Editor’s note: One very important aspect of a free society is charity. Organizations that do good and people who need help rely on the giving of others to sustain themselves. Since we at TOL advocate for a free society, we also advocate for giving, particularly around the holiday season. With that spirit in mind, we are going to spend this week telling you about our favorite charitable organizations to help guide some of your end-of-the-year giving. Check out Audree’s recommendations!

Audree’s Guide to End-of-the-Year Giving

Amnesty International

Amnesty International was founded in 1961 and has grown to an organization with over 3 million members, supporters, and activists worldwide ().  It is a politically independent organization that does its utmost in its dedication to supporting human rights, particularly the rights of the wrongfully imprisoned worldwide.

The recent death of Nelson Mandela has me thinking about the historical fact of when he was imprisoned by the South African government for alleged “passport violations” in 1962.  Although Amnesty International was split about support the cause of Mr. Mandela because he did advocate violence, in 1964, the organization decided to sponsor Mr. Mandela as a Prisoner of Conscience.

Mr. Mandela’s imprisonment is a perfect “Exhibit A” for statist control of human lives, particularly political activists.  This is an issue that concerns all libertarians and that is why I support Amnesty International.


Chicago Independent Radio Project (“CHIRP”)

The Chicago radio market sucks.  The only places on the dial you can find anything worth listening to is on the nether reaches of the frequency modulated (FM) spectrum.  Large corporations dominate the airwaves here, and as much as I really love the latest hit single by OneRepublic or Maroon 5, must listeners be subjected to the same songs played on every 1000-watt station all at around the same time?  Must listeners be subjected to listening to the one of worst NPR stations in the nation?  Must listeners suffer the fact that the only “alternative” commercial FM station in Chicago does not play any music that was produced after 1995?

The problem with this picture is that there is no significant competition on the airwaves—and isn’t competition a good thing?

CHIRP was founded in 2007 with the intention of establishing a Low Power FM station to step in to fill the void in the Chicago radio market ().  The goal is to set up a station that has enough wattage to be closer to the middle of the radio dial.  CHIRP is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization run by volunteers, funded by grants, revenues from special events, and donations the station is saving its shekels to apply for an FM license.

The future CHIRP radio station will play music that you will hear nowhere else on the radio spectrum.  Currently, CHIRP has a live stream on the Internet and the DJs are all local, and all volunteers and unpaid.  If you want to hear what FM radio could be when it gets out of its white middle-aged male stupor, you can currently listen to the station on the Internet.  Eventually, CHIRP will have a presence on the radio dial, but only if we help.


Howard Brown Health Center, Chicago

In 1974, four medical students of the Gay Students Medical Association got together and started a health center that addressed the health care needs of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (“LGBT”) community in Chicago.  Two years later, the first board formed and named the clinic “Howard Brown Memorial Clinic” after Dr. Howard Brown.  Dr. Howard Brown founded the National Gay Task Force (now the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force), and was a former New York City Public Health Commissioner who came out publicly in 1973.

Close to 4o years later, the Howard Brown Health Center (“HBHC”) provides premier health care, social support, and sets the standard of quality care for the LGBT and other vulnerable communities, including the elderly and LGBT teens, on the north side of Chicago.

The HBHC fills the needs of a community that would otherwise be unmet in the city.  I revere the work that the HBHC is doing to stem the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, as well providing excellent health care for all people.  The HBHC is one of the best examples I can think of that sets the standard for what a small group of volunteers can do to support a community.