Learning to Give

For years, Get Rich Slowly readers have given me grief over my charitable giving. Or, more precisely, my lack of it. I was raised in a home that gave neither money nor time to help others. As I struck out on my own, I never picked up the habit of giving. At first, this was because I had myself to worry about. I was deep in debt. How could I afford to help others when I couldn't even help myself? But after I paid off my debt in 2007, I still didn't contribute.

My reluctance to donate to charity has stemmed from several sources:

    • First, as I mentioned, I never learned the habit.

 

    • Second, I worry about how organizations spend their money. I'm aware of sites like Charity Navigator, which rates charities based on efficiency. But these sites don't tell the whole story.

 

  • Third, I'm not a fan of charities with ulterior motives. I don't want to support groups that push religious or political agendas. Feeding those in need shouldn't come with a call to convert to Christianity, for instance.

So, for a long time, it seemed easiest to do nothing.

Part of the world
Over the past year, however, things have changed. I've begun to think more about my responsibility to the world as a whole. And I've had some experiences that seem to be steering me toward…something.

    • Last spring, Kris and I spent a Saturday volunteering at the Oregon Food Bank with other folks from our alma mater, Willamette University. I liked this. A lot. Contributing my time and energy felt tangible and consequential. It wasn't like sending my money into a void. I could see the results right there before my eyes.

 

    • On our trip to Africa, the tour group visited the Chinotimba Government School in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Before we left the school, we had a chance to donate school supplies. Kris had brought some pens, pencils, small notebooks, and inflatable globes. The school principal, who collected the money and supplies our group donated, seemed touched and grateful. At other stops in Namibia and South Africa, I was moved by how people made do with far fewer resources than we're accustomed to in the U.S.

 

  • During the past three months, I've had several conversations with friends who have actually participated in volunteer tourism or extended service projects. My friend Tim, for instance, has done some work for Room to Read, which aims to improve education around the world. Karin spent some time teaching in Senegal. And just this weekend, my friend Kara told me about the semester she'd spent in Ghana while she was in college.

Because of these events — and because of your prompting — I've taken the time to research organizations that I'm willing to support. I've been asking myself what causes are worth my time and money, what changes I want to see in the world.

Students at the Chinotimba Primary School
Photo taken by a boy at Chinotimba Primary School.

 

For instance, I feel strongly that the most important thing we can do to help those who are struggling is to improve education — especially for girls. (Educating girls is the single most powerful and most effective way to address global poverty. When you improve the status of women in a culture, you improve the standard of living.)

Also, I want to encourage the “teach a person to fish” approach instead of just giving a person a fish. That is, I want to support groups that will help others help themselves instead of organizations that only donate dollars. Plus, I'm wary of unintended consequences. Providing food and water are good, of course, because these things save lives. But without education, I worry that such “solutions” just perpetuate problems with overpopulation.

Ready to act
So, after years of hedging, I finally feel ready to give. I'm taking some baby steps. First, I've begun to talk with people about the charities they support — and why. By doing this, I've found three great causes I can get behind.

  • Charity: Water is is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations; 100% of public donations directly fund water projects. (This is one of Chris Guillebeau's favorite charities.)

 

  • Room to Read partners with local communities throughout the developing world to provide quality educational opportunities by establishing libraries, creating local language children's literature, constructing schools, and providing education to girls.

 

  • Edge of Seven generates awareness and volunteer support for projects that invest in education, health, and economic opportunity for girls in developing countries. (Here's the Edge of Seven blog.)

Second, I've begun to explore the idea of volunteer tourism. My real millionaire next door does some of this. He spends our winters in New Zealand, where it's summer, donating his time and energy to help organic farms. Last year, my friend Courtney spent a couple of weeks in Cambodia with her father, who is a dentist. They provided free dental care to rural villagers.

I'd love to chat with other folks who have done this sort of thing — especially in developing nations. I've sent away for some literature on the subject, but nothing compares to actually talking with those who have done this sort of thing first-hand. (But I have to wonder: What skills can I, as a writer, offer those in need?)

Finally, I've started Awesome People, where I hope to be able to help in a couple of ways. For instance, I want to profile people who are doing amazing work to help improve the lives of others. Also, I intend to donate all of the site's profits to charities like those I mentioned above.

Note: After we returned from Africa, Kris spent $40 on school supplies to send to the Chinotimba School in Zimbabwe. She collected a bunch of stuff we take for granted — crayons, pens, glue sticks, socks, and so on — but which are tougher to come by in Zimbabwe. When we went to mail the packages, we were shocked to learn that it would cost over $100 to mail the supplies. We didn't do it. (We now have two boxes of school supplies sitting in the living room.) This was frustrating.

 

Fitting the profile
Last Thursday, Kris and I attended an alumni networking event for our college. Because she and I are helping to organize our 20-year class reunion this year (are we really that old?), we sought out Amy, who co-ordinates alumni reunions and events.

Though our conversation began by going over plans for this autumn's reunion, it quickly veered in another direction. Amy knew that Kris and I just traveled to Africa. That trip was organized by Willamette's alumni office, and one of our companions was the former director of alumni relations. Amy already knew all about our adventures.

Sidenote: Turns out that Amy reads Get Rich Slowly from time to time. She has her own blog, Yard to Fork, which is about growing food at home. Because Kris and I grow some of our own food, and because Amy had questions about blogging, the three of us had lots to talk about.

 

“You know what?” I said. “I think the main thing that came out this trip for me is a readiness to contribute to charity. That's something I've never really done. Except to Willamette, of course.”

We chuckled at that. Amy used to be in charge of the phone drives, in which current students call alumni to hit them up for cash. She knows a lot about fund-raising. In fact, Amy now teaches a class at another local college about fund-raising for non-profits.

I told Amy that I was looking to support groups like Charity: Water, Room to Read, and Edge of 7. “But I hate just sending my money to a charity,” I said. “I feel like I'm just sending it to a black hole. I'd rather give my time or energy, like that Oregon Food Bank volunteer project you organized last year. And what I really find appealing is the idea of volunteer tourism.”

Amy laughed.

“What?” I asked. I was afraid I'd said something stupid.

“It's nothing,” she said, smiling. “It's just that you fit the profile so well.”

“What profile?” I asked.

“There are very clear generational profiles for giving,” Amy said. “You fit the profile for our age perfectly.”

“Older people like to write checks,” she explained. “They want to pay people to do the things they can't do themselves. Younger people want to be in the thick of it. They want to be involved. They want to go places and be a part of the change. Our generation is in the middle. You can afford to send money, but you want to be involved too, to have a hands-on contribution to each project. You want to connect with the people you're helping. That's the whole point. It's not just about sending money.”

Exactly!” I said.

Note: Amy and I also talked about how colleges and universities court potential donors, a process that can take months or years. She told me that people who are new to fund raising are often misled by showy displays of wealth. “Have you read The Millionaire Next Door?” she asked. “Of course,” I said. “The authors write about the Big Hat, No Cattle syndrome,” she said. “That's where somebody looks rich because they dress nice and drive a fancy car, but they don't actually have any money. I try to teach that your best donors are often living in Oregon City and driving a pick-up truck.”

 

Moving forward
I still haven't made any major donations of time, money, or energy. That's okay, though. Mentally, I've made the switch. I'm ready to give. It's no longer a matter of whether I'm going to — it's now a matter of when, where, and how.

In fact, if I can figure out a way to swing it, I'd love to spend a few months living abroad, lending my efforts to building a school or a library or digging wells or something of that ilk. But what about Kris? She can't leave her job for that long. And what about this blog? Sure, I've been gradually reducing my role here — but that's not the same as eliminating it.

In the meantime, I'll continue to research charities to find causes I can support (with money and more). I'll look for other chances to volunteer in the local area. I'm ready to take more baby steps toward philanthropy.

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LifeAndMyFinances
LifeAndMyFinances
9 years ago

Wow J.D.! Sounds like you’ve learned a lot about yourself in respects to charitable giving.

I think your friend Amy was very right – I’m very similar to you. Rather than just throw money into an organization that I know very little about, I’d like to see what my time, effort, and money are doing first hand. Show me that my money bought books. Let me see the people use the books that I provided.

We prefer to be hands-on. Thanks for the different charitable ideas. There are many great ones out there, aren’t there? 🙂

kb
kb
9 years ago

Good for you for your giving. As a former grant writer for a Homeless Shelter (single woman and families) I can tell you that most of our donations are in the $5.00-25.00 range, not those big corporate infusions everyone assumes. My favorite donation came in once every month from a couple on a fixed income. They faithfully sent, two dollars and two postage stamps. I haven’t worked there since the 1980s but, I have never forgotten the generousity of those two individuals…every dollar really does count. My suggestions for folks trying to choose a charity is to start in your… Read more »

SF_UK
SF_UK
9 years ago

I love to give my time and expertise. Since I’m geographically constrained, that means volunteering close to home. I find it’s helpful to think about what’s important to me when choosing a charity. I wanted to help a local children’s hospice because my family were given so much help by childrens’ hospices when I was younger. But because of that, I didn’t feel able to volunteer at the hospice (too many difficult memories). So I help steward fund-raising events, and go out and do talks to groups that are raising money, or are interested in the charity. It’s easiest to… Read more »

I.G.
I.G.
9 years ago

I share the feeling of suspicion toward religious organizations. As someone who is torn between agnosticism and atheism, and passionately believes in sexual liberalism, religious groups usually scare me deeply. However, I have recently had an unlikely chance to spend a couple of weeks in Africa with a Christian organization (Hands at Work Africa), and came out feeling that you just can’t paint all with a wide brush. Christian organizations really do a lot of work in the developing world, and some of them aim to empower communities, be sustainable (the “teach to fish” thing), and are fairly accepting of… Read more »

Tanya
Tanya
9 years ago
Reply to  I.G.

Thank you. You are right; you can’t paint all Christians, or Christian organizations, with a wide brush. We are all individuals who believe the Bible and its call to “preach the gospel into all the world.” You must research any organization, Christian or not, and decide for yourself whether you want to support it. Many Christian organizations that I know, locally and internationally, are led and supported by genuinely caring people who want to improve the world, and who truly want to let people know that God loves them and will make a difference in their lives if they’ll give… Read more »

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
9 years ago
Reply to  Tanya

want to let people know that God loves them and will make a difference in their lives if they’ll give Him a chance.

But this is the thing he’s trying to avoid.

Rose
Rose
9 years ago

“But this is the thing he’s trying to avoid.”

Again it depends on how they do that. I have heard of many religious charities that make it a point to show God’s love by their actions of helping everyone, even not talking directly about faith unless they are asked a question about it. But, again it is something that wold require some looking into the group to see if that is what they do.

Tanya
Tanya
9 years ago

My point is that we are acting out of our convictions, and I appreciate that he seems to recognize that. And if he, and you, are avoiding God, I hope that someday you will take a thoughtful, careful look at who God really is and perhaps change your mind about Him.

s
s
9 years ago

Hey, I always take as a compliment when a Xian tries to recruit me – I guess I must be doing something right. Unfortunately, the Xian usually doesn’t take it well when I state that my family and I are American Atheists and that we believe in the Human Spirit instead of holy one.

almost there
almost there
9 years ago
Reply to  I.G.

As an athiest I still support Catholic Relief Services because they do the most good with the money. They have one of the lowest administrative overheads and do good for the needy all over the world. I also support little sisters of the poor who are in cities all over the U.S. because they take care of the elderly poor giving them safe housing in their declining years.One doesn’t need to be a christian to support their efforts.

Nicole
Nicole
9 years ago

Good for you! Your friend Amy sounds really neat! You might be interested in this really awesome post in the NYTimes recently: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/19/opinion/19kristof.html And remember: Even if you can’t swing several months abroad in another country, that doesn’t mean you have to do nothing. You can spend smaller amounts of time places like New Orleans or Detroit or Joplin, MO, and like you said, there’s definitely things to do in your local area. One of these days I’m going to get back to tutoring kids in math in the low SES school districts in the area. There is very little… Read more »

De
De
9 years ago

I can definitely relate to being wary of the larger charities. The occasional scandal, large organization, bureaucracy, etc. make me hesitant to send money. Instead, I give to the small, local charities where I can get involved at the same time, and get to know the other members and leaders of the group. That way, you can be sure you are really making an impact. Local animal rescues and environmental groups are my favorites, while my parents tutor inner-city kids at their church. (@Nicole, they find this very, very rewarding as you did.) My Mom volunteered at an art museum,… Read more »

Ivan Walsh
Ivan Walsh
9 years ago

There is another way to give – give attention!

We’re so busy with things, esp at home, that we often overlook to give others attention.

And you know what they say about where Charity starts…

DN
DN
9 years ago

Hi JD- New reader here. It’s fantastic that you want to start with philanthropy, but before you get really invested in the idea of volunteer tourism, I would maybe suggest that you research it a bit more. It seems to have a lot of negatives that can go along with it, especially for those one is trying to help. I’m not against volunteer tourism, per se, but I do think that many people can participate in such trips more for the psychological benefits of ‘feeling’ like they’ve helped someone, as opposed to having actually have served of any use. You… Read more »

Erin
Erin
9 years ago
Reply to  DN

J.D., I completely applaud your newfound altruism! But I’m with DN in cautioning you to be careful about international volunteerism/charity. For example, people in the U.S. think that education is the answer for everything, but is a Western-style education really the best thing for people of every culture? Can more harm be done by removing children from the environment of their own culture and immersing them in Western teachings? What about the children who fail in Western-style schools, but who haven’t spent sufficient time learning about their own culture -what place in the world do they have? I encourage you… Read more »

Joshua
Joshua
9 years ago
Reply to  Erin

I completely agree with the think globally, act locally mentality. Often we think that the people who need help are far away, but they are often closer than we think. Giving locally also helps with accountability. You may not see easily what is done far away, but when it’s in your own community you can see it better.

That being said;
I LOVE Charity:Water. They are a great organization and plus with their September outreach (for birthdays in Sept – me) I feel great too.

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago
Reply to  DN

Thanks for the words of warning on volunteer tourism. I’ll be sure to read the cautionary tales as I explore this option.

Kate
Kate
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

Interestingly enough, these ideas have been bouncing around in my head for years and have really influenced my career decision. I’m working on my MD because then I will be a truly useful volunteer in just about any part of the world.

Will I need a crash course in cultural sensitivity? I’m SURE. But people everywhere need doctors, and I am so grateful I’ll have the chance to help patients locally and wherever I may end up trekking.

Great thread 🙂

quinsy
quinsy
9 years ago
Reply to  Kate

Kate: Medical volunteering has many pitfalls too. I encourage you to also read widely on the subject prior to volunteering. Your medical training will teach you how to practice within the United States or other English speaking, industrialized countries, but you will not get training that would prepare you for working in developing, resource-limited countries with tropical diseases. I am a physician trained in the USA and I can tell you that when I go to Africa, it makes me realize that we American doctors are worth much less without lab tests, radiologic studies, consultants, supplies, and without the diseases… Read more »

Susan
Susan
9 years ago
Reply to  DN

I’m a big fan of supporting Heifer International too. I really like their philosophy of passing along the “gift”. They ask that those who receive the animal or crop pass along to another in their community.

Matt
Matt
9 years ago

If you are pondering what charities to give to, than I would strongly recommend looking at:

http://www.givewell.org/

In my experience, I find their analysis and methodology both thought-provoking and insightful, especially their emphasis on transparency. Although, I don’t necessarily agree with everything they have to say.

Brigid
Brigid
9 years ago
Reply to  Matt

I second GiveWell. You’ve seen for yourself that giving can be terribly inefficient (i.e. shipping school supplies – 98% of the time it’s best to give cash), and they root out a lot of this. Far worse than potential waste, however, giving can inadvertently make things worse. I urge you to be thoughtful in your decisions, which I’m confident you’ll be.

And congratulations on this huge step of learning to give.

Kris at GRS
Kris at GRS
9 years ago
Reply to  Brigid

Sending cash to Zimbabwe is a mixed bag as well. Stores simply don’t exist that sell the goods the schools need to purchase. I did end up sending a Western Union money transfer to the school through a guide we met there, but that won’t help them buy pencil sharpeners and scissors.

At market we visited, used socks from travelers were the hot commodity for trading. Even for those Zimbabweans with money to spend, there are no socks to buy.

quinsy
quinsy
9 years ago
Reply to  Kris at GRS

Kris, it’s a tough issue, but one thing you could do is try to find local groups that are traveling to Zimbabwe anyway and try to utilize their luggage space. For example, tourists, people going to adopt children, expats from Zimbabwe traveling home, etc. As you’ve noted, you want to make sure you’re packing only things that cannot be purchased locally in Zimbabwe, to maximize value from doing this. Also, just a tangential note, am reading “When A Crocodile Eats the Sun” right now, interesting book on living in Zimbabwe and its recent history. You might like it!

Lynn
Lynn
9 years ago

I wonder if there is a way to make contacts at a stateside embassy or consulate, and get those school supplies into a diplomatic pouch? Then you would only be paying domestic postage.

Thanks for sharing your thought process!

Luke
Luke
9 years ago
Reply to  Lynn

Working for an aid organisation in the UK with those sorts of contacts, it would leave the member of staff open to disciplinary action if they were caught!

Sarabeth
Sarabeth
9 years ago
Reply to  Lynn

There are some instances where it is legit – when I was starting my Fulbright fellowship, I got a space allowance to ship over work materials, which specifically was allowed to include donations for the organization I was working with.

Jen
Jen
9 years ago

The couple of years older that I am must be part of the difference! Not that I don’t do some in person volunteering (and when I was teaching, I felt that was a “doing good” quota fulfillment activity. Helping at school, working on a campaign, all of those are activities that I feel I can actively contribute to in person. However, in many other cases, I wonder if my money isn’t more valuable. For instance, if you are digging ditches/wells/building — wouldn’t some of the money you would have made at home been more valuable as pay for someone there… Read more »

Jacq
Jacq
9 years ago
Reply to  Jen

Agree with this – I think my money is more valuable than my time – because my time is more valuable making the $ to give to someone else. I consider that a day that I work (at a normal job) every month is for someone or something else. If I can earn $1000/day in a day job, I know for sure that a day of my time in a volunteer job is not as useful as that $1,000 I could earn and give would be. Someone needs to buy the supplies that builds the stuff. A mind shift of… Read more »

STL Mom
STL Mom
9 years ago
Reply to  Jacq

A friend of mine is fantastic at finding bargains. She started helping her kids’ school order supplies more cheaply. She had the time and persistence to comparison shop and buy each item from the cheapest source. People who are great bargain-hunters might be able to use that skill for all kinds of non-profit organizations.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
9 years ago
Reply to  Jen

I think there’s a balance between donating time versus money. I know people who have been frustrated working with volunteers. They always say “well, you get what you pay for!” (Unfortunately!) I used to donate goods to toy drives or food drives thinking that if I gave goods, my money wouldn’t go towards admin costs. Then I found out that stores will offer charities far better discounts on these items than they do to consumers, so the charities can often stretch those dollars farther so perhaps it balances out? I think we can expend a lot of time and energy… Read more »

RP
RP
9 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Yes! One of my charities (the local food bank) has to keep emphasizing that they buy food in bulk for way cheaper than any individual can. They also have to keep saying that they don’t need more people to stock the shelves – they need money to buy food. They tell you exactly what they can buy with $20, and it’s amazing! So I give money, and I know that they’re getting nice fresh food for the folks needing to use the bank. I’m just slightly older than J.D., but I’m happy to give money. I have far more money… Read more »

BetsyN
BetsyN
9 years ago
Reply to  RP

There are places that need your math analysis skills! Check out Bankers Without Borders http://bankerswithoutborders.com/

guinness416
guinness416
9 years ago
Reply to  Jen

Yeah, if you’re really worried about the efficiency numbers reported on charity naviator, volunteer holidays seem like an odd choice – they must spend a fortune on administration and insurance and training every new batch that comes out. Just seeing what a bogged-down mess HFH build days can be if they’re staffed by students or people with no DIY skills would be a caution to me. Don’t get me wrong – a lot of these trips sound like enormous fun and are probably worth doing as vacations for that reason alone! (I’ve had my eye on the volunteer opportunities at… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago
Reply to  guinness416

I’ve had a couple of people mention this zip code thing, but haven’t seen it myself. I can’t replicate it. Let me get the tech elves on it.

Mike Holman
Mike Holman
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

I get it on my phone too – iPhone 3 with Safari browser.

When the page loads a popup appears with the following

https://www.getrichslowly.org
Please enter valid Zip code!
[OK button]

I press OK and the page loads normally (you don’t have to enter anything).

If you can’t get rid of it – at least modify so it mentions postal code as well. 😉

Nancy L.
Nancy L.
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

It seems to just be Safari. I just opened GRS in Firefox with no problems, but Safari (on the same machine) is giving me the zip code error on every single page I click on.

guinness416
guinness416
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

Dolphin v3.1.1 on my droid, if it matters tech elves. Thank you!

Jess
Jess
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

There’s an Ally bank ad that runs on the side, and I think that’s where the zip code pop-up is coming from. I think it shows interest rates locally if you put in your zip.

Adrian
Adrian
9 years ago

Great post.

I’ve learnt that learning what to give is very important too, otherwise your efforts and money can be wasted, or at worse actually cause unintended harm.

I’ve found some useful information about disaster giving here, but I think it applies to giving in general:
http://goodintents.org/disaster/the-dos-and-donts-of-disaster-donations

In the same way you take careful consideration of your spending decisions, equal care should be given to your giving decisions.

No Debt MBA
No Debt MBA
9 years ago

I just want to note that you don’t have to leave those two boxes of school supplies in your house collecting dust. I’m sure there’s a school in your area that collects supplies for families who can’t afford their own.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
9 years ago
Reply to  No Debt MBA

Our area has an organization that collects school supplies for underprivileged children, but Boys and Girls clubs and women’s shelters can use them too.

Most school art programs (if they even exist!) are underfunded, so if anyone has arts and crafts supplies they’re welcome too!

guinness416
guinness416
9 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Seconding the comment about school art programs – YMMV depending where you live, but most of the teachers I know have to purchase a lot of their own art supplies (and do it willingly on fairly low pay, gawd bless ’em).

Christy
Christy
9 years ago
Reply to  guinness416

Last week I was invited to judge entries in a science fair held at a local elementary school. The fair was held in the evening and over two hundred people attended. I learned that the pizza served was purchased by the school principal with his own funds and that the teacher who advises the science club purchases the club supplies with her own money as well.

LC
LC
9 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

I had the same thought – glad someone else mentioned it. A lot of teachers pay for supplies out of their own pocket because the schools are underfunded. Donate those supplies to a school in your area so that they can be appreciated by someone (or lots of little someones)!

sandycheeks
sandycheeks
9 years ago
Reply to  No Debt MBA

I agree that most schools would be happy to accept your donation of school supplies. Do you know what they also really need? Tissues and baby wipes. These help maintain healthier classrooms

Cindy
Cindy
9 years ago

My husband and I are teachers, and we have a son who has had significant medical needs. As of right now, we are in the position where you started. Charities will not be receiving monetary donations from us, as we are trying to find our way out of debt and have to take care of ourselves. With that said, I have found other ways to help. They sound small, but I hope that they can add up to something. The biggest thing I do is get people involved at my school and my son’s school in collecting pop tabs for… Read more »

Cindy
Cindy
9 years ago
Reply to  Cindy

I forgot to add that I volunteer some at my son’s school as well. After passing a background check, a person can do all sorts of things to help the teachers and staff at local schools.
Then, more time is spent online on support boards for other parents going through what we have.
I like to think that your website is a charity in a way. You are helping people to realize their full financial potential, eventually freeing them up to help others. It is a charity snowball. 🙂

Nicole
Nicole
9 years ago
Reply to  Cindy

I did a cost-benefit analysis on pop-tabs because our students who should know better are really into that particular charity. The amount to ship to Ronald McDonald house is almost the same amount that they get for the scrap metal, not even including the costs it takes them to get the pop tabs to the scrap metal place. You’d be far better off sending them a check for shipping. Snopes has an excellent article on it. http://www.snopes.com/business/redeem/pulltabs.asp Why does Ronald McDonald house do it? Well, it originally started as an urban legend… give away something worthless and feel like you’re… Read more »

Cindy
Cindy
9 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

Please tell me more about the shipping, as I am not sure where that comes in. I drop them off at the house where we stayed, so there is no shipping cost to them. (Everyone in the area who collects also delivers.) They collect them in a storage room and then take them to the local recycling center once a month. The gas cost of driving to the recycling center is not near as much as they are getting back, and that particular house applies the money to the electric bill.

Nicole
Nicole
9 years ago
Reply to  Cindy

Our students mail them in. But it takes a huge amount of poptabs to get any amount of money. The other year they donated a large amount that was worth about $8 based on the scrap metal prices. Shipping was also about that. The price will vary by where you are (and what aluminum prices are on the open market)– look up your local recycling center’s prices and see how much you get back for a pound of scrap aluminum. The example in the Snopes article is that 100 pull-tabs are worth about 3.5 cents. A million pull-tabs are worth… Read more »

Cindy
Cindy
9 years ago
Reply to  Cindy

Okay, I see what you are saying now. I had considered in the past about collecting cans, but I don’t have the space for thousands of crushed cans in my garage. 🙂 With all of the local schools contributing this year, the local houses collected 23,000 pounds of tabs just from the schools, which equated to over $17,000. You would be amazed at how quickly they add up with a collective effort, and you don’t have to worry about the smell and roaches and space that would come with entire cans. If you don’t have a local house, then the… Read more »

imelda
imelda
9 years ago
Reply to  Cindy

Thank you, Cindy. As you said in your initial comment, you are doing what you can since you don’t have money to donate. Nicole, analyses like that are well-meaning, and they are certainly important. They are crucial for charities to determine fundraising strategies. What they are NOT great for is as a means to discourage people from doing good work. It’s better to do something than nothing. If Cindy’s efforts are only producing $5 of help, then that’s great. If all they’re doing is increasing awareness of a charity she values, that’s great too. As it turns out, because she… Read more »

Kestra
Kestra
9 years ago

Although I give a small amount each month to two international charities, I’m getting more interested in local charities that I can actually check out and possibly volunteer time and give money. Just this weekend I visited a horse rescue farm. It’s a privately run not-for-profit, so no tax receipt, but the owner has full control of how things are done. I really liked how she was taking care of the formerly starved/neglected/abused horses and other animals. I can visit these wonderful animals anytime. I also agreed to sponsor a pony, to help with the cost of feed. I can… Read more »

Jennifer B
Jennifer B
9 years ago

I was introduced to charitable giving by my husband who has always done it. Growing up my family tended to be the volunteers at charitble events. His tended to be the donors. Now we do both. The big challenge has been finding things we can do with our 9 year old daughter. The local food bank allows kids as young as 6 to come help repack food from industrial sized packages into smaller portions, so we do that. We switched our donations from a large international corp to the local school district libraries. If you want to get involved, there… Read more »

Pamela
Pamela
9 years ago

I’ve really enjoyed reading about your changing ideas about giving–especially when you wrote about how your trip to Africa affected you. When we travel and volunteer, we’re thrown in with very different people and situations than we face everyday. And that really opens our worlds. One of the transformative stages of my life was living and volunteering in inner-city Philadelphia. Knowing first hand that some people in the richest country in the world can’t afford central heat in the winter or only have housing because they squat in abandoned buildings is very humbling. I can’t begin to imagine what I… Read more »

Rick
Rick
9 years ago

I know it feels great to have a personal connection with a charity or get your feet on the ground and help with your time. However, a lot of the time great charities would be best served with a cash donation. That is the way of our modern world. I would hope people would consider donating a lot of the time even if they don’t get an “experience” in return. If everyone needs to have a connection or an experience every time they do something good, improving the world will be impossible.

imelda
imelda
9 years ago
Reply to  Rick

Ha, I couldn’t disagree more. Haven’t you ever heard the quote: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is tied up with mine, then let us work together.” Volunteering, voluntourism, etc is not (always) about having a “great experience” and feeling good about yourself. It’s about understanding other people. It’s about learning from them directly, and sharing in their struggle, and making that personal connection which can change the lives of everyone involved. It can teach, give hope, inspire, etc etc, for people on all sides of… Read more »

KS
KS
9 years ago
Reply to  imelda

“Volunteering, voluntourism, etc is not (always) about having a “great experience” and feeling good about yourself. It’s about understanding other people. It’s about learning from them directly, and sharing in their struggle, and making that personal connection which can change the lives of everyone involved. It can teach, give hope, inspire, etc etc, for people on all sides of the relationship. ” And expecting all that IS about expecting a “great experience”. There’s a lot of grunt work that needs to be done – I’ve filed, copied, sent letters, made phone calls, and done a lot of boring tasks in… Read more »

imelda
imelda
9 years ago
Reply to  KS

I don’t disagree – I was just making the point that the MOTIVE was not selfish, but for a greater cause. I agree it’s a positive experience, but it accomplishes much, much more than just having a good time!

That’s why it’s such a win-win.

Shannon
Shannon
9 years ago

I think before we donate our time and money to causes abroad, we should focus on our own country, the US, there are a lot of great causes here…

quinsy
quinsy
9 years ago
Reply to  Shannon

Shannon, I definitely support all forms of giving to charity, but it’s hard for me to justify always giving at home first. When you go to developing countries and see the needs there and how many children are dying of preventable causes, etc…. you can’t help but want to do something because these needs are so great and the resources are so few. I say do both.

Mr. Mordecai
Mr. Mordecai
9 years ago

One thing that helps my wife and I is to budget (and track) a specific amount of our income for charity. Each payday, a portion of our income gets earmarked for donations. If we don’t donate in a given month, that money is still there. Since we know what it’s intended for, seeing the money accumulate is almost like seeing our bills come due. We know it has to get paid. For me, it’s fun to learn about and donate to a wide variety of charities. It makes me feel like I’m taking a small part in many great causes.… Read more »

SLCCOM
SLCCOM
9 years ago
Reply to  Mr. Mordecai

Giving blood and platelets and bone marrow are truly the gifts of life, and something most people can do. Please, everyone, do this in addition. We are actually importing blood!

Jon
Jon
9 years ago

Giving is a good thing, I do much of it, but feeding hungry people is just a temporary stall to where we all end up, death. Groups that offer hope, like Christians, help those because they are showing others what God is like. If they believe that their path is the only way to heaven, then it would be cruel NOT to share this with others. Religious groups, Christians in particular, are responsible for most of the private charity in the world.

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 years ago
Reply to  Jon

This is exactly my family’s position as well. We are heavily involved in an organization that provides for the physical needs of those (primarily children) in third world nations by providing food, shelter, clothing, education, etc. But they do that as a means to spread the gospel, which is the far more prescient goal. We are very fortunate to be a part of the organization’s leadership, and know where and how all the money given is spent by traveling to the locations themselves.

Nisa
Nisa
9 years ago

Here’s a charity that meets all your requirements. I’ve been donating to them for years. They raise and educate orphans and provide hospice care for children in Haiti. They raise the children to work and be able to support themselves.
http://irsp.org/1512

J.R.C.
J.R.C.
9 years ago

A few words of advice to make your contributions more effective (and to make you feel better about them as well!). 1. Automate it. Contributing money? Automate it. Monthly, annually, whatever it is, set it up to be a recurring contribution. That way you won’t forget, and the charity you care about will have a steady income stream. 2. The same goes for your volunteer time: make it a recurring habit, not just something done once in a blue moon whenever you feel like it. Don’t leave one volunteering session without stating the next time you’ll return. If this is… Read more »

Colleen
Colleen
9 years ago

To misquote Voltaire: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Something makes far more difference than nothing, even if the something is imperfect.

Don’t forget about giving blood if you are eligible. No cash required there, and you can’t get much more hands-on than that. It is the most desperate time of the year for most blood banks.

Mike Holman
Mike Holman
9 years ago

I’m not a huge fan of volunteer tourism. As other have noted it isn’t always an efficient use of your time and money. Sure, big charity organizations don’t seem to be that efficient, but are individuals any more efficient? If you (and by ‘you’ I mean anyone – not just JD) spend $2,000 on a trip to Africa and do some volunteer work – how efficient is it considering most of that money probably went to airline tickets to get you there. Unless you have some valuable skills that aren’t locally available (ie doctor), you might just be the most… Read more »

Maria
Maria
9 years ago
Reply to  Mike Holman

I agree with Mike; the costs of volunteer tourism are so high that the benefits you are offering have to be huge to make it worth it to anyone but you. Medical missions trips make sense to me, but I think everyone should think rationally about what they have to offer. My church talks about three forms of charity: time, talent, and treasure; which of those do you have to offer? I speak as an engineering student who has made several trips to China to work on sustainable energy projects in a rural village. I know firsthand how much money… Read more »

J.R.C.
J.R.C.
9 years ago
Reply to  Maria

You are correct that volunteer tourism is not as efficient as some other forms of charity/volunteering. But I would propose you do the mental accounting in another manner. Namely, count the expense of airfare/lodging/food to your benefit. This is your ‘vacation’, you’re getting to experience another area of the world, meet new people and be involved in their lives. Now account for the rest of your time/expenditures towards the service opportunity. This is the benefit received by those you serve. It’s also important to remember that this is still not costing -them- anything. They would much rather you made an… Read more »

miss yankee
miss yankee
9 years ago

We came into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing. No matter how rich we become, we will leave it all behind.

I’m 40. One of the most sobering events of my life was as they read my grandfather’s Last Will and Testament. I thought, “He spent his life acquiring these things and now it’s going to me, my parents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Some care nothing about it and will pawn it tomorrow.”

It’s better to give during life to good causes. The Bible asks, after we die, who will own the things we have gained?

Adam P
Adam P
9 years ago

“Feeding those in need shouldn’t come with a call to convert to Christianity, for instance.” Hah! JD! I think I used nearly those exact words on a related post a few weeks back (that got the hi-lited by you comment treatment too). It’s very tricky to find charities that both support causes you believe in and use your money efficiently and with intergrity. I like your picks! To me, I have to make donating an auto-withdrawal akin to my savings, or I will find an excuse not to make it happen at the end of the month. A failing on… Read more »

Annelise
Annelise
9 years ago

The reason I almost never donate to charity (apart from giving away old clothes after a particularly successful shopping trip) is because almost all the well-known charities nowadays have covert (leftwing) political agendas. Charities that supposedly help the poor are often pushing anti-capitalist “climate change” measures, and charities supposedly helping children are actually propagating the classic liberal smear that loving nuclear families are hotbeds of neglect and child abuse. Even worthy charities such as those helping injured soldiers shouldn’t have to exist since the governments that send the soldiers to war should look after them. I also object to the… Read more »

Dan
Dan
9 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

“I also object to the idea that one “should” donate to charity; surely the whole point is that it’s voluntary?” I totally agree. It’s going to be a very long time before I’m in a financial position to give money away. Quite frankly, the many blogs posts and comments that claim people “should” donate to charity assume one thing: That I share the same value system that they do. I don’t. I work hard for my money, and I also pay a non-trivial amount of my income in taxes (it’s actually quite a bit of money), some of which goes… Read more »

Sarabeth
Sarabeth
9 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

I absolutely agree that much charity would be irrelevant if the government did a better job with its responsibilities towards its citizens – including veterans, but also schoolchildren and many others. But I find it odd that you object to charities on the grounds of liberalism. The argument that government, rather than private charity, is better suited for these tasks is a liberal one (in the American, not European sense). The push for private charity to take the place of government action is one of the key policy items of the modern conservative movement.

Annelise
Annelise
9 years ago
Reply to  Sarabeth

@Sarabeth – I think you’ve slightly misunderstood my point. To go back to the examples I used, I don’t think charity OR government should be pushing the climate change scam or smearing nice nuclear families. I’m not objecting to charities pushing these causes because governments should be taking care of them; I’m objecting because surely these causes should be the domain of political pressure groups who openly declare their intentions, not charities who take your money in the guise of “helping the poor” or “saving needy children” when their actual work bears little resemblance to their stated aims. There is… Read more »

Kevin @ Thousandaire.com
Kevin @ Thousandaire.com
9 years ago

Congratulations on finally being ready to give. As it looks like you can already tell, it is very fulfilling to do charity and know you are making a difference.

It’s also good that, even though this blog makes money, you have certainly helped a lot of people with their finances and they didn’t have to pay anything for the help or information.

Sarah Russell
Sarah Russell
9 years ago

Good for you for taking the time to figure out what matters to you and how you can contribute meaningfully to the world. A lot of lesser people would have simply shrugged off the challenge and said, “I don’t know how to contribute, so I’m just not going to.” This is similar to something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately as well. I want to contribute to the world and make it a better place, but I’m not sure exactly where or how to do this. I want to find a cause that I’m truly passionate about where I… Read more »

Suzanne
Suzanne
9 years ago

Volunteering can be a great way to get to know an organization and understand its mission and impact. That is how many volunteer activities are structured – so that youi will want to help them achieve that mission, and that almost always requires money. A few hours a month – or even a week – will not allow an organization to do nearly as much as they can do with your money. Also, I don’t know what the threshold is today, but a small gift (under $100) can actually cost the organization more in administration fees and future mailings than… Read more »

Dan
Dan
9 years ago
Reply to  Suzanne

“Also, I don’t know what the threshold is today, but a small gift (under $100) can actually cost the organization more in administration fees and future mailings than the gift itself.” hehe. I highly doubt it costs that much to literally process a donation and put it in the bank. How could it? But I can see how the future mailings and phone calls and future marketing and what not can incur costs down the line. But that’s not a fault of my donation (or my donation not being enough), it’s a fault of the organization. A smart organization figures… Read more »

Suzanne
Suzanne
9 years ago
Reply to  Dan

Charities often find that their best donors started small, so today’s $50 gift may eventually lead to a $1 million gift at some point in the future. Therefore, it is in their interest to increase their marketing to people who give small gifts today. As a result, for even a very small gift, charities will spend money to try and get you to increase you giving. Some charities are more aggressive with this approach than others, and you can ask them to remove you from their mailing lists to help combat it. But the end result is that it is… Read more »

Sarah
Sarah
9 years ago
Reply to  Dan

It is somewhat true though. Most organizations are not very efficient. The administrative and transactional costs of processing a gift can eat up a good portion of the gift. I think that this could be solved by building better systems in which to process gifts (where I work it is cheaper to process a gift by check than through a website, though the website should be much more efficient). I have considered sending in a donation along with the message, “I’m going to donate every year, but only if you stop wasting the money I give sending me marketing materials… Read more »

Jane
Jane
9 years ago
Reply to  Suzanne

I hear that same idea all the time – that small donations cost a charity money. But all that leads me to do is give less. I’m sorry, but $50 is not a small amount of money to me! If a charity only makes money on large donations, then maybe they should stop sending so many flashy brochures or whatever else is costing them so much money to make my small donation counter productive.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago
Reply to  Jane

The cynic in me thinks charities don’t want me to emotionally support their cause — they just want my money. And those excuses about small donations costing money? It makes me feel like it’s a poly to separate more $ from my wallet. Why? Because if a charity *really* loses money on small donations because of future marketing, the solution is simple: Don’t waste marketing $ on people who make donations of less than $X in a year. Give a simple “thank you for your support” and that’s it. The cynic in me further thinks that if $100/year is truly… Read more »

Suzanne
Suzanne
9 years ago
Reply to  Dan

I don’t mind if a charity that I believe in “wants my money”. They will use it to accomplish their mission which, if it’s important to me, I want as well.

Debbie
Debbie
9 years ago

My friend Jane Kurtz, who grew up in Ethiopia and now lives in the U.S., is the driving force behind Ethiopia Reads: http://www.ethiopiareads.org/ I’ve never seen a woman work so hard for such a good cause. The board is volunteer, with just one paid employee who handles the administrative tasks. Your dollars open libraries (sometimes donkey libraries) and put books into the hands of Ethiopian children. ER just shipped out their first container ship of books last week. It’s exciting. And exhausting. And amazing. So much sweat equity changing so many lives. It’s worthy cause. Jane is here: http://www.janekurtz.com. You… Read more »

Adam
Adam
9 years ago

I think charitable giving has an important place in our culture, and I’m happy to give if the circumstances are appropriate. However, an important question I always consider is if the giving could actually do more harm than good. In other words, will giving something for nothing diminish the incentive for someone to become self reliant. Marvin Olasky provides an interesting perspective in his book, The Tragedy of American Compassion.

Daedala
Daedala
9 years ago
Rachel Jean
Rachel Jean
9 years ago

Food for thought: some of the best “teach a man to fish” charities are also the least glamorous. For example, I work for a nonprofit in MN that helps people with serious mental illness overcome their disability so that they can work and pay taxes. Because we’re not curing cancer, helping cute kids or puppies or feeding homeless, hungry people, our charity is often overlooked for donations, even though we make a huge impact on the community (reduced dependency on social services anyone?) Also, since financial literacy is so important to Get Rich Slowly, why not research organizations that teach… Read more »

Lukas
Lukas
9 years ago

I just started donating to these guys: http://www.littleflowerprojects.blogspot.com/

Jessica the hedgehog
Jessica the hedgehog
9 years ago

A few weeks ago I noticed you had Edge of Seven listed on Awesome People, and I’ve been meaning to comment there but just hadn’t had the chance yet. So imagine my happiness when I woke up today and saw them mentioned on GRS! I’m so glad you’re running with that suggestion. Like I may have mentioned before, I haven’t personally done a volunteer stint with them, but a friend has and his enthusiasm for their work was contagious. And I was incredibly impressed with the founder when I had the pleasure of meeting her at a small fundraiser in… Read more »

Katie
Katie
9 years ago

J.D., I’ll second everyone in saying that it’s wonderful that you are starting to ponder giving to charity (equally wonderful that you are being responsible about choosing where to donate, people would be shocked at some of the shady financials that can happen at non-profits). I want to join others, however, in urging you to also consider donating to organizations focused on the United States. My personal favorite is http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/search.html and I think it might fit your requirements. It’s a site where teachers can directly ask the public for money to fund educational projects to help their students. I have… Read more »

Jennifer B
Jennifer B
9 years ago
Reply to  Katie

I lost a bit of faith in Donorschoose.org when I went on line and saw what they said about the school my daughter goes to – it didn’t seem quite accurate. We live in an upper class neighborhood. While there are portions of the school district with high levels of ESL, free/reduced lunch kids who are struggling, our local school just doesn’t have the poverty numbers that Donorschoose.org claimed they did. They have an incredible amount of parent support (I know! I’m one of many!), including a PTA fundraising machine that provides for a lot of extras that other schools… Read more »

imelda
imelda
9 years ago
Reply to  Jennifer B

That’s weird. But I have to wonder if there was just a mistake classifying them as “moderate poverty”. 10% of kids on reduced lunch sounds plausible even for a high-income area. Calling that “moderate poverty” does sound off, though. Donorschoose is a terrific website, great in concept and execution and a huge help for teachers. It IS true that a large number of their recipients are schools that are not quite so high-need. These are schools able to recruit teachers proactive, organized, and caring enough to put together cool projects and appeals. It’s still a great system doing awesome work,… Read more »

Anne
Anne
9 years ago

I have a friend who’s pretty knowledgable about different cultures and has concerns about just throwing money at a population hoping that will fix things. Providing additional income to them can really mess things up. One question I wondered about would be helping local people utilize the Internet (if that’s even possible) to sell their wares. So if a local group of women craft something – jewelry, blankets, etc – would there be a way for them to market it online (like an international Etsy) and increase their own income. Lots of infrastructure would have to be in place to… Read more »

Alison Wiley
Alison Wiley
9 years ago

J.D., I like and respect how wide open you are to changing in this area, especially since you were raised to not give time or money. While I was raised to give both, I typically feel I’m not giving what I really could be giving. Here is how a friend and I together became bigger, happier givers: http://www.diamondcutlife.org/how-i-succeeded-in-a-new-years-resolution/

Clint
Clint
9 years ago

Sorry if I’ve missed this. Has anyone mentioned Kiva yet–an organization that enables you to make small loans ($25) to people in need. Then when it’s repaid, you can re-use the funds to loan out again. Better description on their websites http://www.kiva.org/
It fits the “teaching someone to fish” philosophy. I keep saying I’m going to do this, but have yet to pull the trigger. Any opinions?

Steph
Steph
9 years ago
Reply to  Clint

I love Kiva! I have invested as a gift for others, and for myself. I have always been paid back 100% and reinvested my first loan 8 times.

Dean
Dean
9 years ago
Reply to  Clint

I’m a big fan of Kiva and have been a “loaner” since 2007 and highly recommend it. I allocated a set amount to loan out in the beginning and have been able to re-loan it many times over which multiplies the impact of my initial “investment”. Great concept and a great organization. I would definitely give it a go.

Kate
Kate
9 years ago
Reply to  Clint

I’m not a huge fan of Kiva in practice, although I really like the idea.

Here’s a quick analysis of why: http://blogs.cgdev.org/open_book/2009/10/kiva-is-not-quite-what-it-seems.php

In short, I don’t feel nearly as fuzzy-wuzzy about loaning money to back-stop a bank as I do to helping a woman get her small business off the ground.

imelda
imelda
9 years ago
Reply to  Kate

Grah. But none of those loans would ever get made if the Kiva system didn’t exist. Although your money is going directly to a bank, the small businesspeople are the ones who benefit. If no one were lending money through Kiva and those local banks, they would end up with nothing.

There are valid criticisms of Kiva’s work. This is NOT one of them.

LC
LC
9 years ago
Reply to  Clint

I gave Kiva cards to my siblings as Christmas gifts this year. The loans are being repaid slowly, but so far, so good. Since we are all in places where needs are fulfilled, I wanted to give something that allowed us to give back to others. They can continue donating out or cash out once the loan is repaid, but they had to make the initial investment in order to use the funds on themselves.

Clint
Clint
9 years ago
Reply to  LC

Thanks for all of this. Let me make sure I understand this comment if you’re still here. You bought the cards as gifts. Siblings then decide who to loan to and once the loan is repaid they can cash out or reloan? That sounds like a great idea if I’ve got it right.

Colleen
Colleen
9 years ago
Reply to  Clint

I’m about to re-loan my original $25 for the third time. It is really awesome!

@Kate — while the criticisms of that article were true when it was first published, Kiva is much clearer now about the process.

sarah
sarah
9 years ago
Reply to  Clint

I love Kiva. Over the past 5 years or so I’ve been able to reloan out my money often, for a total of $42 loans. If I ever really need the money (I hope I don’t) I can stop reloaning it and my $500 or so will trickle back in over 6-12 months and I can withdraw it.

And I have no problem with a bank being the middle man, I don’t see how there’s any tangible difference there.

almost there
almost there
9 years ago
Reply to  Clint

I have not contributed to Kiva but to Microplace (owned by ebay). I understand that their banks make loans of up to 60% interest to third world people so that I can earn 4.25% on a 4 year loan of $10,001. Win-Win?

Chris
Chris
9 years ago

There are a lot of worthy causes out there. Mostly I give through my local church and that keeps my donations helping people in my community.

Recently The earthquakes motivated me and I found a link here for helping those in Japan:
http://financiallyeliteblog.com

I am also thinking about those in Joplin, MO as well.

Mom of five
Mom of five
9 years ago

I just want to say that while it’s admirable and certainly worthwhile to want to help girls, let’s not neglect the boys. Sure, China and India don’t want their baby girls, but the western world does not want their boys. In our own country, the boys languish in the foster care system. As amazing as it sounds, if you adopt from China, you’ve got a shorter wait if you’ll take either gender – so many people just want to adopt girls. Nobody wants a male child once they’ve hit 2 years old. In our country, an illiterate woman might end… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago
Reply to  Mom of five

I agree. The organizations I’ve found and like work to help all children, not just girls. But they emphasize educating girls. Does that make sense? I’d actually love to see some of their work in action…

Nicole
Nicole
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

It is country and community specific, but the cold truth is that in many developing countries, girls are not valued as much as boys. They are fed less than boys, more likely to die, and less likely to be educated. Scarce resources are already going to the boys. Educating girls makes them more valuable and helps girls as an entire gender. Another line of literature does suggest that as women get educated that does help the entire country… women tend to be primary care-givers so educating them means their children are more likely to be educated both boys and girls… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

Yes, it does make sense to focus on educating girls! Sally Armstrong is another good source. I saw a talk of hers a few years ago where she explained how the food crisis in the Congo is tied to the rape and abuse of women. Women in developing countries aren’t “stay at home mothers”. They also plant fields, tend livestock, make goods, etc. When they are oppressed or abused, they stop doing this work and the whole community suffers. (Consider: how eager would you be to harvest a field if you were likely to get beaten, raped or killed in… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
9 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Ooops… I can’t edit my previous comment so I’ll have to add something here.

Fear isn’t the only issue. Women can be abused to badly that they are physically unable to work.

Here’s a link to the talk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KDiiB3JSgo

sjw
sjw
9 years ago
Reply to  Mom of five

As a woman, I hate the “as a girl” ads that are shilling for cash. I agree, the girls should go to school. So should the boys.

Both should be responsible for improving their families’ lives. It looks like we’re just exporting and reinforcing the “second shift”.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
9 years ago
Reply to  sjw

I agree that both sexes should be involved with improving their lives and their country, but I don’t understand what you mean my exporting “the second shift”?

I think we have to be careful not to see all developing or conflicted countries as being alike. People’s lives are very different in Rwanda versus Romania, for example, or Afghanistan versus Ethiopia. In some countries, women can’t leave the home without a male escort. In others, they’re working the fields with children in their arms. (Parenthood is very different!)

Hmmm. I wish I knew more about this!

sjw
sjw
9 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

They’re saying “give money to girls – they’ll start a business and educate their kids and everyone will be healthy”. Give money to boys and they’ll spend it on hookers and blow (they don’t usually write that part out – though I once heard that the computers given to the men were almost all used to surf for porn). I’m tired of being told that because I’m a girl I need to take care of my family (are they eating right? did they brush their teeth? are their vaccinations up to date?) and make lots of money and and and… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
9 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

In some developing countries, if women are more educated, then culture can change to become less misogynistic. First make sure girls have an equal chance at staying alive. Then we can worry about first world equality problems.

And alcohol, not blow.

Ely
Ely
9 years ago
Reply to  sjw

The key word here is “should”.

While men and women “should” be equally responsible for their families and communities, the fact remains that resources provided to women (loans, education) have a much greater impact on families and communities than those given to men. It might not be right, but it’s true.

Kate
Kate
9 years ago
Reply to  Mom of five

Mom of Five – Could you share some more information on this? I had no idea. I’m all for educating the globe’s girls, but I never realized our young boys were suffering in the ways you outlined.

pShorten
pShorten
9 years ago

JD – My husband is a college professor. He teaches Environmental Science in the Health Department of West Chester University. He and I have taken students abroad many times now. We want to expose young folks to the larger world and part of each trip is a service project. We are searching for a way to do this more effectively, some service trips don’t really have much impact. I know that by taking young folks abroad we are making a difference but I like your thoughts and will be interested in following your progress. We often pair with a school… Read more »

Laura in Cancun
Laura in Cancun
9 years ago

Good for you, JD! Volunteer tourism is great. With a Christian group called Mission to the World, I’ve been on several week-long trips to the same community in Belize, mainly helping to build schools.

I also did a summer as an intern in Acapulco at an orphanage and a street child shelter. So difficult, but so amazing.

I’d never considered the idea of investing specifically inthe women of a community, but it makes sense. In the end, the women are usually the ones who have the biggest influence on the kids (and on the men hahaha).

lil
lil
9 years ago

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post. Happiness studies actually show that giving to others creates SO much happiness within the giver. Thank you for being so open-minded on this point. Finding the charity that works for you is a fun and worthwhile search. I believe that we are so blessed as a nation, and it’s only right that we should distribute the wealth to areas that are not so blessed. Perhaps, another opportunity that you may want to help is to mentor a child in your hometown. Our state has a mentorship program where you meet one-on-one with a child during… Read more »

PB
PB
9 years ago

JD — regarding the school supplies in your living room — find a local school where over 50% of the children are below the poverty level and donate them there. I guarantee the kids will be grateful. Our church has adopted such an elementary school in our town, and the principal has set up a little “store” where they can get what they need, paying only with a smile and a thank you. Children need underwear, socks, toothpaste, as well as school supplies. Also, school lunch programs often sponsor milk at only lunch OR snack time, so the children have… Read more »

Kevin M
Kevin M
9 years ago

JD, I don’t think you give yourself enough credit for what you do here at GRS. Sure, it is a business, but you’ve probably helped hundreds of people clean up their financial lives. I applaud you for that, and your willingness to do more.

I have similar feelings as you towards writing a check for charity. There are a couple organizations I support financially. But my preference would be to have more time to actually go pitch in and help.

Megan
Megan
9 years ago

I too think that doing something makes it better – but of course, then it’s not as altruistic, that is, you also benefit. Here are two quick and easy things that EVERYONE can (and should) do daily: http://www.thebreastcancersite.com – this is a site where you click and people donate money – there are also games you can play and every minute donates money http://www.freerice.com/ – a vocabulary building game – as you get them right, rice is put into a bowl and that rice is donated to countries that need food Finally, I agree with others who said to start… Read more »

Geek
Geek
9 years ago

JD, It is a-ok not to donate if you don’t want to. I still feel very little motivation to give back, and just donate a small amount to my local Humane Society (the things we do to animals are slightly worse than the things we do our fellow humans). It’s OK whatever you choose.

Lukas
Lukas
9 years ago
Reply to  Geek

I disagree. If someone doesn’t want to donate money, that’s fine. But unless you are destitute, you should do _something_ to help the less fortunate. You should do it prudently, since donating money doesn’t always help and can foster dependence. But I think it is wrong to simply enjoy the good things of life and not try to share them with others.

Geek
Geek
9 years ago
Reply to  Lukas

Who are you or I to judge what fosters dependence and what doesn’t?
Who is anyone to judge that one “should” give? You “should” help others?

It’s OK whatever you choose for giving. It’s also OK to judge people for not giving or for giving to the “Wrong” cause, but it’s even MORE OK to to keep your judge-y-ness to yourself.

Ron
Ron
9 years ago

I’m a little surprised there is not much talk about “how” to raise money to give, given the focus of this blog. Our plan has been simple for a while now…we don’t take raises any more. All the annual raise goes into charity, usual faith-based. Why do this? We just couldn’t get our hands around the tithe initially, so we started this way. Now we are beyond the tithe, and by the time I retire we may be around 40% income going to charity, and we feel good about that and are convinced it is the right thing to do.… Read more »

Jaime B
Jaime B
9 years ago
Reply to  Ron

I doubt I would give 40% myself and definitely not to a religious organization but this is a FANTASTIC idea for finding the money to give to charity. Thank you very much – so in coming years I’ll try to use this strategy to not only bump up retirement savings but also charitable contributions as well. Thanks!

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