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August 27, 2008

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I think your #4 is on target.

I give overseas because there is such a great need, and because I have learned some things after living in Los Angeles and Manhattan:
1. Most American homeless have an incredible access to food and rehabilitation.
2. Most American homeless are drug addicted and choose to live on the streets.
3. The homeless in America not only know where to get food, but travel cities knowing when and where food will be served.
4. Some American poor have poverty thrust upon them, most do not.
5. America does have poverty and inequality, but Haiti has people literally eating mud. America doesn't have that level of poverty.

I consider myself a citizen of the world (immigrant etc) so generally give overseas and to groups in my home country. I donate time locally. I agree with the last line of your point 4 though, different horses different courses. It would be bizarre to give based on what the next guy/gal over does.

I'm more for doing what is in your immediate backyard, whereever that may be. By process of elimination, if each person who cared about their neighbors and donated to their local area, the overall issue would subside.

We have to start somewhere, and doing so locally would positively reinforce the donating parties behavior by seeing the good their work/donation has had on people's lives.

I basically follow #4 point from FMF. I give to charities that I like with a mix of home and abroad. I think theres good value in paying a few dollars to save lives in the 3rd world but I also feel an obligation to help my neighbors.

Jim

My church supports programs both locally and internationally, and I think they are both important.
Working with the poor in this country has the potential to have real human relationships and real cross cultural experience-there is nothing quite like talking to people in poverty to shake up my foundations. Jesus clearly had a model of not just giving money but also relationships to people who were in poverty.
On the other hand, presuming that all of our efforts should be local ignores the gross disparities of wealth between the United States and the rest of the world. If (Hypothetically) America split all of its wealth equally to every citizen, everyone would be middle class. If Bangladesh did the same, everyone would be living on 3$ per day. Its my belief that part of the Christian calling is to recognize that 5% of the world's population using 40% of its resources is evil.

I try to give at home and abroad. I agree that you get most help for your dollar by giving to the developing world, but I also believe that ignoring the suffering of people around you is bad for your soul. So most of my money goes to other countries, but some goes to food pantries in the city where I live. I don't want to be someone who can see a person suffer and do nothing for them, even if in the grand scheme of things their problems are less serious.

StLPastor has it right, I think. Maybe if Joe had some actual contact with actual poor people in his community (beyond brushing off a panhandler), he'd be better informed about how poverty works in this country (and more compassionate). I reserve a small portion of my charitable giving for direct donation on the street, even though I know it's not the most efficient use of my charitable dollar, because those people are my fellow human beings, too, and I don't want to forget that. But it's wrong to ignore the consequences of America's usurpation of wealth, too. So some sort of split is probably best.

I say MYOB about your friend's giving. How is it any of your business at all? You can bet she's not going to share with this judgmental, self-righteous "friend" again.

Over time, my giving has been going to developing countries. It is hard to ignore situations when people lack even very basic items, such as clean water.

My wife and I have a conscious direction for our charitable giving. We will only donate to our church, Christian organizations with a bent towards human service or evangelism, and human service agencies that directly help the poor, impoverished, sick, homeless, etc.

Some may be offended by what I'm about to say...but it honestly bothers me when someone makes a huge donation to a dog pound, or to "the arts", when there are people in the world with no water to drink, no food, horrible treatable diseases, etc. I understand that each person has their own personal convictions, but I value human life and the state of human living more highly than I do an art project, or the care of animals.

Sarah said: **"Maybe if Joe had some actual contact with actual poor people in his community (beyond brushing off a panhandler), he'd be better informed about how poverty works in this country (and more compassionate). I reserve a small portion of my charitable giving for direct donation on the street, even though I know it's not the most efficient use of my charitable dollar, because those people are my fellow human beings, too, and I don't want to forget that."**

Panhandlers don't lack for basic human necessities like shelter, food, or water, since human service organizations provide those necessities to them. Any organization that serves the homeless will confirm that your "donations" of cash go directly to alcohol or drugs in virtually EVERY case. Though your conscience is being satisfied by giving that money away, in reality you are enabling people by giving them your change.

75% or more of homeless people are drug addicted, mentally ill, or both. Only recovery programs will get them off the streets and back into a self-sustaining lifestyle. My recommendation is that you cease your handouts, and give to a quality homeless shelter WITH a recovery program oriented towards not just providing food, but solving the core issues that lead to homelessness. If you really don't want to turn people down, and you truly believe they're hungry, hand out $5 McDonalds gift cards, or personally pay for their meal. Don't give them money - you're just hurting matters when you do.

By the way, my wife worked for about 2 years at the top homeless shelter/recovery center in our area.

Interesting post and responses... I guess you could say we pretty much stick to all of the above, when it fits. We tithe to our local church (who uses some of their funds for local community causes), we financially "adopted" a child in a developing nation through a Christian organization, and we give when we see a need. (for example, a janitor at the school my wife teaches at became seriously injured and did not have health insurance--we gave his family a check to help with the expenses... He barely knew my wife and I had never met him but he was amazed that someone would do something like that--a great tool to share the Gospel!)

By the way, the pastor at our church mentioned this website (www.globalrichlist.com) the other day. Not sure how terribly accurate it is, but it's still kinda interesting...

I like how we are deeply concerned about the dangers of "enabling" homeless people. You would totally give them money, but oh, no, you might be "enabling" them to abuse substances!!! I find that a contemptible form of faux-compassion; you get to pretend you care about the person while conveniently keeping your money in your pocket.

I'm not naive about where much of that money is likely to end up. That's not actually the main point. And it's not like not giving homeless people money is somehow magically going to put them into rehab (which is actually radically underfunded in this country) or get them proper treatment for mental illness (if their illness was being well-treated in the first place, would they be on the streets?).

The (substantial) majority of my charitable donations go to organizations that I think will spend the money effectively to help the most people. But there are other values in play here as well; one of them is not to harden yourself against the direct personal appeals for help of your fellow human beings. If you only extend compassion towards people who fit your narrative of deserving it, you're not doing it right. We're all of us deserving--or none of us. I'm an agnostic now, but that's actually what I learned in church growing up, and I still believe it.

Sarah,

time for you to hop off the "high horse". Many people who post here are concerned that each dollars goes as far as it can. We each have only so much to give and the needs are great. You seem to be accusing people of trying to find ways of keeping money in their pocket, when in fact, some people take stewardship very seriously. Perhaps you want to spend some time going over previous posts.

For me, I have been convicted to provide funding aimed at developing countries. Many people lack access to even clean drinking water (which we take for granted). I can't tackle everything, but I think I can make a difference in that particular area. Sorry to be a bad guy in your eyes.


As most of my tax dollars already go to involuntary charity in the form of supporting the various dimwits, dimbulbs and simpletons who are always looking for a handout (e.g., "Gee, George, I didn't know I couldn't afford a $780,000 home on a $40,000 annual income"), I restrict my voluntary charitable giving to animal charities and veterans' organizations.

Sarah said **"I like how we are deeply concerned about the dangers of "enabling" homeless people. You would totally give them money, but oh, no, you might be "enabling" them to abuse substances!!! I find that a contemptible form of faux-compassion; you get to pretend you care about the person while conveniently keeping your money in your pocket."**

I find your post to be off base. My money isn't staying in my pocket. I donate to charities that help these people.

Sarah said: **"I'm not naive about where much of that money is likely to end up. That's not actually the main point. And it's not like not giving homeless people money is somehow magically going to put them into rehab (which is actually radically underfunded in this country) or get them proper treatment for mental illness (if their illness was being well-treated in the first place, would they be on the streets?)."**

You seem to be arguing against your own point here. You agree that most of the money you hand these people goes to fuel their drug and alcohol habit, while simultaneously bemoaning that rehab and mental health centers are under-funded? Could everyone's pocket change not make a major impact to assist rehab centers, rather than being used to score more addictive drugs?

It sounds like the only things you're doing is avoiding telling a panhandler "no" - you're not helping them.

Sarah said: **"The (substantial) majority of my charitable donations go to organizations that I think will spend the money effectively to help the most people. But there are other values in play here as well"**

Good.

Sarah said: **" ...one of them is not to harden yourself against the direct personal appeals for help of your fellow human beings. If you only extend compassion towards people who fit your narrative of deserving it, you're not doing it right. We're all of us deserving--or none of us. I'm an agnostic now, but that's actually what I learned in church growing up, and I still believe it."**

So, by refusing to hand money to people, who we both agree will likely spend it to buy drugs or alcohol, I'm "not doing charity right?" I think we differ here in how to "help" people. Your definition seems to be "give to anyone who asks, regardless of need, cause, or motivation on their part". If that person spends the money on drugs, so be it, I still helped them. My definition is "give to effective causes, and don't help fuel a homeless person's drug addiction." I guess we'll have to agree to disagree there.

We are indeed all deserving of a basic standard of living, and should receive help when needed. I fail to see how fueling a person's drug habit "helps" them in any way, shape, or form.

Todd,

I have to ask, why do you feel that it's more important to give to animal charities (which I assume are shelters, save the "xxx" efforts, recovery/rehab efforts, etc.) than to help provide basic human necessities to people who are starving to death?

I understand your aversion to what you perceive as forced donations through taxation, but what about individuals in poor countries who can't be helped by their countrymen or government?

My opinion is that human life is infinitely more valuable than any animal - I don't intend to appear adversarial, so I apologize if I come across that way, but - why would you rather help an abandoned dog than save a starving child's life?

I live in a very small rural town and give locally with my time. I volunteer at my local library, humane society and food bank. I also helped arrange two big fundraisers for my library in the past year. I donate financially to whatever interests me but usually not to local entities. The charities I have donated to financially this year include both domestic and international charities. Honestly I've never thought much about how far my dollar stretches. I went through a period where I never donated to anything because I was completely paralyzed by worrying about whether or not the charity was legitimate. Then I felt guilty all the time for not giving. So I just jumped in. I think where you give is much less important than THAT you give. It's a completely personal choice and really no one's business.

My investments are diversified across the world, so it's only natural that my giving is diversified internationally as well.

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