Earlier in the year, when we discussed ways that Dickensblog could observe the bicentennial, I think most or all of us were in agreement that the best way to celebrate our beloved author would be to help those in need, just as he spent so much of his life doing.
In that spirit, I'm very happy to announce the Dickens Bicentennial Charity Fundraiser! It will officially begin on January 1, 2012, and last all year. It's still very much in the planning stages, and I would love to hear any suggestions that any of you have to improve it. But here's the gist:
1. I've made a list of charities that either have direct ties to Dickens, or help causes that he was passionate about. That list is below. If you know of other charities that were connected with him, please let me know in the comment section, and they'll be taken into consideration.
2. If you want to participate, you'll pick the charity of your choice, set up a donation page, and enlist people to sponsor you. Or, if you'd rather, you can become a sponsor for someone else. On January 1, we'll launch a readathon. For every chapter, short story, or essay by Dickens you read in 2012, your sponsors will donate a set amount to the charity you've selected. If you think you can read a LOT of Dickens in one year -- and I'm guessing many of you can -- you'll probably want to make that a small amount, such as 25 or 50 cents per chapter. We want to raise a lot of money, but we don't want your sponsors to go broke! If you'd rather, you can make that a set amount of money per book instead. But since not everyone will be able to make it through a whole book, I thought the chapter option might be preferable for many.
3. Throughout the year, I'll be announcing more ways to raise money for your charity. For instance, for every guest post you write for Dickensblog in 2012, I'll give $5 to your charity. I may come up with other ways that people can help out around the blog during the year, to earn money. I'll also be selling certain Dickens-related items during the year, probably on Amazon or eBay, and donating the money. And there will be other fundraising activities as well.
4. It's okay if some charities get multiple donors and others don't get any. The important thing is to raise money for those in need, and even if everyone here ended up contributing to the same cause, that would still be accomplished! Also, you don't have to start on January 1; readers and sponsors can join throughout the year.
Here are the charities:
- The Great Ormond Street Hospital
Dickens's articles and readings on behalf of this children's hospital helped save it from going under. Here's where you can set up a fundraising page.
- The House of St. Barnabas
The Manettes lived here in A Tale of Two Cities. Today, it runs a special program to help the homeless acquire important life skills and find jobs. Set up a fundraising page here.
- The Battersea Dogs & Cats Home
Dickens wrote an article called "Two Dog Shows" in All the Year Round to raise awareness of this charity, which cares for stray animals until it can either locate their owners or find them new homes. Set up a fundraising page here.
- The Somaly Mam Foundation
Dickens co-founded Urania Cottage to help rescue women from prostitution; today, Somaly Mam does similar work for Cambodian girls trapped in sex slavery. That's why Dickensblog is a supporter of her foundation. Set up a fundraising page here.
- Books for America
Because education and literacy were important to Dickens, this blog supports Books for America, which donates books to prisons, schools, shelters, and hospitals. Here's where you can set up a fundraising page.
Here are a couple more charities for which I couldn't find ways to set up fundraising pages. I'm listing them anyway, in case anyone would like to make direct donations to them.
- The Royal Theatrical Fund
Dickens was the first chairman of this charity, set up to support actors who have retired because of age or illness, back when it was known as the General Theatrical Fund.
- Perennial: Gardeners' Royal Benevolent Society
In 1852 Dickens gave a speech on behalf of this charity, which helps support those who have worked in the field of horticulture.
Don't forget to let me know if you know of other Dickens-related charities!