Get out your pitchforks and torches! There’s gonna be an angry mob waiting for me at the end of this post!
I donated such a small amount of money to charity last year I should probably be ashamed of myself. I donated a small amount to the library, as well as a small amount to the food bank and some stuff to the Salvation Army for them to resell at the thrift store. The value of all three of those donations equals about $100. Pretty sad, I know.
I donate some of my time as well, sitting on my town’s public library board. While I take my commitment seriously, I have to admit it isn’t very much work. I show up to 1-2 meetings per month most months, eating up about 5 hours of my time. Every 3 months or so there’s a bigger project that requires 5-10 hours of work, whether it’s a special all-day meeting or some sort of fundraising effort. I think volunteering is important, especially if you’re a single guy like me with time to spare.
I almost contradicted myself there, didn’t I? I think volunteering is important, yet I donate a tenth of one percent of my salary. Why do I feel that way?
Time Is Money
First of all, my time is valuable. I don’t want to put a dollar value on it, but it does have value. So even though I’m not contributing money, I’m still contributing something of value.
By committing my time to a non-profit that I like, I’m still making a significant commitment. I’m not giving them money, granted, but I’m still contributing something. That’s the most important thing.
Spreading Out Donations Isn’t Very Effective
When I give $25 to the food bank, it doesn’t really make that big of difference. Hell, the boxes of outdated chips I deliver every so often probably go farther than my $25 did. If you’re a family collecting from the food bank, wouldn’t a bag of chips be a nice treat?
Many people take their charity money and spread it out among many, basically giving cash to any charity that asks them for it. I’d argue that giving is much more effective if someone picked only one or two charities that they really believed in and donated more money to them. That way their dollars would be more effective and can be earmarked for specific projects or items.
There are all sorts of charities out there who aren’t very responsible with donations. They’re inefficient or they have issues with staff either being paid too much or having too many staff in general. By giving money to those organizations, the giver is allowing this to continue. I’d want to see everybody get intimately involved with one or two organizations so they can know their money is being put to good use.
Unless something changes a great deal in the coming years, I plan to accumulate a lot of capital by the time I retire. I won’t say any specific numbers, let’s just say I plan to not be suffering any during my retirement. If I play my cards right, I’ll end up with a sizable estate to pass on to my children. (Assuming, of course, I can get a girl to touch my, you know)
Too bad my kids will barely see a penny of it.
I plan to give my kids a token amount at certain points in their lives- money for college, a down payment for a house and maybe when I die- and that’s it. I don’t plan on letting my kids leech on my hard work. I want to give them enough money to do anything, but not enough to do nothing. If I lend them money, the expectation will be they pay me back. Family or not, my offspring will learn the importance of paying their bills.
What’ll happen to all my money as I grow old? That’s the point of my life when I’ll start aggressively donating to charity. Once I reach a certain financial position and age, I’ll start to make substantial donations to causes I’ve known for years. I’ll pick and choose my spots, picking a few charities that are doing things I really believe in. Hopefully I’ll have enough money to fund some really cool projects, projects that will change people’s lives.
Bill Gates was really good at making computer software. Now he’s a really good philanthropist. His foundation is one of the best I’ve seen at figuring out a return on their charitable investment. When The Gates Foundation tries to cure malaria in Africa, they try to figure out the way to save the most lives. It’s like calculating an investment return. When I donate, I want to be able to see where my money is going and have a role in the way it’s spent. I can’t do that if I spread out a few hundred dollars a year.
Am I Heartless?
One could make the argument that I can both donate now and later. That’s true, I could easily up my donations to a few hundred (or even thousand) dollars a year and not have that amount greatly affect my estate. At this point in my life though, I’m much more interested in making the money then I am giving it away. At this point in my life, I wouldn’t be a good giver.
Like most people, there isn’t a lot left after I take care of my bills, pay my taxes and eat. What I do have left I mostly invest. Being that I’m still a relatively young guy with ambition, my focus at this point in my life is to make money. Once the focus of my life switches to philanthropy, then I’ll donate the money.
And if that makes me an ass, then so be it.