I could never afford to give to charity. At least that’s what I told myself. I saved, went on holidays and lived at the pub without thinking twice. But not donate. I couldn’t afford that. Out of sight, out of mind right? The closest I came was the occasional workplace collection for Cancer. This was a social duty. Who wants to look cheap and unsupportive in front of the very people you see everyday? I often thought “Where is this money actually going?”
What if there was a way to choose where your donations went? A more effective way. A way to be in control of making a difference. What a wild idea. Turns out you can, if you’re provided with the right tools, at the right time.
Reason 1 – Your money can save lives
I later found out that I wasn’t a heartless monster who was against donating, but wanted my money to go where it would make the most difference. Let’s call it bang for buck. This is a common concern. But I only discovered this when I heard about Effective Altruism on a podcast with William Macaskill. At a time when I wasn’t thinking about charity in the slightest.
It’s easy to get disillusioned with where your money is going and it’s impact but there’s proof it works. Instead of giving in to the confirmation bias that supports you not donating, take 20 minutes to research the benefits here. Out of sight, out of mind was reasonable 40 years ago with only a handful of television channels as information. Not now. The only barrier to information is willingness.
You might disagree with donating to overseas charities before noble causes on home soil. Many of us give emotionally so we tend to gravitate towards causes that are close to our hearts. It’s useful to look at where the greatest good can be done which may not be the cause we feel closest too.
Reason 2 – You will feel great
Who do you admire more, a Nurse or a Salesperson? (I say this working much closer to sales than nursing.) We don’t all have noble professions but what if your money could save lives? That’s pretty cool.
In a time when we are increasingly conscious of how we are spending our time, becoming a more effective giver should be on the list. Not least when the result is SAVING LIVES. (Have I mentioned how cool that is?)
This may require minor changes to your lifestyle. For me, it was simply avoiding one or two spontaneous spending splurges a month. I didn’t have to think about it after setting up the direct debit and I get more satisfaction from knowing the money is doing good.
Reason 3 – Your life won’t be any different
If you donate 3% of your monthly paycheck, you won’t notice a difference but those on the receiving end will. This paltry sum to you, could buy a family a tin roof that will protect them for 10 years.
As a side benefit, you’ll quickly realise you don’t need as much as you think you do. Learning to be happy with what you have not what you want. This is a gap many of us are reluctant to cross. A nicer car or bigger house will make us happier right? Increase our feelings of self-worth. More than saving lives?
It doesn’t take up much time either. Find the cause you wish to give to, set up a direct debit and then review once every 6 months.
We are great and so is everyone else
We fall into the trap of believing that our place in the world has come about as a result of our clever decisions. This often overlooks the ovarian lottery of where we were born. The Nobel prize winning social scientist Herbert Simon estimates around 90% of what people earn is based upon their social capital — the places, networks, and opportunities that make up their present circumstances. Without stable institutions like efficient banks, a reliable police force, functioning schools and fair criminal justice systems, it is very difficult to compete on a global scale.
I personally think that society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I’ve earned. If you stick me down in the middle of Bangladesh or Peru or someplace, you find out how much this talent is going to produce in the wrong kind of soil – Warren Buffett
Donate a portion of your monthly income to a worthy cause. Pay your good fortune forward. Don’t know where to donate? Have a look here. Your life will go on as normal and the lives of others will be better as a result.