Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I am not a generous or giving person

I've thought about this sometimes. I really don't give to charities. Part of that is because I think a lot of charities are religious organizations and I refuse to give money to religion. And I have given to some organizations that I believe in, like the Planetary Society. But mostly, I give nothing.

I find I actually am annoyed when people come and ask me for money for charities. I guess I don't like it when people try and guilt you into something. So when I do give, it is only after I've looked at something on my own time and decided to give without someone thrusting a hat in my face asking for money.

At the same time, I seem to give rather large tips. But I don't see this as generosity, I see it as paying for a service and I expect to get what I pay for, meaning I expect to get good service. Maybe not right away, but eventually, I figure, if one has a reputation for generous tips, one gets better service. So I tip a minimum of 20% at restaurants, and even for curbside takeaway, I'll tip well over 10% (when some people probably tip nothing at all for pickup). For pizza delivery I'll give at least three dollars just for a single pizza.

When I pay babysitters, I am a stickler for paying for every minute they were at our home, because I treat their time as valuable (obviously rounding to the nearest dollar). My wife will somtimes not do this, which usually results in my complaining to her. Sometimes I need to prod her to give larger tips as well. It took me a while to convince her to give tips at curbside takeaway (we seem to get a lot of that now). I guess I subscribe to the Henry Ford model - give generous pay and workers will have money to buy your goodies (though I sell no goodies myself at this time).

If I ever open up my own law practice, I will continue this philosophy and make sure when people pay me they get their money's worth. But I am not generous. That is just good business. It sometimes amazes me that people don't realize this and act penny-foolish.


Replicant said...

I'm pretty much exactly the same way. I usually give to the Red Cross when there's some huge disaster, like OK City, the Xmas Tsunami, and Katrina. Other than that I don't typically give to charities, especially the Christian Children's fund. If the Pope can justify living in decadent extravagance he didn't earn, without giving it all to the starving and sick of the world, then they're not really serious about what they're doing, and I'm not going to give them my money. I realize the Pope doesn't speak for all christians, but the leaders of other christian sects are just as bad.

armagh444 said...



Enkidu said...

Hey, choose a secular charity. Personally, I favor OxFam to the tune of $100 a month.

DBB said...

I suppose I have given to what could be called secular charities and I have sometimes thought about providing for some in my will as some do for churches. I guess it just irks me that so much charitable giving surrounds religious things and I'd rather not give my money to religion, but I don't mind when it is a non-religious organization that is of my choosing. Maybe part of it is also a reluctance to just fork over money because someone asks, as opposed to because I independently decided to give based on my own research. I'm not quite sure why I make that distinction except that I just feel a strong urge not to give when asked directly for money - like a high-pressure salesman - I hate that.

nicole said...

In some ways I feel like you - I hate it when people call me up asking for money. My standard line is "I don't make promises over the phone, but you're welcome to mail me some literature to look over." Because maybe it really is a good charity...but I don't want to be pressured.

On the other hand, I do feel obligated to give some of what we make to charities. I don't know who said, "To whom much is given, much is expected", but I believe that. Yeah, my husband and I worked hard to get through school so we could have good jobs, blah, blah, blah...but we have also had a lot of advantages in life. Like growing up with parents who cared about us, going to decent schools, and giving birth to two bright and healthy kids. So we know how lucky we are, and feel like we should support charities whose mission it is to help people who want to help themselves. For this reason, we tend to give to "family-centered" charities- crisis nurseries, womens' shelters, children's hospitals...the kind of places that people end up when they're going through a hard time in their lives.

And since we donate to charities that we trust are well-run and are close to our hearts, we don't feel guilty about not giving to every telemarketer who calls asking for money.

armagh444 said...

Maybe part of it is also a reluctance to just fork over money because someone asks, as opposed to because I independently decided to give based on my own research.

I can understand that perspective.

I actually spent some time back when I was 19 working for a fundraising organization. Yes, I was one of those folks who called your house (generic you) to ask for money for the Red Cross or Public Television or for some political candidate. It was one of the more interesting jobs I ever had.

My own approach to telephone solicitations tends to be polite but somewhat cool, with the exception of calls from certain law enforcement associations and veterans groups. But those are groups I am already familiar with, have given to in the past, and want to give to anyway, so the call is more of a prompt for something I would already do than it is a demand.

beansa said...

I like to give time, because I have more time than money, and because I feel more connected to the cause that way. I also give stuff - like my kid's outgrown clothing/toys to the food & clothing bank in my neighborhood. I buy up all the crayons when they're on clearance somewhere and donate them to school, and I'm the friend who'll come do your dishes when you're having a bad week.

There are other ways to be generous too. I have seen you, DBB, be very generous with your legal knowledge in various places. You are certainly never stingy with your opinion, ha ha. Do you get particularly bothered by people asking for donations around the holidays? You've said you're an athiest - do you still celebrate xmas in a secular sorta way? I've always wished there was some sort of fund I could give to for the kids of low-income atheists during the "winter holidays."

hedera said...

I'm with nicole - I have a lot, and I feel I have an obligation to share as much as I can. I am not about to give all I have to the poor; I want to avoid becoming one of them. I think this is really because I was raised by New Deal Democrats (yes, they really were), who believed that those who have should help take care of those who have not.

I'm not an atheist like DBB; but I'm not conventionally religious either. I give to only 2 religious groups and they both work with the poor and homeless, a calling that seems to attract the religious. If there were a secular group that worked with the local homeless, I'd donate to them, but there isn't. But much of my giving is to secular groups, like the local library (which should, dammit, be supported by my taxes, but isn't fully...).

And I don't donate money in response to phone calls either. This gets me some really obnoxious responses from the local police association, I can't imagine why they think being rude to me would make me more likely to donate.

DBB said...

I think it is good to help those who need help (and can't help themselves). I often think of it in life phases as well. Right now, my parents do a lot of charity work, my mother especially - she's semi-retired and she volunteers. My father does as well. But then they don't have any college to save up for, they don't have to buy diapers anymore. They are probably right on track for retirement (as they are there and doing ok).

It is not that I won't give anything now, but I feel partly that I ought to take care of my own family first, and only if there is something left over from that would I consider giving. It makes no sense to starve my own children just so someone else then would have to give me food.

I hate being guilted into giving. Guilt just doesn't work on me - I see it as too much a tool of the religious (and annoyingly self-righteous - it is probably what annoys me about radical liberals the most - "ooo - who is the biggest victim! You must shut up because I'm a bigger victim than you!") If someone tries to guilt me into giving, it just makes me want never to give to that organization ever. The whole United Way extortion thing that every workplace I've been at has annoys me in that way. You can be sure I will never give to the United Way.