Global Voices Online is one of the most worthwhile projects I know. Their Rising Voices project offers grant support to blogging groups in developing nations; they do amazing free speech advocacy worldwide; and a team of more than 200 volunteers works tirelessly to amplify the voices of ordinary people around the world (in a whole bunch of different languages.) Want to know what people are thinking and talking about in Albania? Israel and Palestine? Kazakhstan? Zimbabwe? Global Voices is the place to find out.
And they've just launched a donations campaign. Full disclosure: I was there on the day the organization was born, back in December of 2004 (here's my post from that day: Bridge blogs and global voices.) Oh, and the project was co-founded by my husband, so it's possible I'm slightly biased. But this is a project I deeply believe in, and the Global voices manifesto which began to coalesce at that first bloggers' conference still gives me chills. Here's how it begins:
We believe in free speech: in protecting the right to speak — and the right to listen. We believe in universal access to the tools of speech.
To that end, we seek to enable everyone who wants to speak to have the means to speak — and everyone who wants to hear that speech, the means to listen to it.
Thanks to new tools, speech need no longer be controlled by those who own the means of publishing and distribution, or by governments that would restrict thought and communication. Now, anyone can wield the power of the press. Everyone can tell their stories to the world...
(Read the whole thing here -- in English, Arabic, Albanian, Bangla, Chinese, or thirteen other tongues.)
This is exactly the kind of project that makes me hopeful for the internet. Chanukah begins tonight, a fine time for gift-giving. If you've got a few bucks you can throw their way, I hope you'll consider doing so. (They've got cute badges, too. Like the one at the top of this post. You don't want to disappoint the tiny kitten, do you?)