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JUNE 8, 2009 12:45AM

That Charitable Sucking Sound

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theglasscharacter had an interesting post on charitable begging giving that would have really struck a nerve for me, about ten years ago.  I'd like to share with you how I dealt with this issue.

First,  I asked myself how much I could realistically give, on a yearly basis.  Some churches recommend tithing 10% of your income.  That was as good a figure as any. 

Step two was try to figure out my priorities.  What did I think were the big issues facing mankind?  But this seemed to difficult to contemplate - there are so many causes!  And I have opinions and sympathy for so many of them.  I had to narrow it down.  So I asked myself, If I only had one dollar to give, what one group or cause would I give it to?  This turned out to be easier to answer than I thought it would be.  For the record, my answer is equality, in all its guises.  It's what I'm the most passionate about. I figure if we could get to the point where everyone feels the inherent equality in each of us as human beings, we'd be able to get a lot more done.  Okay, moving along.

Step three was to select the charities within that narrow category and determine how to allocate that ten percent.  That took a while, to select specific ones.  There are so many women's rights, gay rights, minority rights, etc. groups out there.  But I was able to narrow it down to maybe ten different ones, and select amounts for each of them, totalling my ten percent.   It felt great to give each group a larger chunk than if I would have if they had come to me.

Step four, donate that money.  Checks, online, however.  But send the cash on its way.  This is a very important step.  If you complete this step, the remaining steps get easier.

Step five, realize that everywhere, every day, people are making those same decisions.  Someone else is passionate about the environment.  He is taking care of that.  So, don't worry about it.  Someone else is feeding the starving children.  Cancer research, police and firemen, the arts, homeless pets, someone will always be doing something for those causes, because those groups are out there.  When they stop being out there, when everyone stops caring about the environment or cancer research, maybe my priorities will change.  But until then, I trust that other people are handling it.  

Step six, when these other charities want a dollar here, two dollars there, I remember the fact that I am already donating ten percent of my income, on causes that I feel are important.  So I am already doing my part.  It's kind of like "I gave at the office".  I do not feel guilty, because I am already giving ten percent of my income to charity.  This even helps when I get the monthly forms from those charities I'm already giving to.  I throw them away because I know that I've already taken care of it.

That's really all there is to it.  I now say "No thank you" with a clean conscience.  If I'm ever feeling especially charitable,  I might drop a dollar in that breast cancer bucket or that school band fund.  But if I don't, I know that someone else will take care of it.  Probably that person behind me in line at the checkout, who doesn't know these simple steps.

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Thanks, Jay.

It also helps to remember that 30 seconds after you leave that cashier stand, the cashier won't be able to pick your face out of a lineup. You feel like all eyes are upon you and judging you, but think about it - they're probably just as mortified to have to ask you that question!