My Top 12 Non-Profits And An Offer Of Help (updated)

Each year a few days after Christmas, Scott and I sit down and plan our charitable giving. We donate throughout the seasons as people and groups need support, but we also like to end each year by giving thanks for all we have.  And we decided a long time ago that the best way to appreciate what we have is to give some of it away.

Here are our 12 charities for 2011 (most of which we have support for years).

Local to Richmond:
Fan Free Clinic*/**
YWCA of Richmond**
Central Virginia Food Bank

Crisis Support:
UNICEF (we specified for the Horn of Africa Famine)
Relief International

Human Rights:
Amnesty International
Lambda Legal*

Fighting Poverty:
Heifer International
Children’s Health Fund*

Protecting the Environment:
World Wildlife Foundation

Support our Military/Veterans:
National Military Families Association

Protecting Animals: ****

*New this year.
**All of our charities are top-rated on Charity Navigator or Charity Watch except these because their rating weren’t available.
***I have no idea why I did the 3 star asterisks.
****In past years, we’ve donated to an animal-focused charity usually our local SPCA, but in 2011 we adopted two cats instead.

We are open to new non-profits particularly if you have a better suggestion than the new charities we’ve added (except for the Fan Free Clinic since I already promised them a donation after their amazing work on World AIDS Day).

I also saved one spot (well mostly I decided not to count the cats). I know we don’t talk about money much, but I want to help someone I know or who reads this blog. I believe in the organizations above, but I also believe in giving to our neighbors and friends. We live in a society where we often bear our burdens and crises alone particularly financial ones.  I don’t want you to feel alone anymore.

If you need financial help, will you either comment below or email me alex {at} lateenough {dot} com?  The first few people who get in touch with me, I can help.

UPDATE: All the spots filled but thanks to those who were brave enough to ask for help.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

26 thoughts to “My Top 12 Non-Profits And An Offer Of Help (updated)”

  1. My favorite charity to donate is The American Leprosy Missions! Even if I’ve been unemployed for the past year I’m still donating. This is a totally “unsexy” cause… Nobody talks about leprosy anymore, most assume the disease no longer exists! But it does, every day 75 CHILDREN are diagnosed with this horrible disease!

    I’m also a huge fan of Doctors Without Borders. I’m amazed that somebody would go through all that schooling, years and years of it to work in the most impoverished and war-torn countries. That is total dedication.

    And – wow. How generous of you to offer your help to those who need it! Those who DO contact you, and get your help, are very fortunate. Thank you so much. I’m close to tears now. You’re a really good person!

  2. I love that you do this! We also have a bunch of places we give…even though if you looked at our budget, there seems to be no extra to give. We find it and give it freely.

    My favorites to give to are the local pantries and things in my school’s community since so many of my students and their families can’t afford nutritious meals or warm coats/hats etc for the winter months. We also give to my husband’s aunt’s nonprofit (where she works) to get blankets and coats to homeless in our area.

  3. This may sound rather odd duck, but have you asked your children (if old enough to talk comprehensibly) what they would like to give to? I learned this from one id my closest friends one year when I taught her 3yo in Bible class. I asked if she had suggestions, and she said the whole family got to choose one place they really liked to give back at the end of the year. Her daughter was very big at the time in drawing and โ€readingโ€, so the little one chose her favorite library. Her parents gave a small donation on her behalf.
    That little one is now a freshman in college, but she still helps choose where to give.

  4. Great choices Alex!
    Heifer International
    FEED projects
    ONE campaign
    TOMs shoes
    MEOW Cat Rescue (for those here in Washington State)
    East African Center (helps empower women in Africa)
    Doctors Without Borders.
    We donate through out the year to all those. ๐Ÿ™‚ giving just makes you feel good.

  5. Such a great idea! We always give to The Autism Society of America. I also love Teach for America. We also keep a little money to the side to donate to things that come up throughout the year, like helping a family with a sick child or family member or other charities closer to home.

  6. This is a great list. I’m glad to see that you give a lot of thought to your giving for the year and that you check your charities on Guidestar and Charity Navigator.

    Of course, my favorite charity is CJ’s Thumbs Up Foundation ( but we also do a lot to support Make-A-Wish, the Food Bank, and St. Judes. In the past, we’ve given a lot of Heifer gifts to friends and family. I love their program!

    I also think it’s great that you are “adopting” a family in need. I have found that a giving heart does much to heal the spirit.

    Cheers to you in the New Year!

  7. Great list. It’s apparent that you consciously think about your choices to give, and try to spread them out among various reaches.

    Each year we raise money for the March of Dimes. There’s nothing like seeing an organization directly benefit your babies to give you the fire to make sure it continues to help others.

  8. What a wonderful post! Richmond is full of amazing nonprofits and commited community members. I hope you’ll consider exploring the programs of the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence. We are HandsOnRVA, ConnectRichmond, and Nonprofit Learning Point and we are committed to strengthening RVA’s nonprofits through our many offerings. Thank you for highlighting the importance of giving and receiving and the good works here in RVA. Happy new year!

  9. Thanks for a great post. As an employee of a nonprofit organization, I must speak to the ratings provided by Charity Navigator. My employer is a solid charity which channels $.90 out of every $1 to patient care; however, because of the evaluation criteria, it has a low rating on Charity Navigator. In comparison, Charity Navigator gave the Central Asia Institute, the organization started by the author of Three Cups of Tea, a four star rating prior to the 60 Minutes expose.

    If donors can’t scrutinize an organization in person, eg meeting with the development director, volunteering with the organization, etc., it behooves them to crosscheck the organization with a variety of charity evaluators. (BBB Wise Giving Alliance),, and Charity Watch (which you mentioned) are all great tools. ( was the only one to not recommend donating to the CAI.)

    My favorite charity is the Pittsburgh based Homeless Children’s Education Fund ( which provides learning centers in shelters so that children don’t fall behind while they are experiencing homelessness. Again, this charity is not rated, but we’ve been involved with it for 10 years and have seen the work that they do. We also support the Nothing But Nets campaign to prevent malaria in Africa and the Child Rescue Center in Sierra Leone.

    Sorry for being so long winded.

    Happy New Year.

    1. You make a great point.
      Personally, I cross-referenced between the 2 sites I linked to because of the Central Asia Institute scandal. I would like to see Charity Navigator be more specific as to why a charity receives a lower score because the reason may not be something that I’m worried about.
      This is also, in part, why I posted about my charity choices on here so others could talk about their nonprofits or let me know why one wasn’t as great as I thought.
      I did not know about Thanks for another site to check out.

  10. I wish we were able to donate like this. I’m hoping someday soon we’ll be able to. For now, we do what we can (Toys for Tots, donations of food to our local ASPCA, etc.) I’d just like to say that I think you guys are awesome. Thanks for being so socially aware.

  11. Your post makes me smile, Alex. ๐Ÿ™‚ Giving is truly wonderful. Thank you for your willingness to help your readers, too. Those who accept your help are truly blessed to have you!

  12. Every year I donate a great deal of money but I don’t post about it on the internet. I guess I probably should because how else will people know I’m doing good works then? They don’t count unless everybody knows you did them.

    1. I didn’t post anything about money. I just posted the charities that we support. I didn’t say how much we gave to them.
      But you must be a really good guy to have taken the time between giving “a great deal of money” to make sure I knew how you really feel about this post.

        1. Oh wait, I just realized I misunderstood the entire post. It wasn’t about money, it was about SUPPORTING charities. Boy is my face red! I clearly misunderstood the part where you said you didn’t talk about money much on this blog as meaning that this post was about money. My bad!

  13. Thanks for this post! I’m always interested in where people are supporting besides the big non-profits. As I get older I find I’m making more donations through out the year and supporting a wider range of organizations. Thanks for the food for thought!

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