If you are an atheist, like me, you may often struggle to identify charities to support around Christmas time, or all year around, that you are comfortable with.
And by ‘comfortable’ I mean the knowledge the charity I support does not push its religious ideology onto those they are purporting to help, or the community at large, or discriminate on the basis of their faith against certain members of the public they are meant to serve.
I am of course happy to see religious organisations engaging in charitable activities and providing help to people in need. However, many such organisations simultaneously cause serious harm to certain sections of the community through exclusion, discrimination, and even careless, hate-filled statements.
To make things worse, taxpayers’ money often partly, if not wholly, fund many of their charitable activities, and the support they offer to the public. Meanwhile many continue to insist they be entitled to discriminate against certain members of the public (and some of the taxpayers those very funds came from).
Over the years, religious organisations have come to monopolise the charity sector, and many essential public social services, and it is important that secular and non-denominational charities and social services grow to address that imbalance.
For those reasons I select my charities very carefully each year, to make sure the organisations my partner and I support financially are not affected in their service delivery by religious belief or ideology, which may in turn lead to exclusion or discrimination.
Here is our 2015 humanist, secularist Christmas giving guide.
Charities & organisations assisting children
UNICEF Australia is an international charity organisation that works for the survival, protection and development of children worldwide through fundraising, advocacy, education and international development programs.
UNICEF is one of the largest and best known international organisation devoted to the well-being of children.
War Child is a family of independent humanitarian organisations, working across the world to help children affected by war.
It provides support to the most vulnerable children whose families, communities and schools have been torn apart by war, by creating safe spaces where children can escape from battlefields or dangers of life on the streets, getting children back to school or informal education after conflict or poverty has cost them the chance of an education, and helping children get their voices heard and their rights met.
Charities & organisations assisting women
CARE Australia is a not-for-profit agency which is independent of any religious or political affiliation and does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, age, religion or politics.
CARE Australia works internationally with some of the poorest and most disadvantaged communities in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, with a particular focus on women and girls. It works towards achieving significant, positive and sustainable impact on poverty and social injustice through the empowerment of women and their communities.
The International Women’s Development Agency is an independent, feminist agency entirely focussed on women’s rights and gender equality in the Asia-Pacific region.
The IWDA focuses on three main areas of women’s rights: (1) civil and political participation; (2) economic empowerment and sustainable livelihoods; and (3) safety and security. It undertakes projects in partnership with the women they help, and the projects are designed and managed by women who live and work in the communities themselves, to create practical and creative responses to the critical issues women face.
Charities & organisations assisting the LGBTI community
Twenty10 is a Sydney-based community organisation that provides support to young people of diverse genders, sexualities and sexes, their families and communities.
Demand for their services and support usually exceeds capacity, and extra funds can only help. Among other things, Twenty10 offers specialist youth support services, including emergency accommodation for LGBTI youth.
Minus 18 is based in Melbourne and it’s Australia’s largest youth-run organisation for LGBTI youth.
Minus 18 is truly a case of the kids doing it for themselves. Minus 18 organises social events, engages in community advocacy, and provides mental health support services, just to mention a few of the amazing things they do.
Australian Marriage Equality is a grassroots LGBTI community organisation fighting for marriage equality in Australia. AME partners with a diverse range of businesses, organisations and other supporters of the LGBTI community across the country, to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from the institution of marriage in Australia. It is the pre-eminent group campaigning for marriage equality law reform.
The AME runs community awareness campaigns, commissions polls and studies, and lobbies politicians as it works towards breaking down bigotry and intolerance.
Charities & organisations assisting asylum seekers
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre is a community-lead, not-for-profit organisation that is committed to upholding the human rights of all people seeking asylum. Independent of any Federal Government funding, the ASRC is the largest provider of aid, legal and health services to people seeking asylum in Australia.
The ASRC has 1,200 volunteers and 60 staff, who help around 2,000 people each year. The ASRC allocates caseworkers to asylum seeker clients to give them information about their rights, entitlements and access to services. It also offers legal services, food and aid, health services, and employment, training and skills development.
Other charities & organisations
There are some amazing charities and organisations that don’t strictly fall into any of the above categories, but do very important work.
Oxfam Australia is an organisation that works to reduce poverty worldwide.
It is an organisation that’s committed to women’s rights, the rights of Indigenous Australians and climate action.
Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)
Médecins Sans Frontières is a respected and well-known international medical action organisation. It is the world’s leading independent organisation for medical humanitarian aid.
Every day more than 24,000 MSF field staff are providing assistance to people caught in crises around the world. MSF field staff includes doctors, nurses, administrators, epidemiologists, laboratory technicians, mental health professionals, logistics and water and sanitation experts.
The The Fred Hollows Foundation was established by the legendary Fred Hollows.
The Foundation’s primary mission is to end avoidable blindness and provide quality and affordable eye health care. Since the Foundation began, it had restored sight to more than 2 million people around the world.
The Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc is a foundation established to encourage and provide a means of expression for informed free-thought on philosophical and social issues, and to safeguard the rights of all non-religious people.
The Foundation is also the organiser of a range of events that celebrate reason and science, and played host to such distinguished figures as Richard Dawkins, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the late Stella Young, Peter Singer, and Lawrence Krauss, to mention a few.
A Happy Festive Season to all, and please give generously!
Can’t see your favourite secular, non-denominational, non-religious charity or community organisation on our list? Let me know below in the comments!
And while making your online donation(s), listen to this amazing rendition of ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’, by Chase Holfelder and Kurt Hugo Schneider.