Sunday, December 6, 2009

Optimal Method of Charity?

So the Christmas season is upon us and for many from thanksgiving through now is the only time of the year they are charitable since this seems to be the time of year that its ok to ask for donations to food banks and for donations to needy families that can't afford food much more a great Christmas. For others charitable giving is a year round habit and possibly increased around this time of the year.

This brings up an interesting point in the realm of politics, and I'm really curious to know what the general public thinks about this issue. Unfortunately this little blog doesn't get nearly the feed back to determine what the general public thinks. None-the-less, I'd like to know what those of you reading this think?

The government collects billions (or is it trillions now?) of tax dollars every year for programs that many likely view as charitable. Here's the problem. The government doesn't set up incentives to lower the cost of operations of various programs and supporting departments. They are given budgets, and if they don't spend it, they loose it the next year and have no hope of asking for a bigger budget either.

On the other hand one, must be ware of charities. Not all are as thrifty as they claim to be. Or they have overhead that's likely as heavy as the governments. Or they could be quasi-governmental in that they operate from government grants. Which adds a 2nd level of overhead to the money given to needy people. However if you research the charity, you'll find some great ones with relatively fixed and low overhead from year to year and the more money they collect, the more good they can do with it.

So I want to know, what's your preferred method of charity? To let the government handle it in spite of low efficiencies, or to do your research and find charities that give most if not all of their money towards the people, animals, or causes in need? I'm sure you can guess my preferred method.


lolaforpresident said...

I tend to find myself on the receiving end of charity. And I tend to go to the government because they are secular and I feel more entitled to what they offer.

When I do give, I donate things rather than money. It is hard to see a shelter getting too drunk with power on a bunch of tubes of toothpaste. I never have the money to donate anyway.

One thing that makes me sad is how charities make it so easy to figure out how to donate, but if you need something from them it is impossible to find how to get it. I also tend to be biased by who I have actually been helped by. When the Salvation Army charges for the use of their shelter (which is only slightly cheaper than a hostile) I look at all the money they must be making on the thrift stores and wonder.

I tend to be skeptical of charity and I dislike getting religious overtones thrown at me for a jar of peanut butter. I do what I have to to feed my kid though.

Wow, I sound really ungrateful. I guess I just want to keep my dignity in a society that charges for food. I hope this helped.

Jay said...

I tend to give to charities in my own community...and limit those to ones that pretty much plow every penny into helping those they claim. I'm distrustful of big slick organizations who seem to spend a lot of money asking for money.

Chris Wysocki said...

Heh, don't bite on the MMF guy's spam comment!

I definitely investigate the charities to which I contribute. And I like to keep it local too. The food bank is a big winner for me, as is an organization which helps blind people lead productive lives. They both help people in our community and are proud of what good they have accomplished.

I avoid the big national charities (MDF, SA, Cancer Society, etc) because they collect so much money that your point about not spending it wisely is sadly spot-on. The small fry charities appreciate every dollar.

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