As in giving. Giving when you don’t have to, but rather want to.
One of the many good things Jamie and I took away from our brief collision with organized religion, was the concept of charity, of giving.
We had a visitation, at our former church, by the treasurer of the diocese, during which he presented an argument for “proportional giving”. PG, my abbreviation, not some cultish appurtenance draped casually off the shoulder, is simply this: choosing a percentage of your gross income, a percentage that pushes the boundries of comfort, then when a paycheck comes in, tithing that percentage of your income to the church. This is your way of thanking God, Higher Power, Whatever, for the privilege of taking space in His/Her/It’s world.
When Jamie and I took our leave of the organizational side of religion, veering into the less claustrophobic/psychotic land of “faith”, we carried the concept of “proportional giving” with us.
We don’t give the money to support a building any more. We, instead, give the money to support people.
When we left the church, we were both agreed that our giving should not come to an end. That it was right and good to, as they say, spread the wealth (such as it is), and so we both searched the internet for charities that we believed in, that we felt did more good than harm. That used our money wisely, effectively.
There are many charities out there. You know this, you get solicitations from them almost every day. It’s hard to choose. It’s hard to say “no”. It’s hard to know when to say “no” and when to say “yes”.
It is easier when you do your research and see what percentage of your funds goes to good works and what goes to fund raising. You’d be surprised, or not, at the number of charities that waste so many of the dollars, given freely and with the intent of doing good, in administrative costs, fundraising costs, etc. A friend recently did a bike trek around Ireland for Lance Armstrong’s cancer charity. I donated. I like my friend, I support her desire to do good. And frankly, more power to her, I certainly couldn’t have done that ride. And it did look amazing. Trouble is, Lance Armstrong’s cancer charity wastes a lot of the money it raises. And in the end, my friend probably would’ve done much more good donating the money it took to take the trip to a more financially concerned charity than actually taking the trip.
But in the end, I support her. We do what we do, and doing something is most often better than doing nothing.
What do Jamie and I do now that we’re not giving the funds to the church? We did a good deal of research; two wonderful sites for this are: Network for Good and Charity Navigator, both give ratings, ie: dollars donated/dollars used beneficially/dollars used to raise dollars. We both were drawn toward the concept of the micro-loan.
The micro-loan is, in a nutshell, a small loan given to an entrepreneur in a developing area – 3rd world country, impoverished area of a developed country – to help them grow and be more self-sustaining. To make a better life for themselves and, indeed, their community.
So Jamie chose FINCA and I chose Accion International. Both of the linked sites give a far better explanation of micro-finance than I do; even if you’ve no interest at this point in giving away any of your hard-earned cash (a totally understandable position), I’d urge you to read about this, it might, down the road, appeal to you.
Jamie donates totally to FINCA. I alternate, 1st of the month ,15th of the month, between ACCION and, what I consider an incredibly worth charity, Genesius Theatre. ACCION does amazing, life-changing work, but Genesius is the only reason I’m here writing this today.
Fodder for another blog, but suffice to say, without the second home I found in Genesius Theatre, the 11 year old, self-aware, fat homosexual child, who wound up growing into me, would never had made it through High School. Yes, it’s a sad song that few wish to hear, but the suicide rate of gay pre-teens and teens is astounding; such is the society we live in. I easily could have been a statistic had it not been for the community I found at Genesius.
What I donate to Genesius is a pittance compared to what that theatre gave me: love… and life.
Ohhhh dear, I’ve become so damned preachy and maudlin, haven’t I? Well, one more thought then I’ll get off my soapbox.
We all, myself included, can do so much better than we do to make this world better. Every day is a struggle with the mundane, regimented march that is life. A struggle that most often makes us forget how damned lucky we are to be here; how miraculous life really is. It is so easy to forget.
I’d urge you to give something back. Doesn’t need to be money; could be time, clothes, service, whatever. Just give something back; it’s good for the heart, it’s good for the soul, it’s good for the world. Best of all, it doesn’t require that you believe in any “higher power”, just the beliefe that you can do some little good in this world.
And that’s not such a bad thing at all.
And now, as it’s 1AM, I’d better get my ass to bed so I can get up and get to work so all the above is possible.