Every year we select two main charities and try to raise a lot of money for them---say, $25,000 or more. We do this by a combo of direct contributions (we'll typically give half of that ourselves) and fundraising. Our fundraising amounts, in a large way, to us subsidizing your contributions by offering your store credit for donations. The amount of credit we give may vary, but it's typically quite heavy: Donate $100, get $75 in credit.
That means it costs you $25 to donate $100, and you get the tax write-off and good feellings on top of that. This "creative fundraising via heavy subsidizing" raised well over $50,000 in 2010 for Smile Train.
We aren't wedded or in any way bound to this way of doing it, but it has worked well, and we predict it will continue to.
For 2011, our main charities (we have some un-main ones, too) are
(1) The Fistula Foundation, which basically heals African women who've been hurt during childbirth and now constantly leak urine and feces. Their families and villages banish them, thinking it's a curse from god, and the surgeries give them their lives back.
(2) Whirlwind Wheelchairs. This long-established charity supplies sturdy, off-roadish wheelchairs to poor people in Third World countries who can't afford fancy chairs. But hey--they end up with much better chairs than the fancy ones. Whirlwind chairs are stout, steel, not heavy, have a longer wheelbase, wheels that roll in loose gravel an over potholes....they blow the doors off of other manual off-road wheelchairs that start at $2500.
Our minor charities include:
(3) The Carter Center
Carter Center tackles the difficult, ugly, and often dangerous causes
that other groups ignore. It is solely responsible for nearly wiping out
guinea worm disease in Africa; and expects the wipeout to be complete
within 3 years. The Carter Center is efficient (using only one staff
member per location/cause, and giving the skills and tools and funding
so that native groups can wage the fight themselves). There is so much
more, too. Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter ride their bicycles four to
six days a week when they're home in Georgia. That has nothing to do
with anything, but you might find that interesting. cartercenter.org We give The Carter Center $2,000 to $2,500 every year.
There are so many other worthy charities, as well as hundreds of unworthy ones. We stay focused on a few, so that our contributions actually matter. No reason to give $1.00 to each of 50 thousand charities. That's a waste.
New for 2013:
826 Valencia. More on that soon.