% of my take-home income and donate it to charity. It’s hard to figure out what to do with it all, and how to do as much good as I can. It’s great to have other people make those decisions for me.

Why: Option 1.A

You tithe? But don’t you have student loans/rent/a nonprofit salary/other financial responsibilities?

The world has lots of problems. If I wait until I am in a better position to help out then I may never do so. Additionally, there are problems RIGHT NOW that need immediate response (e.g. disaster relief), and things that will take lots of long-term effort (e.g. environmental justice). Why wait?

Why: Option 2

Matching donations are used to encourage others to give–it’s a lot easier to give $10 when you know it’s going to become $20. It’s encouraging to give $100 when you know it will be $200. I want more people to donate to charity–regardless of whether they can afford $5 or $1,000.

Why: Option 3

This is usually in response to someone accusing me of having a pathological need to give:

Who cares?

Why: Option 4

I love me some tax deductions.

Why: Option 5

Middle-class guilt.

dinner

How much does it cost to get dinner for 200 people? Someone estimated $10k, which seemed ridiculously high to me, but it comes out to $50/per person. I can easily spend that on a nice night out with friends. With a salad, dinner, and dessert–coffee and wine to our hearts’ delight–$50 no longer seems that unreasonable.

Tampons cost about $0.20/each. A tampon dispenser runs about $750. One of these stores about 50 tampons. Assuming you have to refill it periodically (let’s say it costs a generous $20.00 to have someone refill it), we get:

[20*(tampons/50)] + 750 + .20(tampons) = 10,000

Which, I think, comes out to about 8,400 tampons.

In a typical menstruation period, people use about 20 tampons. This $10,000 could provide tampons for an estimated 420 cycles.

Why are we using tampons? Access to tampons is a huge issue for the homeless.

In some ways, 420 cycles doesn’t seem like a whole lot–there are more homeless people menstruating in any given major US city right now.

Food scales pretty well, when looking at spending $10,000. GenerationOn estimates that this could buy 40,000 meals.

Massachusetts gets reimbursed $3.16 per meal by the federal government for free student lunch. This $10k could also get us about 3,160 school lunches in MA.

I enjoy getting nice, free dinners with my friends. The networking is cool, but I really like just sitting with the people I like, talking about things we care about, and not having to pay for dinner on an already expensive trip.

I’m not saying we should stop having speaker dinners at conferences. Nor am I condemning spending money for fun, or calling these things frivolous. My roommate, in response to the avocado toast debacle, and someone calling her out on drinking expensive lattes, argued that the joy she gets from those things is sometimes something she needs to deal with all the stress of living in one of the most expensive cities in the United States.

I do think we need to consider whether this is the best use of the $10,000, and if instead we should be doing something else. It’s unlikely that any major tech company would be interested in buying tampons for a bunch of homeless women or lunch for a bunch of students–the ROI on it is pretty insignificant compared to the overall industry benefits of building a strong, more connected community of “thought leaders” in technology.

But sometimes, as I turn down the piece of cheesecake someone already cut and plated for me, as I ask the waiter for another bottle of wine for the table, or as I play with the little card announcing to the organizers that I am a vegetarian, I wonder if it’s the right thing for me to be at this meal.