Dec 20

Charity is Year ‘Round

In Brief—The holiday season is not the only time in the year to contribute to a worthy cause designed to make life better for those less fortunate.


Giving is More Powerful than Prayer (Gandhi)—

Joined hands:globeA couple of weeks ago, I suggested that we give to a worthy cause rather than spend the money on something that will wind up unused. There are many people in the world who do not have the bounty that we enjoy. They may be young or old, able or disabled, homeless, refugee or abused. One thing they all have in common is that they are in need.

As I write this, it is Black Friday when people elbow one another aside to buy a “thing” at supposed reduced prices. Spend, spend, spend. Meanwhile, many humans live on pennies per day or eat out of dumpsters. Those are the ones who need us to remember and share our bounty, so they can live for a better day,

As I write this, thousands of people flee death and violence in the hope that tomorrow will be a better day. They live in hovels or tents or beside the road or risk their lives in leaky boats. They put themselves in the hands of heartless “coyotes” to escape violence in their native countries. Whether refugees from across the ocean or south of America’s border, they seek the promise of safety. Whether they have a different color of skin or live in a run-down building, they need our helping hand.

That’s what this is about. It doesn’t make any difference what the calendar says, let’s open our wallets and our hearts to make their lives a bit easier.

What You Can Do—

Charity Navigator Rating

Charity Navigator Rating

To make sure that your charitable giving goes to those in need, I suggest you do the following: into your browser type the name of the organization to which you want to give, follow that name with the words “administrative costs, donations” and then CLICK on “Charity Navigator Rating” to see where the organization stands.

You may want your donation to go to a small or unlisted organization. I suggest you ask the organization for a statement of their administrative costs. The important thing is to make sure your donation goes to those in need rather than into some greedy organizer’s pocket.

The homeless are looking for a safe roof over their heads and a hot meal. There are reliable organizations that can assist them. The financially pressed and needy folks need a place to live, decent food and a job. You can’t give them that, but several charitable organizations can provide assistance. Refugees have enormous needs, too. Look for the best and make a donation rather than spending your hard-earned money for a “thing” that may go unused.

Nicholas Kristof of the Times has suggested that donations be made to some charities that he believes are worthy. Mine-sniffing rats may sound frivolous, but they save human lives. Readers may want to consider Kristof’s choices.

You might be interested in giving the gift of reading to a child as suggested by Frank Bruni of the Times. Reading can be the difference between failure and success. It can change a child’s life. Check it out.

Among the comments from readers of the earlier piece was that the contribution need not be in terms of a monetary contribution but could be the donation of personal time to a worthy cause such as working at a homeless shelter. That is good, but volunteering one’s time at a profit-making corporation or an arm of government is not contributing to a worthy cause. Neither is dropping money in the church’s collection basket on the sabbath. Instead, make that contribution to people who are in need.

The point of this piece is that your giving can be a year ‘round practice. The holiday season is a good time to give. Giving all year is better yet. Make giving to a worthy cause a regular practice.


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    • Donna Boe on December 21, 2015 at 00:42

    I couldn’t agree more, although the appeals increase a lot this time of year. Our problem is that there are too many causes we support and it is hard to determine which of the environmental, veteran, human trafficking, human rights, etc. to support. I have been checking them out with Charity Navigator and am a little surprised that some of the ones I had admired the most have the CEOs that earn far more than CEOs of other charities. Amnesty International, Southern Poverty Law Center are but two examples of ones that didn’t have a top rating. On the other hand, it was affirmative that others I support, such as Shared Hope International, scored four stars in all catagories.
    You are also correct that the needs exist year round, not just during the holidays and before the deadline to get a tax write off. – and so do the appeals. We have more than enough calendars, note pads, address labels, wrapping paper, and other freebies that come with these appeals. I wish they’d just spend their money on the cause they are helping.
    Giving of your money is one thing. Giving of yourself, such as the examples you gave, is also extremely important. That’s why Roger and I will be helping to distribute Meals on Wheels on Christmas Day -not as hard for us as for those who have families here to help celebrate.
    Thanks for the good reminders and good advice.

      • Don Bay on December 21, 2015 at 15:38

      A donor can go broke giving to all the worthy organizations that solicit donations. One has to be realistic and selective…or give less to more charities. Any amount will be appreciated. And giving of one’s time to a worthy organization is a marvelous way to donate. Your donating your time to Meals on Wheels on a holiday is truly admirable. You and Roger deserve a pat on the back, and I’m sure your effort will be appreciated.

    • Art Ulene on December 21, 2015 at 02:33

    Don….. The Kristof charity list is way out of date, and contains at least one charity (20x20x20) that has a horrible reputation for the way money is spent. (It’s actually a marketing arm of WonderWork, a “charity” that raised $9 million in 2014 and spent one-third of that on fund-raising. The CEO of WonderWork was fired from Smile Train. Last year, he collected nearly $500,000 in salary for running WonderWork. (The top four employees took home a million bucks. Here’s a useful link in Charity Watch:

      • Don Bay on December 21, 2015 at 15:28

      I have looked over Kristof’s recommendations and, try as I might, I can’t find the charities you refer to. Though I haven’t checked deeper into those charities Kristof lists, 20/20/20 is not among them. I appreciate your diligence, but I can find no problems with Kristof’s list. You might tell me where to look.

      Thanks for the link to Charity Watch. I have looked at the site and checked a sampling of the many organizations listed on that site. Anything a potential donor can do to assure that his/her donation will go to those intended rather than into somebody’s pocket is worth the time.

    • Kathy on December 21, 2015 at 16:02

    I’m into giving locally. When I have a little money available, I like it to go into my community where I can see it at work. I give to Animal Humane in Albuquerque (which gets a 4-star Charity Navigator rating) and my local vet’s Angel Fund, which provides vet care for the pets of people who can’t afford it. In general, I feel animals and the environment need the most help. They have no voice and no choice of what humans do to them.

      • Don Bay on December 21, 2015 at 18:18

      Giving locally is good as long as it goes to the deserving. There’s no doubt that animals and the environment deserve all the help we can give them. Sounds like your local giving goes for a good cause. Hat’s off to the vets for treating animals whose owners can’t afford the costs. Hats off to you all for taking in abandoned dogs and giving them a caring home. It’s win-win for the dogs and for you. More people should be like you all.

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