My dear dear friend hatam_soferet is getting married today. In honour of this wonderful occasion, I have made a small donation to the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU are not generally my favourite charity, not because I dislike their work but because I tend to prioritize other causes, particularly more direct anti-poverty activism, higher. But they are the charity that the bride chose, and also they seem to be well-placed right now to block the worst consequences of the US election. Particularly they are committed to protecting Muslims from being forced to register or from being removed from the US, which is a fight I really want to support. Also I know a lot of other US citizens and residents in my circles who would like the ACLU to be strengthened in the coming months.
I have also pledged a regular donation to the little crowd-funding, pro-refugee organization my brother runs, Thousand 4 £1000. They're not particularly financially "effective", and indeed they're not even a charity yet, they're still working through the paperwork to register as one. But I really like the idea of getting lots of local people with a personal connection to crowd-fund housing for four specific individuals. Primarily they're targeting failed asylum seekers who do not have the right to work or to receive any benefits, and also cannot be deported for reasons that often amount to their being essentially stateless. They're also open to helping other vulnerable migrants who are made homeless by the UK's abusive border régime. They're not not just raising money to throw at the problem, they're creating a community of mostly local, supportive people who will form the rudiments of a social network for the recipients that the org houses. And by crowd-funding the project they're raising awareness of just how bad the immigration situation is. They're asking people to pledge small amounts, as little as £1 per month, so that if supporters' financial cirumstances change, there's less chance that the org's income will fluctuate to the point where the people depending on them can't make rent.
My main regular donation for many years has been microloans to entrepreneurs in poor countries via Kiva. I am thinking of switching part or all of that to UK giving, mostly likely to The Trussell Trust, the major providers of foodbanks and similar financial crisis support. I want to do something to counter the way that the government seems bent on punishing people for being poor, a policy which they haven't curtailed even in the face of clear evidence that it's killing people.
I am not writing this post to show off what a great person I am; I am sure many of you give way more to charity than I do or contribute directly in ways other than financial. I'm thinking of doing the latter too but it's going to take some medium-term arranging my life to make happen. I'm writing to encourage discussion, to let people know about Thousand 4 £1000, and to offer a kind of minimal solidarity. I've definitely had thoughts about needing to hoard up all my spare money as an escape fund, but eventually decided that doesn't really make sense, I'm not eating into my savings to an extent that's going to make a difference to whether I can get out or not. And seeing other people talking about their giving as a response to bad political news has been comforting to me, so I wanted to pay it forward.
And most importantly, congratulations to hatam_soferet and about-to-be husband. I wish you many years of supportive partnership and domestic bliss, and I'm sending very, very much love along with the donation in your names.
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