The Volokh Conspiracy

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Implementing my Pledge to Donate Royalty Payments to Charities Benefiting Refugees

Giving Tuesday is an appropriate time for me to begin carrying out my pledge to donate 50% of the royalties generated by my book "Free to Move" to charities benefiting refugees.


Back in January, I pledged to donate 50% of all royalties generated by my book Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom to charities benefiting refugees. Today is Giving Tuesday, and therefore as good a time as any for me to begin to implement my pledge.

As of a few days ago, Oxford University Press indicates that we have sold some 1100 copies of the book, since it went into print in late May (after a delay caused by the Coronavirus crisis). By my admittedly rough calculations, 50% of the royalties for that number of sales amounts to about $1200.

I am therefore donating that amount to HIAS, one of America's oldest, largest, and most respected refugee-assistance organizations. That choice is partly guided by HIAS' high status and record of success in the refugee assistance field, and partly by the fact that other donors have promised to double any donations up to $21,000 given to HIAS during Giving Tuesday. Thus, the donation will have twice its "normal" effect.

I have consulted about other potential recipients for donations with leading experts on immigration and refugee policy, and will be giving future donations to some of those organizations, as well. I will announce those donations in due course. I should have additional funds available as more copies of the book are sold, and the publisher gives me more detailed data on how many copies of which type have been purchased (as the royalty amounts are slightly different depending on the format of the book, and we have hardcover, digital, and audio versions). My pledge also covers royalty income from potential foreign-language translations, which I am in the process of exploring.

For those interested, I will note that among the other organizations currently on my radar screen are Freedom For Immigrants and the Florence Project (both of which provide services to immigrants and refugees trapped in our awful immigration detention system), and Second Tree (which provides integration assistance and other services to refugees  from the Syrian Civil War and other recent conflicts in the Mediterranean region).

The Covid-19 pandemic and associated economic crisis have made the plight of refugees even worse than usual. So whether or not you ever read or buy my book, I urge those who have the means to do so to consider contributing to charities assisting refugees. Perhaps my admittedly modest donation can play a role in stimulating efforts by others.