Trying to do Good, 2020 wrap-up

I feel like every year for at least the past four or five years has been “the worst year ever!” but 2020 has been something else. To the point that every other blog post or promotional “end of year” writeup is (rightly so) pointing out what a horrible, no good, rotten, trash-fire of a year 2020 has been. We'll all remember the pain of 2020 for years to come, so I don't want to spend a lot of time thinking on or documenting specifics of what has already been covered by far better writers than myself.

That's not to say I'm looking to ignore or minimize the genuine international losses of a global pandemic, the continued suffering of living in a prejudiced and unfair world, and the lack of long-term care given to sustaining a livable environment for many. Instead, I want to recognize what made the year awful and think more about what it is that I'm personally doing to shift from “Riding out the year until next year gets better” to “Putting in effort and making sure that, at least for some people, next year will be better”

Nobody claim 2021 as “your year”. We're all going to walk in real slow. Be good. Be quiet. Don't. Touch. Anything.

Our area has never successfully gotten into a safe state for local volunteering options due to COVID-19, so this year most of my focus has been redirecting the luck I've had in being able to work remotely and contribute funding to organizations that work at larger scales to help. These are just the charities that I'm contributing to personally, based on a small-to-medium amount of research into effectiveness and reach. If you're looking for a way to do more yourself and have the ability to contribute, these would be a good place to start.

Also, if your workplace does corporate matching, please don't forget to double your impact.

Health & Medicine

Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)

...brings medical humanitarian assistance to victims of conflict, natural disasters, epidemics or healthcare exclusion. In 2019, the group was active in 70 countries with over 35,000 personnel mostly local doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, logistical experts, water and sanitation engineers and administrators.

Charity Navigator & Wikipedia ⤴️

GiveWell's Maximum Impact Fund

In 2006 Holden Karnofsky and Elie Hassenfeld, who worked at a hedge fund in Connecticut, formed an informal group with colleagues to evaluate charities based on data and performance metrics similar to those they used at the fund, and were surprised to find the data often didn't exist. The next year, Karnofsky and Hassenfeld formed GiveWell as a nonprofit to provide financial analyst services to donors. They eventually decided to rate charities based on the metric of how much money it cost to save a life.

Charity Navigator & Wikipedia ⤴️


...also known as the United Nations Children's Fund, is a United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide. The agency is among the most widespread and recognizable social welfare organizations in the world, with a presence in 192 countries and territories. UNICEF's activities include providing immunizations and disease prevention, administering treatment for children and mothers with HIV, enhancing childhood and maternal nutrition, improving sanitation, promoting education, and providing emergency relief in response to disasters.

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The Trevor Project an American non-profit organization founded in 1998 focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Through a toll-free telephone number, it operates The Trevor Lifeline, a confidential service that offers trained counselors. The stated goals of the project are to provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25, as well as to offer guidance and resources to parents and educators in order to foster safe, accepting, and inclusive environments for all youth, at home and at school.

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Equality & Accountability

Equal Justice Initiative a non-profit organization, based in Montgomery, Alabama, that provides legal representation to prisoners who may have been wrongly convicted of crimes, poor prisoners without effective representation, and others who may have been denied a fair trial. It guarantees the defense of anyone in Alabama in a death penalty case.


The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.

Charity Navigator & Wikipedia ⤴️

ProPublica a nonprofit organization based in New York City. It is a newsroom that aims to produce investigative journalism in the public interest ... ProPublica states that its investigations are conducted by its staff of full-time investigative reporters, and the resulting stories are distributed to news partners for publication or broadcast. In some cases, reporters from both ProPublica and its partners work together on a story. ProPublica has partnered with more than 90 different news organizations, and it has won five Pulitzer Prizes.

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Sustainability & Environmental Conservation

Conservation International

...focuses on four strategic priorities: protecting nature for climate; ocean conservation at scale; promoting nature-based economic development; and innovation in science and finance.

CI works with governments, universities, NGOs and the private sector with the aim of replicating its successes on a larger scale. By showing how conservation can work at all scales, CI aims to make the protection of nature a key consideration in economic development decisions around the world. For example, CI supported 23 Pacific Island nations and territories in the formation of the Pacific Oceanscape, a framework to conserve and sustainably manage over 15 million square miles of sea in the South Pacific. In addition to the sustainable management of ocean resources, the agreement includes the world's largest marine protected areas and sanctuaries for whales, dolphins, turtles and sharks.

Charity Navigator & Wikipedia ⤴️

Rainforest Trust around the tropics to strategically purchase and protect lands vital for endangered species and indigenous communities. We specifically target the most threatened tropical habitats that are critical for preventing species extinctions and that are exceptionally rich in biological diversity. Celebrating 30 years of lasting conservation action, we are proud to have saved more than 2 million acres of tropical habitat across 53 countries in 150 protected areas and wildlife reserves.

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World Resources Institute a global research organization that spans more than 50 countries, with offices in the United States, China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and more. WRI's mission is to move human society to live in ways that protect Earth's environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future generations. WRI's more than 450 experts and staff work closely with leaders to turn big ideas into action to sustain our natural resources-the foundation of economic opportunity and human well-being. Our work focuses on six critical issues at the intersection of environment and development: climate, energy, food, forests, water, and cities and transport

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