There’s no doubt 2020 has been a special year, often for the worse. Due to the ongoing global pandemic, many people have lost their jobs, have reduced healthcare options or have had and will continue to have trouble getting food and feeding their families. And this is on top of many other ongoing problems, which have only gotten worse this year. For those of us lucky enough to have something to spare, donating to NGOs and putting our grain of sand in the pile is critical.
On a personal level, I donate to several “classic” NGOs, so to speak. On a professional level, at Igalia we collaborate with a wide variety of NGOs, in some cases on very specific projects.
However, at the end of the year I always like to make a small round of personal donations to projects and organizations which are also important for our digital lives on a daily basis. This year I’ve selected the following ones:
EFF has done a superb job, as usual. Apart from their crucial defense of civil liberties and digital rights, we owe them many things you may be using everyday. Let’s not forget they were involved in starting the Let’s Encrypt project and created Privacy Badger and HTTPS Everywhere, among other tools. This year, they went way beyond their call of duty representing the current maintainers of youtube-dl and helped getting the project restored on GitHub.
Signal is, to me, an essential tool I use everyday to communicate with my friends and family. It’s a free and open source software project providing us an easy-to-use messaging application pushing the state of the art in end-to-end encryption protocols for your text messages and your audio and video calls.
Internet Archive is, to me, another essential project. Somewhat connected in spirit to youtube-dl, it’s playing a critical role in cultural preservation and providing free access to millions of works of art and science.
Free Software Foundation Europe promotes free software in the European Union, also running campaigns to increase its use in public administrations and their computers, as well as attempting to encourage publicly-funded projects to be released as free software.
I didn’t donate to Wikipedia this year because I prefer to chip in when they run their fundraising campaigns. In the past I’ve also donated to Mozilla but I understand it may be a bit controversial. The best thing you can do for Mozilla and for the open web is to keep using and promoting Firefox, in my humble opinion.
In addition, I encourage you to donate to small free and open source software projects you may be using everyday, in which the impact of a large amount of small donations can be significant. I was about to donate money to uBlock Origin but they politely reject donations in their README file. However, maybe you develop software professionally on Windows and happen to use WinSCP very frequently, for example. Just think of the free software projects you use everyday. Probably, some of them may not have large corporate sponsors behind. They may also offer support contracts as their main revenue source, and these could be useful for your employer.