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I spent part of my career working for non-profits. After witnessing first hand the waste and mismanagement of funds, I struggle to donate to charities. HOWEVER, I am generous by nature so I find other ways to give. I start by always tipping more than expected. I give money to street performers. I tip people that don’t expect a tip. There is a local private school that educates at-risk children. I frequently purchase specific items for the school – like a pizza party they use as a reward or sports equipment. Although this is an unconventional way to donate, I feel my money is actually helping an individual instead of increasing the bonus of executives.
I realize there is no tax deduction associated with my form of giving. A tax deduction is not my reason for giving.
I like what my church does. We provide financial help and serving opportunities to local groups/charities and even to international organizations. We give to City Rescue Mission and Mission House which helps homeless people in our city to get a hot meal. Heartfelt Ministries helps seniors in our area who feel isolated or simply need basic tasks done for them, like buying groceries. We also play a big role in Compassion International – sponsoring impoverish children around the world. I think what we do makes a difference because we impact our local community, while trying to be imagine bearers of God around the world too.
I’m not yet at a stage in my life where I have a lot of disposable money to donate to charity. But I’m a big fan of the effective altruism movement, and GiveWell is the charity that I know of that best adheres to the principles of effective altruism.
I love the Salvation Army. In the 1980’s I was trying to provide money from a civic organization to victims of a local flood. I met with the local representative and said “I have $1,500 we would like to get to those effected by the flood that need it”. The woman, a Major in the Salvation Army, said “we don’t give money to people that need it”. I asked for an explanation. She said “if they were any good at handling money, they probably wouldn’t need it. We found it’s not good policy to give money to people that need it.” I then asked, “so what do you do?”. She said “we send social workers in to see what goods and services they need and then purchase those goods and services at the best possible price”. I asked if she would do that with the $1,500 and she said, “young man we do that every day”. She took the money and asked for me to return in two weeks. When I came back she reported that they had visited all the households in the flood area, had purchased what was necessary and had $300 left over and wanted to know what she should do with it. I smiled and said you should use that money for whatever she thought appropriate, knowing it would be well spent.
Great story — thanks for posting it!
Big Brothers, Big Sister, local food banks, medical support to third world countries.
Big Brothers Big Sisters. I think it’s a great program that gives mentorship to young kids who often don’t have a lot of that in their life.
I love charity:water. The founder has an incredible story and all the donations go directly to the charity. If you watch Bill Gates story on Netflix, it further shows you just how many people in this world live without access to clean water. This is why I love this charity. It gives people access to something most of us never have to think about, and prevents disease.
My favorite charities are Laurel House and Unbound. Laurel House is there for victims of domestic violence, an all too often silent killer because it is still a taboo subject. Being on the board of the agency helps me see the caring work they do for victims. Unbound gives you the opportunity to sponsor and support a child in the United States or anywhere in the world. What a joy it is to share communication with that child.
We adopted our kids, and it was the best decision we’ve made. Every dollar spent on helping adopting families cover their expenses to provide loving homes for the large number of orphans and foster children is money well-spent. It gives those kids a chance to succeed when the odds say they wouldn’t otherwise, and our society is much the better for it.
I have a number of factors that I consider when choosing a charity:
I also like to have some sort of hands-on involvement with the charity (volunteering time) as well as money.
My biggest charity “turn-off” (other than an imbalanced admin costs to aid ratio) is when a large portion goes to “raising awareness.” That is important, but for many such causes people are already well-aware; they now need solutions!