The Non-Believers Giving Aid project has been a phenomenal success; it raised over $150,000 in contributions for Haiti within 24 hours, and at the last tally I heard was somewhere over $180,000, with an average donation of roughly $35 per godless donor.
I’ve been seeing a lot of sniping from various corners of the web that these contributions are just selfish promotion by atheists, that we wouldn’t ever help human beings if we couldn’t get advertising for it. This is absurdly false. Before the Giving Aid site was set up, I’d put up a call for donations, and the godless community responded then — and they sent in their money without any kind of label on it. When the new call from Richard Dawkins came, many donated again, and I also heard from several people who’d had difficulty with PayPal payments and even so, also donated again without concern that their dollars wouldn’t appear under the Non-Believers Giving Aid umbrella. The important goal all along was to contribute to disaster relief, and the numbers we have now are an underestimate of how willing non-believers were to give humanitarian aid.
I will freely admit, though, that a secondary goal was to correct a public misconception. There is a false perception that associates church attendance with selflessness and social responsibility, and that because non-believers do not make showy demonstrations of giving in the name of a deity, we must be uncaring. To the contrary, the godless have been quietly supporting good causes as independent agents all along — and sometimes have even been contributing to religious charities, if they do good work. All this new organization changes is the ability to give credit where it is due, and to wave away this mistaken notion that only people of faith can appreciate the importance of assisting our fellow human beings.
I’m hoping that this kind of central organization that channels the charity of the godless will persist, and help people realize that we’re all together in the effort to make a fairer, better world…and that the absence of a church is not a reason to snub us, or to think that we shouldn’t be courted to serve good causes.
(And you can still donate!)