Tag Archives: charity

How and When to Give Back: Charity & Philantrophy

During this period of unemployment I know that I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to have an emergency fund and a chunk of networth in the bank to pull from should shit continuously hit the fan. Many of my friends say I’m too focused on money and that I shouldn’t be so obsessed with it. Even my friends who make good money seem to think I’m too obsessed with it. Maybe I am but I know that for me having goals and working towards them is the only way to achieve success.

That said, now that I’m 30/almost 31 / I have taken so much from the world and not really given back. What makes me happiest? Well, I love when I can buy a meal for a friend who I know couldn’t afford to splurge otherwise. If I had the money I wouldn’t spend it on designer clothes but instead on taking my friends on a vacation every year so we could experience the world together. Granted, that’s not actually charity, that’s just being a rich and somewhat giving friend. What I do want to do in my 30s is figure out how to be a more charitable person without blowing my savings plans or long-term financial goals.

Donating to charity always seemed to detached from actually helping people. Sure cash is cash and charities of all types can use the money. Meanwhile there are charity ratings and such so of course I can put my money somewhere it will actually help people… I just haven’t been the type to give yet. With some of the numbers I’m talking with potential jobs, especially when I get into what I could earn if I overachieve my objectives, I can either just actually start a fund for a down payment, or I can split it up and put some of my earnings to charity. I also think I’d probably work even harder knowing that after a certain point every extra cent could be used to help an organization I believe in. It’s a part of my life that has been missing, esp given I’m not a religious person, and one I want to pick up on now that I seem to be entering the junior big leagues of executive pay.

This video was especially inspiring:

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How do you figure out how much of your income each year you give to charity? Which organizations do you support? I’m going to do some research and figure out who I can help. I’m definitely interested in charities that focus on domestic violence, single mothers, children’s rights, et al. I don’t really want to give to my college even though I’m sure they’d love me if I did, but we paid so much to that damn school already. What organizations are best for charity? I’d like to get more involved in an org but I won’t really have time so prob need to find one where giving money is my primary contribution.

Ice Bucket Challenge and the Changing Face of Philanthropy

Unless you live under — an ice bucket — you’ve likely been witness to numerous friends, family, and celebrities dumping giant vats of freezing cold water over their head to raise awareness and funds for ALS research (or because of peer pressure and a unrelenting desire to fit in.) In nearly a month, the viral campaign has raised $32 million dollars for the organization, compared to about $2 million during the same time last year.

Not everyone is talented in the art of heaving ice water over their heads (see video below.) And, on a related note, not everyone is thrilled with this new form of viral fundraising. There’s a lot of concern from fundraisers that this has all turned into a bit of a popularity contest — that curing diseases shouldn’t be about marketing for a specific ailment but instead the encouragement of generations to donate for a common good.

But before we address such serious matters, let’s take a moment to pause and reflect on all the things that can go wrong dumping ice water on your head…

Now that we’re through with that, where were we? Ah, yes. The evolution of charity and the ALS challenge and all the people who have a bone to pick with it.

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Donated $10 to Haiti, but It Isn’t Enough

After writing my last post, I realized that I could afford to donate (at least) $10 to the Haiti cause. So I grabbed my phone and texted “Haiti” to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross. I don’t feel “good” about it because it’s not enough, but I like knowing that this text message campaign has raised millions of dollars, and I’m a small part of it.

My last post about my not donating got some pretty passionate responses, one being from an anonymous reader upset by my thoughts. The reader didn’t completely get what I was saying (they thought I said you can only donate through a church, which is not what I was saying… I was just commenting on how the world is full of “missions” and people doing charity for their religion, if you don’t have religion or the constant reminder to give with the guilt that comes along with it, you have to find your own reason and motivation to donate or volunteer.) Also, looking overall at the animal kingdom, we are the only species that helps out fellow animals in need (that I know of) — we are built to do what’s needed to survive and to pass on the best to our offspring so our DNA can continue on into the future. So without “God” and with science only, we need empathy and compassion for humanity as a whole. That’s not a bad thing, but then you take on additional guilt — if your reason for helping is God / the church, where if you give a little God will reward you after death, and you think being a good person and helping others is good for you and secures you a one-way-ticket to heaven postmortem, it’s a little easier to do a small amount of volunteer work and feel good about it. When it’s solely about empathy for the pains of mankind, that empathy becomes overwhelming. The world is a sad and scary place.

Regardless, I donated $10 because it’s the least I can do. I’ve been very strict with my budget this month (with my aim to save $20k this year) so $10 won’t kill me. I know it’s not enough, I’m trying to figure out my budget for next month to see if it would be possible to give more.

What is Poverty? Haiti Reminds Us.

Watching or reading the news lately, one cannot avoid images of Haiti’s poverty. The poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, many in Haiti, even prior to the earthquake, resorted to eating mud because they could not afford rice or other staples.

The reminder of that kind of poverty makes me question how anyone, myself included, can live a life of such relative wealth without guilt. While I am generally opposed to religion, one good thing that comes of certain religious organizations is the idea of charity, giving, tzedakah, etc. Of course one can lead a life without God and be inclined to give time and money to those in need, but it seems that without God reality is tied to science, where the genetic reality is “survival of the fittest” and to care only for ones’ self and offspring.

On NBC, Conan and Leno are fighting it out for a time slot when they can make America laugh. These comedians poke fun at life so we can get by it. Because regardless where you stand on the food chain, life is ultimately scary and meaningless. You can have all the money in the world and even moments of happiness but that means nothing. You can spend your entire life being Mother Theresa 2.0 and give and give, but that also means nothing. You can be in poverty, trapped by economic forces greater than any talent or skill you have, and that ultimately means nothing too.

Yet as I work as a widget in the machine known as capitalism, I have dual, painfully contrasting purposes in my mind, like two opposing notes sung by the shrillest of voices in attempted and failed harmony. One part of my mind wants wealth. Not stuff, per say, but “money” in the bank. Lots of money. To save and to have. Maybe to buy some stuff. This is what America instills in us as values. If we do not make money, if we chose poverty, we are failures. If we work hard (and use birth control and can obtain health insurance) there is “no excuse” to be poor in this country. Not poor like those in Haiti, anyway. No one in America has to eat mud cookies to survive.

The other contrasting note plaguing my ears is that of the desire to help others. To make a difference in the world. But the pain is so great. And the difference one can make is so small. You can feed a child, you can help a family in a third world country eat for a few days, or even a year. But how much can one person help?

Is there even a way for the world — everyone in the world — to live at a level above poverty (the US standard of poverty) if wealth exists? Doesn’t the wealth of one rely on the poverty of another? And we know communism, the ideal of equality, doesn’t work, because humans are genetically greedy.

So what can one person do? A part of me wants to donate all of my savings to Haiti right now. Of course, I won’t. I’ve never donated money before in my life. Which is terrible of me. But I’m afraid to part with money. I’m afraid any difference I could make (with the exception of donating all of my income to charity or spending my life as an atheist missionary) is too small to be a difference at all.

Forbes Billionaire’s List and How Rich is Rich Enough to Give to Charity?

A few days ago Forbes posted its annual list of the world’s richest people. While the billionaires gracing the normal list were mostly obvious — Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, etc, the list that I found more interesting was the sidebar “World’s Youngest Billionaires.”

Many of the world’s youngest rich inherited their wealth. Some, like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, are self-made billionaires. At just 23 (he’s only a year younger than me) he’s set for life. And a few other lives, as long as he can reincarnate and claim his savings on his return to earth.

As I’ve been figuring out my budget upon my upcoming raise, I noted that I feel like I’m almost making too much money, and I don’t know what to do with it all.

Of course, that’s not true. Now that I actually have money to put into savings, I can start seriously saving for things I want, like for the down payment on a house.

The other day as I was driving I was thinking about how nice it would be to make enough money that I could donate a substantial chunk of it to charity. Then greed clouded my head and I thought – why donate money when I can save the money? My Roth IRA isn’t maxed out yet, and even then the extra cash put into a SEP Ira, a high interest savings account for the house down payment, a CD or some other saving mechanism would probably be a wiser move.

I always thought that charity should be given in time, not money. If you’re going to be charitable, go do some volunteer work, help build a house with Habitat for Humanity, or volunteer to mentor in-need kids in a local town.

Then I got into the “real world” where I realized time is money and I have more money than time. Yet I still don’t feel like I have enough money to donate yet.

Obviously, given my pay bump I could donate $100 a month instead of putting that to my investments and just pretend it never happened. It would probably make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but I don’t know how warm and fuzzy I’ll feel when I retire and the government has run out of money for social security.

At what point in one’s wealth-building career does charity become a necessity? Does everyone donate to charity? How much is the proper amount to donate, percentage wise, of one’s income? What if one’s job is unstable and while he or she is making a good amount of money now (in the $55-$70k range, dependent on how many freelance projects are completed), but in a few months she might be unemployed? What if, as a freelancer, my entire life is lived like that? And then what if I have kids and more than just myself to worry about one day, financially speaking? When do I give to charity and when do I just be selfish and keep all my money?