An acquaintance says she feels unwilling to give to charity because she thinks anything she gives won’t go to people who really need the help. She is upset at the revelations that some executives in charge of certain charities are paid overly generous salaries that support extravagant lifestyles. She points out that those same charities pay the charities’ employees less than minimum wages or rely upon unpaid volunteers to do the real work.
I didn’t have a good answer for this acquaintance, who I will not name. The only solution that came to mind was that if she really felt compelled to give to a charity, there are many others that treat contributions very frugally and do focus their aid to the people who do deserve help. Some of those charities are big name national charities and many are regional and local organizations. A person just needs to do some homework to find the charitable organizations that are good fits.
She countered this answer by saying she doesn’t believe her donations will make a meaningful difference in someone’s life. I mentioned that there are plenty of good causes that do make real differences in lives. In many cases small amounts of money can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved. In some countries, a few dollars will buy necessary medicine for a child or will provide food for a family for a day.
I pointed out that there are people everywhere who can be helped meaningfully everywhere in the world, even in America. This year, we had record breaking hurricanes and fires that impacted North America. Effective charities continue to provide life-saving supplies and medical help in the wake of these disasters. Even in the instance of Puerto Rico, where the disaster has been politicized, charities have been the important difference in some life and death situations. This type of help must continue even after the headlines focus elsewhere.
I don’t know if the acquaintance took my words to heart or not. I can only hope she did. She is financially able to do so. I have friends with very modest incomes who are still able to budget in charitable giving each year. A couple of pals volunteer their precious time to local charities.
As long as people have inhabited the Earth, some will suffer dire consequences through no faults of their own. They deserve aid and comfort as much as anyone else just because they are human beings. This holiday season, like others in the past, will be a time when numerous charities will request our contributions. It will be a time when we determine which ones will receive our gifts.
The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders a saying attributed by some people to Shakyamuni Buddha. “Speak the truth, do not become angered, give when asked, even be it a little. By these conditions one goes to the presence of the gods.”