Danya of Jewschool blogged about Rabbi Levin-Krauss' "empty chair for Darfur" idea, which, for the record, contains a component where you donate the cost of that meal. He suggests a few charities, but I'd like to add IRC to that list. IRC is responsible for those ads in the NYC subway that have a black hand with fingers of different races, or the words
Another good option, as Pissed Off Liberal Jew of POLJ points out, is donating to micro loan programs. The Nobel Peace Prize winner was awarded for his work with micro loans, so they've been in the news a lot recently. If you're wondering where is a good place to start, then check out Slate's piece comparing different microlending programs.
One of my problems with giving tzedakah* is that I feel like I can't make a difference. Apparently I'm not the only one, as a few non-profits have arisen (arose?) to deal with this specific issue. The most famous of these is DonorsChoose, an organization which allows teachers to post a "grant proposal" for their school/classroom's needs. Then DonorsChoose finds a way to purchase the required equipment and posts the price online next to the proposal. As an individual you can look for projects that interest you, donate however much you want, and even see how close the project is to coming to fruition. Overall a really satisfying experience. However, if American schools is too limited of a category for you, check out Changing the Present, and organization that works on the same principles, but with a wider variety of projects. I have linked to a project whose goal is to build a schoolroom in Darfur.
Sorry for the seriousness, I promise that the next post will include something silly and/or flippant.
*Tzedakah is Hebrew for charity