Which Charities Should You Support This Christmas? A “Naughty And Nice” List

There are better options than the Salvos.

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The holiday season is upon us once more, and while some of us are focused on what gifts we will be receiving (Black Santa, if you’re reading this, I’m running low on GINA by Gina Liano), others are wondering which charity to support in this time of abundance for many and hardship for others.

Charities and non-profits are in holiday overdrive with their big campaigns aimed to prompt giving. So, which cause is the “right” one for you to support?

If you’re a Secular Sally like me, you might wince at the idea of supporting charities operated by faith-based organisations. While a charitable basis in faith is not necessarily a bad thing, it could mean you’re supporting an organisation with restrictive views around women, LGBTIQA people, sex workers, or with dark and unresolved histories of abuse.

The choice is yours, but here’s some more information that might help you make it:

Secular Santa’s Nice List

Give Directly

Thinking global? Throw some of your Chrimbo cash to this hardworking organisation, which cuts out the middleman and gives money directly to impoverished people in Kenya and Uganda, some of whom live on just $0.65 per day.

Read more here.

Youth Projects

This independent Melbourne organisation takes a holistic, non-judgemental approach to tackling disadvantage, homelessness, alcohol and other drug issues faced by local young people. Let your Helen Lovejoy flag fly and think of the children.

Read more here.

Women’s Community Shelters

WCS is a social franchise model which provides emergency accommodation for homeless women and their children in NSW. The holiday period can see a spike in incidence of violence against women and family violence. No brainer. They’re seeking both donations and offers to volunteer.

Read more here.


RISE (Refugees, Survivors and Ex-detainees) offers service to newly arrived and long-term refugees, developed and run by people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds. They also make a lot of much-needed noise about the ongoing abuse in detention centres.

Read more here.

Minus18 & Camp Out Crew

These two LGBTIQA organisations focus on providing spaces for queer youth to feel safe, accepted, and celebrated. After a year that saw national newspapers, elected MPs and right-wing fringe groups attack the safety of baby queers, both these organisations could use some support.

Read more about Minus18 here and Camp Out Crew here.

… And The “Naughty” List

Salvation Army

This much-loved group has a whole lot of skeletons in its closet. This includes covering up the alleged abuse of kids in their own facilities (then underpaying compensation), reportedly placing volunteers in harmful conditions in Nauru and discriminating against detainees on the basis of religion.

They also have a long history of campaign material that stigmatises sex work, discrimination against the LGBTIQA community, and anti-harm reduction behaviour without atonement.

Then, after previously making a stand for the anti-bullying program, they withdraw support for Safe Schools last week without reason. You’d have to be barmy to give to this army.


Caritas is the “international aid and development organisation of the Catholic Church in Australia”. They provide aid to 200 countries in need, but they explicitly do so with the values of the church. The same Catholic Church featured in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, that opposes marriage equality and Safe Schools, and continues to prevent women from having bodily autonomy. Nopey nope nope.

Compassion Australia

Compassion Australia is focused on getting children out of poverty in Jesus’ name. The charity recognises its “strong partnership with Hillsong Church”. Hillsong is a megachurch brand that has been accused of corruption, with leaders being as far from poverty as you can imagine. Plus they have espoused anti-gay and pro-life rhetoric.

Anything Owned By Shane Warne

The Shane Warne Foundation was not a faith-based organisation per se — unless you count cricket as religion — but it still ranked up there with the dodgiest. Last year, it was suspected that Warnie’s foundation for seriously ill and underprivileged children was grossly mismanaging funds. The charity’s now closed and investigations are ongoing, but as a rule, it’s best to show some healthy skepticism of organisations that refuse to show anyone the books and base their philanthropy model on “lavish parties, charity auctions and sports days”.

N.B. I first found out about this from an episode of Real Housewives of Melbourne (seriously someone please get me GINA by Gina Liano).

Nic Holas has written for The Guardian, Archer Magazine, Hello Mr, and Star Observer. You can find him on Twitter @nicheholas, or in his role as co-founder of HIV social umbrella The Institute of Many.