Winter is always a big season for charities. Christmastime is traditionally a time to give, but that means competition among charities increases, and it's hard to separate out which ones you want to give to. And some "traditional" charities seem like they do good work, but have some pretty intolerant and bigoted beliefs they keep relatively quiet. So deciding to whom to give can be difficult.
So if you have a few bucks, here are a handful of charities I like.
Recipe4Hope is campaign to raise money for the Autism Science Foundation. I am very wary of groups claiming to research autism, since so many of them are fronts for anti-vaccination promoters. ASF, though, understands that vaccines do not cause autism, and is looking into actual scientific research. Here's their video for this year:
100% of the donations will fund ASF's pre- and post-doctoral autism research fellowships, helping young scientists start their career researching autism. They have a donation page set up, and the campaign runs through the end of 2011.
The James Randi Educational Foundation has an annual Season of Reason campaign which raises funds to keep JREF operating. Donate $100 (or sign up for $25/month or more) and they'll send you a SurlyRamic ornament! The JREF has really ramped up their educational efforts over the past couple of years, and your donation will go toward teaching people the critical thinking that is so, well, critical to making important decisions.
I already wrote about Astronomers Without Borders recently, and while the Sky Safari campaign is over, they're still accepting donations! AWB does great work, reaching out across the world to educate people about the night sky, trying to unite everyone through a love of astronomy.
Foundation Beyond Belief is a secular group that picks 10 needy causes every quarter and gathers funds for them. They don't necessarily exclude religious charities, but they do choose them based on compatibility with humanist goals, and they have a specific program called Challenge the Gap, which promotes finding common ground between theists and atheists, something I obviously think is a noble and worthwhile goal.
Got some charities you like? List them in the comments!