Many of us have a small surplus at times. We may save it; we may spend it on ourselves; we may purchase gifts for friends or family. And sometimes we give it away. We might drop a few coins in the hands of someone on a heating grate; we may support a political cause; we may even give something to a charity whose work we support.
It is hard to rationally justify giving something away. We may have an emotional attachment to the arts; we may be moved by the need to address hunger or homelessness. Giving to a theatre company or a community organisation isn’t inherently rational. We deprive ourselves of something concrete for an intangible—even if the intangible could potentially benefit us down the way, we no longer have the money available for something we might personally want.
Yet every year I make donations—some spontaneous, some to groups I have a on-going attachment to. Some of these are groups whose boards I have been a part of; others are groups I have no other attachment to other than having made a donation to. Over the course of the year it likely is close to a tithe of my income. And, while my motivations may not be clear, the effects on those who are the beneficiaries of my donations are. Those that receive money from my appreciate the practical statement of solidarity with their work; they value the shared commitment to a cause; they have something more on hand to do what they desired to do—house the homeless; feed the hungry; create a more just and equitable social order.
While there are many organisations around whose work I support, the following are those I most consistently support. If you have something extra in your pocket, they are ones you might also consider helping.
St. Clare’s Multifaith Housing Society. 138 Pears Ave. #801, Toronto, Ontario, M5R 3K6. firstname.lastname@example.org . St. Clare’s grew out of the work of Toronto Action for Social Change. It is an effort to address the problems of homelessness through the development of new affordable housing for those in the shelter system. It has developed 177 units to date and has had funding for two additional projects, which will add 270 units of housing. St. Clare’s has endorsed initiatives such as the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and Housing Not War Campaign, trying to link the practical concern of addressing the needs of the vulnerable in the here and now with the ongoing work of building a better world for all.
Toronto Christian Resource Centre. 40 Oak Street, Toronto, Ontario M5A 2H6. email@example.com Located in the Regent Park area of Toronto the CRC has served an incubator centre for a number of community based efforts—from a bicycle repairs to an artist studio to a drop-in from the homeless and those in rooming houses to community gardens. It is currently embarked on a new initiative—to develop 87 units of affordable housing on its site. While all of its efforts are valuable, it particularly needs help for the new housing development.
Rooftops Canada . 720 Spadina Ave., # 313, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2T7. <firstname.lastname@example.org> Rooftops Canada is the international solidarity/development wing of the co-operative and non-profit housing movements in Canada. It works with partner organisations in a number of countries around the world to improve the capacity of groups and individuals to develop and manage co-operatives. A current focus is on addressing the needs of HIV-AIDS survivors in Africa. Rooftops works with groups in India, the Philippines, the Baltic states and in a number of countries in Africa.
FoodShare. 90 Croatia Street, Toronto, ON M6H 1K9. From practical efforts to ensure access to good quality, nutritious food for the entire community to promoting food security policies for an urban environment, FoodShare works hard to ensure that people have access to food while pressing for the social transformations necessary to ensure that a sustainable food network that meets the needs of farmers, distributors and consumers is woven together.
Peace Brigades International Canada (cheques made out to Peacefund Canada). 206 – 145 rue Spruce Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1R 6P1. PBI is a long-standing international non-violence network that works with those seeking positive social transformation by being a presence among communities as a compassionate witness. They also provide training in the history and practical application of non-violence. They currently have projects in a number of countries, including Columbia and Indonesia.
Student Christian Movement. 310 Danforth Ave., Toronto ON M4K 1N6 email@example.com The SCM has been a radical expression of hope and faith, primarily on campuses, since 1921. From addressing homophobia in the broader Christian community to taking part in protests against war and economic injustice to grassroots bible study, the SCM is a unique ecumenical expression of the radical core of the Christian faith, a core too often vigorously pushed aside by mainstream and conservative forces in the institutional churches.