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Smart Giving: Why You Should Donate To The Secular Student Alliance

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Disclosure: I’m an intern at the Secular Student Alliance this summer. The opinions below are my own and do not necessarily represent those of the SSA.

Hello, Dave here.

I’m going to come straight out and say it. You should donate to the Secular Student Alliance. Right now. I’m serious. Get out your wallet and set it on the table beside you. Have a credit card? Get it out. Have a bill in your wallet? Get it out. We’re going to do something here with it in a second.

I want you to take your credit card out of your wallet and look at it (or, if you have cash, take it out and look at it).

I want you to think of all the things you’ve bought in the last week.

Gasoline? Coffee? Gum? Cigarettes? Soda? Beer? Went out to eat?

I just got back from the store. Here’s a list of things I’ve bought in the past two hours:

– Two bottles of wine: $30 (not on receipt because I got them at a different store)
– A bath sheet: $20
– A corkscrew: $10
– A fancy can opener: $18
– A box of trash bags: $8
– A big jar of peanut butter: $7
– Two jars of jam: $5
– A package of hangers: $5
– Some mouthwash: $5
– A little candle with a holder: $4

All of this together is over $100. Now, if I were to ask myself, which is more important to me? Wine? A fancy can opener? or the Secular Student Alliance?

Every time, without fail, I would choose the SSA.

Except that I *didn’t* choose the SSA; I chose the fancy can opener. I guess that’s not “without fail.”

I want you to look at your credit card, or the cash you got out, and ask yourself: “What is the highest and best use of this money?”

The Secular Student Alliance is doing the most important work I have seen in the world. I am not just saying this. I’m studying economics & anthropology at Mizzou, and I’m interested in non-profit efficiency and smart giving. I care about a lot of causes. I care about feminism, and poverty alleviation, and reproductive rights, and LGBTQ rights, and vegetarianism & animal welfare. But I chose to work with the SSA because I think this is the most important cause, and the most urgent cause.

We are empowering students toward a secular future. A better future. A science-fiction future with flying cars and weekend trips to the moon and people living to their 200th birthday. Prosperous countries trading instead of fighting. When we focus our attention on being good critical thinkers, we solve problems. Like the bumper sticker says, “Two hands working accomplish more than 1,000 clasped in prayer.” The SSA works with students because students are our best hope for the future.

I want you to read this post by my boss, Lyz Liddell. It’s called “The Unstoppable Secular Students.” I mentioned “smart giving” above. That means using critical thinking when deciding where to donate. It means asking questions and making sure your money is being put not just to good use, but the best use.

The problem with this, from a non-profit’s perspective, is that when people think critically about donating, they tend to donate less. Emotions can take over people’s donation behavior and when people aren’t asking questions, it’s easy to get them to donate. I want you to do the opposite of what most people do. I want you to think critically, realize that the SSA is the doing the best work you could ask of a non-profit, and donate more. I want you to donate as much as you possibly can. I want you to do this because I have done my homework, and I know how important this is and how good of a job the SSA is doing. I know how understaffed the SSA is and how much its people care. And most importantly, I know that they are getting stuff DONE, I know how much they need every dollar you can spare to keep doing it.

Smart giving doesn’t mean giving less. It means choosing a great, efficient, and productive charity, and giving all that you can. If you care about secular issues, the SSA is what you’re looking for.

What are you going to buy tomorrow that you don’t really need? Don’t do it. Donate to the Secular Student Alliance today instead. We can make this happen with your help.

So, your wallet that is sitting out. Let’s do this. We can do it together. The $100 I spent today on crap I don’t need? I’m officially pledging another $100 to the SSA, right here, right now. And I want you to do the same. If $20 is all you can manage, donate $20. And because of Jeff Hawkins & Janet Strauss’s matching $250,000 donation offer, your $20 magically multiples into $40. Do it. Donate, because the SSA is important, and that’s worth caring about.

– Dave

Ellen says:

Remember, here are some ways to pledge:

1. Pledge per word (.01¢ per word is suggested).

2. Pledge per post (24 throughout the day).

3. Pledge per thing you’ve learned. If a post teaches you something new, you donate your pledge amount.

4. Bid to torture. Have a crafty challenge for me? Something new to make into crochet? Some sick geometric origami? Whatever you do, don’t make me go outside and do… things… like… …exercise. I will hate you. But if you bid enough, I might do it.

5. And always bid for crochet Cthulhu’s and FSM’s! They will be available throughout the week, and any that are not auctioned will be for sale near the end.

So if you need any more reasons to donate, stick around. I’m here all day.

This is post 19/24 of Ellen’s Blogathon in support of the Secular Student Alliance. Donate here!

– Dave

Dave Muscato is Vice President of MU SASHA. He is a vegetarian, LGBTQ ally, and human- & animal-welfare activist. A junior at Mizzou studying economics & anthropology and minoring in philosophy & Latin, Dave posts updates to the SASHA blog every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday and twice monthly for the Humanist Community at Harvard. His website is

Follow Dave on Google+
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Helpful resources: – Iron Chariots Wiki – Skeptics’ Annotated Bible / Skeptics’ Annotated Qur’an – –

YouTubers: Evid3nc3Thunderf00tTheAmazingAtheistThe Atheist ExperienceEdward CurrentNonStampCollectorMr. DeityRichard DawkinsQualiaSoup

Blogs: Greta ChristinaPZ MyersThe Friendly AtheistWWJTD?Debunking ChristianitySkepChick

and don’t forget… other SASHA members! We are here for you, too!

About Danielle Muscato

Danielle Muscato is a civil rights activist, writer, and public speaker. She has appeared on or been quoted in Rolling Stone, People, Time, The New York Times, SPIN, Entertainment Weekly, Billboard Magazine, and on MTV News, VH1, NPR, MSNBC, ABC, "The Real Story" with Gretchen Carlson, The O'Reilly Factor, Huffington Post Live, Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Raw Story, CNN, CBS, and Howard Stern Danielle is the former Director of Public Relations for American Atheists. She is also a board member of MU SASHA (University of Missouri Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists & Agnostics). Her website is Follow her on Google+ Follow her on Twitter @daniellemuscato Subscribe to her on YouTube at

4 comments on “Smart Giving: Why You Should Donate To The Secular Student Alliance

  1. rocketkirchner
    June 10, 2012

    hahaha — i love it . hey dave –you forgot to pick up an 18 ounce BIG GULP just piss off the first lady and her dum crusade to thin down america. LOL

  2. Dylan
    June 14, 2012

    Hey Dave, sounds like you’re getting to do something this summer that you really like doing…good for you man!!

    I just couldn’t help but be curious about something you said above:

    “I want you to donate as much as you possibly can. I want you to do this because I have done my homework, and I know how important this is and how good of a job the SSA is doing…”

    Before I give to this organization, I would like to know whether fundraising for the SSA happens to be an official/recognized function of your internship position. If so, how can I be sure that you’re enthusiasm for and certainty of SSA’s merits are truly genuine? Furthermore, much of your post stressed the overwhelming importance of critical thinking when it comes to deciding on what to donate to. Are we to cease doing that simply because you have “done your homework”? Finally, what is this “homework”, and is there an unbiased, objective third party grading it?

  3. Dave Muscato
    June 14, 2012

    Hello Dylan, thank you for your comment! I really appreciate the questions and am glad to see you taking a critical stance – that’s what smart giving is all about, and it’s actually what I’m interested in studying, why I went back to school (economic anthropology –> how people make decisions about altruism/charity based on religion, and the evolution of this type of morality throughout history).

    To answer your questions:

    1) Fundraising for the SSA is not an official nor unofficial part of my position within the SSA. My job description is here:

    I am the writing intern and together with the design intern, my job is to write the fourth edition of the Group Running Guide, a how-to manual for student groups like SASHA across the country. I have a secondary job function of helping to execute the annual Leadership Conference this summer, which basically means doing behind-the-scenes stuff like running errands, taking photos, etc. The SSA employs several full-time development staffers who do the fundraising part. I am not being paid to write this post and was not asked to write it. I didn’t even ask permission, actually; we’re allowed to blog about whatever we want (I’ve been running this blog since long before the SSA brought me on as an intern) and it was not approved by the SSA, etc. In fact they require a disclaimer if/when we write anything online that says something to the effect of “The opinions here are my own and do not represent those of the SSA,” which I put at the top.

    The reason I wrote this post is because I sincerely believe it is the best and highest use of donor dollars, for people who are interested in supporting secularism. I actually had several internship offers this summer but chose the SSA because I think this is the most important, most urgent, and best use of the time & resources available to accomplish the goal of a secular future. The article I linked to, “The Unstoppable Secular Students,” explains why it’s important to support secular high-school & college students specifically, why the SSA does that, what specifically the SSA is doing to support student groups, and measures of efficacy.

    The homework I’m talking about is seeing, first-hand and from the inside, what the SSA staff does with their time & resources. I have seen lots of non-profits from the inside out (see my website at and am simply stunned at how good these people are at their jobs and how little inefficiency I see going on here. Thinking about it, it’s really not a surprise, given that literally everyone in the SSA office is a vocal advocate for critical thinking, rationality, and self-skepticism. That is why they all became interested in secular activism in the first place, and so it makes sense that they are able to turn this very readily on their own organization.

    I realize that this is anecdotal and I can write a more thorough answer for you soon; right now I have to get going to work! Thank you again for your insightful comments. It’s always great to hear from you, Dylan!

    – Dave

  4. Dave Muscato
    June 14, 2012

    Dylan, our Communications Director is actually doing an AMA right now if you’re online!

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This entry was posted on June 10, 2012 by in Author: Dave Muscato, Group Info, In The News and tagged , , , , , .
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