Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Donations

My charitable giving “strategy” has typically been to wait until one of my friends is doing a fundraiser, or someone passes away and the family suggests a donation in their memory, and then to donate to those. I do have a few charities that I give to at least once a year without prompting from someone I know doing fundraising – Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) (from where I adopted my beloved kitties), Centre for Inquiry (CFI) Canada (which I believe does important work), and the Wikimedia Foundation1 (because I think it’s important for knowledge to be freely available to all). I also have some money that I’ve leant out through Kiva ((Props to Sarah and Dave who introduced me to Kiva many years ago by giving me a gift card of funds to start loaning through Kiva)), which I just re-lend to new borrowers as existing borrowers re-pay their loans.2 This year I also gave to the BC NDP during the provincial election, because I thought it was really important to get the BC so-called “Liberals” out of power3. But this year it seems like not very many people I knew were doing fundraising, as I’m looking at my 2017 charitable tax donations and I haven’t donated very much at all. So I’m thinking I should probably come up with a better system than just waiting to be reminded to give.

I recently heard about Give Well, which makes recommendations for charities to donate to that are “evidence-backed, thoroughly vetted, and underfunded”, so you know that your donations are doing the most good. As someone who values evidence, this appealed to me! However, this is an American website and being that I am selfishly interested in getting a tax deduction when I can, I tried to find a similar one for Canadian charities, but the only one I found was Charity Intelligence Canada, which does give charities a score for the impact they have, but doesn’t include it in their rating of the charities, which seems weird. Then when I was playing around on their website, I discovered that to get some of their ratings, you have to subscribe! And the only other stuff I could find was articles rating charities based on things like how much of the money they raise goes to overhead vs. how much goes to the services for the cause itself, and other articles talking about how that’s not a good way to rate charities (because does it matter if all the money goes to the “cause” if it’s not effective in making a difference?)

Anyway, I guess all this is to say that I still don’t have a solid charitable donation plan for the new year, but I’m thinking about how to come up with one. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

The other thing that I really should be donating is blood. I’m needle phobic, especially when it comes to someone taking my blood (more so than I am about, say, getting a vaccine injected into me) but I feel guilty about not giving blood when people whose need is much greater than my mere queasiness at the thought of a needle poking into me and my blood pumping out of my body into a bag4.

Image Credit: Posted by Jamez Picard on freeimages.com.

  1. I really wish there was a Canadian arm of the Wikimedia Foundation, as when I give to this charity I don’t get a tax receipt since it is American. []
  2. I also started supporting a podcast through Patreon, but I that doesn’t count as a charitable donation, since you are technically supporting someone to create something, but if feels a bit like one, since one could just listen to the podcast for free. In case you are interested, the podcast is called Onlightened and it’s by one of the former hosts of Caustic Soda, a podcast that I loved but only discovered as it was ending. It’s just getting started and I’m hoping that in 2018 there will be more regular episodes! []
  3. And donations to political parties give big tax deductions – except if you are donating to municipal campaigns, which don’t give you any tax deduction. But that’s a story for another day. []
  4. Oh man, just typing that makes me want to hurl. []

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National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week

Did you know?

  • In Canada, you are 5-6 times more likely to need a donated organ than be eligible to donate one.
  • An organ donor can save up to 8 lives!
  • 230 Canadians die while waiting for an organ donation every year.
  • Although 91% of Canadians say they support organ donation, but only 44% have signed up to be a donor.

It is National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week, so I urge you to consider signing up to be an organ donor. When you die, you can’t take your organs with you, but you can prevent up to 8 people from joining you in death by the simple act of registering your intent to be an organ donor.

If I or one of my loved ones ever finds myself in need an organ transplant, I’ll be hoping that other people have made their desire to be an organ donor known. So it only seemed fair that I sign up to be an organ donor myself, in case I end up in the situation where I’m eligible to donate and my organs could save someone’s life.

I have two reasons why I feel personally compelled to spread the word about organ donation. First, when I played in the Longest Game of Hockey for CF, I learned a lot about cystic fibrosis, a disease that often results in the need for organ donation. And I met people who were only alive because someone had donated a set of lungs and I met people who knew that, at some point, they too would need an organ donation to keep them alive. These were all amazing individuals who deserve a chance to live their lives.

The second reason I feel compelled to promote organ donation was because of the comfort it gave to my family when we were able to donate my dad’s eyes after his death. Though my father died in the type of circumstance where he would have been eligible to donate organs (in hospital as a result of Neurological Determination of Death)1 and he had made his desire to be an organ donor know, he was unable to donate any organ other than his eyes because he had metastatic cancer and the risk was too great that the cancer could have spread to his organs.)). But he was eligible to donate his eyes and when we received the phone call from the Trillium Gift of Life Network asking for the donation, it brought us great comfort in a very sad time to know that my dad’s generosity would give three people the ability to see who would otherwise be blind.

In addition to the need for organ donors, there’s a need for blood donors. This is something that I struggle with because while I’m healthy and eligible to give blood, I’m a big baby when it comes to someone putting a needle into my arm and taking my blood. It’s not that I’m afraid of it hurting – I know that it doesn’t actually hurt that much at all. It’s just that as soon as the needle comes near me and I start to think about blood pumping through my veins I get seriously queasy. Like ready-to-vomit, curl-and-in-a-ball queasiness. And I get that even for a routine blood test where they are going to take just a tiny vial. The idea of sitting for an extended period of time while my blood pumps out of me long enough to fill up a giant bag… it really freaks me out. But on the other hand, people need blood! Donating blood is actually on my list of 101 things do do and Daniel has offered to go with me and donate too. National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week has reminded me that I really should get on that!

Sources of data cited in this posting:

  1. Apparently, only 1% of people actually die in the circumstances required to be able to donate. []