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I really believe that giving money to charity is good for your soul. True I cannot be Bill Gates, I'm not going to cure cancer on my own or anything, but I'm constantly looking for creative ways to give more time and money and set goals around philanthropy.

I don't think that's talked about much. We live in a world where every time we turn around, there's a new article on ways to lose weight and eat healthy, it's all about getting around excuses and improving your own self-discipline. But nobody talks about self-discipline when it comes to philanthropy. Maybe it's just not as interesting as weight loss. Or maybe we figure it doesn't take self-discipline... people who want to donate money do so, and nobody else cares.

Is that the case?

I'm turning to you, lj... biased sample as you are.

Are you happy with the amount of time you volunteer?

I don't volunteer. I'm okay with that, it's right for me.
I volunteer very little, I'm okay with that.
I'm fairly certain I volunteer as much as I can right now and should not donate more time.
I'd like to spend more time volunteering.

Are you happy with how much money you give away?

I don't voluntarily donate money to charity, I'm okay with that, it's right for me.
I donate very little, I'm okay with that.
I'm pretty sure I am donating all I can right now and should not donate more.
I'd like to donate more.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 22nd, 2015 02:48 pm (UTC)
I feel like I didn't have a good answer for the second question. We donate a couple thousand dollars per year. Can we afford to donate more? Yes, probably. Sometimes I feel guilty and wish that we gave more. But what you can "afford" is a tricky question, when you have college and buying a house in the future.
Mar. 22nd, 2015 03:18 pm (UTC)
Hmm... does volunteering at your job count? I work for a non-profit, but only part time, and in my spare time I volunteer doing things I don't get paid for. Lol.

It's all online, so it's volunteering that's pretty easy to do. I used to volunteer *in person* at an animal shelter but since having kids that's pretty much impossible. I'm the primary caregiver, and I almost never have free time. When my husband has the time to devote himself to caregiving so I can have time I tend to prioritise:

1) Time spent doing paid work uninterrupted
2) Fun things (rarely happens since I tend to do #1)

There's pretty much no room for volunteering in person.

Most of the things I currently donate money for are pretty selfish too. I used to donate to modestneeds.org which didn't benefit me personally, and I don't do that any more- the things I donate for now are more likely electronic freedom-y things which is essentially just self-interest. I donated recently a fairly large amount to an animal shelter in honour of a dead pet, but that's obviously not something that happens very often.
Mar. 22nd, 2015 03:38 pm (UTC)
I donate money when I can, but lately I don't really have much extra. This is me personally; as a household we donate quite a bit. But since we keep our finances mostly separate, I still wish I could do more. Particularly to Planned Parenthood.

I do not have time to volunteer right now. But even when I did have time, I didn't do it. I don't know, somehow it's easier to give monies than it is to actually go do something. :( I do feel guilty about this, like I'm not really doing things as much as I could. Maybe when time frees up again after this summer (finally!) then I can think about it. What do you look for in a volunteer opportunity?
Mar. 22nd, 2015 04:00 pm (UTC)
I'm in a secret FB girls group and we just talked about this - the donating money part. I have a crazy dog walker, even though I don't have a dog anymore, and I don't even live in the house where she goes - I've got a renter who lives there now. Anyway, bygones! But she's nuts, like literally, and I pay for her to live, like she scoops the renter's litter boxes, and I pay for her condo association's fees, and I bought her a car when hers died, and I pay for its city sticker, and blah blah blah. Everything.

So that's my donation to society. I keep someone, a single person, from being homeless. I can't write it off, but oh well. don't really care. I also throw a few $20s at homeless people once in awhile, like not literally throw them, but palm them to them.

I can't volunteer because I have this crazy autoimmune thing going on so I can barely keep it together as it is what with working full time, and then I nap. Sad trombone. But if I didn't work, I would probably volunteer fo' free (wait, that's what volunteering is, ha) my time just to get out of the house. SAP should RIF me so I can do that! There's always hope! :)
Mar. 22nd, 2015 05:55 pm (UTC)
This reminds me of something that happened with my brother. We were at the beach and two women were gathering up starfish to decorate with. My brother commented on it, and one said it didn't matter, since there were so many of them anyway. She had one in her hand, and he said, "It matters to that one." That's how you help the most, I think. Individually. A lot of money donated to organizations goes to the organization's officers, not those in need. Doing a lot for one person, rather than a tiny bit for each of a lot of people, I think it's a good thing.
Mar. 22nd, 2015 04:00 pm (UTC)
We're broke- I'm on disability and can work very little, and Tim works for Walmart- but I donate money when I can, both to established charities and Kickstarter things. My disability makes it hard for me to volunteer; I do what I can from my computer and I do teach some classes but every time I do I'm horrified before hand that I'll be too screwed up to drive or something. So far I haven't missed anything... but it's been close sometimes. I'd love to volunteer at the animal shelter and get involved with hospice, but they need reliable people and I just can't be that.
Mar. 22nd, 2015 04:41 pm (UTC)
I struggled with both questions. I'm doing all I can right now, but I would like to do more, both financially and in terms of time. That won't change until one or both kids are finished school, my mortgage is paid, and/or I retire. All three are likely to happen at about the same time. My daughter was horrified just this morning when she learned how much I give at church. It's less than many of my co-workers spend on purchased lunches and coffee each week, but it is a fair chunk of our disposable income.
Mar. 22nd, 2015 05:51 pm (UTC)
Since I have a chronic, debilitating illness (say that fast three times), volunteering is out for me, but I always try to put a dollar in the can, and things like that. I really never miss it, even if it's five or ten dollars. I used to give to Oxfam, but then my income got wonky and I had to stop. I always think that if I ever won the lottery (don't buy tickets, so probably not going to happen) or inherited a bundle, I would love to just walk around and hand cash to people here and there or pay for the person behind me in line, things like that. And then leave, so you are not tempted to take credit. That spoils it. I know people who are much better off than me who never stick a dollar in the can. Maybe that's why they're better off, but I'd rather not be like that.
Mar. 22nd, 2015 05:59 pm (UTC)
Honestly, I donate more money to charity than anybody else I know, but I am not sure if that is because nobody else donates, or because, to your point, people do and don't talk about it. If I had to guess, between hubs and I, we donate about five percent of our income to various charities. We can't help ourselves; we can't stand the idea of not trying to be part of the solution. Truthfully, that's one of the first things I noticed about him; I was delighted to find someone who wanted to save the world as badly as I did. And for all the problems I have with his parents, I will give credit where credit is due and acknowledge they give a great deal back to causes they deem worthy.

The happiest I have ever been (professionally) is when I worked at the Birth Center, because so many of my job duties required me to be involved with the nonprofit. It was amazing. There were so many days I would go in and work and not care that I wasn't getting paid. I had an amazing boss and this amazing mission and I was part of something so much bigger than myself. Even as I know moving across the state was best for my family, I still mourn that loss in a deep part of me that will probably never recover. Jobs like that rarely come along in a lifetime, and I doubt it ever will again. I was just mentioning to my dad on the phone yesterday that the Birth Center gave me so many incredible gifts, but it also made me realize I will never again willingly work for anyone who doesn't care to be part of the bigger picture. I had to start my own business so that I could get that level of freedom and, if I'm honest? Spirituality.

The downside to starting my own business is I don't have time to volunteer, and that's what I am best at. I shine at talking to people about why things matter and getting them to care. The truth is, I do really well in sales-based positions because provided my social anxiety isn't kicking in, I can be very charming, persuasive, and engaging. But with sales-based positions, I get burned out because it's not where my heart lies. Yes, I can tell you that the Estee Lauder perfume is your scent match, but what I really want is to talk to you about why why that perfume you're buying is super bad for you, and it would be best if you supported the Environment Working Group's Skin Deep cosmetic database. You get the idea.

To off-set my inability to donate my time, however, I have amped up my financial contributions. One of the money responsibilities I am working on with Sephie is making sure she sets a certain amount aside to donate. In our home, the philosophy is that activism is the rent you pay for living on this planet, because each of us has a responsibility to improve it for the next generation. She doesn't quite get it, but she loves saying, "Let's go give, Mommy!"
Mar. 22nd, 2015 06:15 pm (UTC)
When I did lots of volunteer work I ended up with a plethora of knives in my back and some nasty depression. There's a lot of truth to the saying "no good deed goes unpunished". Sigh.
Mar. 22nd, 2015 06:44 pm (UTC)
My day job is also for a non-profit (kiva.org) so I kinda... live in this world. :)
Mar. 22nd, 2015 09:49 pm (UTC)
Much of my charity budget is going to seminary right now, which is related, and supports the charitable institution that is the Church, but I am not under the mistaken impression that it is the same thing. I would like to give more to direct charitable work. Right now I am giving way more than I can to all charitable activities I support including religious ones. I appreciated being able to check three boxes!
Mar. 22nd, 2015 10:56 pm (UTC)
the nice thing about california's tax site is that they have a few dozen charities and causes that you can divide up your tax refund for. My $63 back is a drop in the bucket, but they make it so easy, so I have done at least that much. I wish we could do more government organized crowd funded giving; I'm nervous to hand money to people on street corners, too lazy to research the best/most efficient charities, but put an option on my tax return? Sure, I'll do it.

It's not as noble either, but I have started tipping better at restaurants, often over 20% for standard service, and I was kind of surprised while reading this, that in my mind, I was filing that as 'charity/kindness'
Mar. 23rd, 2015 12:04 am (UTC)
Right now I'm pretty involved with the cat rescue. I was in the store 4 out of 7 days this past week to do *something* related to the cats, their administration, driving them around, etc. Not to mention all the emails and coordination and the driving around of cats. The cat rescue's huge -- hundreds of volunteers. I feel like I should do something with my English/computer/management abilities but with my lifestyle at the moment I'm not sure how I could fit it into my life.

As for donating, I have regular monthly withdrawls that transfer directly to a few select charities that I feel strongly about. I also have some donations that come right off my weekly pay. Then there are the causes that individuals that I work with, socialize with or are online friends with are participating in and ask for donations. I'll donate to it if I believe in their cause and to support them. That leaves me somewhat comfortable with what I end up donating over the course of the year but I always feel that I can donate more.

But then I wonder is it more important to donate my time or my money? Still working through that one.
Mar. 26th, 2015 02:34 am (UTC)
I think the time/money balance see-saws throughout your life. Both are needed. If you do what you can, when you can, then others who are in a different life stage, by doing what they can, when they can, balance out your contributions.
Mar. 23rd, 2015 01:05 am (UTC)
I honestly don't donate much because I'm wary of what it's actually used for. This year my son wanted to fund raise for the American Heart Association because his school does it every year and he can win prizes. So we did that.

I volunteer in suicide prevention/crisis intervention. I wish I could do more with it, but what I really need to be doing is finding a job and not filling all my time with volunteer work, so I'm keeping my schedule open for a job right now.

As for the previous post that addressed giving time vs. giving money: When I attended church I felt I was hounded to give money to it even though I volunteered my time in a couple groups and also for child care and teaching the children and I felt that went unappreciated. I ended up leaving the church. I feel like donating time means more.
Mar. 23rd, 2015 01:57 am (UTC)
I do my money donations two ways: pre-authorized monthly and from an account that skims an amount from each pay cheque which I hit up for donations to one-off things: in honour of people on special occasions, something-o-thons, gifts on a lark to whatever charity our prime minister has taken a dislike to this week. It reduces the discipline required but gets a steady flow of money to good causes.

For volunteering, I want to do more but it takes away from family time these days. Union steward, with its advocacy and supporting-members-in-trouble work (and it's mostly being woven into time away from home anyway) has been it for a while. We're getting close to Oscar being able to stir and chop in a community kitchen, though, and we have grand plans to do some of that together this summer.
Mar. 23rd, 2015 02:26 am (UTC)
Interesting. After I took the poll and so could see the results so far I was surprised. I had though most other people would be happy about what they do in these regards and found it interesting that they too are not.
Mar. 23rd, 2015 05:05 pm (UTC)
I'd like to volunter more, but I don't have time for it. I do make volunteer opportunities for my students so they can work off part of their lessons and get more time around the horses. I don't know if that counts as donating, volunteering, or what....

I do pay a 10% tithe to my church (which does A LOT of humanitarian work) as well as donating a bit here and there to various charitable organizations and for the most part I am pretty happy with my level of monetary contributions.
Mar. 23rd, 2015 05:47 pm (UTC)
You have an impressively awesome group of people responding to this.
Mar. 24th, 2015 04:22 am (UTC)
I checked two boxes for both -- I would like to give more time and money, but on both accounts, I cannot do so in good conscience given my family's needs. ETA: We're Mormon, so we already give a hell of a lot in both time and money to the church before we even start to think about other causes, which we also support in both ways. So I feel okay about how much we give. But always wish we could do more.

Edited at 2015-03-24 05:54 am (UTC)
Mar. 26th, 2015 02:32 am (UTC)
I said that I volunteer as much as I have time for, but I'm not sure if I'm answering what you're asking. Most of my volunteering is being officers in the various communities groups I'm in. Some are non-profits formally, some are just zero budget organizations and some are official societies (like SWE). Last year I was an officer in every club I was part of, plus going to meetings for some other things. This year I have dialed that all back to zero because it was making me a crazy person. But dialing back to zero on known commitments allowed me to help run Wedding Week, so that still worked. : )

On the money front, I bring this up with Rob every so often. I would like to set aside a fixed portion of our income to donate each year to local/meaningful charities. So NPR, the animal shelter, the library, the food bank. Rob is little more family centered, wanting to make sure all of our needs are taken care of first. I see that as a game you never win. So right now, we donate money to specific people/causes rarely and on a case by case basis, with the understanding that once we pay off our student loans we will take some of those savings and build charity into the budget. I'm not totally happy with this because I feel like that keeps stretching out (despite our best efforts) but I also understand his need for stability.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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