InTheFray Magazine You may or may not think that the stimulus checks the government is sending out this month make good economic sense, but either way, you’ve got to decide what to do with the extra 300 to 600 bucks. You could buy yourself a bottle of 1980 Dom Perignon, for instance, or take yourself and 29 friends to see Speed Racer. But in case you want to put some of your windfall to work for a good cause, here are 10 specific, action-ready ideas:

1. Feed the grassroots.
Send your money directly to the people who need it by using the online system at, which pairs "average Joe" donors with grassroots charity projects around the world. It’s eBay meets foreign aid, with projects searchable by topic, country, and a host of other criteria. GlobalGiving has just launched a resource page and a relief fund to help victims of the Myanmar/Burma cyclone, which has left up to 1.9 million people homeless, injured, or vulnerable to disease and hunger.

2. Offset yourself.
Worried about climate change? Whether you’re reducing your own carbon footprint, you can use the cash to buy carbon offsets, which fund projects designed to counteract atmospheric pollution and global warming. Carbon Catalog provides a long list of providers and information about transparency and verification.

3. Help the troops phone home.
Think "support the troops" has become a platitude? Do something real to help servicemembers serving abroad by paying for their calling cards so they can keep in touch with their families back home. If you don’t have a person in mind, look at the bottom of this page for ideas:

4. Fight poverty.
While the government has decided to give most people a tax rebate, families of few means will receive smaller checks, and sometimes nothing at all. You can make sure resources go to the people who need it most by making a donation to the Low Income Investment Fund, which helps low-income communities develop in a sensible way and avoid the poverty trap.

5. Fight racism.
Want to do something concrete about racial injustice in the United States? The Applied Research Center advances racial equality through research, advocacy, and journalism. Their work helps to change both policies and minds.

6. Fight homophobia.
If you think that human rights should include the right to love, consider donating to the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Astraea supports social justice in the United States, and organizations that benefit LGBTI communities worldwide.

7. Don’t donate it … loan it.
Microcredit is a burgeoning field that fights poverty by making small, targeted loans in order to foster entrepreneurship in developing countries. Two organizations (one for-profit and one non) offer you the chance to personally finance some of those loans. Your investment may even make a little money at the same time. /

8. Do more than talk about Tibet.
Speaking out against China’s record on human rights is a good start. But why not put your stimulus check where your mouth is? A donation to The Tibet Fund will deliver needed resources to the educational, cultural, health, and socio-economic institutions inside Tibet and the refugee settlements in India, Nepal, and Bhutan.

9. Nurture young minds.
Support the arts as a way to empower young people by giving your tax rebate to Girls Write Now, a creative writing and mentoring organization for high school girls in New York.

10. Support independent media.
We’re not too proud to suggest it: Donate to your friendly neighborhood nonprofit online magazine!

Update: Another worthwhile use of your tax rebates would be donating them to help victims of the recent earthquake in China, which has left tens of thousands of people dead or missing. Consider donating to the International Response Fund of the American Red Cross (, Mercy Corps (, or World Vision (

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