Micawber’s Favorites – The Giving Edition

The Christmas season is all about giving, so to help everyone get in the Christmas spirit here are some of my favorite stories, videos, and resources related to giving:

My favorite Christmas story of the year and a timely reminder that gifts of service are often more meaningful and more important than gifts of “shiny objects.”

I have featured this article before but I couldn’t pass it up in my “Giving” edition.  Many of the people reading personal finance blogs closely track their spending each month and don’t have a lot of room in their budgets for spontaneous giving.  For people like that (myself included) the best way to make spontaneous giving part of your life is to make it part of your budget, and the way to do this is by establishing a “Giving Fund.”  I wholeheartedly endorse this practice, and if you haven’t read this article already, I recommend it. 

This great talk, only 4 minutes long, is well worth your time.  It is a timely reminder that we don’t have to do heroic deeds to give meaningful service.  Simple acts of kindness can be very powerful.

Here are a couple of giving stories I wrote in the past that I think everyone will enjoy:

All of us want our giving dollars to do the most good possible, but it is often difficult to know how to accomplish this.  Here are some links to some resources that will help:

This organization identifies the best charities in terms of how much good additional donations to the charity will bring about.  It maintains a list on its website of the top charities using this standard. 

This organization makes the claim that the best charities are up to 1,000 times more effective at doing good than other charities, so directing your money to only the best can magnify the good that it does.  It also maintains a list of top charities. 

These organizations take a different approach.  Instead of identifying top charities they each rate a large number of charities according to different measurements of efficiency and effectiveness.  It is a good idea to perform at least some research on a charity you are unfamiliar with before making a donation, and these resources are all excellent tools for the task.    

My last recommendation makes a compelling argument that you should ignore the standard way we grade charities and completely change our way of thinking:

Pallotta had a private company that raised money for aids and breast cancer research by staging large bicycle and running races.  His company raised $581 million dollars to support these causes but in 2002 it was forced out of business because of bad publicity due to high salaries and high overhead.  Pallotta argues passionately that an organization should be judged on what it accomplishes, not on overhead.  In other words, he thinks charities should be operated and judged more like businesses.  In fact he believes, in many cases, they should actually be businesses.  He states, “Our generation does not want its epitaph to be ‘we kept charity overhead low.’  We want it to read that ‘we changed the world…’”  He concludes, “The next time you’re looking at a charity, don’t ask about the rate of their overhead, ask about the scale of their dreams.”  This is a very powerful idea that deserves everyone’s consideration.           

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