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If there’s one important lesson about the holidays that I always try to convey to my kids, it’s the idea of goodwill. Kids hear just about everywhere they turn that the holidays bring lots of food, plenty of gifts, and parties galore, but none of those things really convey the many reasons that people celebrate those holidays.
Regardless of religion or belief, the one common theme that runs throughout all of the end-of-the-year celebrations throughout the world is the idea of slowing down a little bit and showing the fellow humans who we share this planet with, that the world still contains people who care.
And caring can come in all shapes and forms. When people decide to volunteer or give of themselves in some way, often that “giving” doesn’t always involve material things. Sometimes it can include skills that you might have – and for tech savvy people, those skills are in great demand.
Technology is a pretty easy area to create a charity. Whether you’re talking actual goods or services, there is plenty of need and not enough funds in just about every community in the world. We’ve covered a lot about charities here at MakeUseOf, including Angela’s article on how to be charitable the whole year, and her other article on armchair fundraising.
In this article, I’d like to take a look at six of the best charities or charity services that you can make use of to give a little bit back this holiday season – if for no other reason than you may have the very skills or technology that someone near you really needs to have a better quality of living.
6 Technology Charities to Choose From
The first charity is actually one that’s based in the UK called CTXchange. It’s a corporate-centered charity, meaning that instead of seeking out donations from the public, it actually tries to collect donated products and services from some of the world’s largest technology organizations. CTXXchange then offers those products and services at extremely steep discounts for charities that register with the organization.
Impressively, CTXchange has already partnered with major technology businesses like Cisco, Flickr, Adobe, Symantec and even Microsoft in order to offer technology help for charities that otherwise could not afford to make use of that technology. It is a UK based charity organization, but it’s part of the global TechSoup organization, which actually does the same thing but on a global scale (and another fantastic tech-charity to boot).
If you know of any charities that are struggling to find computer software, networking hardware or more, just point them to either CTXchange if they’re in the UK, or TechSoup if they’re anywhere else in the world.
One of the coolest technology charities, in my opinion, is Coders For Charities. This is an organization that helps to match up geeks with charities that need programming or technical assistance. The motto of the organization is, “Do good with what you do well.”
For the hackers out there that could code their way through just about any crisis, the ability to help out a charity with those coding skills is a pretty cool way to improve the world without the need for a whole lot of cash. This charity organizes charities and geeks, but if you aren’t a coder, there’s also a section for “Sponsors”, so that you can support your love of technology with a little cash donation.
Another cool technology charity – and again, this one is UK based – is The People’s Operator. This is a mobile operator just like any other out there, except in one regard. It takes 25% of all company profits and donates it to important causes. In addition, The People’s Operator lets you donate 10% of your monthly usage costs to a cause of your choosing.
It’s a pay as you go service, so you’re not locked into any long contracts. Also, since you know you’re going to be using a cellphone anyway, it only makes sense that if you can direct some of the money made off of your calls and texts to important causes. Who wouldn’t?
Speaking of good causes, an excellent charity to donate to if you’re looking for a tech-savvy charity is Practical Action. Just like it sounds like, the charity develops practical actions to solve difficult problems in communities around the world. Those actions typically involve utilizing some form of technology to help those communities.
The technology may be as simple as coming up with creative ways to bring clean drinking water to a rural village, but in other cases the group works on using even advanced technologies like solar power to light a village, or even using podcasting technologies to establish local radio stations. The work this organization does is fantastic, and up an alley that any geek will appreciate.
If you or anyone you know is stumped as to what charity to give to, or if you are trying to find all of the technology charities out there beyond what’s on this short list, you can use the Charity Navigator. This is essentially a charity for charities – a search engine for charities that lets you type in charity names or keywords to find a charity that you want to donate your money or time to.
You can also browse through charities by categories, view the “top ten lists” of charities, and check out articles about the work that features charities are doing. It’s basically your one-stop shopping for all charities, and a cool technology anyone can use to locate charities that are important to them.
Speaking of search engines, did you know that you can actually improve the world just by searching the Internet. I know that you probably love yourself some Google, but if you’re willing to try out another search engine, why not give GoodSearch a try?
Basically, every time you search the Internet using this search engine, the good folks that run it will donate a penny to a cause of your choice. If you spend a lot of time doing research on the Internet, just consider how much good you can do for a cause of your choice. Those pennies can add up over time.
This isn’t some amateur search engine either, it’s powered by Yahoo so you at least know you’ll get some decent search results. Give it a shot – now is as good a time to start as any.
Do you know any other interesting charities that use technology, or supporting organizations that use tech to help charities? Share your own resources and ideas in the comments section below!