Wikipedia is great, but these charities need your help more

WIkipedia has a ton of money, but many great charities do not. Please contribute to these eight education-focused charities first

Wikipedia is great, but these charities need your help more
Veronica A. Pierce/US Air Force

It's that time of year again. You're trying to figure out what you're going to donate before the tax year is over, and Wikipedia is covering its webpage with a desperate-sounding plea that makes it sound like if you don't pony up then Wikipedia will be off the internet tomorrow.

But, as I wrote last year, Wikipedia is not in any financial risk. This year, Charity Navigator reports that Wikipedia could operate for another 1.75 years if no one gave it another dime. (And that's up about 18 more days from last year.) A standard goal for a charity is one year, so Wikipedia is in great financial shape. Of course, you're funding not just Wikipedia but its parent Wikimedia's larger goals and programs, which you may or may not care about.

I love Wikipedia, but the truth is there are many less-well-funded but worthy tech charities out there that could use your help. So before you give Wikimedia another contribution, consider these technology- and education-focused charities first.

Girls Who Code: GWC runs two-week summer immersion programs and after-school clubs that teach and support girls in grades six through 12 in learning how to write code. One of the main sources of economic growth is technology. This is where high-paying jobs are, especially those in software development. Yet this is an area where women are grossly underrepresented. Whether you support this on moral terms or economic ones, increasing the number of women in technology is the right thing to do.

Black Girls Code: This is BGC's second year on my list. If women are underrepresented in technology, socio-economics and structural racism have ensured that black women are especially underrepresented. If you want a more fair and just society, Black Girls Code is a great place to start.

Code.org: Code.org seeks to increase access to computer science, especially among women and underrepresented minorities. Its programs include Hour of Code, which seeks to expose more students to computer science, as well as longer term programs that partner with teachers in public schools. If you want to ensure the next generation has access to computer science, supporting Code.org is a good idea.

Prison Books Collective: Last year when I covered Prison Books Collective (which I personally support and volunteer for on a weekly basis), I gave a message of hope where the tide was turning on mass incarceration and private prisons. Sadly, the tide has turned back and people in prison need your support more now than ever. Prison Books Collective mails paper books to people who need them most. One of the first letters I ever handled was by a fellow who could barely put together a sentence but who wanted to learn to write. From then on I was hooked. You may have upgraded to a Kindle, but people in prison aren't allowed to have Kindles. That's why it is on my list. If you want to increase literacy and support social justice for our very large prison population, Prison Books Collective is a great way to do that.

Free Software Foundation: We live in an era where even your TV spies on you. Today, you can't change the code on a device you bought outright, and Big Brother wears a hoodie. But there is still the Free Software Foundation supporting our right to have software for which we can actually see what it is doing and fix if we don't like that. It is hard to imagine the internet having developed as quickly without free software. If you want to continue to have software for everyone, supporting the FSF is one great way to do that.

Public.Resource.org: Did you know that there are parts of the law that are secret or cost money to know what they are? Public.Resource.org transcribes, archives, and makes these sorts of laws widely and publicly available, including in HTML format. It is hard to imagine we can have a democratic nation with laws that are secret and where you just have to take the word of an authority. If you want to support the rule of law and transparency, Public.Resource.org is a good choice.

Freedom of the Press Foundation: In an era where the people in charge of the government seem to be constantly assailing the press instead of the other way around like it is supposed to be, we need to use all the technical resources possible to preserve our freedom. The Freedom of the Press Foundation works to protect public interest journalism through automation, digital security, and crowd funding. If you're feeling a bit like 1984 is too realistic, the Freedom of the Press Foundation might be a good way to stop The Man.

Your local school: DonorsChoose.org lets your local public school teacher create a project (like buy your class Kindles) that you can then fund. These projects include getting basic supplies, adaptive learning aids for special-needs kids, and more technology-oriented equipment for classrooms.

Look, Wikimedia does these big panicky sounding ads not because it desperately needs money to save a sinking ship, but because such ads work. I'm not saying Wikipedia doesn’t deserve support, but it’s well-funded whereas as other tech-oriented charities simply are not. So, please give to one of these eight charities first, before you help out Wikimedia and other not-so-struggling charities.

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