Thursday, March 22, 2007

A charitable solution

What with tracking the minutiae of my financial life around here, it's easier to get superfocused on the monitoring and accumulation of assets than it is to think about how I want to dispense them.

I've been thinking a lot about charity of late and I've decided that I'd like to start getting more seriously involved in donating some of my money, and hopefully some of my time, to charitable causes. I suppose being relatively young, I have a built in excuse for not giving much back -- it's hard enough to get a start in life without giving away a chunk of your meagre salary. Thus far, my only significant charitable contribution was the $10 a month I donated to Amnesty International for several years when a pledge-girl won me over on the street (what can I say? Hiring cute girls with nice smiles to fundraise anywhere near me is a surprisingly effective strategy…)

But I've decided that just doesn't cut it anymore. Sure, I'm still saving for a house, but as my cash pile grows, I want to start spreading it out to people and causes I believe in.

The question is, how much? An arbitrary number I've come up with in my head as a start point is $1000. I must admit it's a daunting number to look at (it's about 3% of my after-tax income) but I think it's the minimum threshold for making a tangible amount of difference to the world around me. I toyed with the idea of donating that in one fell swoop to one organization, but the more I think about it, not only would that be harder for me to swallow from a financial perspective, but I think I'd feel better about spreading it around to more places and people I believe in in smaller packages.

To that end, I made my first $100 contribution yesterday. I pledged a colleague who's doing a charity run to raise money for prostate cancer. He seemed very grateful for the pledge, as it brings him closer to his goal. I have a few ideas for more causes to support but I'm open to hearing suggestions. (Long term, I'd love to set up or help fund some sort of scholarship for high school students, but that's going to require a bit more capital and time to get off the ground I think.) In the meantime, If you know of any worthy causes that have a relatively painless way for me to send them some money, feel free to make your pitch in the comments section.


Lisa said...

My husband and I have made a similar goal for 2007. In my research, I've found this great organization called Kiva. They have changed the way we look at charity. Check them out at
"Kiva lets you lend to a specific entrepreneur in the developing worlld empowering them to lift themselves out of poverty."

In other words you "invest" in an individual's business. In return, you get to watch the business grow and as it grows they pay you back... allowing you to invest in another person's business venture. Kiva is amazing.

Wanda said...

I've been thinking about charitable givings too...

credit card charity said...

Have you ever considered using charity credit cards? They work as cash back credit cards but the check goes to a charity fund.