Giving What I Can

So it’s tax time. Something to cheer up this dreary, dull, cold time of the season.
I have my tax return back, and the good news is that I have earned a couple of thousand dollars more than last year.
I was listening to Philip Adams recently, on the Late Night Live replay. I was packing the kiln and the radio was on to keep me company. It filled the back ground space. I tuned in to this guy that Philip Adams was interviewing. He and his wife have dedicated their lives to the good will of others.
He is a philosopher and his wife is a doctor. They have formed a web site that encourages the reader to re-think the way that we pay a proportion of our savings to those less-fortunate than ourselves.
try googling ‘giving what we can’
Following their links I learned that I am in the top 8.6% of the worlds population.
and that my income is greater than 13.6 times the global average.
I was a bit humbled by this. I regularly give 2% of my income to charity. This is pretty pathetic, but I believe that it is widely accepted that this is the minimum amount that a well-fed person in an advanced western economy should be able to afford to give. I recognise that I am very well-off. I’m not doing enough, but I thought that I was doing what I could easily manage. I have now been eased into thinking that I could do more. Perhaps I’m a bit self-complacent, and just a touch lazy and out of the loop of knowing what life is like in the third world. I have some inkling, but I don’t spend any time dwelling on it.
As I have raised my income up from 32,000 PA  to 34,000 I decide to give 10% of this extra income to charity. Small fry, but it is some sort of gesture. I know that I am really comfortable in my life and I should do more, but I want to do lots of things. So I settled on this amount. It’s what I can live with.
I can’t give 40% of my income like these amazingly committed couple, I have already honed my lifestyle down to a pretty frugal minimum, but 10% of my excess above my usual standard income. I can live with that.
I have been giving to several charities over the years. I give them a nominal amount each time they ask, and then they ask for more, I give them my donation and the cycle repeats. I give many small amounts to a lot of organisations. Last year I decided to give each of the charities $100 each in a one-off payment for the year and then nothing else, for 12 months. In response, I Immediately got in the return mail $100 worth of glossy advertising material posted out to me. Clearly I had made a very big mistake. When I sent $25 each month to each of these charities. I didn’t show up on their radar at all. just small fry, to be ignored. But, when I increased my donation level up to $100, then I was to be considered a contender to be milked for a larger amount. Trying to get me onto a regular, larger, automatic donation. As I don’t have any regular income, I can’t commit to any regular payments. I can only give when I know that I have it in the bank to be able to do so.
I can now see that my effort to do ‘the right thing’, was mis-interpreted by the charity cash-raising industry that is employed by the charity organisations.  Without a salary, or any ‘regular’ income. I can’t afford to give a large sum regularly. I can see now that giving a larger amount was a mistake, because I gave $100 in a lump sum to the charity and got $120 worth of glossy paper encouraging me to give more, now!
I declined. I realised that I wasted my small amount of precious money, on that occasion.
We live and learn.
This year I decided to give the total amount in one lump sum to a local charity, that is so small that it doesn’t even have a glossy brochure. Its mission is to build a home for the care of challenged people who need help and support. It is organised, by the parents of these children/adults , such that they might be eased out of their ageing parents homes and into a supportive environment, in a caring way, so that they might be able to become self-supporting eventually. It’s a brave venture and I believe, worthy of support. It’s entirely locally organised by and for these local people.
I sent off all my money and what do you think that I got in the mail the very next week?
Thankfully, all I got in response was a receipt!
I hope that this money is well spent and that the venture is completely realised in the fullness of time.