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Atheist Charities

Updated on February 5, 2016
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Kylyssa is an American atheist with high-functioning autism trying to navigate a mostly religious world with no well-beaten path to follow

Can Atheists Be Charitable?

When people discuss compassion and charity online it's often said that there are no atheist charities. This stems from a common misconception that atheists are not giving and care nothing for their fellow man. The truth is that nonbelievers have just as much empathy as anyone else. As many of us see it, there's no one to help our fellow human beings except ourselves.

In fact, there are many atheist charities and charities founded by nontheists. Some of them avoid using the word atheist to avoid having the stigma attached to it affecting the operation of their charity. Others cautiously use a related term, humanist, in the charity's name. Fortunately, there has been more dialogue going on and it has become somewhat less acceptable to bash anything and everything associated with atheism so a few brave groups have used the word in the names of their charities.

If you'd like to learn more about some of these organizations, read on.

image created by the Out Campaign

photo by Asif Akbar
photo by Asif Akbar

Atheist Centre of India

An organization helping people since the 1940s


Atheist Centre of India supports intercaste marriages and actively works to end child marriages and caste separation. The also provide aid to women in distress such as single mothers and prostitutes and promote equality of the sexes. Their education campaigns are designed to fight dangerous superstitions and practices such as witch hunts which can result in harm to innocent people.

Atheist Centre provides many services such as a Working Women's Hostel and a home for women with social problems. One of their programs, Vasavya Centre for Social Development, provides outreach services for more than 50 villages. The outreach program includes education, health care, advanced medical care including eye banks and corneal transplants, social programs, training for women, counseling and career guidance, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, sanitation facilities, drinking water facilities, sex education and contraception education, youth programs, and crèches for children along with many other humanitarian services.

Really, the Atheist Centre of India provides so much that it's difficult to summarize it in one module. It has been providing relief, support, and care since the 1940s. That makes it perhaps the oldest continuously operating atheist charity in existence.

Once people get past the idea that atheist charities actually exist the next major misconception about them is that they are something brand new.

image created by the Out Campaign
image created by the Out Campaign

Foundation Beyond Belief

Offers a variety of guaranteed secular charities to support

Foundation Beyond Belief is non-theistic charity which launched January 1, 2010. Each quarter Foundation Beyond Belief features five charitable organizations. Members can choose which cause or causes to support from the featured causes.

The variety of causes is excellent and it's easy to find something you can get behind on their site if you are looking to support something important and life-changing.

free your mind graphic
free your mind graphic | Source

Fellowship of Freethought

Atheist charitable organization

Among their outreach activities, the The Fellowship of Freethought organizes blood drives, collects food for local food banks, participates in holiday toy drives for needy children, and collects donations for deployed soldiers.

image by Billy Alexander
image by Billy Alexander

International Humanist and Ethical Union

A union of atheist and secular charities from around the world

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is a union which includes more than a hundred atheist, secular and freethought organizations from 40 different countries around the world. IEHU fights for freedom of expression, human rights, and separation of church and state. They support the victims of religious persecution and superstition. IHEU fights to end untouchability, caste systems which place people in abject poverty with no hope of escape due to accident of birth.

IHEU is very active in trying to save people convicted of religious "crimes" (homosexuality, women wearing trousers, loss of virginity, witchcraft, or similar accusations) from imprisonment, torture, and execution.

Is Atheism Incompatible With Charity?

Does Atheism Make A Person or Group Unable to Be Truly Charitable?

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Atheists Helping the Homeless
Atheists Helping the Homeless

Atheists Helping the Homeless

Providing small comforts to homeless people

A small group of atheists in Austin Texas saw a need. There are quite a few charities providing food for homeless people there but few seemed to be providing things such as soap, toilet paper, toothbrushes and other hygiene items. By researching what was being given out by groups already, AHH discovered that some groups gave out toiletries, but very few groups, and very few toiletries to very few homeless people. No one specialized in toiletries, not even close. AHH, or Atheists Helping the Homeless, started collecting and giving out these items to homeless people in Austin, Texas in late 2009.

American Humanist Association

The humanist charities of the American Humanist Association have now established a Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund to distribute food and supplies to the people of Haiti.

image created by the Out Campaign
image created by the Out Campaign

Kiva Lending Team: Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious

Kiva Lending Team: Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious has provided $17,448,050 in loans to small business owners in the developing world at the time of this writing. They have helped 597,689 small business owners since the group formed in August of 2008.

They are a Kiva Lending Team, a group which provides small loans to people seeking to reach economic independence and to improve living conditions for their families and communities.

Humanist Soup Kitchen Video - From a man who works for a humanist charity giving food to homeless people

While plenty of people insist such organizations don't exist this young man has worked with one of them.

photo by Funch, SXC
photo by Funch, SXC

Secular Humanist Aid and Relief Effort

Atheists providing funds for medical care in Haiti

Secular Humanist Aid and Relief Effort (S.H.A.R.E.) provides general humanitarian aid, food assistance, and medical relief to disaster and accident victims. They have provided aid to Sri Lankan tsunami victims, hurricane Katrina survivors, Haitian earthquake victims, families displaced by California wildfires and Tennessee tornadoes, and many others.


Is The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Secular? Is Its Adherence To Humanist Principles Relevant? Is It Catholic?

Melinda Gates is a Catholic; Bill is an atheist. Warren Buffet, an atheist, is one of the foundations biggest, non-Gates financial contributors. Is the organization still secular in nature if one of the co-founders is Catholic? I've been contacted via email and through comments with the suggestions that Melinda Gates is the driving member, the more active member so the charity can not be atheist or humanist. Some have stated it can't be secular, either, but must be Christian because Melinda is a Christian. Some who have contacted me have agreed that the charity is secular but consider the Catholic co-founder as the more important and more active co-founder, thus making it clearly not an atheist charity nor proof that atheists can be charitable.

I agree that the charity is not specifically only atheist even though it has enormous backing from atheists. I disagree that it is not humanist or secular, as the foundation does not distribute religious materials or adhere to Catholic religious teachings. Also, I disagree that Bill Gates is the lesser member of the pair, as he greatly reduced his duties at MicroSoft in 2006 specifically so he could spend more time and effort running the foundation. While I think Melinda's contribution is just as important, I don't think it makes the charity non-secular any more than atheist volunteers at religious charities make them secular.

What do you think? Is Bill's contribution and involvement with Warren Buffet (atheist philanthropist) plus the completely non-religious nature of the charity enough to make it secular or does Melinda's involvement make it a Catholic charity? Is its adherence to humanist principles enough to make it humanist?

Is The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Secular?

No, Melinda is a Catholic so it's not or it isn't secular for some other reason I'll explain.

No, Melinda is a Catholic so it's not or it isn't secular for some other reason I'll explain.

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    Yes, it could be run by Catholics, Baptists, Jews, and Muslims and still be secular if it does not promote religion or adhere to religious principles.

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      Is That All the Atheist, Secular, or Humanist Charities in Existence?

      Nope, this page doesn't even begin to scratch the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of atheist, secular, and humanist run charities. As time allows, I will be adding more to this page.

      If you'd like to see your non-theistic non-profit organization featured on this page, please leave its name and URL in the comments section at the bottom.

      Would You Support an Atheist Charity?

      Assuming you were in a position to donate to charity would you donate to an atheist or secular charity?

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      What Do You Think about Atheist Charities?

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          Anna 10 months ago

          It is almost amusing how many poeple on here object (quite rightly) to being characterized as selfish and uncharitable because they are athiests- but then assume to go right ahead and mischaracterize and misrepresent the intentions of every person of religion, claiming that thier charitable actions 'always' have ulterior motive.

          They claim they act because they just want to help and do good, but will not even consider the possibility that this might be the intention of religious people as well, who can be and are affliated with non religious charities.

          They assume that they are the only people capable of being genuinely and objectively charitable. They assume that the religious are not capable of being humane or charitable for its own sake, ignoring the hard facts, that many charities originally set up by Christians, such as Barnados and the Samaritans help people of all religions and backgrounds, and do not require thier workers or those they help to convert or anything like that. My own sister in law, who identifies as a secular humanist, worked for Barnados, which was set up by a (shock horror) Christian missionary in 19th century London.

          There are, at the simplest level, accusing thier 'enemies' of the very same thing they so loudly object to being accused of themselves, without any acknowledgement of thier own arrogance and hypocrisy in this regard. And they say they are the rational ones......

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          Peter 15 months ago

          I refuse to donate to religious charities naymore, largely because I have discovered that many of them insist on pushing their religion on the people they help. Furthermore, several of them are fundamentally opposed to Equality in Human Rights for groups such as homosexuals. This is not something I am prepared to support.

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          Sanxuary 2 years ago

          When did charity have any thing to do with believing in God. There are more atheist charities then non-atheist by a big margin. People who do not believe in God are more likely to fill the idea that throwing money at a problem will somehow shine a golden light on their soul. Even the Roman dictators gave free bread away to keep the starving from rioting. The number of useless charity events in any given work place of ruthless companies who keep their employees in poverty can only amaze me in stupidity. Go work for free as they get a tax write off and free advertising and do that right after you get off work. Is it not amazing that after earning billions of dollars you can never spend and getting old that the rich suddenly throw it away on their legacy. Money will never save their souls and their definition of charity will not meet the definition in Heaven. Like the charity workers in Haiti staying at a 5 star hotel and eating lobster after a long hard day of handing tents and MRE'S. You missed the point of charity like the billionaire who still owes his workers a fair wage. I could tell you most charities are atheist, that it's a job for profit and in most cases it never solves the problem. The people in Haiti are still living in those tents waiting for the next disaster and hoping that someone will solve the problem that keeps them in poverty.

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          molrockbiz 2 years ago

          @rab-l-rowser: Melinda Gates is more active with the charity than Bill is, I think, and she is Catholic, not an atheist.

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          Kylyssa Shay 2 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @seventhangel777: I'm don't think I understand your comment. Are you saying that atheists can do things that, if Christians did them, would be good but they aren't good coming from a non-believer? I am guessing that the hardened heart part specifically refers to not thinking God is real? If you mean that atheists are capable of giving gifts and have the knowledge of how to do the things that would be good if Christians did them but don't because their hearts are hard, I think you are wrong. You can see evidence of atheists choosing to help others by reading the page you've commented on and clicking through some of the links to the atheist charities themselves. Or are you saying people who don't worship Yahweh may help others because they know how but eventually they become so evil they don't help people anymore? Thank you for your comment!

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          seventhangel777 2 years ago

          @kengay1628: The inspiration comes from God that is all actions of good, it is during the tribulation those whom rejected God suddenly get overtaken by their capable evil. It is said in scriptures 'you being evil know how to give good gifts'. This means mankind is given the knowledge of good so they may know how to do good, but without that knowledge being sent to people spirit they will harden heart and be overtaken by evil. The consequence of the time of Antichrist is due to the rejection of God it is in those days that people show their real evil what is truly within them, that the small amount of light from God has held back mankind can not do any good without God because God is good itself.

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          kengay1628 2 years ago

          The normal opinion by any religious person- and in fact perpetuated by their clergy- is that atheist's being godless, do not maintain any sense of morality and therefore are unable to show compassion towards humankind. This is totally untrue. You do not need to believe in some imaginary deity or god to be concerned with the welfare of others - it purely common sense. Look around at all devastation, deprivation and injustices throughout the world- any rational thinking person knows that help is needed in attempt to make this a better place for all. You do not need a "god in your heart" to make a decision to help where you possibly can.By the way Atheism is not a belief system - it is a disbelief in God.

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          jim-welch-773 2 years ago

          The big question I would ask on this site is not "why would an atheist care to be charitable"? The answer to that is easy. But the bigger question is "where does that desire for an atheist to be charitable come from"? That also is a easy answer.

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          Colin323 3 years ago

          The concept is completely credible. People with strong religious belief, along with agnostics and atheists, often share the same value systems - of helping others. It's just that the religious folk see a reward in the afterlife, as well as an emotional reward now; whereas the agnostic and atheist just see the reward in the present.I like the Humanist Soup Kitchen concept very much. I don't see why soup should be preceded, interrupted, or followed by prayers if you don't believe in them.

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          williamslaw 3 years ago

          What a thought provoking and interesting lens. Though I was not aware there were atheists charities, yet I do believe that you do not need religion to feel compassion.

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          June Campbell 3 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

          I was not aware that there were atheist charities, but I am not surprised to learn that there are. I have known religious people, atheists and spiritualists. I found that the traits of altruism can appear in all three groups, just as the traits of cruelty and disinterest can appear in all groups. Come to think of it, I have never heard of a war fought in the name of atheism.

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          tonyleather 3 years ago

          I thought this was a thought provoking and very interesting lens. Atheist charities are no different from the so-called Christian ones, because at the heart of everything is simple compassion, and you need no religion to feel that!

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          lililime 3 years ago

          @Kylyssa: I'm Buddhist but I never liked titles because of their air of exclusivity. Are some of the Atheist organizations that you mention simply not religiously associated?

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          rab-l-rowser 3 years ago

          @anonymous: The world's largest philanthropic organization, in terms of total monetary value of aid provided, was founded by, and is run by, an atheist: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is also the world's largest private foundation.

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          Kylyssa Shay 3 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @anonymous: Actually, this page was written in response to the frequent Christian assertion that atheist charities do not exist. That's not fanfare, that's just correcting a misconception many people hear at church on Sunday. It's not a contest. I've worked at a number of Christian charities myself. Many of the charities I volunteered at that served the homeless were religiously affiliated.I'm not sure what you see as so wrong about dispelling the myth that there are no charities but religious charities.To me, it maybe "smacks of desperation" to hunt up atheist charity websites to make comments voicing your disapproval of them. Why not spend your time spreading the word about the charities you support instead so others will perhaps support them, too?Also, the vast majority of the population is religious so why bother comparing the size and contributions of charities created by groups that make up a tiny percentage of the population with them? Surely eighty percent of the population can do more than four percent?

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          anonymous 3 years ago

          There may be handful of atheist charities, but they are not even in the same league as Christian charity organizations. The average local church collects canned goods and clothing on a weekly basis, has members that regularly volunteer time with the needy, and may even run or support a soup kitchen. And all of this is done mostly without fanfare. In contrast, sites like this seem to have to go out of their way to find groups to hold up to the world to say "see, atheists can do charity too!" It smacks of desperation, trying to justify something to themselves or others.

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          anonymous 3 years ago

          @anonymous: Isn't it refreshing to see how David has everything neatly figured out? Christians are deluded idiots and could not recognize a scientific principle if it.... Atheists are no better, being "equally stupid." Only David, who doesn't know what to believe, has everything together, intellectually, morally, and in every other possible way. Let's all be like David, shall we? He sounds like such a happy and intelligent guy.Atheists "have a little giggle" whenever they ridicule Christians, but evidently David is just overflowing with bitterness and anger.Christians are happier, give much more, not just to their churches, but to secular institutions, and to their friends and families as well. Christians donate more of their time, more of their blood, more of just about everything, as documented in "Who Really Cares" by Professor Arthur C. Brooks.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          It's nice to see that not only are there charities that identify as atheist, but that there are so many of them. Hopefully spreading knowledge of these charities will lessen the negative publicity that atheism seems to get.

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          Kylyssa Shay 4 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @anonymous: I don't think religious people or atheists are deluded idiots. I don't think agnostic atheists, agnostic theists, or straight-up agnostics are deluded idiots, either. I do think it's odd to decide what kind of person a person is based on what they believe or don't believe instead of on what they do.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          I think moral values are intrinsic to all human beings and there are good atheists and bad atheists just as there are good and bad religious people. I have a lot of problems with how some religious people behave. They often put religious ideology and symbolism ahead of the inherent demands of their conscience and reason. Similarly atheists behave as if they are little children whose feelings are hurt because people think badly of them and so they are out to prove to everyone how good they are and how rational they are and they like to say clever sounding, nasty things about religion and all have a little giggle. Most of them claim they have science on their side, but not recognize a scientific principle if it bit them in the @ss. When religious people do charitable things that's fine. Most of them are motivated by a desire to help less fortunate people. Exactly the same is true of most atheists. The only thing that differs is the rationalization they use to explain what they are doing and why.Personally I think both groups, religious and atheists are deluded idiots. I am an agnostic. I don't have to believe or not believe in a God. We can use the word God, but we cannot even begin to define what we actually mean by the word God in any rational way. Likewise it is equally stupid to say God doesn't exist when you have no idea what you mean by God.

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          CristianStan 4 years ago

          I actually found this quite humorous. But yes I must agree, it is a common misconception that atheist care only for themselves, but that isn't true

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          @Kylyssa: Well said.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          @anonymous: I'd wager most atheists and religious people do charitable acts for the same reasons: it feels good, it feels right, gratitude, etc.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Atheists are the only charitable people, a religious person acting in a charitable manner is doing so (consciously or not) as a means of scoring points fr the afterlife. if an atheist does something charitable it is because they want to do good

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          I'm an atheist, and I didn't know much about atheist charities, so this lens was very useful and enlightening. I want to apologize for one of my votes. On the poll about whether atheism is incompatible with charity, I misread it as "compatible" and voted yes.

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          Kylyssa Shay 4 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @anonymous: I usually try to give anonymously and secretly. It embarrasses me if people make too much of what I do or give. I don't know what other people are thinking when they give. I'm surprised you have openly atheist friends who discuss such private things with you, considering your obviously unkind attitude toward them. Seeing how you feel about atheists, I'm surprised you'd call any atheists friends.You seem to think humanism is a bad thing. It doesn't mean, as you've probably been taught, people who worship themselves as if they were deities, it simply means feeling responsible for your fellow human beings. It means helping those who are in need of help. I just do not understand why that is seen as such a terrible and arrogant thing by evangelical Christians.It doesn't matter to me why people help others in need, just that they do. Every year near Christmas, I purposely try to reach those who will give out of Christian pride if one just prods them a bit. I don't care if they shout praises to the glory of their God when they give or help, I just hope that they will give or help someone somehow. I think if you care too much about what motivates people to do kind things then you are forgetting the person in need. Giving is not about the givers but about those in need. You might ask yourself why you are thinking about what motivates others to give rather than thinking about how you can give or help.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          It's nice to know that compassion runs beyond religious/spiritual boundaries. Being a Christian, I'm curious though, if atheists generally give with humility as well as compassion. This is the one trait I've failed to see in the atheists friends I have...they all seem to not only have a humanist outlook, but a strong degree of pride/ego. I've often analyzed what draws me to faith so strongly, and I think this is one of the key elements...that without a belief that something greater is out there, it is very easy to find yourself stroking your own ego. I'm not saying that all atheists feel that way, or exhibit that, but I think it's a point to ponder.

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          Rose Jones 4 years ago

          Another excellent informative lens. There is a lot of human need out there, and we all need to get together and help as we can.

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          Kylyssa Shay 4 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @anonymous: It IS highly revealing. It shows that anti-atheist folks don't think atheists have human feelings. I met a lot of people like that when I worked in homeless charities. People were shocked to learn I'm not Christian and wondered why on earth I'd volunteer with a charity when I'm not doing it to please God or under pressure from church. Atheists do charity work because they have feelings and emotions just like religious people do. I'd even bet you most religious people engage in charity work because they have feelings and care about their fellow man rather than just because their church says they ought to. If you read the page you just commented on instead of just using it to get in an anti-atheist zinger, you might see how, well, nasty, your comment makes you seem. Millions of people in India have been saved or had their quality of life improved greatly since the 1940s by the Atheist Centre of India.Worldwide, less than four percent of the population identifies as atheist. That means the other 96% does not and are thus religious. Since atheism is also compatible with some religions such as Buddhism, some of those atheists are Buddhists or other religions, thus making them religious atheists. Buddhists do charity in the name of Buddhism but many Buddhists are atheists. OK, so fewer than four percent of the human population worldwide is made up of non-religious atheists. 96% is bigger than 4%. There are twenty-four times as many religious people as atheists (and no, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, and Hindus do NOT count as atheists!) in the world. Who can accomplish more, one person or twenty four? OK, now imagine the one person gets very little tolerance in the culture he lives in and the other twenty-four are a few hundred times more likely to hold positions of power. So, why do you expect one outcast to be able to do as much as twenty-four people accepted by mainstream society? If you look at how many people have been helped or saved by atheist charities in the past seventy years, the number should shock you in the direction you would not expect as someone who devalues human beings outside your religion. I'm sure you'd be shocked by how many religious folks those dirty old atheists have helped. The vast majority of people helped by atheist charities are not atheists and they don't get turned into atheists in the process of being helped, either.But you are right about something, the atheism doesn't matter. Atheist charities have been, by and large, started by people in response to religious charities with strings attached, regional religious oppression, or charities which only served spiritual "needs" instead providing real-world assistance to people needing physical help of some kind. They use the words "atheist" or "humanist" to make their mission clear. The mission of most religious charities is to spread their religion, often using food and medical supplies to compel people in need to go through the motions of their religion to feed their children or to survive. The mission of atheist or humanist charities is to help the people they identify in their mission statement. The pushiest thing I've seen an atheist charity do is include a "love note" in boxes of supplies handed out to poor people that read something like "You are a deserving human being . If you are ever in a position to do so, please "pay it forward" and help someone else in need."Religious people have no more moral obligation to help people in need than atheists do. In fact, in America, some religious people use religious assertions to justify not helping poor people.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          BrendanSanlatte said: "Interesting. I didn't know there were any."That alone is highly revealing.Atheism has no foundations for any moral obligations whatsoever so do the math. Atheist high priests say so - in case you're another ignorant atheist that doesn't even understand atheism's logical implications. You see why the vast majority of charities are founded on some belief system other than atheism - mostly christian as a matter of fact.Most secular orgs were not and are not started by atheists but by governments, groups of doctors and other health workers or social workers, etc.Atheism - an idea that doesn't matter.

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          BrendanSanlatte 4 years ago

          Interesting. I didn't know there were any.

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          brody1848 4 years ago

          Thanks so much for posting this! I wish more people realized how many secular charities there were.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          This was an awesome resource - thanks so much for putting it together!

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Whether or not people are kind to each other has nothing to do with whatever system of belief they subscribe to, but this is an excellent reference for anyone going toe-to-toe with the ignorant portions of the apologist community who insist that we cannot be charitable. Thank you for this.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Atheists for Humanity does something like that.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          I'm an atheist, and I've been doing volunteer and charitable work for ten years and have never worked for an explicitly religious organisation. Many religious organisations state that you must have a religious affiliation to work for them (I'm in Scotland).

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          There should be an Atheist charity that simply tries to spread the word about atheist charities!!! We have to break the common misconceptions.

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          RationalHedonist 4 years ago

          Thanks for posting your list. It's good for people to know 1) that those who are Atheists do donate time and money to humanitarian causes, and 2) that there are alternatives to religious-based charities.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Charities are about people, not about God or the Church, or even religion.No one should have a monopoly on humanitarianism, and some countries focus upon humanitarianism and ethics rather than religion for their morality.

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          Kylyssa Shay 4 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @hanztutan: I point out the word 'atheist' before the word 'charities' because it is an argument I hear over and over again that there are no atheist charities and atheist are not charitable. I even was told that by someone working beside me at a soup kitchen I was volunteering at! So here's the page that shows those folks who think atheists are incapable of charity, look, we're just like you.

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          Kylyssa Shay 4 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @anonymous: A group of atheists and humanists in Amsterdam in the 1950s had the exact same idea. That's why the the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is comprised over a hundred substantial atheist charities in forty countries around the world. The organization has been in existence since 1952 and has been growing ever since. They have helped millions of people.Atheist Centre of India has helped hundreds of millions since it started in the 1940s. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has helped hundreds of millions, possibly as many as a billion people. The Fred Hollows Foundation has restored sight or prevented blindness in millions of people. There are atheist charitable organizations that save or help millions. Taken all together, it would not be a stretch to say atheist charities have helped or outright saved over a billion people in the last seventy years. A billion is 1,000,000,000. Considering that atheists make up only about 2.3% of the world's population and sometimes have difficulty getting donations from religious folks, I'd say that's pretty darned impressive.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Just wondering how much good each of those organizations actually do? You can have a 100 organizations that provide very little and still do very little. Why not combine them into organizations that can generate enough donations to put a dent is the social problems of the world? It would be great to have just a handful of atheist charities that would provide as much or near as much as any of its church counterparts.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          This is an interesting way to look at how labels change things. There is no doubt that humans are compassionate beings, regardless of religion. Now if only we could all stop the backbiting!

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          hanztutan 4 years ago

          I see Atheist Charities like any other Charities, only with the word Atheist... Why should the word Atheist matter? For me, it's like turning the phrase "a guy and a boy" into "a black guy and a white boy."

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          Cecil Kenmill 4 years ago from Osaka, Japan

          great lens. when we tell people we're atheist, they look at us like we have the plague. that must stop. let's not forget that good old honest abe was atheist.

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          sunny saib 4 years ago

          great topic.. and i must mention, great questions raised in polls.. also mind stimulating results of Would You Support an Atheist Charity? enjoyed reading.. :)

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          Hanziejane 4 years ago

          Thankyou so much for this article, the stigma attatched to atheists is ridiculous.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          Great, a human heart is a human heart.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          @anonymous: You just cant believe that we (Atheists) can care about people without god. Typical Christian thinking......If your god would take care of these people we [all of us] wouldn't have to. I know what you're thinking, god makes people suffer to see who the Christians are. I bet he's surprised

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          Lacy 5 years ago from Chenault

          I always check before donating to make sure at the very least that the charity has no attachments to churches - secular charities are definitely preferred.

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          Alex1138 5 years ago

          I'm an atheist and I run two charities. A soup kitchen in Dilijan Armenia which I fund mostly myself and a kindergarten in Armenia which I and members of my family fund and run. I started the soup kitchen about 4 years ago, we feed about 60 people 3 meals a day. I don't take any donations and I don't make a dime from any of this. Many of the starving people I feed are devout christians (as most Armenians are) not that any of that is important. They are my fellow man and we must all stick together as brothers and sisters in humanity. The church in armenia is horribly corrupt. They do nothing for these people but they do launder money for the state.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          Despite all these charities done by atheism, the reason for doing this is wrong. I see a lot of sign saying this phase "we are a non-religious and much more charitable" ON SOME, not all. However, the REAL difference between Christian and atheist charities is we, Christian DON'T ask for anything, we do help help non-believers as well (I did that one time and I didn't push my faith into them. Only talk about it), give more then we take (We are not rich church cause we gave away money then we keep and yes I know people have to paid the bills but sacrifice our payment for other), and the one issue with atheist charities is competing with religious charities. I mean, really? Grow up, the reason you have these charities is not to compete with us or just do good. The main reason why you have these is deep down inside you develop some kind spiritual, yet unknown connection. Call me crazy but everyone has a little voice inside of us. ;)

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          @anonymous: First atheists get attacked for not having charities. Now atheists get attacked for having charities. You can't win.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          You might want to update your entry on Foundation Beyond Belief. They now have 5 categories so that more money can be brought to bear on each one. Plus they're in the process of starting a sister organisation in Australia. (I'm helping with that.)

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          @anonymous: Atheism is not a "belief," it's just the way you were on the day you were born. But I agree with "just be charitable" (i.e., "be good for goodness sake").

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          Im glad they are charitable but By naming it an "atheist" charity, they push their beliefs just like "christian" charities. How 'bout everyone just be charitable and stop putting your beliefs in the name and on everyone else :)

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          Atheist Charities are very prominent in christian charity helping poor peoplehttp://www.ukchristiancharity.org/

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          Joy Lynskey 5 years ago from Moneta, Va

          Another Great Lens!! You have earned a new fan!

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          gazingupwards 5 years ago

          All charity groups that put the money towards what they say they will do with it are good in my book.

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          ifuturz 5 years ago

          This is a great lens

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          Edutopia 5 years ago

          This lens is great. Too often people in America are ready to portray Atheists as amoral and incapable of community or help and that is simply not the case.

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          ChristosTsotsos 5 years ago

          Thanks for the lens! I have learned quite a lot from it. I am uneasy with religious based charities. I perceive them as another marketing stunt, any self respecting business will not invest in something unless they profit in the end. They gain a lot and give little.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          I think that any charity that does what it says it does is a good thing, returning with a blessing.

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          Paul 5 years ago from Liverpool, England

          I do actually try to give to non-secular charities: the only charity I regularly support that has a religious bent gets my money because it is so effective in its improvement of people's lives.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          I think Atheists for Humanity is a worthy charity.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          I never thought about it!

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          Thanks for this lens! I am an atheist and was unaware of how widespread atheist charities are. I live in the Bible Belt and am unaware of any charities in my area that label themselves as secular or humanist. However, they may be here...I am going to look into it.

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          BusinessSarah 5 years ago

          Some people give in certain ways because it's the Christian thing to do; others, like myself, give in certain ways because they know within themselves that it's the right thing to do. A noble cause is just as noble no matter what you believe to be true about the universe. No one group has a monopoly on giving back.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          I am a part of a church-based soup kitchen with a food pantry and clothes pantry. I'm not sure about other church-based ones out there, but I know ours doesn't "push" religion onto the needy people, and we don't require them to attend church services or anything. We are there to help them in any way they can, and if they have questions about God, we're of course always willing to talk with them about God for as long as they'd like.That aside, I'm surprised (and pleased) that there are non-religious charitable soup kitchens and pantrys. I have plenty of atheist friends who definitely care about homeless people and those in need, so I'm not baffled by the idea that atheists are charitable~! I know that not everybody in the world is Christian (or comfortable being around Christian environments), so I suppose it's good for there to be atheist/humanist organizations who are willing to lend a helping hand to those in need. It's good to know this; I'd been unaware up until now... thank you for sharing!

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          cheech1981 5 years ago

          i'm agnostic and lean toward atheist and have spent most of the past decade in giving roles in one way or another in work, volunteer, school, and travel. especially when i was looking for volunteer abroad opportunities, most of the ones that were affordable were run through religious organizations and had a component of evangelism to them, which i wasn't comfortable with. also when i was community organizing one summer, the part that was most challenging was that it was faith-based. we can all come together around common values, and i think that is a great reason to work together, but that element of evangelism and the differing belief systems does kind of nag at you...

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          @Ramkitten2000: sorry, my mistake. i seem to have misread your post, i read 'incompatible' as 'compatible'

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          @Ramkitten2000: So why exactly do you not think atheism is compatible with charity?

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          Laurel Johnson 5 years ago from Washington KS

          I'm thankful for any person or group who shows empathy and compassion for those less fortunate and often less acceptable in society. The parable of the good Samaritan, told by Jesus to make a certain point, applies here. Samaritans were hated and vilified by the religious community of Jesus' day, and yet he used the kindly Samaritan as an example of how He wanted us to treat others. "Go and do likewise." was Jesus' charge to everyone, not just to His followers.Loved this lens.

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          TollysWorld 5 years ago

          Extremely interesting lens, thanks. As an atheist myself - and regular donor and volunteer - I've always found it odd that many religious people (of any faith) feel they have ownership of or the rights to moral and compassionate behaviour and feelings.

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          Frankie Kangas 5 years ago from California

          Excellent lens. I don't get the problem. Good people doing good things. Those good people happen to have labels of Christian, Atheist, Budhist, Gay, Straight, Married, Single, Man, woman, etc. We have to stop looking at labels and looking at deeds. Blessed. Bear hugs, Frankster

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          Deb Kingsbury 5 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

          Oops, I clicked on the wrong response in one of the polls. Crud. I read it wrong and realized to late. I meant to say NO, atheism is NOT incompatible with charity at all! Excellent lens and resource, Kylyssa. *Blessed by an angel on the Back to School Bus Tour*

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          Check out www.responsiblecharity.org

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          B E Newman 5 years ago

          I am not an atheist, but I really enjoyed this "lens"

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          Bernie 5 years ago from Corbin, KY

          i work for a church. a atheist is far more cheritable. it is working for a church that made me an atheist.

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          You always make us think and raise awareness Kylyssa, well done once again! I don't give based on what category a charity is in but on what it does to help people. Just because the word "church or "Christian" is attached, does not mean that a Charity is reputable and one needs to investigate.

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          FlynntheCat1 6 years ago

          @mythphile: Oxfam is good! (very late response :D ) When I was in the UK they were our first choice for anything, and I remember they were on Blue Peter a lot. There was never a HINT of religion anywhere,a nd people in the UK tend to avoid any kind of overt religion like the plague. In fact, looking at Wikipedia.. Oxfam was founded by 'Quakers, social activists, and Oxford academics' (Name = Oxford... Famine relief)

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          Greenwickpress 6 years ago

          People who choose to do good because they think it is right are bound to be more charitable than people who think it is an obligation. I'm sure that is true for anyone regardless of whether they follow a religion or not. Awesome lens, thanks for sharing it!

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          I believe that only atheists can be truly charitable. Many religious charities only do so because "god" requires them to do so, and often the condition of the help is that those receiving the help accept copies of the charity's holy book and lectures by missionaries.

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          Atheists are more charitable because we are not doing good works for a bucket of skydaddy fun points.. We are doing them because we honestly want to help.

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          KeenanSteel 6 years ago

          I find something noble about charities that get donations based on the good work they do rather than what book(s) they believe in or what kinds of beliefs they tout. It would also bother me if the funds were to focus on helping only people who are religious, or helping people while telling them about their version of god.

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          Kylyssa Shay 6 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @mythphile: Oxfam is a good one. From my investigation of them, they seem pretty secular in their actions. I don't think you'd need to worry that they'd use the code "teaching supplies" to actually mean Bibles.Your instincts about World Vision are dead on, in August 2010, they won the right to fire all non-Christians and anyone who does not meet or agree with their ideological standards, including Christians. It was a four year battle fighting for the right to discriminate against employees based on religious belief after they fired three Christian employees in 2006 for failing a theological "purity" test. Apparently, the three Christian employees in question did not have the exact beliefs about the Trinity that the examiners required.

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          Ellen Brundige 6 years ago from California

          @PNWtravels: The Salvation Army won't let me volunteer for them because I'm *drumroll* bi. Before Bush left office, they actually sent a special request to the White House asking for legislation allowing charitable organizations to be exempt from discrimination laws against gays.They also don't get my donations anymore. I donate to other charities instead. ;)

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          Ellen Brundige 6 years ago from California

          Oh, I'm so glad KIVA is not affiliated with a religion! I really don't care that much, because the important thing to me is helping, not the religion of the organization. However, when the organization diverts some of my money to proselytization (as I fear it may be doing with WorldVision), I am then frustrated -- that's not what I gave them money to do, and they're against my religion and lifestyle, so that's...unfortunate. But also (b) there are some charitable organizations that would not accept me as a volunteer based on their religious beliefs, and they actively proselytize against people like me (bi), and I don't want my money going to an organization that wouldn't let me in the door!I wish there were a large, well-known charitable alternative to WorldVision: a group that provides food, shelter, emergency supplies like water purification tablets, and other essentials to people in the wake of large disasters. Oxfam, maybe? I don't know if it's Christian. Doctors without Borders is good, but they've been hammering me so much for donations since I first donated to them that I'm getting a little discouraged (how much of my donation do they use for fundraising rather than their work?)

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          Vicki Green 6 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

          I prefer charities that are not based on religion, so this lens has some very helpful information. Some of the religion-based charities discriminate against those not of their faith which to me seems very uncharitable. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          i am donating to Doctors without Borders. Not explicitly atheists but non-religious.

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          MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

          I have featured this lens on Giving Charity for Christmas Gift GuideThanks for the help!

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          MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

          I am going to feature this lens on my upcoming lens which encourages people to give presents that say "a contribution has been given in your name" for Christmas!

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          Kylyssa Shay 6 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @Health-Gal: For some people it is a total surprise. I've had people who were totally surprised to find out I'm an atheist because they couldn't reconcile the idea with the fact that I've been an anti-homelessness activist for most of my adult life. One gent who worked with me at a homeless shelter found out and couldn't stop asking questions, as if he either couldn't believe or understand my answers. After about a month asking me questions daily or nearly daily, he finally decided I must secretly believe in God.

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          Health-Gal 6 years ago

          I so don't get why charity is supposed to be related to religion, so the questions you are asking in the polls, they are beyond my understanding. It is almost as if atheists are not human or whatever :-s I mean, just the question itself "Is Atheism Incompatible With Charity?" to me sounds like it would come as a total surprise that an atheist would even be able to give to charity.

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          Nerdy_Girl 6 years ago

          What a handy list of secular charities! I always check to learn if a charity is affiliated with a religious group before I donate-- even the kids collection cans outside the grocery store. I never knowingly support any church or religious group, not even the do-gooders, because of their agenda.

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          dannystaple 6 years ago

          I'm always very careful about the associations of charities, and I am concerned about donating to those which make membership of a faith a prerequisite for those needing to benefit from their charitable activities, so I prefer secular charities where I know a viewpoint will not be imposed in that way.

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          Heidi 6 years ago from Benson, IL

          Awesome Lens; it's cool that there are some non-religion-oriented charities out there. That way, anybody can give without having to be associated with any particular faith, and people who need help can receive it without feeling like they're being evangelized to.

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          daoine lm 6 years ago

          This is a very useful list. Thank you.

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          BetsiGoutal1 6 years ago

          What a fascinating topic. As an agnostic, I dislike giving to religiously-motivated charities because I disagree with most organized religion.

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          The most important thing is what the money goes to, but the dedication and commitment (according to my own observations) to helping people locally and around the world is far greater in charities that are faith-based, whether they are Christian, Muslim, etc. Thus, I tend to actively seek those groups to donate to.

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          PizmoBeach LM 6 years ago

          Excellent lens

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          hlkljgk 6 years ago from Western Mass

          really terrific resource

        • irregularworld profile image

          irregularworld 6 years ago

          Another great lens, Kylyssa - some resources here I'll be able to write about and help promote myself.!

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          Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

          Came back to leave an ~*~* Angel Blessing *~*~ Absolutely no spiritual beliefs required to feel its effects. ;)

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          anonymous 7 years ago

          Atheists just don't sing and dance and make announcements when they donate to charities. They do it mainly for themselves, because they feel good right here and now. They don't do it because there are possible rewards later after death. They don't do it because any god told them to do so or to compensate any sins they might have committed.

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          Diana Grant 7 years ago from United Kingdom

          Fortunately the UK is somewhat more secular than America in a quiet, non-declamatory way. I have a photograph of Richard Dawkin's bus advert this year saying "There is probably no god". It was considered a bit controversial by some, but did not give rise to any bloodshed or flag burning. I think people should do the right thing because it is right, not because of their expectation of reward in the next life.I support Avaaz.org which is a fast-growing international human rights and humanitarian organization which brings pressure to bear on governments concerning issues like world disasters, the Copenhagen conference and political crises. I would suggest you add them to your list.

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          Quirina 7 years ago

          :) I always have been and expect I always will be a fan of your writings :)I almost can't believe that 17.1 % of 41 visitors (that is 7 people, I guess) voted 'yes' on the question 'Is Atheism Incompatible With Charity?' On the other hand, if nobody was of this opinion, you wouldn't have made this lens! - But from a European point of view, this is so very strange...

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          Samantha Devereux 7 years ago from Columbia Mo

          Fantastic lens, This is an invaluable reference!

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          justholidays 7 years ago

          What a wonderful tribute to so-called "Atheist" Charities! In my personal European and open-minded opinion, a charity is a charity, whatever religion it does come from! I love those charities and they are as valuable than religion-driven charities because they're done in the name of nobody, just with people's heart and soul; which makes them invaluable to my eyes.Keep up the great job with the subject, Kylyssa.Your lens just got blessed by a SquidAngel from SquidHeaven.

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          Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

          I can only see choice as a great thing when it comes to charities, so that everyone can find something that is compatible with their personal beliefs (religious or otherwise). It is a sad thing that you were put into a position of having to 'prove' that atheists are as charitable as any other group of people, but you rose to the challenge!

        • FlynntheCat1 profile image

          FlynntheCat1 7 years ago

          Personally, I assume ANY charity is not religiously-motivated unless explicitly stated in the title. I notice you've only added the explicit atheist ones - it would bear mentioning that many others (Red Cross, Amnesty International, Greenpeace) simply ignore the whole issue as unimportant/not relevant and are major charities that certainly are NOT religious organisations.

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          Susanna Duffy 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

          The main reason that I've been supporting the Fred Hollows Foundation for so many years is that it has nothing whatsoever to do with any religion.

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          Bambi Watson 7 years ago

          Wonderful information!I imagine the religious zealots who believe that all Atheists are Satan worshippers (lol) are the same tiny brains who believe that Atheist can't be charitable... personally, I've found that in truth the further one is from Religious dogma the more charitable & humanitarian people become... All of the wars, crimes against humanity, torture & killing in the name of this Religion or that, makes me a firm believer that Religion is the problem & in no wat charitable.As someone who shuns all organized belief systems as evil, It's easy for me to see how giving to an Atheist charity is much more likely to actually help people in need rather than pad the pockets of church leaders & feed their war machines. I am not an Atheist since I do believe in a higher power of sorts, even if it's more scientific than spiritual lol...but I would be much more likely to give to an Atheist Charity than one run by Religious people...Great lens, Blessed by a Metaphysical Mystic Squid Angel!

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