Most of us are familiar with tithing. Church members pledge to give a certain percentage of their income to the church every month. Typically it’s 10%. They ascribe to the theory that if you give to God, God will give back. There’s a certain poetry in the idea. However, even if you don’t belong to a church, you can still tithe. Just set it up yourself.
Choosing Your Charities
I’ve talked a lot about giving to charity and choosing just a few to support. If you can afford to give monthly to one or two causes, they will love you and you will be supporting their mission in good times and bad, which they desperately need.
Why Charities Need Regular Donations
Every time there’s a disaster, money pours in. As of this writing, the Red Cross had collected over $8 million just from text messages alone. But here’s the thing – it takes time to process and deploy those donations. To those who complain that some of the money goes into a reserve fund: remember that the Red Cross had to mobilize immediately when the disaster struck. They have to have money in their reserve fund to pay for staff and supplies to meet an immediate need. They also already had people in Haiti, because the situation there was dire before the earthquake. Donations made now will be used to continue their efforts, but any overage will be used when the next disaster strikes. And one will. It may not be a disaster that makes the news, but the Red Cross will be there anyway.
The same can be said of Doctors without Borders. This group does amazing work with a volunteer staff of doctors and nurse in poor and disaster-struck areas. However, medical supplies aren’t always free. They need money for transportation and supplies all the time, not just when disaster strikes. Like the Red Cross, they already had “boots on the ground” in Haiti when the earthquake struck. Obviously they need millions for their efforts in Haiti, but they also need millions to fund their year-round work around the world.
Choose Your Causes Carefully, but Include a Humanitarian Effort, Please
When we’re choosing our annual or monthly donations, most of us think of the causes that are important to us personally, like breast cancer or the environment. Then when a disaster strikes, we make a one-time donation to relief group. That’s great. But I personally believe that those of us who can afford it should give to humanitarian causes between disasters. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. It’s been a victim of slavery, corruption, and neglect over the decades. Although it receives significant aid from the US government and local charities, it doesn’t frequently register with the rest of us.
That’s a sad statement about our level of awareness. It shouldn’t take a disaster to draw attention to suffering. Instead, all of us should regularly include humanitarian efforts in our giving. There are many choices: Oxfam, CARE, UNICEF, the World Food Programme, United Way, the list goes on.
At the start of 2010, consider adding a humanitarian cause to your charity list. The poorest people in the