November 17, 2006

Style your Charity

I have a firm opinion about how charity should be done. The article 'Giving Your All' by Steven Landsburg brings more clarity and strategy on how to plan my charities. When I first thought about Charity, it sounded as simple as giving a portion of my income to my family. What kind of style can be associated with Charity?

The article mentioned two ways of doing charity.

  1. Do your research, short-list your options, and select just 1 organization from your list. Give all your charity to this organization.
  2. Do your research and short-list your options. Then, give a portion of your charity to each of the organizations in your list. In other words, distribute your charity to several organizations.
There has been a debate on which strategy is better... But however, several economists recommend Strategy-1. Here is an excerpt from Tim Harford's reasoning:

Many people are unconvinced by this argument—which I owe to Steven Landsburg—because they are used to diversifying their financial investments (a bit of Google stock and a bit of Exxon, too) and varying their choices (vanilla ice cream AND bananas). But those instincts are selfish: They are not intended to benefit both Google and Exxon, nor both the ice-cream company and the banana growers. With charity, the logic is different, and a truly selfless donor would bite the bullet and put his entire donation behind one cause. That we find that so hard to imagine is just one more indication of how hard it is for us to think ourselves into a truly selfless view of the world.

D Orange N A01 T e

Here is my stand on it... I take the hybrid approach. I would broadly classify the kinds of charity that interest me, and then direct my contributions to just 1 organization in each category. Let me explain why I chose this path. I (hopefully all of you too) put aside a specific portion of the salary every month for charity. Once the money accrues to a substantial size, we donate it for a good cause. There are several forms of charity, each targeting a specific aspect of the society. For a prosperous future, we need to build a society strong in all aspects. By channelizing the contributions to just 1 organization in each category, we can do some good at a noteworthy level.

For example, Giving food (anna-dhaana) to fight starvation is a great form of charity. Another aspect of charity is to provide education, support the spreading of knowledge, and contribute to literacy efforts. In Sanskrit, this form of charity is called vidhyaa-dhaana (knowledge-charity). It is as important as anna-dhaana (food-charity), and both of these target different aspects of our society.

I'd love to know what you guys think...


IIE said...

Giving to charity is a nice thing. It's very philanthropic. I don't give to charities right now, mainly because I went back to college and have no money:) Giving to charity is a tricky thing, I think. There are so many, and many people can feel differently on why they think their charity should take priority. I mainly don't like to give to charities. It's easy to give, but hard to make sure that you're dollar is going it's farthest. I worked at a pizza restaurant one summer and a lady came in waiting around for hours. She seemed to be in trouble, so I bought her some pizza and just talked to her. I prefer directly having an effect, but that's just me. I think many charities are noble and genuinely want to help people.

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