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May 01, 2011


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We have two approaches.

On a broad scale, my wife and I started by deciding what sorts of charities we want to donate to. We're not all that interested in, for example, animal shelters, but we are interested in groups that effectively alleviate third-world poverty and suffering (particularly groups that focus on children/education, and groups that focus on business development/microloans.)

Then we look through Charity Navigator to find promising charities -- those that are generally very efficient and highly rated. Then we look over the websites to make sure they're really doing the thing we think is important. There's a lot of back and forth at this step, looking for the best combination of mission/focus and rating.

On a more narrow scale, we pay attention to our church, past churches, churches of family members, and other ministries we have a connection to. From time to time, they'll come up with a specific project that wasn't on our previous list. One church set up a food bank and clothing bank; another is in the "pray and wait" stage of acquiring a safe house for women and children leaving polygamy. Here, we end up in the "pray and wait" stage with them, and when God moves, we'll move accordingly.

I used to give to charities, but then I realized, I have so many friends who are just as poor as I am, or poorer, through no fault of their own, so now, I cut out the middle man, and give to my friends (when I can afford to give anything).

Charity does start at home. I help my sister and brother out if they are in tight situations. My brother had a stroke and is disabled and my sister is single.

Other than that we look to our church and church related orginizations.

We also give to boy scouts and girl scouts because these have been such wonderful orginizations for my son and my wife when she was growing up.

The biggest gift that some organizations can use is your volunteering and time.

I like giving to charitable organizations, but I really, really dislike getting the incessant mailings asking for money--especially the ones that feature pictures of sick or starving children on the envelope. Then I feel guilted into giving as opposed to giving simply because I know the organization does good work.

I usually pay attention to what I hear on Christian radio, what others who are strong in their faith are giving to, and what I have known in the past to be sound. I agree with Joe that getting on a mailing list will sometimes prevent my giving a one time gift because then I get on their mailing list and my small contribution goes to postage and envelopes.

I usually give to my church organizations, like the Children of Promise that help feed, clothe and educate children and their families in other countries. I now support 2 children - 1 in Ghana and 1 in Tanzania. I will try for a 3rd in June.

I also give monthly to the church college I attended. I ask that my money be put into the student fund, as it was the reason, at times, that I made it through the 2 years I was there.

I do not like the organizations that spend so much money on mailings. Even one a month would seem a little excessive, but 1 or 2 a week is very annoying to me. I am rethinking several of my donations at this time.

I will try checking the Charity Navigator mentioned above. This may help.

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