The Money Mustache Community

Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: oinkette on September 26, 2013, 02:30:04 PM

Title: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: oinkette on September 26, 2013, 02:30:04 PM
I realize this is probably a controversial topic as it's rather personal for some but I'm curious as to how much the average mustachian individual gives to charity, especially during the FIRE building phase. I noticed on Mr. Money Mustache's posts that he gave 1,734 in 2012 which translates to almost 7% of his spending for that year (if my math is right).

I haven't found this posted anywhere else here so I thought I would ask. 

Where are you on the path to FIRE?

And how much do you give to charity (percent or dollar amount)?

I'm also curious as to those who have substituted money for whatever reason (not approving of how many charities use funds, not wanting to cut into FIRE goals, etc.) with other forms of giving such as time, items, purchasing from philanthropic companies, etc. 

As for me, I'm currently in a minor "Debt Emergency" of $14000 in student loans.  Since it's only going to take me until early next year to pay it off I have decided to cut off giving money and instead donate a lot of items I no longer need/want (thanks to being influenced by this blog!) and some of my time. 
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: Phoebe on September 26, 2013, 02:54:12 PM
We are on the way to FIRE, and we've pushed ourselves to give more.  Last year we gave only $545, and this year we are on track to give $1300 (but may be more as we give to causes the come up sporadically as well).  This will represent around 3% of our spending this year, and I don't even want to figure out what percentage of our income (way less than 1%).

I'll just say that I don't think we have this figured out yet.  Giving $100 a month to charity feels like a lot when we examine our spending, but compared to our salary it seems minuscule and I feel guilty.  I think we'll continue to slowly give more each year until we're where we feel more comfortable.  We also make sure to give with our time as well, but the fact is that we wan to do both.  I'm interested in seeing what others give.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: MamaStache on September 26, 2013, 03:05:07 PM
I prefer to donate my time, and also things more than actual money.  We will do random acts of kindness though the year like pay for a random family's dinner.  I also donate through work to the United Way when they offer jeans day stickers ($5 for one day to allow wearing jeans to work!)  I will also donate at work to the United Way when there are raffles, gift baskets for purchase, silent auctions, and my favorite, the "kids garage sale"....  actually that time of year is coming up pretty quickly and I am getting excited.   

Also blood donations.    It's not always about how much money, right?  Wait.....  :-)
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: rufflina on September 26, 2013, 03:12:47 PM
I'm debt free and building. I admit I don't give that much - $5 a year to my university (so I can contribute to the "alumni giving percentage"), and <$100 a year to various organizations if I feel like it. It would be even less than that but my company only matches donations of $50+ so I feel like I should give at least $50 when I do donate. So yeah, basically nothing considering my take home salary of $6000 a month (plus bonus and stocks).

I do try to regularly donate blood, though, like the PP mentioned. Red Cross comes to my company about every 8 weeks (which is how often you're eligible again), and I have type O+ blood to boot so I feel like it's a place where my contributions would be really valued. :) Even more so if I had type O- blood, but oh well...

I've really been meaning to get on a bone marrow registry as well.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: MsSindy on September 26, 2013, 03:14:36 PM
We are on the way to FIRE, and we've pushed ourselves to give more.  Last year we gave only $545, and this year we are on track to give $1300 (but may be more as we give to causes the come up sporadically as well).  This will represent around 3% of our spending this year, and I don't even want to figure out what percentage of our income (way less than 1%).

I'll just say that I don't think we have this figured out yet.  Giving $100 a month to charity feels like a lot when we examine our spending, but compared to our salary it seems minuscule and I feel guilty.  I think we'll continue to slowly give more each year until we're where we feel more comfortable.  We also make sure to give with our time as well, but the fact is that we wan to do both.  I'm interested in seeing what others give.

We're in the same boat, different numbers, but the same concept.  Actually, one of my goals for FI includes being able to participate and give generously to the charities I feel passionate about - I don't plan on quitting work until I can meet my goals of charity giving levels within my FI plan.....well, unless work becomes completely unbearable!
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: CommonCents on September 26, 2013, 03:15:32 PM
I donate:
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: oinkette on September 26, 2013, 03:23:54 PM
We are on the way to FIRE, and we've pushed ourselves to give more.  Last year we gave only $545, and this year we are on track to give $1300 (but may be more as we give to causes the come up sporadically as well).  This will represent around 3% of our spending this year, and I don't even want to figure out what percentage of our income (way less than 1%).

I'll just say that I don't think we have this figured out yet.  Giving $100 a month to charity feels like a lot when we examine our spending, but compared to our salary it seems minuscule and I feel guilty.  I think we'll continue to slowly give more each year until we're where we feel more comfortable.  We also make sure to give with our time as well, but the fact is that we wan to do both.  I'm interested in seeing what others give.

We're in the same boat, different numbers, but the same concept.  Actually, one of my goals for FI includes being able to participate and give generously to the charities I feel passionate about - I don't plan on quitting work until I can meet my goals of charity giving levels within my FI plan.....well, unless work becomes completely unbearable!

I feel the same way. I'm certain that once I reach FI I'll be giving a lot more than I ever have, simply because I will have otherwise met my financial and lifestyle goals. I do look forward to that part of it. Right now, maybe because I've only recently decided to jump on the FIRE bandwagon, I feel a certain urgency and am far more...selfish? with my money. But that's with regards to everything else as well (food, clothing, going out with friends).  I'm hoping that once the initial thrill of starting this tames I'll be a tiny bit more reasonable with all of my spending, including charity.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: seattlecyclone on September 26, 2013, 04:00:00 PM
We're still building wealth. At this time we probably only donate about 1% (or less) of our income to charity. I volunteer regularly though. As we do get toward financial independence, we will start to give more. I have given some thought to how exactly I would like to approach it. One of the big appeals of financial independence and early retirement, for me, is that I will have more time to devote to improving my community. However if I'm still enjoying my job well enough when I get to FI, I would strongly consider "working to give" (i.e. staying in my job, maybe only part-time if I can negotiate that, and donating most or all of my take-home paycheck to charity). As someone in a relatively high-salary field, I think I can probably make a bigger impact by donating my salary than I could make by quitting my job and volunteering much of the time.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: Daley on September 26, 2013, 05:02:19 PM
The thing with trying to include charity in your budget is that you need to truly practice it to ensure you develop the muscle. If you desire to be charitable, don't just say you'll do it after you're FI as by that logic there'll aways be an excuse to wait, just do so.

Give enough that it makes a noticeable impact on your budget and you become aware of its presence, but not so much that it impedes your responsibilities, and practice it in every part of your walk through life... don't just give money or time or resources, simply give of yourself.

As for a number, it's interesting how the Judeo-Christian standard of 10% of your life hits that conscious spot of difficulty without being trying.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: rufflina on September 26, 2013, 05:15:10 PM
Oh yeah, donating old stuff...I don't really count that myself because I always feel so thankful to Goodwill for taking my clutter! Haha.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: Carrie on September 26, 2013, 05:49:53 PM
This year we quit giving to the church we used to attend (we may go back, but needed a break; has nothing to do with the religion but more to do with not having slept in nearly two years --- thanks baby).  Instead, I've donated whenever people have come asking.  So far, we've given to St. Jude's Children's hospital, to a friend's pet's surgery (not deductible, but nice), to a friend's adoption fund (also not deductible), to my son's school for their art program (is deductible!), to my son's old school (items I made, time & some money and is deductible), provided meals for needy relative (not deductible).   

When we had auto-pay going to the church we donated a lot more money than we have this year.  I've been meaning to do more this year.  This tells me that if I make the decision to give and then make it a hard & fast part of the budget, we give and it works (and we feel pretty good about it).  If I wait until we feel like we have enough to give, we don't give very much at all, and I dislike that.  I don't want to be selfish and I don't want to become miserly.  If I don't have a giving spirit, then what good will millions of dollars do for me anyway?

I ran a tax simulator to see how we stand on our taxes for this year, and unless we increase our giving, we won't be able to itemize.  Basically, if we donate another $2500 to charity (on top of what we've already given this year), then we could reduce our effective tax rate from 8.9% down to 5.6%.  That isn't the only reason to give, but it does make me think I'd rather give money to causes I care about than to the government.  Giving both time and money is good for the soul.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: snuggler on September 26, 2013, 05:56:00 PM
I'm in transition mode on how much to donate. When I was net worth negative (student loan debt) I donated nothing, and instead donated a lot of time.

Now that I am net worth positive, I am incorporating more giving, and trying to dial back on how much time I give (I give a LOT of time).

I like the 10% rule, but I also like being flexible about how I give 10%. I certainly have given 10% of my time the past few years, but gave very little money. I'm hoping to change that as I'm saving for FI.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: suntailedshadow on September 26, 2013, 06:01:12 PM
Debt Free and building. We are currently giving about 5-6% of our gross. We donate about 5-10 hours a week between the wife and I.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: grantmeaname on September 26, 2013, 06:31:46 PM
(http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-sTW-LXI6V-c/TvBbg4avYNI/AAAAAAAACvQ/T3rIdNH3y6g/s320/can-of-worms.jpg)
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: daverobev on September 26, 2013, 06:56:41 PM
I don't actuall believe in.. this kind of charity. Reasons?

Horror stories of how much money donated to breast cancer is not spent on searching for a cure for breast cancer; a friend contracted for Comic Relief in the UK and said the waste was incredible.

Aid to Africa has quite possibly done more harm than good (Christian missions? Oh... my).

Volunteering deprives people of paid work - you have to be well enough off to volunteer.

Now. I do give, a little, to certain projects like Mozilla, etc. I am leaning towards giving a chunk to the Gates foundation when I die.. because I have a feeling they are much more effective with the money. But will I give $2 to Loblaws' whatever at the checkout? No. Sorry, but no.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: NV Teacher on September 26, 2013, 07:07:43 PM
10% of gross income.  My tithing check is written before everything else each month.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: oinkette on September 26, 2013, 09:02:08 PM
(http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-sTW-LXI6V-c/TvBbg4avYNI/AAAAAAAACvQ/T3rIdNH3y6g/s320/can-of-worms.jpg)

Ha ha, I figured it would be.  As for everyone else, thanks for responding. I know it's a rather personal issue that involves all the touchstones of "taboo" discussions (religion, poloitics, income, etc.).
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: Diamondpick on September 26, 2013, 09:56:47 PM
10% in cash at least...much much more in time and services...
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: oldtoyota on September 27, 2013, 06:27:51 AM
I don't actuall believe in.. this kind of charity. Reasons?

Horror stories of how much money donated to breast cancer is not spent on searching for a cure for breast cancer; a friend contracted for Comic Relief in the UK and said the waste was incredible.

Aid to Africa has quite possibly done more harm than good (Christian missions? Oh... my).

Volunteering deprives people of paid work - you have to be well enough off to volunteer.

Now. I do give, a little, to certain projects like Mozilla, etc. I am leaning towards giving a chunk to the Gates foundation when I die.. because I have a feeling they are much more effective with the money. But will I give $2 to Loblaws' whatever at the checkout? No. Sorry, but no.

What I've seen of Gates F work has not been effective. YMMV. The point is that every charity will have areas where they need to improve. Charities are like any organization that will have good and bad apples. Some apples will be clueless with money management. Sometimes, the waste is fraud and sometimes it's just the organization getting the ship straightened out.

If how charities spend money concerns you, I would not decide NOT to give. I would do some research to see their audits. Charity Navigator gives out scores based on how much of a donation goes to programs. And, yes, part of your donation will probably go to maintain the workers who keep the place running. They, like you, need to eat and live.

But, to say you won't give because charities don't spend it well? I can't agree with that blanket statement when I see how many nonprofit workers make so little and do with so little in order to get their jobs done.




Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: oldtoyota on September 27, 2013, 06:31:55 AM
I don't actuall believe in.. this kind of charity. Reasons?

Horror stories of how much money donated to breast cancer is not spent on searching for a cure for breast cancer; a friend contracted for Comic Relief in the UK and said the waste was incredible.


Volunteering deprives people of paid work - you have to be well enough off to volunteer.


Wait a second. These two statements contradict each other a bit. I'll grant that it's a complicated situation.

So, let's say you donate money to a breast cancer fund and not much is used for breast cancer research. There are buildings to maintain. There are people to pay. Who knows? Maybe someone is stealing the money, but let's just say they are not. Let's say at least part of the money has to go to the people who run the organization. If they were not there, you would not know about their programs or probably even donate.

You also say volunteering deprives people of paid work. Absolutely true. At the same time, it means more money goes to breast cancer research because volunteers mean more of the money donated goes straight to the research.

Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: happy on September 27, 2013, 07:01:19 AM
This has been on my mind a lot lately so you've saved me from starting a thread.

I've always donated time, and several % of my income to charity. Ironically once I became a single parent I became much more convicted about the resources I had and gave to 10%.

When first mustachian I refused to cut any of my giving.

I've not made much of this on this forum but one of the reasons for my semi-retirement was ongoing chronic fatigue and some looming health problems if I did not reduce my working hours. 30 years of a stressful high income career,  increasingly less enjoyable with the passing of time, complicated by single parenting for the last 14, had finally taken its toll on my health.

After a lot of soulsearching I cut my giving by 50% on semiretirement. I'm hanging in there with the other 50%, but it might need to go too. I've really really struggled with this, but I think in the end its wiser to look after myself so I can look after others. In 3-5 years my kids will be fully independent and I will have money and time to give again.

edit:typo
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: daverobev on September 27, 2013, 07:19:34 AM
I don't actuall believe in.. this kind of charity. Reasons?

Horror stories of how much money donated to breast cancer is not spent on searching for a cure for breast cancer; a friend contracted for Comic Relief in the UK and said the waste was incredible.

Aid to Africa has quite possibly done more harm than good (Christian missions? Oh... my).

Volunteering deprives people of paid work - you have to be well enough off to volunteer.

Now. I do give, a little, to certain projects like Mozilla, etc. I am leaning towards giving a chunk to the Gates foundation when I die.. because I have a feeling they are much more effective with the money. But will I give $2 to Loblaws' whatever at the checkout? No. Sorry, but no.

What I've seen of Gates F work has not been effective. YMMV. The point is that every charity will have areas where they need to improve. Charities are like any organization that will have good and bad apples. Some apples will be clueless with money management. Sometimes, the waste is fraud and sometimes it's just the organization getting the ship straightened out.

If how charities spend money concerns you, I would not decide NOT to give. I would do some research to see their audits. Charity Navigator gives out scores based on how much of a donation goes to programs. And, yes, part of your donation will probably go to maintain the workers who keep the place running. They, like you, need to eat and live.

But, to say you won't give because charities don't spend it well? I can't agree with that blanket statement when I see how many nonprofit workers make so little and do with so little in order to get their jobs done.

My wife works for a nonprofit so I know a bit about that. It's totally inefficient - the good people should get paid more, and the rest should find something they are good at. Of course, the answer is to become a board member and fix it (for a given charity). But... that's volunteering. I believe in taxpayer-funded healthcare.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: Half-Borg on September 27, 2013, 07:25:55 AM
I don't give anything to charity.
45% of my pay goes to the goverment, about half of it is social securtiy. I feel like it's the goverments responsibilty to use that money to fund homeless shelters, schools and the like.

I don't believe in giving money to foreign countries, that's just covering the upper layer, not fixing the problems.
I do believe in economic reasons. That is, I buy fair trade stuff, buy organic food and have electricity from 100% renewable energies.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: Insanity on September 27, 2013, 07:26:50 AM
You also say volunteering deprives people of paid work. Absolutely true. At the same time, it means more money goes to breast cancer research because volunteers mean more of the money donated goes straight to the research.

Depends on the organization, but that would be a very nice thought if it were true. 

As far as donations - right now, I donate randomly and it is a very small percentage.  Part of my issue with donating to medical research is that I don't always believe research is testing everything they should be.  For instance, the chronic illness I have.  I don't believe the facilities are working to test more natural solutions.  Instead, they are recommending things as drastic as stem cell replacement.  Those are expensive.  And while anecdotal, I have heard of numerous cases of mediations + natural solutions putting the illness into remission.  I am a scientist by nature, but I think sometimes scientist believe that science (ala new medicines) must be the answer. 

I am looking into how to become actively involved with Habit for Humanity.   I never really learned the handy skills to do things around the house and I think that would be a great thing to learn and awesome way of doing it.  Of course if things go the way I am hoping over the next 6 months, it might have to wait.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: daverobev on September 27, 2013, 07:35:51 AM
I don't actuall believe in.. this kind of charity. Reasons?

Horror stories of how much money donated to breast cancer is not spent on searching for a cure for breast cancer; a friend contracted for Comic Relief in the UK and said the waste was incredible.


Volunteering deprives people of paid work - you have to be well enough off to volunteer.


Wait a second. These two statements contradict each other a bit. I'll grant that it's a complicated situation.

So, let's say you donate money to a breast cancer fund and not much is used for breast cancer research. There are buildings to maintain. There are people to pay. Who knows? Maybe someone is stealing the money, but let's just say they are not. Let's say at least part of the money has to go to the people who run the organization. If they were not there, you would not know about their programs or probably even donate.

You also say volunteering deprives people of paid work. Absolutely true. At the same time, it means more money goes to breast cancer research because volunteers mean more of the money donated goes straight to the research.

Offtopic, but breast cancer is a particularly difficult one because so much is spent on *awareness* rather than *research*.

I agree, it's complicated; I tend to be a black/white person, and there are enough things I have heard, read and felt about 'charities' generally that my answer has been to disconnect. It's not 'the right' answer, I just don't believe in 'the whole thing'. I disconnect from things I don't like.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: Ben on September 27, 2013, 07:47:31 AM
I don't give anything to charity.
45% of my pay goes to the goverment, about half of it is social securtiy.

Wow, that is brutal, what country are you in? Can't wrap my head around that kind of income tax, I am glad to be in the US...
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: AlexK on September 27, 2013, 07:54:33 AM
I have noticed that when I give to big corporation-like charities (Doctors Without Borders for example) they have spent my donations sending mailings to ask for more money, I presume to buy yet even more mailings. I'm done with that.

We just gave $2k to a local non-profit which makes bike paths, hopefully near our house soon.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: Norrie on September 27, 2013, 07:55:16 AM
We're debt-free, but in rough shape in terms of retirement and kids' college, so we're definitely in the starter phase of financial freedom.

We donate a small amount each year to National Jewish, which is a pulmonary hospital in Denver that saved our daughter's life (she also saves some of her allowance for them). Once we're on better footing, this will be where the bulk of our donations go.

I'm a social work researcher at a local university, so am involved in helping numerous community agencies at a program evaluation level.
And yeah, I give to the United Way campaigns at work each year.

Finally, we make a donation to our kids' non-profit Montessori-based school each year. One day I'd like to be able to make a larger one, but for now we do $150 per kid each year.

We're trying to raise our kids in a culture of giving, but so far it's mostly been giving of time and sending small bits of allowance to National Jewish. For us, it's one of the parts of parenting that is most important for us to get right, and we've been putting a lot of thought into it as they get older (they're 12 and nine now).
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: Phoebe on September 27, 2013, 08:12:26 AM
The thing with trying to include charity in your budget is that you need to truly practice it to ensure you develop the muscle. If you desire to be charitable, don't just say you'll do it after you're FI as by that logic there'll aways be an excuse to wait, just do so.

I totally agree.  Last year we gave about $10 per week, and this year we decided to double it and give to anything that came up sporadically that we wanted to give to.  Each time we give more, we're surprised by how good it makes us feel.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: CommonCents on September 27, 2013, 08:21:48 AM
Volunteering deprives people of paid work - you have to be well enough off to volunteer.

This is a fallacy to me.  Your statement assumes that if one doesn't volunteer, someone else will be paid to do the work that you are doing, rather than that it just remains undone.  I can tell you that at least for what I do, very little would be paid rather than being undone (a bit would be taken up by someone else).

And btw, regarding the "well enough off to volunteer" it may interest you to know that the lower and middle class donates a greater percentage of their income than the wealthy do.  (Yes, I know, the wealthy didn't become it giving money away...)
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: mpbaker22 on September 27, 2013, 09:02:24 AM
I shoot for 10%, but I stagger it so I come in at 0 some years, and well above the standard deduction on the other years.  I'd hate to be giving just under $5,900 every year, and not receive a deduction, so this year, I'll probably give 15-20%.
I also think 10% is not necessary, but so many people are in such awful positions, and I'm in such a good one ... it doesn't make sense not to do something.
I mostly give to local charities - church school (mostly low income students with tuition assistance and donation is employer matched), local homeless shelters, organizations that provide help to pregnant women.

I also try to do some volunteer work, but that's only totaled ~30 hours this year, so not really that much.

All money and hour go to local organizations which I am familiar with.  I also will not donate time/money to food organizations (except maybe an actual soup kitchen - my work sponsors food-bank sorting) because I see how much food flows into shelters and doesn't get used because everyone has this misconception that food is the #1 needed item.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: Dulcimina on September 27, 2013, 09:11:29 AM
I have noticed that when I give to big corporation-like charities (Doctors Without Borders for example) they have spent my donations sending mailings to ask for more money, I presume to buy yet even more mailings. I'm done with that.

We just gave $2k to a local non-profit which makes bike paths, hopefully near our house soon.

+1

In 2010, after the Haiti earthquakes, I made one time donations to Doctors without Borders and Oxfam.  There was a box to click if it was a one-time donation, and I didn't want to be contacted.  This was online with a credit card, so no option to do it anonymously.  They have continued to harass me with mailings and e-mails.  They've sold my name to other charities, so I get mailings from those places with pictures of mangled animals and babies with deformed cleft palates.  The same thing happened before that when I contributed to various charities through the annual drive at work.  Twenty years later, my alma mater is still stalking me and calling at night to see if I want to donate to whatever fundraising scheme.

It's not that I mind giving.  I just want to give without having to worry about another hand out begging before the ink has dried on the first check.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: avonlea on September 27, 2013, 09:32:14 AM
I have noticed that when I give to big corporation-like charities (Doctors Without Borders for example) they have spent my donations sending mailings to ask for more money, I presume to buy yet even more mailings. I'm done with that.

We just gave $2k to a local non-profit which makes bike paths, hopefully near our house soon.

+1

In 2010, after the Haiti earthquakes, I made one time donations to Doctors without Borders and Oxfam.  There was a box to click if it was a one-time donation, and I didn't want to be contacted.  This was online with a credit card, so no option to do it anonymously.  They have continued to harass me with mailings and e-mails.  They've sold my name to other charities, so I get mailings from those places with pictures of mangled animals and babies with deformed cleft palates.  The same thing happened before that when I contributed to various charities through the annual drive at work.  Twenty years later, my alma mater is still stalking me and calling at night to see if I want to donate to whatever fundraising scheme.

It's not that I mind giving.  I just want to give without having to worry about another hand out begging before the ink has dried on the first check.

Yes, I know exactly what you are saying.  We have given to those same places and have dealt with the same issue.  I was very happy to find Heifer International last year--loved their mission, but now they are sending me a lot of requests in the mail, too. :(
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: Half-Borg on September 27, 2013, 09:53:49 AM
I don't give anything to charity.
45% of my pay goes to the goverment, about half of it is social securtiy.

Wow, that is brutal, what country are you in? Can't wrap my head around that kind of income tax, I am glad to be in the US...
Germany, of course there some advantages, like free college admission, better public schools and social securitry for retirement is something you can actually live on.
But I still don't fell like donating even more.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: maryofdoom on September 27, 2013, 10:02:42 AM
I donate blood as often as I can - I have O- blood and so the blood people call and harass me sometimes.

Charitable endeavors to which I have given money in the past include Planned Parenthood, the Red Cross, and Heifer International, but I've fallen out of the habit of doing anything like that. I also don't donate to my undergrad alma mater, because they honestly didn't give a crap about me while I was going to school there and only deigned to acknowledge me when I graduated; and I don't donate to my grad school alma mater, because they have a $1 billion endowment AND I AM ALSO EMPLOYED THERE.

I also find myself volunteering to help the ladies with whom I embroider on Friday nights. A lot of people upthread have talked about giving of their time, instead of financially, and I like that idea very much. I feel like my time is just as limited as the amount of money I have, and if I can pitch in by helping someone learn something new, or with picking up some groceries for them while I'm shopping, I'm going to do that.

How does everyone in this thread feel about donating money directly to individuals? For example, I have an Internet friend who is unable to work, due to bipolar disorder and other medical conditions, and although she's receiving government assistance, it's not nearly enough to cover the cost of her medications. Sometimes people in similar situations will post that they need donations for medical issues, or for vet care, or for something, and if I can help people who are having problems, I feel good in doing so.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: historienne on September 27, 2013, 10:04:49 AM
We give 5% of our after-tax income.  In the past, I've also volunteered about 4 hrs/week at a women's shelter, but that's on hold right now because we have a newborn. 

For those concerned with the effectiveness of charitable giving, you may be interested in Givewell, an organisation that rates charities based on evidence of effectiveness.  I have some quibbles with their methods, and they only cover charities that opt in to participate, so it's by no means comprehensive, but it's a good starting point.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: KulshanGirl on September 27, 2013, 10:27:52 AM
I volunteer on the board of directors for a local non-profit, and most of my charitable donations go to that organization as well.  It's not even close to 10%, I wish it was. 

I do owe a lot of band/school/sports fundraising karma to the universe as well, so I am a shoe-in for your cookie dough, jog-a-thon, carwash coupons and so forth.  I keep a line in my budget well stocked for this sort of thing.  I also use this part of the budget to answer the call of friends for whatever they are raising funds for.  Usually for causes involving kids, basic human needs, disaster relief.

In winter, I scope out the grapevine/Craigslist for someone to help around the holidays.  I guess that kind of counts as giving to individuals over the internet?  I don't give money, I usually fulfill specific requests like a Christmas tree or a couple of toys.  I've had 100% wonderful experiences with this.  One time I bought a couple of toys for a single dad and when we met up, it turned out to be someone I knew a long time ago and we both pretty much felt the universe click back into place a little that night. :) 
     
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: lackofstache on September 27, 2013, 10:33:18 AM
I too give more time than money. While trying to save, it works better for my family. It's also nice to see what your donation does directly rather than just hoping it has a solid effect.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: oldtoyota on September 27, 2013, 10:48:00 AM

I am looking into how to become actively involved with Habit for Humanity.   I never really learned the handy skills to do things around the house and I think that would be a great thing to learn and awesome way of doing it.  Of course if things go the way I am hoping over the next 6 months, it might have to wait.

I helped build a house for Habitat. Another time, I helped fix an existing house. I recommend it.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: esperto on September 27, 2013, 10:58:45 AM
I give 10% of my money to my church, frequently donate time to others, sometimes donate stuff.  I believe in living with a spirit of generosity and kindness to others.

Giving to or serving others is good.  Allowing others to give to or serve you is also good.  Don't deny others the opportunity to be a blessing in someone's life, even if that someone is you.  Just pay it forward when you can.  Nothing makes you feel rich like knowing you have enough and then some, than to give someone less fortunate than you.

As far as charities go.  Giving to local charities means you are helping those closer to you, your actual neighbors. 

One of the great things about this day and age, is that that charities are under greater scrutiny than ever to actually be efficient and productive with the funds, stuff, and volunteers they get.  Just as everything else mustachian, scrutinize the value being added by your dollars when you give.  Give only to the ones you feel are the best stewards of what your placing in their hands.

Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: seattlecyclone on September 27, 2013, 11:07:00 AM
I am looking into how to become actively involved with Habit for Humanity.   I never really learned the handy skills to do things around the house and I think that would be a great thing to learn and awesome way of doing it.  Of course if things go the way I am hoping over the next 6 months, it might have to wait.

I have volunteered for them a few times in the past. It's pretty easy to get into. The first time you'll probably want to contact someone at your local Habitat office beforehand so they know you want to volunteer. They'll direct you to a build site. Once you're there, get to know the people working on that house (they often have full-time Americorps folks doing a lot of the coordination). They'll rarely have a problem with you just showing up on the site when you have a free day to help out. You do learn quite a bit. Things I've done have included cutting and installing snap-together wood flooring, building forms for a concrete foundation, nailing together framing members in the house, building a fence, demolishing the interior of a foreclosed house so it could be renovated, and more. Those are the good days. Other times they'll have you spend most of the day moving a pile of building materials from one place to another so it's in the right spot for the next work group. It really varies.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: thepokercab on September 27, 2013, 12:23:36 PM
I've given time and money to political campaigns, but that certainly isn't charity. I don't really give any time or money to charities.  I don't really feel guilty about it either, so i'd be trying to make myself feel like a better person if I said "i want to give more" or "i'll give more when i'm in a better financial situation".  I feel like I really am a good person, and like to do nice things for my family and friends, i just don't really think about charity or giving to it.  Maybe that makes me a bad person or a burden on our society. I like to think i'm socially responsible though- I pay my taxes, serve on juries, vote, obey traffic signals, etc. i just don't give anything to charities. I certainly think charities are a good thing, and do great things.  And I suppose if I suddenly needed the services of a charity tomorrow, it would be a great thing that they existed and that other people decided to give to them  (Although, i'd imagine that most people who do give to charities don't do so as some sort of cosmic insurance policy in case they need it) 

Anyway, just thought I would be honest.   
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: Rural on September 27, 2013, 12:45:38 PM
As I've said elsewhere, I don't give money, and I'm not really interested in doing so. But I am a successful grantwriter, which is a highly paid field. I chair the board of a local nonprofit and volunteer as their grantwriter; I bring in the majority of their annual budget that way, and it's considerably more than my annual gross income. Plus they don't have to pay a grantwriter. That's enough.

The nonprofit is also education-related, so I get to put it on my annual report at work as service to the profession. That makes a win-win, my favorite sort of situation.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: CommonCents on September 27, 2013, 12:53:34 PM
As I've said elsewhere, I don't give money, and I'm not really interested in doing so. But I am a successful grantwriter, which is a highly paid field. I chair the board of a local nonprofit and volunteer as their grantwriter; I bring in the majority of their annual budget that way, and it's considerably more than my annual gross income. Plus they don't have to pay a grantwriter. That's enough.

The nonprofit is also education-related, so I get to put it on my annual report at work as service to the profession. That makes a win-win, my favorite sort of situation.

Want to write grants for my favorite non-profit too?  It has an education component :)
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: mpbaker22 on September 28, 2013, 07:52:14 AM
I've given time and money to political campaigns, but that certainly isn't charity.

I would argue political donations to candidates in local races, particularly in more-ghetto-like areas where corruption runs rampant, are almost as good (maybe even better) than charitable donations.  Many of those areas won't improve until the money stops flowing to the politicians.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: grantmeaname on September 28, 2013, 08:14:22 AM
And I suppose if I suddenly needed the services of a charity tomorrow, it would be a great thing that they existed and that other people decided to give to them  (Although, i'd imagine that most people who do give to charities don't do so as some sort of cosmic insurance policy in case they need it)
It's not exactly the same thing, but I think "there but for the grace of God go I" is one of the larger motivations for charitable giving.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: chasesfish on September 28, 2013, 08:25:53 AM
It's very small for me, probably only 1% of our pretax income.  I'm on a war path to FI, after that I plan on giving more.  I look at every expense as "Is this worth extending my time in a stressful job"
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: DocCyane on September 28, 2013, 08:56:14 AM
I have been soured on charitable giving. When I donate to a cause, I get solicited for years and my name is sold over and over.

I've had to tell my three universities to take me off their lists. I paid for my education without scholarships so it was a business transaction, not a lifetime grab of my wallet.

I pay so much in taxes to the federal government, the state of California and Los Angeles County that I feel I am supporting a household of 12.

The best thing I can do is use my money to take care of my own family.

I appreciate those who feel differently, but this is the conclusion I have come to.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: grantmeaname on September 28, 2013, 09:01:26 AM
It's interesting how many people post based on their convenience versus how few post based on the needs of society. I'm not arguing that society's needs come before yours as an individual, but doesn't worrying about mailing lists count as tiny details exaggeration syndrome (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/12/26/cure-yourself-of-tiny-details-exaggeration-syndrome/) compared to the awesome power of preserving your community's history or saving lives from malaria with just a small portion of your incredible prosperity?
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: daverobev on September 28, 2013, 11:28:34 AM
It's interesting how many people post based on their convenience versus how few post based on the needs of society. I'm not arguing that society's needs come before yours as an individual, but doesn't worrying about mailing lists count as tiny details exaggeration syndrome (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/12/26/cure-yourself-of-tiny-details-exaggeration-syndrome/) compared to the awesome power of preserving your community's history or saving lives from malaria with just a small portion of your incredible prosperity?

That (should be) is tax. School, fire, police, etc comes from property tax. Health (in any civilized country, ha ha) comes from income tax.

Africa would be better off without 'charity' - IMHO. Free money is a crutch that often leaves the recipients unable to walk. Misguided charity, anyway.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying all people, all the time. Many people benefit from organised charity, I'm sure. It's not that simple, but I suspect the net benefit is... ambiguous.

Malaria should absolutely be fixed. But the governments in question really need to push.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: ender on September 28, 2013, 11:37:05 AM
The thing with trying to include charity in your budget is that you need to truly practice it to ensure you develop the muscle. If you desire to be charitable, don't just say you'll do it after you're FI as by that logic there'll aways be an excuse to wait, just do so.

This.

I donate over 10% my salary - which translates into an absurd percentage of my actual spending (which works out to be over 35% of what I budget to spend and it's often higher).
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: grantmeaname on September 28, 2013, 11:42:05 AM
That (should be) is tax. School, fire, police, etc comes from property tax. Health (in any civilized country, ha ha) comes from income tax.

Africa would be better off without 'charity' - IMHO. Free money is a crutch that often leaves the recipients unable to walk. Misguided charity, anyway.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying all people, all the time. Many people benefit from organised charity, I'm sure. It's not that simple, but I suspect the net benefit is... ambiguous.

Malaria should absolutely be fixed. But the governments in question really need to push.

So you think that every need of society should be met by the government? What place does that leave for nonprofits and businesses? What about cases that the government is clearly the least efficient provider of a service (utilities), ones in which decentralization and competition provide much better results than centralization (universities), or ones in which governments lack expertise that nonprofits have (malaria)?

Clearly, you and I (and reasonable citizens in general) can disagree on the correct role and scope of government. It's hard for me to see not giving to charity as the answer to that disagreement, though. Do you pay extra tax in lieu of charitable contributions?
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: No Name Guy on September 28, 2013, 12:31:26 PM
Horror stories of how much money donated to breast cancer is not spent on searching for a cure for breast cancer; a friend contracted for Comic Relief in the UK and said the waste was incredible.

Volunteering deprives people of paid work - you have to be well enough off to volunteer.


In re point 1 daverobev:  Try Charity Navigator as one source of information to address this particular concern.  Check out the financials of the organization / cause you care about.  Find out how much is "program" and how much is administrative and fundraising.  If program (e.g. spending on what the stated purpose of the charity is) is less than 75-80%, you should seek out a better charity.   There are also ways to insure your money goes straight to program, in lieu of admin and fundraising.  An example of this would be to donate food to a food bank, not cash.  That way, 100% of your money used to buy food, actually bought food.

In re point 2:  You appear to assume in that statement that there are funds to actually pay for the work to be done in lieu of volunteers doing it.  That flat out isn't the case - there are insufficient funds to provide paid work for what volunteers do.  The work / tasks simply would not be done if volunteers weren't doing it, in my experience (as a person who founded a local volunteer crew chapter of a larger volunteer organization).   (Had big long post about details....will spare you them unless you're actually interested - long story short, agency can afford to pay for 4 people when the work needing to be done would take 15, at least.)  I'll add that volunteers (in SOME cases - I won't presume to make it a general point) are the "low cost" provider of the service / work in question since they can do so without all the overhead and with detailed knowledge of local conditions.  Resources are inherently limited - there isn't an infinite supply of money / labor / goods.  Volunteers with detailed local knowledge can often be far more efficient that large, central paid organizations - crowd sourced and community based works well. 

In re point 3:  Well off enough to volunteer?  Huh?  What, poorer / lower middle class people don't have weekends or single days off?  Last I checked, the soup kitchen isn't asking for a person to pay for the privilege of ladling out soup, or helping to sweep up the place.  Food banks don't may you pay to sort and bag their wares.  Schools aren't asking volunteer after school tutors to pay to keep the lights on.  No car?  Ok - ask to carpool to the volunteer event (since many are away from public transportation or too far to bike to).  I pick up one of our volunteers quite regularly.  Does Habitat for Humanity charge folks to help build houses?  Would a person have to pay to be a crisis line counselor? 
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: avonlea on September 28, 2013, 01:45:57 PM
How does everyone in this thread feel about donating money directly to individuals? For example, I have an Internet friend who is unable to work, due to bipolar disorder and other medical conditions, and although she's receiving government assistance, it's not nearly enough to cover the cost of her medications. Sometimes people in similar situations will post that they need donations for medical issues, or for vet care, or for something, and if I can help people who are having problems, I feel good in doing so.

I think it can be good to help someone you know if doing so will not make things weird in your relationship.  I am a bit leery, though, of giving money to internet friends.  Have you ever met any of these individuals in person?

(I must admit that I don't have experience with this type of situation.  This is the first forum community that I've ever joined and have only been here a few months.)
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: daverobev on September 28, 2013, 04:50:12 PM
That (should be) is tax. School, fire, police, etc comes from property tax. Health (in any civilized country, ha ha) comes from income tax.

Africa would be better off without 'charity' - IMHO. Free money is a crutch that often leaves the recipients unable to walk. Misguided charity, anyway.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying all people, all the time. Many people benefit from organised charity, I'm sure. It's not that simple, but I suspect the net benefit is... ambiguous.

Malaria should absolutely be fixed. But the governments in question really need to push.

So you think that every need of society should be met by the government? What place does that leave for nonprofits and businesses? What about cases that the government is clearly the least efficient provider of a service (utilities), ones in which decentralization and competition provide much better results than centralization (universities), or ones in which governments lack expertise that nonprofits have (malaria)?

Clearly, you and I (and reasonable citizens in general) can disagree on the correct role and scope of government. It's hard for me to see not giving to charity as the answer to that disagreement, though. Do you pay extra tax in lieu of charitable contributions?

I see the government as something that should enable a basic standard of living for everyone. It should exist to insist that schools, hospitals, and so on exist and are available to all without discrimination.

Utilities is an interesting one. Would it be better if the utility companies were never privatised (in the case of the UK)? Of course there are pros and cons; idealistic answers and pragmatic ones. The utility companies in the UK are constantly being regulated so that they provide good service and reasonable price - because, if left to their own devices, they would raise prices. (Or would they? Would a truly free market cause competition to arise? Doubtful - monopolistic tendancies... ack.). If they were still owned by the state, would they be less efficient and more expensive? Very very possibly.

Do I think every *need* of society should be met by the government. I think every TRUE need should be enabled/enforced/mandated by the government. Every household should have access to high speed internet, for example. Every household should have access to electricity (notwithstanding people buying land miles from any current infrastructure - I'm not saying the electricity co should be forced to string miles of cable because someone chooses to live in the wilderness - but in all other cases...). I would expect the cost of providing services directly to the society I'm in should be divvied up and taken through tax.

Universities... are a whole other debate. Universities should be 'clean' and not tied to business. They should be funded so that the best and brightest can go; others should do apprenticeships. The system in the US is horrific to me. In the UK, I was one of the last years to get any form of grant - a few years before me people would get pretty much everything paid for. We seem to be shifting the burden from the state to the individual in the worst way at the moment.

Malaria should be fixed by a central, organised definitive body. The best form of government is a benevolent dictatorship, right?

We need to come up with some system of accountability to ensure waste is minimised. In the UK, the NHS is constantly criticised over 'red tape' and 'middle managers' that lead to mounds of paperwork but very little in the way of results. A friend who is a paramedic told me that if they arrive to a scene within an arbitrarily set timeframe, but the person dies, they succeed; but if they arrive a minute 'late' and the person lives they fail. The point is that score tables are more important than results. Just look at the percentages of people getting 'A' grades in the UK... it becomes meaningless.

Do I pay extra tax in lieu of charitable contributions? This is going to sound selfish but 'no, why should I?' I don't believe in the work of many charities. 'What have they ever done for me?' is on the face of it a terrible answer. My primary focus is getting to the position where 'I have enough' and after that, perhaps I'll volunteer (actually I am technically volunteering for my wife's charity helping to grow food, but that is also another story). I am a very shy, very inward person. I am very bad at customer facing stuff.

I would also say - I'm not American. That is probably obvious, but it means my whole outlook and basis is subtly different - I don't think of myself as a 'proud citizen of this great nation' - I don't think of nations as being great, they are just a useful grouping of peoples so as to administer them. The world is beautiful, North America is beautiful, but a nation is... often unhelpful. Or stereotyping. Or something. Not sure.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: daverobev on September 28, 2013, 04:57:29 PM
Horror stories of how much money donated to breast cancer is not spent on searching for a cure for breast cancer; a friend contracted for Comic Relief in the UK and said the waste was incredible.

Volunteering deprives people of paid work - you have to be well enough off to volunteer.


In re point 1 daverobev:  Try Charity Navigator as one source of information to address this particular concern.  Check out the financials of the organization / cause you care about.  Find out how much is "program" and how much is administrative and fundraising.  If program (e.g. spending on what the stated purpose of the charity is) is less than 75-80%, you should seek out a better charity.   There are also ways to insure your money goes straight to program, in lieu of admin and fundraising.  An example of this would be to donate food to a food bank, not cash.  That way, 100% of your money used to buy food, actually bought food.

In re point 2:  You appear to assume in that statement that there are funds to actually pay for the work to be done in lieu of volunteers doing it.  That flat out isn't the case - there are insufficient funds to provide paid work for what volunteers do.  The work / tasks simply would not be done if volunteers weren't doing it, in my experience (as a person who founded a local volunteer crew chapter of a larger volunteer organization).   (Had big long post about details....will spare you them unless you're actually interested - long story short, agency can afford to pay for 4 people when the work needing to be done would take 15, at least.)  I'll add that volunteers (in SOME cases - I won't presume to make it a general point) are the "low cost" provider of the service / work in question since they can do so without all the overhead and with detailed knowledge of local conditions.  Resources are inherently limited - there isn't an infinite supply of money / labor / goods.  Volunteers with detailed local knowledge can often be far more efficient that large, central paid organizations - crowd sourced and community based works well. 

In re point 3:  Well off enough to volunteer?  Huh?  What, poorer / lower middle class people don't have weekends or single days off?  Last I checked, the soup kitchen isn't asking for a person to pay for the privilege of ladling out soup, or helping to sweep up the place.  Food banks don't may you pay to sort and bag their wares.  Schools aren't asking volunteer after school tutors to pay to keep the lights on.  No car?  Ok - ask to carpool to the volunteer event (since many are away from public transportation or too far to bike to).  I pick up one of our volunteers quite regularly.  Does Habitat for Humanity charge folks to help build houses?  Would a person have to pay to be a crisis line counselor?

With volunteering I'm talking about unpaid internships as well as regular volunteering for charities. If the work was important enough, it'd get paid for somehow. Unpaid work is merely financial subsidisation. I take your point, my point is more about internships (as a way to get a proper job - can't quit flipping burgers because can't afford to, but can't get better job without 'experience') but the same applies.

I have heard of givewell (?) and charity navigator. I wish and hope more people use them. I have looked, and none of the best charities really appealed to me. I have given in the past, but like others I found the junk mail appalling. We keep, for example, getting letters from the Green Party, that my wife gave maybe $10 or $50 years to a few years back.

I need to look into H4H more. If they are in the US - did you read the stat about there being more empty houses than homeless? Fascinating.

Anyway - I don't want to come across too grumpy, I just feel that the system doesn't work that well, with many negative outcomes through sustained giving to certain causes (the pink ribbon breast cancer thing, historically church missions - in fact, the church of England thinking and receiving a voice when it as an entity of its own right is entirely irrelevant... ugh ok never mind, let that one pass!!).
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: daverobev on September 28, 2013, 05:32:05 PM
Just chatting through this stuff with my wife. She brought up 'oh, we should send Boniface some money' and she's right.

Boniface is a guy who works at BASD, Bangladesh Association for Sustainable Development. We visited there for a week or a little longer a few years back, and were looked after by Boniface. They teach young women sewing skills, do microloans, and teach permaculture to hill people.

So. I guess everyone has their thing. I believe Boniface will do more with $200 than a Western charity is able to. So I'll sling him some cash.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: Rural on September 28, 2013, 10:31:18 PM
As I've said elsewhere, I don't give money, and I'm not really interested in doing so. But I am a successful grantwriter, which is a highly paid field. I chair the board of a local nonprofit and volunteer as their grantwriter; I bring in the majority of their annual budget that way, and it's considerably more than my annual gross income. Plus they don't have to pay a grantwriter. That's enough.

The nonprofit is also education-related, so I get to put it on my annual report at work as service to the profession. That makes a win-win, my favorite sort of situation.

Want to write grants for my favorite non-profit too?  It has an education component :)

Heh. You might be less impressed if you knew how little some public colleges pay professors, though. Fortunately, both salaries and grant funds go further in very low COL areas.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: No Name Guy on September 29, 2013, 11:00:37 AM

With volunteering I'm talking about unpaid internships as well as regular volunteering for charities. If the work was important enough, it'd get paid for somehow. Unpaid work is merely financial subsidisation. I take your point, my point is more about internships (as a way to get a proper job - can't quit flipping burgers because can't afford to, but can't get better job without 'experience') but the same applies.


Well, I'd say as a matter of definition that unpaid internships are NOT volunteering.  Internship is a route to a job in a (typically competitive) typically for profit enterprise, not a purely charitable activity like helping at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen or after school mentoring that is the reward in and of itself.

Oh, and glad you found a place where a smaller donation can have a big impact.  $200 in Bangladesh will go a long ways there.


Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: grantmeaname on September 29, 2013, 12:22:39 PM
Internship is a route to a job in a (typically competitive) typically for profit enterprise
Competitive companies can afford to pay their employees. You'll note that Goldman and Lockheed pay their interns. Unpaid internships are for the Warner Music Groups of the world. (And unpaid internships don't really lead to jobs, as articles like this (http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/06/do-unpaid-internships-lead-to-jobs-not-for-college-students/276959/) have been emphasizing this summer.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: happy on September 29, 2013, 02:50:02 PM
It's interesting how many people post based on their convenience versus how few post based on the needs of society. I'm not arguing that society's needs come before yours as an individual, but doesn't worrying about mailing lists count as tiny details exaggeration syndrome (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/12/26/cure-yourself-of-tiny-details-exaggeration-syndrome/) compared to the awesome power of preserving your community's history or saving lives from malaria with just a small portion of your incredible prosperity?

Yes I agree with this. And IPs notion of needing to use the charitable  muscle. Thats why I agonised for so long about reducing my giving by half.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: Dulcimina on September 29, 2013, 11:33:31 PM
It's interesting how many people post based on their convenience versus how few post based on the needs of society. I'm not arguing that society's needs come before yours as an individual, but doesn't worrying about mailing lists count as tiny details exaggeration syndrome (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/12/26/cure-yourself-of-tiny-details-exaggeration-syndrome/) compared to the awesome power of preserving your community's history or saving lives from malaria with just a small portion of your incredible prosperity?

I get it.  Guilt works. That's why charities keep sending the pictures of orphans and polar bears.  But do we have to have shaming (aka stop obsessing about the tiny details and write the check already) on this site too ? 

No, it's not a choice between saving lives from malaria! vs. not saving lives.  It's a choice to not support a particular organization that doesn't treat me well.  It doesn't matter whether that organization is Oxfam or Comcast.   

   



Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: grantmeaname on September 30, 2013, 05:18:53 AM
I'm not trying to guilt you into anything. But nobody posted to say "I don't give to charity X because I think that charity Y may be a better custodian of my limited charitable budget", they posted to say "I don't give to charity at all because seeing flyers from charities or having to click the anonymous box when I donate is slightly inconvenient".
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: oldtoyota on September 30, 2013, 07:55:12 AM
Internship is a route to a job in a (typically competitive) typically for profit enterprise
Competitive companies can afford to pay their employees. You'll note that Goldman and Lockheed pay their interns. Unpaid internships are for the Warner Music Groups of the world. (And unpaid internships don't really lead to jobs, as articles like this (http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/06/do-unpaid-internships-lead-to-jobs-not-for-college-students/276959/) have been emphasizing this summer.

I am not familiar with the data on this subject. Putting that out there first. However, I thought the point of internships was to get--at the very least--a handful of recommendations to help the intern get a job. If that is not the case, why do people intern?

Personally, I never was an intern. That seemed like a path for people whose parents would financially support them.



Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: grantmeaname on September 30, 2013, 08:17:08 AM
Most people intern for the pay, I suspect.

As for the unpaid internships, I'm sure that that connections are ostensibly the point. But here's how I see it: if the company doesn't value your work enough to pay you to do it as an intern, why would they suddenly value your work enough to pay you to do it as an employee?
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: daverobev on September 30, 2013, 09:16:13 AM
Ok, re the volunteer/intern thing. I guess there are different kinds of volunteering. With my wife and the charity she works for, she had someone volunteer to do.. I don't know.. a few days here and there. But after 2-3 days or something they decided they didn't want to do it after all. And then kept pestering for references!

So there is 'come and man a stall at a jumble sale' type volunteering - that's fine, I have no issue with that. Unpaid internships I have an issue with - as others have said, the intern is doing valuable work, it's a job not a jolly/social.

Middle ground is someone who volunteers every week, week in week out, doing 'a job' but with no remuneration (apart from feeling good about themselves, etc). IF those people stopped volunteering like that, and the work was valuable enough, I suspect funding would be found.

It's kind've like the 'retired' teachers in Ontario keeping on doing fill-in work. Experience 30+ years, knowledge of everything - how can the recent graduates get *any* experience when the school boards can just hire an old hand? The way in is thus blocked (not that this has any bearing on charity or vounteering per se, but you get the idea).

Anyway - that's enough offtopic from me.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: mandydean on September 30, 2013, 09:18:03 AM
We give 14% of our gross income to a combination of our local church tithe and Compassion International, which receives excellent marks on financial management and speaks to our own personal convictions. We do not consider our taxes to the government as an acceptable vehicle for charitable giving. We are in a sort-of Debt-Free and saving phase - although our goal is less one of early retirement/FI and more one of being able to give a larger and larger percentage as we cut back our spending and save. This is just what we feel called to do.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: CommonCents on September 30, 2013, 09:41:24 AM
Middle ground is someone who volunteers every week, week in week out, doing 'a job' but with no remuneration (apart from feeling good about themselves, etc). IF those people stopped volunteering like that, and the work was valuable enough, I suspect funding would be found.

It's kind've like the 'retired' teachers in Ontario keeping on doing fill-in work. Experience 30+ years, knowledge of everything - how can the recent graduates get *any* experience when the school boards can just hire an old hand? The way in is thus blocked (not that this has any bearing on charity or vounteering per se, but you get the idea).

It's a free market.  The new graduates are not "owed" anything.  They get experience by: working in high school/college/post-school (start by babysitting, lawn mowing, etc if need be), demonstrating their skills, and even doing volunteer work themselves if needed to build their resume.  The school/non-profit will hire them if they want someone dependable (after all those retirees you mention could cut back anytime, move to Florida, get ill), want some fresh ideas/enthusiasm, want someone 40 hrs a week, want someone who can't say "no" to a job that's difficult or unpleasant, etc.

I guess I'm confused though, because this type of volunteering you describe is not something I've ever seen, where someone devotes 40 hours a week to doing a job but isn't paid.  It seems pretty rare, and I wonder if you know someone personally that feels they been screwed over by this situation, and that's coloring your perspective?

Here's how it works at my non-profit:
1. I spend several hours a month at Board meetings or preparing for the meetings.  The Board is non-profit and will remain so.  We report on spending when applying for grants, and this is not an area that we would ever change to paid Board members.  If I don't do this another volunteer would need to set up.  And trust me, I'm looking for that volunteer to step in 2 years from now, because I promised my husband I'd leave at the end of the next term.
2. I draft up policies/documents when needed based on my special skills (I'm a lawyer).  Most of these would remain undone if I didn't do it... I know this, because it remained undone for years, and I've been slowly working to improve governance.  As President, the liability/responsibility rests on my shoulders so it's important to ME that it gets done, but I'm one person in an organization and getting others to see that it needs to be done and is a priority is hard.  We do have a law firm we consult with/get pro bono work for big critical projects.  They get 1) exp for young attorneys, 2) contribute to pro bono hours (which makes them looks good and meets "goals" for the profession of 25/hours/year/attorney.
3. I'm currently trying to improve development at my non-profit.  One way I'm doing this at this moment is by leading by example.  I've researched ways to improve our gala fundraiser event, interviewed friends in development, and I'm now implementing those suggestions in soliciting donations for our gala fundraiser and creating a "how to guide". Next year, I'll turn this over to the Development Director.  But, the committee is largely volunteer driven.  Years when volunteers are driven, we have a good fundraiser.  Years when volunteers are absent, we have a medicore one.  Experience thus once again teaches me that absent volunteers, the work just doesn't get done.
4. I show up at events where my non-profit's presence is needed or would benefit.  This ranges from a recent gala event to a ground-breaking work on a memorial to a public meeting.  A new hire is NOT going to be sent in my place.  Either no one goes, and the connections are not made or someone high up (e.g. the Executive Director) is sent instead and something else he would do gets undone. 

There's more, but that's the current work.  (For example, last year I realized we had issues with risk management, brought in a $10K speaker on the topic to do a free workshop for Board & management, and we then implemented a number of organizational changes.)

But then again, my non-profit is volunteer-driven, to the extent that it is mentioned in our mission statement and is the first goal in our strategic plan.  We literally would not exist as we currently do if we hired folks to replace the volunteers who teach, do work parties, etc.  Not only could we not afford to simply magically "find the money" (if you've ever worked on a budget, you know how hard that is) but the atmosphere would change to such a degree that the non-profit would not be the same.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: daverobev on September 30, 2013, 01:02:09 PM
It's a free market.  The new graduates are not "owed" anything.  They get experience by: working in high school/college/post-school (start by babysitting, lawn mowing, etc if need be), demonstrating their skills, and even doing volunteer work themselves if needed to build their resume.  The school/non-profit will hire them if they want someone dependable (after all those retirees you mention could cut back anytime, move to Florida, get ill), want some fresh ideas/enthusiasm, want someone 40 hrs a week, want someone who can't say "no" to a job that's difficult or unpleasant, etc.

I guess I'm confused though, because this type of volunteering you describe is not something I've ever seen, where someone devotes 40 hours a week to doing a job but isn't paid.  It seems pretty rare, and I wonder if you know someone personally that feels they been screwed over by this situation, and that's coloring your perspective?

Ah sorry, I'm talking about volunteering a few hours every week, or a day every week. Yes, finding people who worked 40 hours with no pay (except as an intern) would be hard.

I just feel work should be paid. The teacher thing has been mentioned in other threads so I'll let it lie, but suffice it to say the retired teachers are an easy choice, those who need the experience can't get it. This may be Ontario specific.

Volunteering where it could never be paid.. is fine. Free work isn't - it costs somebody something. Of course you can start to look at the other benefits (social standing amongst your peers, or just the benefit of being out and about rather than at home - whatever). That's not the point I'm trying to make. There are a *ridiculous* number of unemployed, especially the youth. They need jobs - nobody "owes" them a job? Well yeah, society kinda does. Assuming they are trying to get one. That's "the system" we currently have - want housing, food, warmth? Get job. And my point is that *having* to volunteer (or intern) in order to get "experience" is bullshit. Companies should train. The healthcare sector - or whoever - should train their own nurses and doctors, not import them from countries that need them for themselves. It's just abdication of responsibility. Society *does* have a responsibility to employ people (and the whole Walmart part time thing is just disgraceful).

Totally off topic. But the price of human work is way too high in certain scenarios. $200k salary... is obscene. Doctors work hard I know that, but if they were paid half as much and twice as many were trained..? $85/hour for a mechanic here in Ontario (yes, that includes the cost of the shop - that's not the point). I earn far too much as a freelance programmer/web guy. If the cost of labour went down, more people could be employed (see: India. Cost to repair motorbike: Parts $30, labour $2).

The free market isn't free. Charities are competitive and spend much money one-upping their peers in order to get money.

Sorry guys, this is way off topic.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: Ottawa on September 30, 2013, 01:21:14 PM
In re point 1 daverobev:  Try Charity Navigator as one source of information to address this particular concern.  Check out the financials of the organization / cause you care about.  Find out how much is "program" and how much is administrative and fundraising.  If program (e.g. spending on what the stated purpose of the charity is) is less than 75-80%, you should seek out a better charity.   There are also ways to insure your money goes straight to program, in lieu of admin and fundraising.  An example of this would be to donate food to a food bank, not cash.  That way, 100% of your money used to buy food, actually bought food.

This is one of the most important points when consideration is given to charitable donations.  Value for the money you donate.  I would agree - sweat equity or donation of things that can't be 'taxed' on the way through a charity are the best ways to extract value (building houses in disaster areas for instance).  In areas where this may not be at first obvious...think outside the box (i.e. - you want to help school children in Mongolia?  Find a teacher doing ESL that you are willing to set up a trustworthy partnership with - where all money goes to buying books).  Want to donate to brain tumor research?  Unless you are a neuroscientist...perhaps you can donate directly to a research lab...rather than the over-arching foundation.  If all this fails..then select the highest program spending ratio for the area you are interested in.

Questions (I like worms).
Why do people donate money to a church? 
What value do people feel they get for this?
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: Belial on September 30, 2013, 01:34:32 PM
I've donated to charity on an ad hoc basis, but I felt like I wasn't doing enough.  I just added a monthly line item to my budget that's a bit over 1% of my pre-tax income. 

However, hearing that others are giving 10% or more makes me feel like I've still got lots of room to improve.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: oldtoyota on September 30, 2013, 02:09:23 PM
But here's how I see it: if the company doesn't value your work enough to pay you to do it as an intern, why would they suddenly value your work enough to pay you to do it as an employee?

Fair point. I agree.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: Daley on September 30, 2013, 03:29:25 PM
Questions (I like worms).
Why do people donate money to a church? 
What value do people feel they get for this?

Churches, synagogues, temples and mosques all have utilities to pay, maintenance to perform, and people needed to get things done just like any other organization in a physical building that has to adhere to fire code laws. If you attend and avail yourself of the spiritual support and community, then you should help support the ministry to be able to keep those doors open so they can keep doing so. Anything above and beyond from that point typically goes to local community outreach, mission work, and related worthy causes.

As for the value? Same value as otherwise. The idea is that you're trying to contribute in a way that helps better the world.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: suntailedshadow on September 30, 2013, 06:31:49 PM
Questions (I like worms).
Why do people donate money to a church? 
What value do people feel they get for this?

Financially? Essentially nothing to this point (and unlikely for that to ever change). However on a spiritual/emotional level I personally find my contributions of Time/Money invaluable.
Title: Re: How Much to Give to Charity
Post by: NestEggChick (formerly PFgal) on September 30, 2013, 08:07:06 PM
I spent many years working in nonprofits, and I did the accounting at one, so I know a lot about them - well, about small nonprofits, anyway. I also gave a bit financially, but only about 1% of my gross income. I felt this was ok because I put in long hours for low pay. I could have earned more for fewer hours at a for profit company, so the extra hours were like volunteering and the lower pay felt like charitable giving. Plus, I volunteered at other nonprofits when I had the time.

Now, as for those who say they don't like how the money is spent, I say four things:

1) Please don't generalize. Like in any other field, some nonprofits are more efficient with donations than others.

2) Guidestar.org has all sorts of financial info about a nonprofit. Also, the nonprofit's tax filings (nonprofits don't pay taxes but still have to file) are all available to the public by law. In MA you can get them from the attorney general's office. I'm just talking about U.S. nonprofits here, so if you live elsewhere you'll have to check to see what the laws are there.

3) You can restrict your donation. If you write on the check or in an accompanying letter that you want your donation to be used for something specific, like "for research only" then the nonprofit has to use the money for only that cause. Getting too many restricted donations is a problem for nonprofits - after all, we still have to pay rent, electricity, salaries, etc. Still, it's a way you can control how your money is being spent if that's a big concern to you.

4) Don't assume that mailings and such are a waste of money. You have no idea what is being donated. For example, I worked at a place where we only began doing large mailings when a mailing house offered to do the work for free because the owner's wife had the disease that we were working to cure. The letterhead cost almost nothing because of the deals we got, and we used nonprofit postage rates. It was the mailing house that would have been the most expensive. We were often criticized for spending "too much" on things that were free or mostly free. If you're not sure about the true cost of something, just ask.

On a related but similar note, volunteers are so necessary. We got so much more done when we had more volunteers. When we didn't have enough volunteers, some projects had to be dropped. This was not because they weren't necessary, but because we only had so much money and we had to choose how we spent it. We couldn't spend money we didn't have. The idea that we'd just "find a way to pay for it" doesn't work - those donations are really hard to come by, especially for smaller nonprofits. When I was out of work sevearl years ago I volunteered about 8 hours a week for a nonprofit that I really believe in. I have donated money to them as well. I wish I could have volunteered even more hours, but I needed to find time for my own projects, including looking for a new job.

Right now I'm out of work on disability, so I can't donate financially, and I can't volunteer too much either. However, there are ways to get creative. I was telling someone recently that I donated scarves that I knitted to a homeless shelter last winter, but I can't afford to buy the yarn to do that now. She said she loved the idea, that she has a ton of yarn but doesn't have time to knit it. So I suggested she give it to me and I'll knit and crochet it into scarves and hats for the shelter. I just got the yarn from her a couple weeks ago. WIN-WIN-WIN! I get to knit and crochet, which I find very relaxing. This other woman (who I had just met!) gets to clear out unused yarn. And best of all, a bunch of people get some more warmth during the cold New England winters. Plus, of course, I feel good about giving. I've been giving to charities yearly since I was 14, when my family did some volunteer work and it really touched me. I don't think I could feel good about myself if I didn't do something to help those who need it.

If I get my health back, I have thought about starting a nonprofit to fund research into this disease I've got. The NIH isn't doing it, and it isn't profitable enough for the pharmaceutical companies to want to spend money on it, so a nonprofit would be a good way to fill the gap. If I do that, I may be posting here to let you all know ;)