Philanthropy Friday

Change of plans today, denizens. As we move ever closer into the holiday season, I thought I would take a moment to praise some of the old and new organizations to which I have either religiously made donations or to which I plan to donate.

I know that this is not a kind economy right now, and that things like charity donations typically fall off everyone’s radars during these lean times. However, if you can spare a few dollars and would like to put them to maximum use, here are four suggestions that receive the Loba Pawprint of Approval:

Defenders of Wildlife: In an utterly unsurprising announcement, I am a staunch animal lover and armchair environmentalist. I’ve been donating to Defenders of Wildlife since I was in college, and I continue to believe in and respect their efforts. They are consistently ranked by Worth magazine as one of the best charities in the United States, with the largest portion of received donations being put toward their protective efforts, rather than in covering administrative costs or purchasing poorly made give-aways to clog up your mailbox (like certain other charities to which I will never donate again). Defenders not only has never overwhelmed me with give-aways, they also ask me if I would rather opt out of the give-away when I do donate. I really like that. They also know me well enough that they always send me wolf-specific information when it’s time to remind me to renew my membership. They’ve been fighting to protect wildlife since 1947, which makes me think they must know a little bit about what they’re doing.

Pat Summitt Foundation: It is wrong to anthropomorphize a disease, but if you did, then Alzheimer’s would be a brutal, harsh betrayer…a Judas with a kiss that is lingering, debilitating, unstoppable, and cruel. There is nothing poetic in its deconstruction of mind and spirit, and it leaves bystanders with nothing to do but sit by helplessly and watch as the person they love is stolen from them piece at a time until there is nothing left. It needs to be stopped, and if there is anyone with the fortitude to help bring the beginning of the end to this disease, it’s Pat Summitt. I’ve already spoken my part on how I feel about Coach Summitt. If anything, I respect her even more than before, and I am so in awe of how she has yet again stepped up to the challenge placed before her with 100-percent focus and dedication. I wish I could say that I believe she can outpace this disease and add it as another win for her record books. I do believe that she will dedicate herself wholly to her offensive stance against it, and through giving her name and support to research against the disease, I believe that she will have a huge impact in bringing the support and funding needed to move that much closer to the cure.

Penny Lane: This is another new addition to my list, brought to my attention by someone else I respect and admire…and ironically, another Pat. This time, it’s that zombie-bashing, phaser-firing, mind-reading stunt actress extraordinaire, Patricia Tallman. I learned about this foundation by reading Tallman’s recent memoir, Pleasure Thresholds and decided that it needed further investigation. The foundation’s California-based centers provide therapeutic residential services, foster family placements, transitional housing, and outpatient mental health services to more than 1,400 abused and neglected children and youth. Tallman has been a long-time advocate of Penny Lane’s efforts, even starting her own “Be A Santa” program in 1998. Hint, hint…it’s the perfect time of year to help with the Be A Santa program.

RAINN: This is the other organization to which I have donated since college. I first learned about them through their founder, Tori Amos. She started RAINN as a way to respond to the many fans who reached out to her with their own stories when she stepped forward as the survivor of sexual assault. This is another close to the top of the list of Worth magazine’s highest-ranking U.S. charities, with 92 percent of every dollar donated going to helping victims of sexual violence, educating the public, and improving public policy. It’s also another charity that doesn’t overwhelm you with give-aways or pester you with repeated mailings. I receive regular e-mails, but the only time I ever receive postal mail from them is when I haven’t made a donation in a while. Additionally, as far as I can tell, they have never sold my contact information to any other organizations or affiliates. I really respect them for that.

There you go. If you can give something, please do. If not, that’s okay, too. And if you want additional recommendations, just look to the right of the screen, under the heading “Give It Up, For Good.”