U.S. readers, I need your advice

I have a problem.

Late last year, I did two rounds of editing on Greta Christina’s book Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why. (I couldn’t talk her out of the Oxford comma. I never can.) The book is in essence a series of self-help guides for the nonreligious on issues like visibility, family tension and arguments at work – if these are issues you face or are likely to face, it’s definitely worth a read.

Because of the work I did on the book, Greta has pledged to donate 10 percent of her income from its first-month sales to a non-profit of my choice. This is likely to be quite a substantial sum, and I’m keen to send it somewhere it’ll make a difference. Because of the details of Greta’s situation and the details of American tax law, about which I know next to nothing, the recipient needs to be ‘a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit’ – and probably also, by dint of that, a U.S. organisation. It also needs to be a ‘specifically atheist, humanist, or some other godless-themed’ project or group, and one Greta doesn’t mind supporting.

I have a very general knowledge of orgs like this in the U.S., but it’s not detailed enough to know where a fairly large cheque should best be sent. So, U.S. readers: who should I give it to? (FYI, I understand there are Canadian 501(c)(3) groups – but please only recommend one if you’re certain it qualifies.) In case it helps you decide who to recommend, I have a few loose guidelines of my own.

For a start, it should be somewhere small and poor enough that this amount of money changes things – but not so small and poor that giving to them means throwing good money after bad. This rules out all the big lobby groups and membership orgs. Nor do I want to choose a generalised secular/atheist campaign group – rather, I’d like suggestions for secular groups with specific social-action mandates.

Some such mandates in particular are close to my heart. Since I’d like to donate to an org that reflects my own concerns, I’d be especially pleased to hear about atheist and secular nonprofits focusing on:

  • Addiction (Can anyone tell me, specifically, what the situation post-financial-crisis is for Secular Organisations for Sobriety, or if there are other orgs devoted to secular recovery?)
  • Poverty and religious exploitation in lower-class communities (e.g. secular soup kitchens, college scholarships etc.)
  • Queer/LGBT atheists or victims of religious harm
  • Sex education in a religion-free context
  • Survivors of religious abuse (in any form)
  • Women (e.g. combatting religious abuse or providing secular shelters)
  • Young nonbelievers and secular education

If you have ideas, let me know – or, if you know people you think will, share this post with them. I’d like to move on this reasonably quickly.

Thanks, and I’ll let you know who I choose.





  1. Pen says

    You could email those folks at Black Skepticism and ask them, because Sikhivu was just complaining that nobody (white) wants to support their projects and also the stuff they do looks like it would meet your criteria.

  2. says

    Already had Sikivu/Black Skeptics in mind actually. Keen for a variety of suggestions though, in case there’s something very worthy I don’t know about. It might be that I split it two ways.

  3. movablebooklady says

    I like the Secular Camps for kids (forgot the precise name) because it’s a boon to both parents and children, and a great alternative to all the bible camps etc. Supporting the Black Skeptics is also a great idea.

    From a fervent supporter of the Oxford comma.

  4. johnnevill says

    I live in a low income area in the low income city of Waukegan, Il. There is a city run homeless shelter for women called the Staben house that I primarily donate to. I often see young mothers shuttling their kids across the busy street it’s on to get to the bus stop and I can’t even imagine what they must be going through to get back on their feet. Being city run, it’s secular and its focus is on a marginilized group. http://www.waukegantownship.com/staben-house.html

  5. TGAP Dad says

    Greetings from the great state of Michigan!
    Not knowledgeable myself of many secular organizations devoted to the specific ills you’d like to target, I have 2 suggestions: Todd Stieffel’s Foundation Beyond Belief, an umbrella organization which finds worthy causes to support. The other is to contact Hemant Mehta, the “Friendly Atheist,” who has quite a knack for finding overlooked-but-worthy secular local organizations.

  6. smhll says

    I like the top suggestion.

    Other than that, something like Amnesty International comes to mind. Some of the people experiencing the worst tortures in prison are dissenters.

  7. says

    Totally off-topic: your new background image is 1600 pixels wide; my monitor resolution is 1920×1080, meaning that there’s a BIG WHITE STRIPE on the right-hand side. You might want to drop
    background-repeat: repeat-x;
    into your CSS to make it repeat horizontally.

  8. says

    I like the suggestion made by Pen in #1, but if you are interested in something more international….

    Ed Brayton has occasionally mentioned a group working to build a Peace Corp type of organization based on humanist principles; I believe it was the Pathfinders Project. They send young people around the world to dig wells, build houses and help support local organizations that provide education and medical care.

  9. markh says

    Hi Alex. I am an atheist living (mostly) happily in Utah – it is possible! There is a real crisis here and in neighboring states with polygamy. It is a horrendous patriarchal system that grinds women and children into the ground. Those that mange to escape enter the broader world penniless, terrified and usually without any ability to support themselves.

    I have donated to this organization in the past, but I don’t know if they are totally secular. However they do try to help these wretched people with legal advise, job training, even getting a decent outfit so they no longer look like cult members. Check out their website;


    I hope this helps!

  10. peaches says

    I’m delurking to second (third? fourth?) the suggestion of Black Skeptics. Or there’s the Women’s Leadership Project, which Sikivu Hutchinson is also involved with.

  11. says

    Damn. I only stopped by this post to see if people had good suggestions for such donations in addition to Black Skeptics. (I’ve just started to get paid again and wanted to broaden my tithing options.) So, i now have some, but i also feel stronger than before that B.S. is my own leading option (and of course i have no objections to their being Christina’s recipient).

  12. John Horstman says

    I, too, was going to suggest the program Black Skeptics was recently promoting. Scarleteen is another good option. They’re more pluralistic than secular (they help teens and young adults navigate handling their sexualities/sexual agency in whatever contexts they find themselves, including mediating various religious rules regarding sexuality, as well as supporting secular approaches to sexuality), but they are entirely evidence-based, anti-shaming, radically queer-friendly, and youth-self-determination oriented.

  13. Al Dente says

    movablebooklady @4

    I like the Secular Camps for kids (forgot the precise name)

    That’s Camp Quest.

  14. Katie Huddlestonsmith says

    I’d like to submit MU Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists & Agnostics (SASHA) for consideration. Until late August I’m the president and treasurer, and will continue to be the events coordinator for the next academic year.

    We’re located in Columbia, MO at the University of Missouri, and we’re the only expressly secular student organization in the area. In March we hosted SASHAcon, where Greta spoke about her upcoming book. SASHAcon14 also featured Dave Muscato, Hemant Mehta, Maryam Namazie, Matt Dillahunty, Faisal Saeed al Mutar, and local professors and professionals.

    We are planning for next year’s conference, as well as our normal weekly meetings. We want to be able to step up our game and regularly host guest speakers and organize larger events, but it simply isn’t possible without the funding. There’s only so much fundraising can do, and the university caps us at $2500 per academic year in reimbursements to pay for speakers. We also depend on university reimbursements to send our members to other conferences.

    In short, we rely on and are very limited by the sparse money our members and fans can contribute because we have to pay for everything upfront. We would love to be able to provide better accommodations for speakers and guests at our annual conference, host more events on campus, and develop a larger safety net for godless youth in the midwest.

    Looking back on the success SASHAcon14 and our regular meetings, I can only imagine how benefited our members would be by receiving the extra funding. I would deeply appreciate your consideration, and would be happy to help set up a grant through SSA so Greta could donate to SASHA through them if you were to choose us. On behalf of SASHA, thank you for your time!

  15. isobel says

    You might consider giving to the Eugene Bell Foundation. They provide medication and treatment for MDR-TB patients in N Korea. Everything is 100% secular in how they run the charity and do the work. $5000 will supply meds for one MDR-TB patient for 2.5 years, which is usually long enough to cure them. They do some really great work.

  16. Kevin Kehres says

    Believe it or not, the IRS maintains a hefty list of 501(c)3 organizations, which you can download as a zip file. It’s updated monthly.

  17. qwints says

    For young non-believers and secular education, I’d recommend the National Center for Science Education, Camp Quest or the Secular Student Alliance.


  1. […] I want to give some of that back. So I’m donating 10% of my income from this book to atheist organizations, charities, and projects: a different one each month. Each month, one of the people who helped with the book gets to pick the recipient, and this month it was chosen by Alex Gabriel. (Who ended up polling his readers for suggestions.) […]

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