Suggestions for a Different Kind of Christmas Gift

If you want to buy more stuff for your loved ones this Christmas, I’m not going to give you much of an opposing argument .  If you need help doing so, Megan McArdle can tell you (perhaps too much?) more (here, here, and here) about what to buy than I could.  As far as I’m concerned, books are always a great gift.  Magazine subscriptions are too (how about Reason or The American Conservative, if you don’t already subscribe to them?). 

However, for those of you who might like to give a donation to a charity or non-profit in someone’s name in lieu of a present, here are a half-dozen suggestions of institutions worthy of our support.*  As a Smithophile, I should also note that such donations may be tax-deductible (and will certainly provoke my approbation):

1.  The Fund for American Studies

Given its sponsorship of Pileus and many great programs, this is a no-brainer!  But I’m anything but an unbiased observer, so caveat emptor.

2.  The Cato Institute

One of the key pillars of the libertarian movement.  It does great work and has top shelf intellectuals on staff.  If you care about libertarian ideas getting attention in the imperial capital, this is the place to support.    

3.  The Institute for Justice

The IJ is the ACLU for folks who respect the entire range of freedoms and understand that economic freedom and personal freedom are not unconnected.  It might be the most effective libertarian institution in the country.

4.  Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)

From everything I’ve read, FIRE does a great job making sure that educational institutions respect individual rights on campus.  Students and professors can be bullied by universities, but FIRE exists to make sure that universities remain free-fire zones for rational inquiry. 

5.  Property and Environment Research Center (PERC)

I came to know PERC back when it was called the Political Economy Research Center.  Regardless of the name, PERC is a great resource for those interested in liberty and the environment.  These folks know that property rights and markets are critical to a truly sustainable world.   

6.  Institute for Humane Studies

Introduces and cultivates ideas central to a free society among young people interested in liberty.

Please feel free to introduce your own suggestions in the comments!

* Note that there are certainly more than six great liberty-friendly institutions that I could recommend.  However, other than TFAS, I wanted to avoid specifically mentioning ones with which I have a current contractual relationship so as to avoid any suggestion of impropriety.  Like most libertarians interested in public policy work, I have been involved with Cato but am not currently on its payroll.

6 thoughts on “Suggestions for a Different Kind of Christmas Gift

  1. Thank you for the shout out to The Fund for American Studies. We are delighted to sponsor Pileus and thank you for the informative, thought-provoking posts throughout the year.

  2. Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Michigan
    A private, liberal arts college with mandatory courses in Declaration of Indepence and the Constitution. Pre-med, Pre-law, Pre-veternarian, BA/BS in the usual liberal arts but a solid foundation of Conservative values. The college accepts ZERO federal funds.

  3. In addition to those mentioned by Grover (especially TFAS!), I would also recommend considering the following worthy institutions for gift-giving (I list them in no particular order):

    1. The Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan (

    2. The Mercatus Institute at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia (

    3. The Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington, New York (

    4. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education in Philadelphia (

    5. The Atlas Economic Research Foundation in Washington, DC (

    You might also consider an intriguing new joint venture between National Review and the Center for Excellence in Higher Education, namely National Review Collegiate Giving Clubs (

    (For disclosure, I have had dealings in various ways with all these excellent organizations.)

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