A Giving Guide

The end of the year is a time when people often assess their charitable giving and make some final donations. We know that choosing where to give can sometimes feel overwhelming. Today’s newsletter is intended to help.

Below, you’ll find tips and ideas from articles in The Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Detroit News, Mashable and more.

How can you maximize the impact of your donations, especially if you can’t afford to give large amounts? Farhad Manjoo, a Times Opinion columnist, has an answer: Use a service called GiveWell.

“Every year, GiveWell distills its in-depth research into a list of top charities — the organizations that accomplish the most good in the world (in terms of lives saved or improved) for the least cost,” Farhad writes. GiveWell’s recommendations tend to be concentrated in the poorest parts of the world, where even small donations can do a lot of good.

One such example, which was recommended by our former colleague Nicholas Kristof, is the Seva Foundation. “A significant portion of their work is removing cataracts with a 15-minute surgery that costs roughly $50 per eye,” as Holly Christensen wrote in The Akron Beacon Journal. Your modest donation can restore someone’s vision.

Another example: Consider supporting efforts to fight Covid. You can donate directly to the World Health Organization, or to Gavi, the nonprofit that supports Covax, the U.N.-backed effort to vaccinate people in lower-income countries.

“But what if you want to give money to people closer at hand?” Farhad asks. That makes sense, too. It can give you a connection to your community — to people you might see every day.

The Detroit News turned local giving into a competition, listing several charities — including groups that provide homeless services and support for L.G.B.T.Q. youth — and inviting readers to donate. The charity that raised the most got an additional $20,000 donation.

One piece of advice we have offered in the past and will repeat: Consider giving money to a source of local journalism that you trust. National publications like The Times are doing fine. But local journalism is in crisis and it’s a staple of a healthy democracy. The Washington Post has a roundup of nonprofit newsrooms that are trying to fill the void in local news.

Margaret Renkl, a contributor for Times Opinion, argues for a specific focus on climate change. If anything, the federal government’s failure to enact climate legislation makes her case stronger. But where can people give?

Margaret argues for “supporting the environmental nonprofits that turn donations into collective action:”

The nonprofit news sources that inform the public about environmental hazards in their own community. The legal organizations that hold industry accountable and push for greater conservation measures in the private sector and at every level of government. The conservancies that work to protect ecosystems while they are still intact.

Even if you know you want to donate to charities that focus on climate change, it can be hard to pick which one. Vox compiled a list of what it says are “the most high-impact, cost-effective and evidence-based organizations.”

If you need more, Forbes also has tips and recommends using Giving Green, an organization that “evaluates and recommends the most promising environmental charities in terms of their effectiveness in fighting climate change.”

Sardi’s is a Broadway institution. The restaurant has been around longer than some theaters, and it has hosted Tony winners, Oscar winners and even, once a year, the winner of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. In 1947, at the first Tony Awards, the restaurant’s founder, Vincent Sardi Sr., won a special prize “for providing a transient home and comfort station for theater folk.”

Thanks to millions in federal aid, the restaurant survived 648 days of closure. And last week, it tentatively reopened its doors with limited hours and reduced capacity. At its peak, Sardi’s employed nearly 130 people — now it has 58.

Still, Sardi’s has weathered its fair share of challenges. “It has been popular and it has been passé,” the theater reporter Michael Paulson writes in The Times, “but it has always been there, known more for its caricatures than its cuisine, drawing a mix of industry insiders and theater-loving visitors.” — Sanam Yar, a Morning writer

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