Who I donate to

Expensive value signalling



Why this list

Some public goods I long for can best be achieved by outsourcing, i.e. I give someone else money to achieve them for us all. That is what charitable donation is. I mention my specific donations here because

  1. I believe in normalising donations as part of a healthy society. (This is a contingent stance; many of the causes I donate to have the goal of reducing the need for charitable donation, which I think is better than having a society which relies upon affluent guilt.)
  2. I hope that by highlighting the causes I donate to, I will encourage others to donate to them, which is good since I want those particular causes to succeed.
  3. For my own reference, I want a centralised list of who I am donating to so that I can stop my donations if I decide the recipient is no longer the best place to send my money.
  4. Maybe if donating to saving the planet becomes the new conspicuous consumption, then not only will I look fancy, I’ll even have a planet to look fancy on.
  5. Maybe you will think I am a nice person for giving money to strangers.
  6. Maybe you will have better ideas about whom I should donate to and will engage constructively on that topic to improve my strategy.

Good.

Listing organisations here should not be taken as my personal endorsement of any individual tactical decision made by any of the organisations or individuals mention, nor my blanket support of all positions they may adopt, simply my conditional belief that funding these particular groups is a high leverage way to help us all on balance (me included 🤞).

Unlike, say, classic Effective Altruist organisations donor lists, there is little mention here of mosquito nets or whatever. I am interested especially in organisations which aim to change change the system to enable us humans to solve problems for ourselves. That is, I mostly give money to lobbyists and builders of capacity and builders of tools. This is, IMO, a higher-risk, higher-reward strategy than (important, useful) concrete certainties like mosquito nets, and also, TBH, one that I more directly personally benefit from. Enlightened mutual interest is kind of my whole thing though. Further, we are at a point in human history where high-risk high-reward is pretty much the only strategy. Hail-mary bets all the way.

As a side order, I give money to some creators whose work I enjoy. This amount of money is somewhat smaller than the donations to political activity.

For reference, my current donation level is 4% of my income. Unless there is an exceptional burning emergency, I attempt to give my donations as regular recurring payments, to provide budgeting certainty and reduce the incentive for alarmism and clickbait.

The list

  • Progtech the Progressive Tech network. I attempted to volunteer teaching campaigning data science for these folks, but they never allocated me shifts. Progtech: you folks are welcome to get back in touch. Or indeed, other organisations doing good for the world are welcome to reach out.
  • Original power: Australian-Indigenous-led campaign for self-determination through clean energy. My research into them suggests that they have high leverage to improve both indigenous self-determination outcomes and the politics of energy in Australia more broadly.
  • The Guardian because they are a relatively more credible dissident media organisations in Murdochistan.
  • Australian Youth Climate Coalition, because a strong voice for the youth is needed, as they are the ones who will have the greatest proportion of their lives ruined by climate crisis.
  • Getup, because they provide a citizen interest voice to balance out the corporate interest voice at a time when citizen participation in democracy is under attack.
  • Richard Boyle, whose persecution by the Australian government for whistleblowing on government activity is one of several test cases in the Australian authoritarian turn.
  • Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT), as a kind of rent.

The next few are about private and/or open source computing infrastructure.

Various creators on Patreon I can’t work out how to link to en masse:

Rent

Australia has a complicated and generally horrifying history regarding the treatment of the first people to live here. Putting that right is going to be long, slow and complicated and I am not expert in the nuances of policy to make it better. The institutions that might better the autonomy of Aboriginal people in Australia are not strong, at least not everywhere. It is not always clear how to act to make the best difference, in the sometimes-dirty power politics.

However, when it comes to paying Aboriginal people for the use of land in Australia, I think things are relatively straightforward. I am not Aboriginal, but I have common cause with the Aboriginal people of Sydney in struggling against the nascent landed caste system that is choking us all, and I acknowledge that Aboriginal people are on average worse off than I because of it, and this is because of a massive violation of their rights and culture which has benefited me personally, even if that project wasn’t my idea.

I can make a small positive difference to Aboriginal people by paying some cash back to some of the people whose historical mistreatment has most directly benefited me. Also, if I can increase the diversity and accessibility of housing to Aboriginal people in urban Australia it will also help me, personally, by getting me a more interesting, diverse and affordable place to live; we can think of that as a gentrification tax if we want. The Pay the rent movement is all about that.

So, to whom should I pay the rent? Ideally there should be an equitable system for collecting and allocating Aboriginal land rents to aboriginal land custodians, but that institution does not exist at the moment. The governing Aboriginal land council where I live, the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council does not take donations.1 For now, I reckon a solid bet in my region is the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT), who have a good reputation, are tax-deductible and help, amongst other things, with Aboriginal housing problems.


  1. but do consider hiring out their campsite; it is lovely. Also, they are champs.↩︎


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