It's that time of year…

Being an atheist with no close family, who is old enough to know my own mind, I’ve developed the freedom over the last few years to dispense with the most regrettable customs surrounding the close of December and to do the things that I think are appropriate instead.

These include making a series of small charitable donations in response to the rampant consumerism going on all around me, in which I am thankfully not having to take part. I try every year to keep the focus on development and homelessness charities.

Here are the causes that I’m supporting this year – and, if any of them seem appropriate to you, I’m sure they’d welcome a gift:

The 2008 St Martin in the Fields Christmas Appeal
This is the 82nd appeal made by this central London church since 1927 and, as usual, it features in the Radio Four Christmas Appeal. The money raised will be divided between The Connection at St Martin’s, working with homeless and vulnerable people in central London, and the Vicar’s Relief Fund, making small grants to individuals and families in need all over the UK, many threatened by homelessness or with experience of being homeless. The work of the Christmas Appeal goes on throughout the year. Donate here >>
The Campaign for Female Education (Camfed)
Camfed is an international organisation dedicated to eradicating poverty in Africa through the education of girls and the empowerment of young women. Wiith a focus on rural Africa, it works with the most disadvantaged social group in the world today, unable to challenge the status quo from their position of acute vulnerability. Girls’ circumstances can only improve if their communities are in a position to support them. And in turn rural communities can only change if girls’ circumstances improve, which is what Camfed works to achieve. Donate here >>
The British Humanist Association
2008 was the year when atheists came out of the closet and began to act collectively, thanks to the Atheist Bus Campaign. Thousands spoke out against being characterised as joyless, spiritually impoverished or pessimistic, while supporting an organisation that provides a voice for those of us who imagine a world without religious privilege or discrimination, where people are free to live positively and ethically on the basis of reason, experience and shared human values. Sounds good? Donate here >>

And don’t forget Kiva – your chance to lend fairly to an entrepreneur in the developing world and help them to bring about important, sustainable changes in their lives. And Kiva is for all year long, not just for Christmas…