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 Libby’s recommendations! If you’re hankering for more giving, check out the rest of our giving series!

Aunty M’s Guide to Holiday Giving

Hey reader! Are you looking to make some tax-deductible charitable contributions before the end of the year? Want to save on your tax bill AND get that warm-and-fuzzy feeling inside? Keeping with the theme for this week here at TOL, I’ve got a couple of organizations that are worth a look.

The Institute for Justice

While IJ may not have the fiery mission statement of other libertarian advocacy groups, they do have a punchy (informal) slogan: “We Sue the Government.” What IJ lacks in share-worthy policy writing and sexy headlines, it makes up for in the sheer importance of its mission: it’s the official law firm for liberty. IJ’s litigation is an important check on overzealous lawmakers, bureaucrats, and regulators at the federal, state and local levels of government. Its lawyers have stood up on behalf of small business owners, including hair dressers, vintners, funeral home operators, tour guides, and florists. It’s argued on behalf of homeowners, most famously in the Kelo decision, which prompted several states to amend their own constitutions and ban the abuse of eminent domain laws. It defends parents who have the audacity to seek out a better education for their children. It is a staunch defender of the First Amendment. Elizabeth’s characterization in her post last year was so apt that I’ll repeat it here: “IJ is what the ACLU would be if it lived up to its name.” If you donate to one liberty-advancing organization, I’d recommend the Institute for Justice. Unlike other groups, IJ does the thankless, often frustrating work of fighting for liberty on the ground and in the courts, as opposed to “spreading liberty” from the ivory tower or the cocktail reception.

Donate

Shifting gears for my second recommendation, I want to make a plug for the numerous charities that help provide gifts for families in need during the holidays. Whether it’s Santa’s Anonymous (fun fact I just learned: it’s Canadian!), Toys for Tots, The Salvation Army, or one of thousands of local charities, voluntary giving during the holiday season is one of those easy things to do that helps make others’ lives a little better. My hometown runs a nonreligious charity every year that provides gifts to needy children, adults with developmental disabilities, and local elderly residents with few social connections. I started participating as a college student (after some encouragement from my mother), and I have continued ever since. (A note to our readers with children: your kids will learn about generosity and charity from the example you set for them and the behaviors your encourage. I can still remember when my mom would ask me if I wanted to donate a few quarters or a couple of dollars from my piggy bank).

See y’all in 2014!