Nonbelief Relief, a new humanitarian agency to enable nonbelievers to make charitable donations under the banner of freethought, has announced some end-of-the-year grants.
Nonbelief Relief seeks to remediate conditions of human suffering and injustice, whether the result of natural disasters, human actions or adherence to religious dogma. It also seeks to provide assistance for individuals targeted for nonbelief, secular activism or blasphemy.
The grants are:
- $20,000: World Food Program USA, designated for Syria. WFP, the largest humanitarian agency (affiliated with the United Nations) fighting hunger worldwide, notes, "Since fighting first broke out in 2011, the crisis in Syria has become WFP's largest and most complex emergency worldwide. Today, more than a third of the country's population has fled the ongoing civil war. More than half of the refugees are children."
The Nonbelief Relief board felt this gift will help save lives jeopardized in part by a major religious conflagration.
- $10,000: Camp Quest scholarships to help needy students who could not otherwise afford to attend 2016 camps.
Although Nonbelief Relief is not primarily a local charity, the board agreed it's important to contribute to one's community and voted for these local or statewide grants:
- $12,000: OM Tiny Houses. This will pay for a "tiny house" for a homeless person who contributes "sweat equity." A community of Tiny Houses shelters is a project of Occupy Madison Inc. and is being built in Madison, Wis.
- $10,000 additional pledge to the city of Madison, contingent on city approval of a proposal to spend $10,000 to place permanent lockers for the homeless in or near downtown.
"As FFRF has downtown residency, we are acutely aware of the homeless crisis here in Madison," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, Nonbelief Relief administrator.
- $2,500: Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin.
- $25,000 pledge: Women's Medical Fund Inc., believed to be the longest continuously operating abortion rights charity in the nation, helping more than 20,000 needy Wisconsin women pay for abortion care. The board voted to give the money on Jan. 22, 2016, in honor of Anne Gaylor, FFRF's principal founder, who died in June, and also co-founded the WMF and administered it from about 1976 to March 2015.
In October, Nonbelief Relief gave $20,000 to Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontières), raising several thousand additional dollars from FFRF donors. The grant was earmarked for the charity to use in Afghanistan after the Oct. 3 aerial bombing by the U.S. military of the group's hospital in Kunduz, killing 22 people and injuring 37 others.
Nonbelief Relief was incorporated in 2015, with the Freedom From Religion Foundation as its sole member. The board is made up of Gaylor, FFRF Co-President Dan Barker as vice president, FFRF Director of Operations Lisa Strand as secretary/treasurer, and Jim Zerwick and Stephen Hirtle, who also serve on FFRF's board.
Donations can be made via FFRF, either by explicitly earmarking your check for Nonbelief Relief or by selecting "Nonbelief Relief" from the designation dropdown at ffrf.org/donate/. If given via FFRF, the donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.