Every year, especially around the holidays, I get hit up by solicitors asking me to donate to charity. The requests come from every direction. When people aren’t knocking on my door with their hat in hand, then the requests come by mail and on the television.
It’s not just the professional solicitors either. Hobos often approach me in parking lots looking for a handout. Hardly a day goes by without someone asking me for money.
I’m a single professional with quite a bit more disposable income than the average American. However, I’ve never been able to justify giving one penny to charity.
You may consider me to be a cheapskate and accuse me of being a scrooge, but I have more than a few good reasons why I don’t give to charity:
1. I already indirectly contribute to charity through my taxes. My federal, state, FICA/medicare, sales, property, registration, and other taxes are already taking away close to half of my income every year. Much of this money is spent by the government on welfare for the poor, disaster relief, parks and nature, the arts, and other forms of charity, so I’m indirectly donating heavily to almost every charitable cause now.
2. Over time, charity contributions add up. The average household donated almost $3000 to charity in 2013. Over a 40-year career that amounts to $400,000, assuming I earn a 5% return. Until my retirement savings are fully-funded, annual donations to charity could ultimately be harmful to my financial health.
3. Charity promotes dependency. When I give money to a beggar, there is little motivation for him to improve his situation.
4. The money I donate to charity may not be wisely spent. How do I know the homeless guy asking me for a handout isn’t going to take the money I give him to buy booze and drugs? Even with professional charitable organizations, how much revenue is wasted on bloated overhead and salaries for their administrators?
5. I’m not the only one who doesn’t donate to charity. One in four people don’t give at all. Somewhat ironically, liberals actually donate the least; conservatives donate 30% more money on average.
6. Charity won’t necessarily be there when I’m in need. Sorry, but I don’t buy the argument that if I give my money away, someone else will be there to pick up the tab when I’m in need. I say it’s better to rely on my own cash when I encounter a rainy day.
7. It makes more sense to donate my time instead. Why should I slave away at my job all day, just to give what’s left of my hard-earned money to someone else to do the charity work I care about? It is a lot more efficient to volunteer my time, especially if it’s a cause I am passionate about.
8. I won’t be rewarded in the afterlife for making charitable donations. Besides, if my only motive for giving was getting to heaven, I’m sure God would see right through my false sincerity.
Of course, there are exceptions. If you are fortunate enough to have more money than you can possibly spend, please give it away to those who need it.
However, for the rest of us stuck with underfunded retirement and/or kids’ college accounts, or wallowing in debt with huge mortgages and/or credit card balances, it just doesn’t make any sense to risk our teetering finances any further.
About the Author
Ebenezer Scrooge (not his real name) is a well-paid thirty-something professional who prefers to remain anonymous. Not because he’s afraid of the backlash, mind you. It’s just that if you’re down on your luck he doesn’t want you asking him if he can spare a quarter.
Photo Credit: alancleaver_2000
(This is an updated version of an article that was originally posted on December 6, 2010)
My wife and I have decided that since we are so blessed, we will give 10% of our income to the church and charities.
This year we must have donated at least $5,000 to organizations like the Breast Cancer Society, Samaritan’s Purse, StarFish Ministries, and to our local church of course.
It has been rewarding, and we will definitely continue doing this in the future.
You are a scrooge, mister.
David @ VapeHabitat says
Me too)) A little bit))
Bob Cratchit says
But it’s Christmas Eve, sir…
You know, there’s nothing really wrong with saying, “It’s my money, I earned it. No, you can’t have it.” Saying more than that just makes you seem like someone who feels guilty and is trying to justify their selfishness.
I mean, if you’re a guy in a business suit and driving a fancy car, and you’re talking to a homeless person when you say “It’s my money, sorry,” it /does/ make you look a little douchey. But luckily, you live in America. That’s perfectly legal here. 🙂
The only one of this arguments I actually agree with is number 7. I only wish more people would follow through with that statement.
Regarding #3: The one homeless person I talk with regularly (but don’t give money to) regularly begs for money purportedly for food or transport, but he just spends it on drugs. I have offered him a lift to a rehab facility that would take him but so far he has declined.
This warrants a full response post. Look out for Friday, when I’ll detail my reasons why we should give MORE money to charity. Then we can debate whether we should keep it to ourselves or hand it out to everyone else.
I am Ebenezer! (remember the end of the movie Spartacus?)
Budgeting in the Fun Stuff says
You’re kidding, right? You don’t sound like a douche the other times I’ve talked with you…
My only problem with this list is it does sound like a whiny rich kid explaining why everyone just needs to take care of themselves. It also is a little insulting to explain to all of us who do choose to give to charity why we are stupid to do it. It would have been easier and nicer just to say “I don’t want to give my money to other people because it’s mine.”
Sorry to be unclear, it happens a lot with me. I didn’t write the post above. I meant I can understand what he’s trying to say. I don’t give a lot to charity, but I definitely admire people who does. I give to disaster relief organization, Mercy Corp, and just a little to the temple. Five years ago, I didn’t contribute to charity at all. I hope to give more in the future when I have plenty extras.
And this Guest Poster remains anonymous why? This is one ‘conservative’ who is acting like a ‘bleeding-heart liberal’ (his words, not mine)! :p
BFS: You know this isn’t Len speaking, right?
Budgeting in the Fun Stuff says
I knew it wasn’t Len…I didn’t get the Spartacus reference from retireby40 since I hadn’t seen that movie. I know, I know…I’ll watch more classics, lol.
Barb Friedberg says
Question: How do you know you won’t be rewarded in the afterlife for giving to charity? I focus lots of my charitable giving on children’s causes and self sufficiency endeavors! You can’t suggest that kids should learn to get a job and take care of themselves can you?
Len Penzo says
To be fair, I think Ebenezer is not being irrational for keeping himself anonymous, considering his controversial position on what can be a very emotional topic.
Obviously, there are lots of terrific reasons why we *do* give money to charity.
That being said, from a purely financial perspective, I think the author makes an interesting point regarding potential opportunity costs (see point 2). Of course, I don’t think people who are genuinely sincere about donating to charity (most of us) even give opportunity costs a second thought.
Just a friendly reminder to please keep your comments civil. Thanks all.
Financial Samurai says
Some decent points actually.. esp since the gov’t uses a lot of our tax money hopefully for good.
That said, it’s fun to give more anyway, especially in a social giving network like the Yakezie!
First Gen American says
Scrooge, I hope you get visited by the 3 ghosts of christmas.
Yes, there are some low lifes out there sucking the system for all it’s worth, but there are also kids and sick people who have no control of the situation they are in. I’ve been helped by scholarships and I am doing my best to help back now. If it weren’t for the help I’d gotten, then I wouldn’t have disposable income to give away now.
Sorry fellow comments- I agree with the poster.
I used to regularly donate my time and $ to various organizations. That is, until my DH became unemployed for over a year and we nearly lost everything we have worked for. After burning through nearly 50k in savings-I learned lesson #6.
I am probably going to take flak for this, but I also rarely give to charity. If I feel the need to help someone, I do it directly.
When I was homeless and on the street, no charity would help me. I practically starved when my 65 inch frame got down to 87 pounds and I only ate one bologne sandwich a week.
I, also, make a good income nowadays. The government takes nearly 40 percent of my check directly. And for the most part, I think they waste it!
When I do give (which is rare) then I make sure the person is not a druggie, a drunk and has truly fallen on hard times through no fault of their own.
Investor Junkie says
We donate the most out of any other country. I discussed this awhile ago on my blog:
Will The Wealthy Donate Less Because Of Health Care?
Could it be because we are taxed less? If government is there to “help” the poor and unfortunate, then why should I donate more? I can say this much, if my taxes go up, charities will be the first thing I will do less. It makes logical sense.
1. Taxes are not charity. Taxes are the price you pay for living in the US. You use those services: you drive on publicly-funded roads and/or take public transportation; you had the option to be educated for free for over 10 years; you are given protection from criminals and terrorists.
2. Charity does add up. So do lattes and candy bars. But lattes and candy bars just make you fat. Save yourself medical expenses in the future by giving your snack food money away.
3. Charity might promote dependency, but not EVERY charity does. Victims of earthquakes and other natural disasters can lose everything in a heartbeat through no fault of their own. Donate to charities that only help when people really need it. Try Doctors without Borders or the American Red Cross. The next time there is a major disaster, the American Red Cross (and probably D w/o B) will have special funds where you can contribute just to help those people affected.
4. It might not be wisely spent. But you can mitigate the risks by researching charities beforehand to ensure they are not paying to much in admin expenses.
5. You’re not the only one not contributing. So? What kind of a point is this? Some people do, and some people don’t. And if all of your friends jumped off a bridge…
6. Charity won’t necessarily be there when you need it. Well, no, certainly not if everyone has the same selfish views. But no one is recommending that you go so much to charity you yourself need it.
But I’m sure a well-paid person has enough fluff in his budget to both have an adequate emergency fund as well as some left over.
7. It makes sense to donate your time instead. For some people this is true; they have more time than money. So, Mr. I-don’t-want-to-promote-dependency, how much time do you spend at the food kitchen? I think the chances of you donating your time to charity is slim to none and slim just left town.
Beyond that, you can always get more money but once time is gone, it’s gone. If you’re well-paid thirty-something, you should be donating money instead of time.
8. You won’t be rewarded in the after-life. Well, maybe not. And I’m guessing you don’t believe in karma either. But studies have shown that happiness increases people who donate to charity-either money or time. The thought of donating to charity literally activities the same area of the brain as other pleasures, like sex.
So, really, by not giving to charity, you’re missing out.
Udayan Chattopadhyay says
I was thinking of a point-by-point rebuttal as well, till I read your response — well done 🙂
Mr. Scrooge, I do agree that you make quite a few valid arguments, but that being said if I am in a position to help someone who is genuinely in need, I do not feel poorer for doing so.
Investor Junkie says
“Taxes are not charity. Taxes are the price you pay for living in the US. You use those services: you drive on publicly-funded roads and/or take public transportation; you had the option to be educated for free for over 10 years; you are given protection from criminals and terrorists.”
This is a strawman argument. It’s the entitlements that are the issue and the biggest part of our deficit.
Why are entitlements the issue and not military spending? Why is national defense the sacred cow? DoD spending is a HUGE part of our budget.
Anyway, charity is VOLUNTARY, and taxes are MANDATORY and the article was about CHARITY.
He’s not going to go to jail if he doesn’t contribute to charity; he might if he stops paying taxes.
Investor Junkie says
DoD is and will be a drop in the bucket compared to entitlements. I’m not saying pro/con against defense, just stating facts.
To which “entitlements” are you referring? If you are referring to Social Security and Medicare, those MANDATORY federal government programs for people who have earned income, either through regular employment or through self-employment, those programs are insurance programs. I, myself, paid MANY THOUSANDS of dollars in taxes that my employers have deducted from my paychecks throughout my many years of working. I EARNED my Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Investor Junkie says
“Anyway, charity is VOLUNTARY, and taxes are MANDATORY and the article was about CHARITY.”
Bingo! Let ME decide who and what I donate to, and not be forced by the government.
Modern Hamlet says
Are you really arguing that Social Security is a charity?
Defense spending is a massive part of government spending. Compare it to Medicare spending and see.
Do people really think we can do without defense?
I do give to charity. I do agree with most of your points. Huh… what? Yes, I really do both. As much you are right, you are also wrong! There are ways to give to charity and benefit from it as well as giving to others. Here is why regarding each of your points:
#1: That is true, but you have absolutely no control over it and you can’t choose your cause.
#2: Also true! But why not budgeting it so you don’t over-donate (and even if it’s as little as $100 per year)?
#3: Again, true! But just don’t donate to a beggar! Does not mean donating is worthless. Look towards real organizations or associations.
#4: Again, if you chose a nice well-organized charity or association then money is more likely to be well spent.
#5: True, but that is not a good reason. If you smoked weed 4 times a day would you justify yourself saying: I’m not the only one…??
#6: Very good Philosophy to have! But still, I am sure you, at least once in your life, had to rely to a friend, a parent, a neighbor or anyone else to resolve a problem. We never know WHO will help us and WHEN we will need help. So I guess helping others is only some kind of justice…
#7: Sooo true! So why not give some time then?
#8: Might be true, might be wrong, that is just a matter of believes.
And, charity is also taxes deductible, so might be interesting to look at it this way too.
See, I agree, but I will still continue to donate!
Greg McFarlane says
Ebenezer is a 30-something professional? Because he sure has the writing style of a 40-something engineer…
My partner and I have this discussion all the time. Our collective opinion on charity is slightly less forgiving than Ebenezer’s. When we give money, we give it to animals who can’t very well be expected to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. They don’t wear boots. It’s been our experience that most people (“most”, not “all”, read that word again) who are in a position to receive largesse from others got there via bad decisions. And the ones who don’t, don’t appreciate it. Go ask the recipients of state-enforced “charity” who used their Hurricane Katrina debit cards to buy plasma TVs with. Or the methadone punks who treat relapsing as a national pastime. If I was a 25-year old single mom on my 4th pregnancy, I might have a little more incentive to keep my legs crossed if I knew that free clothing and toys weren’t available to me.
Len Penzo says
I assure you I did not write this post, Greg, although I did edit it. I do not think I am betraying the author’s annonymity when I say he is definitely an engineer. I’ve asked him to repsond to some of your replies, and he assured me he would get to them this evening.
Roger Wohlner says
I wholeheartedly agree with your point #7, give of your time. Thankfully our young adult children have followed our example here. I don’t like to leave negative comments so I won’t with regard to your other points. I do agree that before giving money to any charity one should check into the organization’s finances, percentage that goes to those in need. etc. My suggestion to the author is that he/she reread their post and look in the mirror to see if they really still feel this way.
That’s ok. You don’t have to.
Me, I donate enough to organized charity, New England Center For Homeless Vets among them, that the $100 I give out to those with their hand out in the city over the course of the year is nothing. I don’t kid myself, most will buy alcohol or cigarettes which is why it probably makes me feel better than it actually does any good.
So last year, we stopped at the local “outdoor store” and pick up a couple dozen earmuffs. No homeless person in NYC in December will refuse a set of earmuffs.
You should know – others are in your camp, Donald Trump among them. Sorry to insult you.
Little House says
I prefer to donate my time to good causes rather than money and I don’t think that makes me a Scrooge. However, I can’t necessarily say that donating money is pointless as long as a person has plenty of extra money after fulfilling their own savings goals.
LH – when comparing checks I write, however large, your donation of time deserves a hat tip. (Tipping one’s hat is a sign of respect if you are old as I am) Money is always needed, but at some point it’s people who make a difference.
Hello everyone. I’m the author of this article. Thanks for the feedback.
LifeAndMyFinances / Retirebyfory- While there’s nothing wrong with it, a large portion of church contributions go to pay for church functions that you enjoy, so I would not consider it all just charity.
Budgeting in the fun Stuff- I am not a rich kid. I have supported myself 100% since I was 18. Besides a few subsidized loans to help get through college I have never recieved a handout from the government or anyone. If I could do it, there is no reason anyone else can’t.
First Gen American- The sick and disabled receive free food, housing, medical care, and disability payments through my taxes. I’m not sure what else they need from me?
AnotherAnonymous- Your story is exactly what I’m afraid could happen if I give away money and find myself in need later.
Ann- I pay more in taxes than most people make. The services I recieve in return are not even worth a fraction of that. I feel the rest is just a big poorly managed charity.
-While I earn very good money, I have relatively little wealth. I do not live a lavish livestyle, in fact I rent out all the extra rooms in my house, very rarely eat at fancy resturaunts or buy starbucks, and only take weekend vacations to places within driving distance. Even so, it will still take years to pay off my mortgage and accumulate a large enough nest egg to retire.
Modern Hamlet- Yes, Social Security is definitly a charity if you are under 50. It will be completely bankrupt by the time I retire.
DoNotWait-I have zero budget until I am financially independent. Retirement, education, and medical accounts are also deductible if you’re looking for a tax break.
Greg McFarlne- I totally agree!
I think the best choice for everyone here would be to wait until you are financially independent and then consider donating.
Our post today promotes charity. 🙂
Won’t someone think of the children? Remember, if kids don’t get fed or clothed they’re more likely to suck in school and turn to lives of crime. And that affects all of us because we have to pay more for jails and police.
Where is his Christmas spirit? LOL he truly is Ebenezer Scrooge! I do give to charity but it s a person’s right to give or not to give to charitable causes. I seagree that taxes are a form of charitable giving.
Joe Plemon says
I have little to add to this thread except to watch “The Christmas Carol” or read the book.
I hope the Scrooge of this post will come to his senses like the Scrooge of the movie.
I can see both sides. I myself do not donate during the holiday season due to the fact a large amount of people “get into the holiday spirit” and dontate. I save my money to dontate in the summar and fall when donations are down to places like the food bank.
Thats a good Idea Sarah, I know our Food Bank is always low in the summer vs Xmas time.
Personally I’m a firm believer in teaching how to fish as opposed to giving fish! And most charities give fish.
The Roamer says
I concur teaching skills is so much more important. Anyway I won’t justify myself. I agree with a lot of the points in the article.
Really its based on my mood sometimes I really feel like giving other times I don’t.
Joan of ArcWelding says
I can see both sides of the issue, here. Certain forms of misguided charity foster dependency, while others require self-reliance. (For instance, the distinctly Christian charity Habitat for Humanity requires sweat equity from everyone they help. As a result, the houses built are well-tended, as the client has a lot of emotional “skin in the game”.) Have you considered a mid-way path: giving $25 or so to a reputable micro-loan provider (someone like Kiva)? The whole idea here is to give someone at baseline poverty-level a loan to expand their business. Your loan is repaid, you get the money back to keep or reinvest, and the beneficiary gets that much closer to a business that will lift others out of poverty as well.
Invest It Wisely says
Although I give to charity, I see some of your points as well. I don’t like it when I feel like I’m being extorted, especially by the guys that stop cars in the street! 😉
I think that a lot more of our tax money goes towards defense and roads than it does towards welfare programs.
I also think that single mom’s who have 4 kids are probably not thinking “Let me have another one since I can get free clothes for them.” I doubt that particular mom is thinking too logically at all. Meanwhile, the kids suffer and grow up to make similar mistakes to their parents.
Education for these moms would probably do more to change their behavior than simply taking services away from their kids would.
That link is totally misleading and only tabulates “discretionary spending”. Defense spending actually makes up only 18.74% of the total budget http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fy2010_spending_by_category.jpg
The largest contributors: social security, unemployment/welfare, medicare, medicaid are charity because they pay others and I will get little or nothing in return. Many of the other items in the budget (HHS, HUD, Dept of Education, Dept of Agriculture,…) focus much of their budgets on giving away money to others aswell.
I will admit that Social Security and Medicare are large parts of the federal budget. However, millions of people, including me, have each paid MANY thousands of dollars in taxes earmarked specifically for these two MANDATORY programs. I definitely EARNED my Social Security and Medicare benefits.
I am horrified by this article. I personally strive to give my full tithe and have yet to do it fully.
I actually think your first argument is the worst one. I don’t think the gov’t should be involved in many of the areas you listed as charity. NGOs are much more efficient at providing for the needs of their community and are more apt to adjusting as those needs evolve.
Many charities that “help the needy” do focus on teaching skills such as how to interview, how to network, how to manage personal finances, etc, etc, etc.
I only agree with you in regards to your comments about the beggars on the streets. That is one place I will never give money, but I will give food or blankets. I was actually amazed to see someone in NYC when I was visiting who took an order for a restaurant for a homeless person. That could even melt the block of ice in your chest!
Sorry to hear you are horrified. I agree the gov’t should not be involved in many of the areas listed as charity, but unfortunately they take nearly half my income and give most it away to welfare and entitlement programs. Absolutely, NGO’s are much more efficient.
I do make a point to donate used clothing and household items instead of throwing them out. However, until all my debts are paid and retirement funded, cash is just to valuable to give away.
Interesting points in the post, and some entertaining comments to boot. Nice job in picking an interesting guest poster, Len:)
To Ebenezer Scrooge:
I have to say that I’m one of those people who gives a little money occasionally to “bums”, especially when I see they’re freezing, older, etc. Also, I just donated $200 to Children’s cancer research as part of a giveaway on my blog, and certainly didn’t get any negative feedback for doing so. According to your post, I would be wasting my hard-earned money. I would disagree.
People who help others make a postive difference in the world. People who take, and don’t give selflessly at least a little bit, make no positive difference in the world.
Now, I do agree with the notion that we must take care of ourselves, because nobody else will. Self-reliance and individual accountability is great, and I’m all about that. Intenionally mooching off others is not respectable. So, I can’t say that all of your points are ridiculous, and do see where you’re going with much of it. But your post seems strictly self-centered and lacking compassion.
Sure, if we’re honest with ourselves and others, many of us will realize that we do act in the best interest of ourselves and close family 99% of the time. But even that 1% can be very helpful to others.
I guess my philosophy is a little different. I would have saved the money and once reaching my financial goals then consider donating. As illustrated in point 2, a modest contribution adds up a lot over time.
The gov’t provides a strong safety net for children, elderly, and the disabled. Those who are able bodied and choose to beg, I don’t have much compassion for.
Monroe on a Budget says
“6. Charity won’t necessarily be there when I’m in need. Sorry, but I don’t buy the argument that if I give my money away, someone else will be there to pick up the tab when I’m in need. I say it’s better to rely on my own cash when I encounter a rainy day.”
However, from what I’ve seen in Michigan, families and individuals who hit a tight financial spot will need a combination of financial resources and tricks to get through the situation. Charity is just one piece of the recovery plan; ditto on that emergency fund.
Totally agree with all you have said, charity begins at home and I am saving for my rainy day so I dont have to rely on others – isn’t that what we are meant to do?
Fed up of charities begging bowls – cost more money to collect money – hardly any goes to the ‘poor’ and poor is relative. Stop breeding – thats a worthy cause then we won’t have too many poor and needy.
I will never give to charity again. In the past, I’ve given to homeless on the streets, I gave a job to a guy who would have been homeless otherwise, and allowed him to sleep on sofa, for two years. Never again! Tonight, I was at the Super Walmart, and a 24 year old hispanic lady and her 5 kids were literally itemizing every single item on where she could have gotten it cheaper and then have them mark it down. Left with a cart as full as it could handle, and then whipped out her lone star card to pay. I just got sick. I’ve been self employed for 13 years, had to shut one business down a year ago, and the one I’ve got left barely makes enough to cover my rent, no wife, no kids, no joy in life, yet I’m supposed to feel sorry and support help support a family of five kids. Women won’t even date me now because I don’t have money to go out on dates, and a bunch of moralistic people want to label me a scrooge. If you can’t live within your means, you don’t have the right to ask others to support you. No one, and I mean no one will support me, I have to earn every penny I make, and the argument of giving to others is
B.S. Never again, not one thin dime, even if I win the lottery. I won’t feel guilty at all, because I don’t have kids and a wife, I’m suppose to support the rest of the world that does. B.S. Thieves and theft of services is what I call it. The number one reason for poverty in this country is single mothers.
I studied labor economics and that’s the truth. Want to be poor, have children, want to be really poor have 5 children. I didn’t get the pleasure of making them, and I sure as hell won’t be guilt tripped into supporting them. The church and all charities can go to hell!
Anon: I very much agree with you. I stopped financial contributions to charities about five years ago as I am living on a relatively fixed income. I have very little money for discretionary items, as charitable contributions are. However, there is one thing that I do that does not cost me any money AND, more importantly, actually saves peoples’ lives. I am an American Red Cross platelet donor. I make a double platelet donation every two weeks. People with leukemia and other forms of cancer need my donations. I do not make any money from my platelet donations. I do have a comment and retort to people who may try to make me feel guilty about my not making financial contributions to charities. I ask them, “Do you donate whole blood and/or plasma and/or platelets at the American Red Cross or at your local hospital?” If they say no, then I ask them to please keep their mouths shut.
When I read this post months ago, I had to stop and think. I bristled at first, and then realized that charity does begin at home. I have no family to rely on, and I feel awful asking a friend or neighbor for the least thing, let alone asking help in a time of crisis. So I am taking personal responsibility and saving my money for myself. I have no other option, since I have no one to help me if and when I need it. And I doubt I’ll ever qualify for government assistance.
As for giving my time – I probably won’t be doing much of that for a while, either. I used to be VERY active in charitable organization, sitting on boards, working hard behind the scenes of fundraisers or community projects, donating my work, and in return, I not only didn’t get a word of thanks, but was told why I was a failure on so many levels. A friend of mine, who shared these same experiences with me, completely gave up on volunteering, saying that once you give away your work for free, it isn’t valued anymore, and you will be treated accordingly – as worthless.
Before the hate-filled responses come in, please understand that I didn’t want a winner’s parade down Main Street, don’t need to be a CNN hero of the year. But a simple “thank you for your 10 years of service to our organization” would have been enough. Maybe it’s the part of the country I’m in, fast-paced and “get out of the way if you’re not busy doing something for me.” Some day, I’ll feel moved to lend my time to a worthy cause. But not now. I need to focus my time and efforts and money on making sure I’m not a burden to anyone else.
CS: I completely understand your comments. There is currently only one charitable organization that appreciates my services. That organization is the American Red Cross. The only type of charitable giving I now give are my once-every-two-weeks blood platelet donations at my local American Red Cross facility. The staff there thanks me every time I am there for my appointments, and they treat me very well. They also gave me wall plaques and certificates when I reach various milestones, such as my most recent 100-platelet-donation milestone. I also know that my blood platelet donations actually are saving lives.
Beth Beutler says
I found this article to be sad. Giving isn’t about it making sense…it does something within us and makes us more like the ultimate Giver, God. There’s already too much self-protection in this world. There’s a reason why the word “scrooge” works and doesn’t portray a happy person.
I supposed some of your points are logical. It’s sad when life is reduced to logic.
I’ve been given so much…I would have missed out on so much if God and others didn’t have a giving spirit. I hope I have benefited others as well.
Radiant Sunset says
Right at the start, Scrooge here says, “I’m a single professional with quite a bit more disposable income than the average American.”
He ends his sad missive with “If you are fortunate enough to have more money than you can possibly spend, please give it away to those who need it.”
Huh? Doesn’t he have enough, being the single kidless professional with disposable income that he is??
Then he says, “However, for the rest of us stuck with underfunded retirement and/or kids’ college accounts, or wallowing in debt with huge mortgages and/or credit card balances, it just doesn’t make any sense to risk our teetering finances any further.”
Again, huh? “The rest of us?” He already told us that he’s not in that group.
I’m not as well off as this guy is, but I’m proud to give to the charities of my choice.
Generous Spender says
My favorite charity is the cash register. I prefer giving my money to someone working rather than to a bum. Don’t worry though – my donation to the cashier also includes a portion that goes toward the safety net supporting the bum, too. And I even get something tangible out of the deal. It’s a win-win-win situation!
While giving money directly to the bum may get some people off, as they bask in the delusion of sainthood, I don’t have that reaction. Call me Scrooge or call me a realist, but I believe working and spending is the best charity for everyone.
Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way says
I’m not rich and I don’t make too much money but sometimes I donated to my favorite charity. You can donate your used clothings or food too.
Ben Luthi says
Definitely some points to make you think. I’m personally a huge proponent of giving, but I’ve learned that giving time is often more meaningful than simply writing a check.
After reading some of the comments, I can’t help but chuckle, though. This guy or gal (Ebeneezra?) isn’t telling anyone else to stop giving. They aren’t telling us we’re a bunch of idiots for giving. In fact, they even say:
“Of course, there are exceptions. If you are fortunate enough to have more money than you can possibly spend, please give it away to those who need it.”
Rather than judging someone else for not giving, I think it behooves us to determine why we give and find ways to be more effective.
I can see both sides here; however, I think more along the lines of Ebenezer.
This is why.
I watched a family member win an incredibly large lawsuit. Within a few years, gone. And nothing to show for it. No savings, no investments–broke. And back on welfare.
I have family members that use places of charity that don’t check income, because they prefer to spend freely and use money for things other than necessities.
My mom worked with someone that would go to the soup kitchen because he did not want to cook.
I’ve watched family members work the system and places of charity. They don’t want to depend on themselves. I realize that some people really do need help and are not like this. But it’s incredibly hard to shake these situations from my mind when I put myself through college. I work, save and plan. And I really do not want to just freely give my money away.
How To Save Money says
To each his own 🙂
It’s Christmas, and I think the best time to do charity is this season. But, we still have to know whom we should give our donations—money or goods to, especially to those who are really in need.
We give to charity through donations via paychecks. My husband gives 200 a month to five different charities that mean something to us. YMCA, Humane Society’s, a therapeutic horseback riding program for children with handicaps, St. Luke’s Community Center that has a low income daycare, food boxes and helps senior citizens with meals etc.
Rescue Mission that specifically work with homeless.
I work for a non profit and give through my paycheck back to the nonprofit.
At Christmas time we will do Angel tree and Last Minute Toy Store.
But people just coming up to ask for money NO, selling the homeless paper is big here. There is one person literally on every street corner, you could give money away all day long .. no to that as well.
This discussion is fascinating. I am confused by the generally negative tone in the comments. Just because someone chooses not to donate doesn’t mean they don’t think you should. I think the article was explaining why he doesn’t donate, not why he thinks no one else should. It is a personal choice so I don’t see why people need to be critical in either case, for or against. Do what makes you happy.
You also don’t need to defend your position, who cares what other people think. I also find it interesting that the people who voice support for Ebeneezer also add a statement at the end mentioning that they agree, but they do donate to x,y,z charities. I assume this is done to try to stem any criticism from others?
Modern Hamlet – I agree I don’t think SS is a charity, but it is by definition a Ponzi scheme and some generation will get screwed, most likely the millenials.
Ann – I agree, taxes are the cost of living in a civilized society. That being said, the most fair system would be a flat tax. The wealthy pay a much higher portion of the taxes and most likely utilize fewer services than the poor.
All this to say, donate if it makes you happy. Do not donate if you don’t want to, because then its done out of guilt. Exercise your freedom to choose.
Why should I feel guilty about not giving money to charities who cater to people who have made bad life decisions (alcohol, drugs, too many kids). All charity is is a permanent systems of handouts that creates a systems of pigs who do nothing for themselves.
Personally, I HATE it when the grocery store clerk asks if I would like to donate to ‘X’ when I’m paying. I usually say, “God No, they’re under indictment” or something like that. But the pressure is irritating. I would rather give to the Clinton Foundation so they can spend 98% of it on booze and under-age forced prostitution, so I can feel better about myself.
Seriously, I give to veterans groups and maybe the Red Cross. Most national and international charities are top-heavy money-suckers.