I agree with waiting till February as December and January are the hardest months.
I also agree with targeted donations to smaller charities. From a personal perspective, I’d nominate Mustard Tree in Manchester.
I also agree with providing some small donations from the fund to DiS, but reckon we should poll the contributors to see if they’re happy with that, and then suggest if contributors do want to go down that route then we make it clear about where donations will be going to in the future. I understand the argument about separating the community from the site, but to me they seem completely linked and related.
One thing I think about a lot is that I make some regular DD donations to key charities I support, and then make ad hoc donations to other charities or people doing things/needing things, but I feel like I could and should give more to particular needs that I’m not necessarily aware of, or who have a particular urgent need e.g. homelessness support during the winter etc. Maybe the fund could be a way of both raising awareness to charities who have a particular urgent need, along with pooling some contributions so your £20 is scaled up to £200 and you feel like you’ve contributed to a significant donation that will have an immediate and substantive impact.