Foundation Beyond Belief is an organization of atheists and humanists supporting outstanding charities with regular donations from members. We feature ten charities per quarter, including one environmental organization.
We are currently supporting Global Green USA. On April 1, we'll announce our next beneficiary in this category. We need informed atheists like the people in this group to help select our third quarter environmental organization by joining up and adding your voice to the discussion forums.
You can also read the thoughts of our environment blogger (and A|N member) Tommaso Boggia.
We're on pace to finish out the first quarter of 2010 with over $12,000 in contributions to our featured organizations. You can learn more at the website, or just join this discussion and I'll answer whatever questions I can.
I live well below the poverty mark, but whatever donation I do make to green charity is directed solely to people pushing the agendas I find are priorities, such as Greenpeace, EarthFirst! and Friends of the Earth. "Peace, action, and education" the three fronts I care about in environmentalism. I suspect most of my environmentalist friends are closet atheists, or agnostics. So I don't need a "new" ORGanisation swallowing up administrative expenses...
I don't think true environmentalists need an additional label of atheist, it goes without saying IMO.
Some of our members find inspiration in directly connecting their activism to their worldview -- saying "I care about the environment not in spite of, but because of my view that there is no supernatural power to care for it," and in doing so as part of a community that feels the same.
As for administrative costs, 100% of member donations go to the causes. Our operating costs are covered by grants, separate donations, and a $9 annual membership fee. This prevents the "bite" that some organizations take from each donated dollar.
What if the effort generates new money for these causes -- is that worth doing?
The primary purpose of this effort is to encourage a higher level of charitable giving among the nonreligious, who currently lag churchgoers by a wide margin. Many of our members have said that they are now on pace to double or triple their charitable giving for the year as a result of the connection to their worldview. They always had the opportunity to give directly, but now report that this "middleman" community has greatly increased their actual giving.
It's good to see that you need no additional context for your efforts. Others have found this model useful and meaningful, so we're happy to provide that model without diminishing your approach.
"With that in mind, perhaps we could have a suggested charities group on Atheist Nexus and other networks, for those that are interested. The community membership is free and there is a readily available and growing audience."
That's an excellent suggestion. We have a group for the foundation here already, but we will set up a more specific nomination process. Thanks!
"I wonder how much funding goes into renumeration, marketing, website development, travel expenses, lunches etc to encourage atheists to donate $12,000 (maybe a percentage of that would have been donated anyway) to existing charities?"
I'll quibble with the wording here. Like any organization, costs are greatest at the start and yield benefits in the long run. In other words, we have not spent X dollars to raise $12,000 -- we have spent X dollars to create a structure that is projected to raise (at our current rate of growth) over $120,000 this year and $500,000 in 2011.
Our goal is to keep our admin expenses below 25% of total revenue for 2010 and below 20% for 2011, both of which fall within the highest efficiency levels on Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau. And again, all admin funding comes from grants and separate donations.
"I feel funding could be better spent raising awareness, educating and trying to break down the hold that religious groups have over our daily lives."
I would reply that it is not an either-or situation, and that this effort accomplishes all of those in a new way.
Thanks for bringing this discussion to Atheist Nexus, Dale.
I have a great deal of respect for the now deceased Judi Bari, as well as the still living Daryl Cherney, both of whom were/are Earth First! activists. Judi was a union organizer as well as an environmental activist and spoke out against tree spiking.
Earth First! is guided by Deep Ecology. While I have a great respect for some tenets of Deep Ecology, I don't for the woo associated with it. Green Fuse hosted a fairly concise critique of Deep Ecology.
The beauty of EarthFirst! is they function with almost no money in very autonomous cells. They don't waste precious volunteer time with committees and various government and corporate negociations, which are useless bandaids anyway. They do ACTION mostly through volunteer effort. I say praise to that approach. I do not believe in corporate environmentalism. Greenpeace downsised a fair bit after their growing pains in the 90s. People who believe in small measures making the world a better place are useless to me. We need radical change.
The OP mentions cash a lot. There have been studies aiming to compare states and provinces based on their percentage of contribution to charities. These studies find differences between societies who choose to give $$$ versus societies who prefer to give time. IMO charitable time is way more effective than charitable monies. Monies grow corporations, whether charitable or not.