Author Topic: How Much to Give to Charity  (Read 25456 times)

ender

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #50 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).

grantmeaname

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #51 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?

No Name Guy

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #52 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? 

avonlea

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #53 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.)

daverobev

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #54 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.

daverobev

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #55 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!!).

daverobev

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #56 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.

Rural

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #57 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.

No Name Guy

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #58 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.



grantmeaname

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #59 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 have been emphasizing this summer.

happy

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #60 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 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.

Dulcimina

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #61 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 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.   

   




grantmeaname

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #62 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".

oldtoyota

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #63 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 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.




grantmeaname

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #64 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?

daverobev

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #65 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.

mandydean

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #66 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.

CommonCents

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #67 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.

daverobev

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #68 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.

Ottawa

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #69 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?

Belial

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #70 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.

oldtoyota

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #71 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.

Daley

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #72 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.

suntailedshadow

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #73 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.

NestEggChick (formerly PFgal)

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Re: How Much to Give to Charity
« Reply #74 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 ;)