HOW TO GIVE .
Christmas is a time to give. But to whom? A good question. There are so many causes seeking donations. We need to carefully think about the marks of worthy causes. The following are my criteria. What are yours?
1. My priority is to support people who help me think of the root causes of hunger, sickness, poverty, or whatever the problems. So I chose a church, a political party, and the local art institutions. The church makes me think of moral values. Artists help me think of important questions in life. For you it could be any religion or association. Political parties try to put those ideas into practice. Granted all of them can be flawed. But it is more effective if you are involved to make changes. So the church, the political party, and the art institutions get a chunk of my money.
2. I ask: Do they put more emphasis on building a community rather than giving hand-outs to individuals? Yes, it is necessary when conditions are dire. But it can also perpetuate dependency making some people life-long beggars. When someone is starving, you have to feed him/her. Therefore, I support food-aid overseas, food banks and soup kitchens at home. But in the mean time, find and support the organizations that try to eradicate the root causes of hunger, sickness, and poverty.
3. All life forms are precious. Therefore animal welfare and care of environment get my money.
4. Cash donation and volunteer time are the best ways. I know that gifts-in-kind cost people’s time and money to process. Give gifts-in-kind as well as money.
5. Finally, I would check how accountable the organization is, especially the big one. Why? Unfortunately some charities are money making business and little money goes to the actual cause. I try to find out what the cost of overhead is, e.g. TV advertisement, and staff salaries and such. They are necessary expenses for an efficient operation. But the cost of overhead should be below 25 % of the total budget. I will be suspicious if they don’t give you such information.
6. So, I never give neither pledge donation at the door or on the telephone, because it is impossible to hold them accountable unless you know the person on the phone or at the door.
There must be more.