Activism via Donations

If you are one of the many poor unfortunate souls who pays an income tax, you might be wondering: how can you best use the 501(c)(3) charitable deduction to advance liberty? If you have an excess of cash and a shortage of time, please make donations your activism. Not only does your money further the cause of liberty, you also reduce your tax footprint, which is one of the most valuable activism one can do.

Politics is shaped by society, not the other way around. Change society and you will change politics. Thus donating the electoral campaigns is a losing battle, unless it’s an “educational” campaign as Ron Paul executed in the 2008 Republican primaries. There are three key interrelated ways to change society: change people’s opinions, delegitimize the state, and making the state unnecessary or ignorable. You can donate to all of these in ways that reduce your tax footprint.

Influence the Youth

Science has proven our brains continue developing until our twenties. That time is what a person is most open to new ideas; afterwards we become more fixed in our opinions. Therefore it is absolutely vital that we engage in educational outreach to young people. I cannot stress that enough. Therefore, you will get the most long term bang for you buck supporting youth organizations.

Young Americans for LibertyMay I suggest Young Americans for Liberty (YAL). They came out of the Ron Paul Lovelution. Money sent to YAL goes to supporting college chapters around the country. These chapters engage in activism and educational outreach to their fellow students. YAL also hosts an annual national convention for young budding liberty leaders. These future leaders of the liberty movement are exposed to the great ideas of liberty through speeches from liberty “rock stars,” networking with peers, and so forth. It also provides leadership training to help these young libertarians organize local movements.

There are two ways to donate to YAL. The YAL Foundation is tax deductible and funds general educational endeavors. YAL itself is not, but if you want to donate to that then it helps with more overtly political endeavors. Be sure you are donating to the YAL Foundation if you want that tax deduction.

Students for LibetyThere is also Students for Liberty (SFL), which has more of an international focus and more decentralized. This organization aims to provide a unified, student-driven forum of support for students and student organizations dedicated to liberty. Rather than being a chapter-based or membership oriented organization, they offer support to all pro-liberty organizations on campuses, including YAL chapters, free speech clubs, Objectivist groups, etc. SFL provides such groups with material supplies such as pamphlets and books to pass out, funding, and a common forum college liberty advocates to communicate and exchange ideas. SFL also hosts international and regional conferences around the globe for young students to sharpen their knowledge and activism skills. All donations to SFL are tax deductible. They accept credit card and PayPal here, and they also accept bitcoin donations here. Yes, the you can donate bitcoins and legally deduct their value on your 1040 Schedule A!

Delegitimizing the State

WikiLeaksNothing is more satisfying that a massive scandal that delegitimizes the state in the eyes of the public. These typically come from a document leak. To name a few:

Freedom of the Press FoundationNo organization is more important on this front than WikiLeaks. Due to government intervention, there is no way to directly fund WikiLeaks other than bitcoin. Fortunately, the Freedom of the Press Foundation is a tax deductible charity that has found a way to send your funds to WikiLeaks so that they can continue one of the most valuable public services out there today.

Government Obsolescence

Technology is making the state obsolete. TOR and bitcoin allow commerce without state permission. Even something as simple as e-mail has chipped away at the state’s postal service, something liberty activists in the 1800s could only dream of.

Centralized technologies like Uber and AirBnB have upended the government-protected taxi and hotel cartels, as did the Silk Road upend the war on drugs. But their Achilles’ heel is that they are centralized, making them easy targets when the state is able to catch up with them.

New experimental projects are popping up that seek to be 100% decentralized, making them impossible for government to take offline. OpenBazaar seeks to be a decentralized eBay. LBRY hopes to be a decentralized media publisher. Arcade City is attempting to provide Uber-like ridesharing services on a peer-to-peer network no one single person controls.

Many of these projects are not tax-deductible, but they are still worthy of your investment. You can, though, support some pro-liberty technologies and take a tax deduction.

Tor ProjectThe TOR web anonymizer protects us from government surveillance, and funding it is tax deductible.

Donating to the Freedom of the Press Foundation can support a variety of pro-freedom tech meant to help whistle blowers communicate with the press anonymously. This includes a means for media and anonymous sources to exchange documents anonymously, a non-profit dedicated to making encryption technology easily accessible to everyone, encrypted voice and text messaging, and an operating system designed to hide your identity from government surveillance.

NSA backdoorsOpen source software in general is a key part of bypassing the state. Microsoft, Intel, and Google are widely known to have back doors in their products for the NSA. Microsoft Windows 10 is designed to spy on you, for example. Open source programs cannot have secret back doors slipped into them. This makes funding and using open source software a key component of advancing government obsolescence. Here are key 501(c)(3) organizations advancing open source software:

Electronic Frontier FoundationLastly, much of pro-liberty tech exists on the Internet. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has been a pioneer at battling the state in cyberspace. In the 1990s their work won some of the first legal victories for making encryption legal. Today they are the main leaders in the fight against government mass surveillance and supporting tools to protect our online privacy from uninvited snoops. Their work is well worth your donation. Bitcoin is accepted.

The Kochtopus

The “kochtopus” refers to organizations funded by the Koch brothers. The Koch brothers for the most part fund many wonderful organizations that are dedicated to advancing human liberty and have done tremendously great things. Nonetheless, the fact is that organization receiving millions from the Kochs does not need your donation quite like one that doesn’t. You can use Source Watch to find how much the Kochs donate to an organization to help shape your donation decisions.

Conclusion

Do your research on an charity. Head over to Charity Navigator to see how your selected charity stacks up. Does it have good transparency? Does it waste little money on administrative overhead? Etc. There are many 501(c)(2) organizations promoting liberty, but only a few have a shot of affecting change in society. If you lack the time to do jury nullification, community outreach, protests, and organizing events, you can use your spare dollars to change our youth, delegitimize the state, and make it obsolete while at the same time reducing how much taxes the state can extort from you.