How Clients Can Give More Consciously and Joyously

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This time of year, we are surrounded by opportunities to give. Both our email inboxes and our snail mailboxes are jammed with solicitations for donations to charities, food banks, religious organizations, arts organizations, and more. We can give locally, nationally, or globally. There are numerous worthwhile organizations looking for support to carry out all types of good works.

We can’t say yes to every request. How do we decide who is genuinely in need? How do we know when our giving is helpful and when it might merely foster dependence or even be a scam?

The purest form of charity is to give to that person we know who truly needs some help today. Yet that is the rarest form of giving for most of us. In part it’s because of the social safety nets we have that we assume are helping people. In part it’s because of our own discomfort. Most of us don’t personally know homeless people or find out when acquaintances are struggling financially.

When I encounter panhandlers, I feel guilty when I walk by them. Yet I walk by anyway. In part this is because I don’t know whether the person is genuinely homeless or in need. Because I don’t know, I prefer to give through reputable organizations that help the homeless.

The same dilemma occurs with requests for giving to charities. Which ones are genuine? Which ones use their donations wisely? Which ones are dubious or poorly managed?