August 20, 2009, 5:00 am

My Point of View on Charity

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Personal Finance
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homeless2Imagine waking up every morning and leaving home to go to work:

You open the Metro (subway) doors and the smell is as intense as a thunderstorm, you can pratically cut it with a knife. You haven’t taken 5 steps and this smell is getting to you; the smell of garbage, pee… and other stuff. You keep walking towards work and you see one, two, three, twelve people in a row looking at you. Their lips move but you don’t hear them; the latest hit from the Black Eyed Peas is too loud through your earbuds. However, you know what they are saying: “Do you have any spare change? I’m hungry”. Then, when they realize you won’t put your hand in your pocket, they look at you in a disgusted way. You are the (evil) man in a suit after all; you can afford to give them money.

All right, I am exaggerating a bit here; this is not exactly how it goes every morning when I go to work. However, since I work downtown, I sometimes get a terrible whiff when I walk through the Metro. I do encounter at least 5 people on my way to the branch (and 5 more when I come back after work). And they are all begging for money… and most of them despise me for “being well dressed” and not sharing my money. The truth is that I can’t afford to support 10 people a day (on top of my family!).

Most of us don’t see that much poverty around us. I used to work in another part of Montreal and I would rarely encounter the homeless. My new branch seems “more popular” for this clientele. While it is not always “fulfilling” to walk by them daily, it makes me realize how fortunate I am. I had a decent upbringing, nice parents and received a good education. I guess it is a big part of why I am the person I am today.

So the question that kills: Should you be giving to the homeless? How can you walk by them without thinking a second to give them a few quarters? I told you, I can’t afford it!

The truth is that I don’t believe in solving today’s problem when today’s problem will become tomorrow’s problem. The root of their misery doesn’t lie in the fact they didn’t eat today. They have much bigger problems if they live in the streets.

I give money selectively

Unfortunately, we live in a world with a lot of problems. Some kids are born into families with little support, some of them go to school without food in their belly. These kids may become troubled teenagers doing drugs or messing around late at night. There is a risk of becoming derelicts in the street, jobless… homeless… While those tragedies happen, other people are dying from disease, are in need of a blood transfusion because of a car accident, others are held prisoner in another country… and so on and on and on…

The good news is that there are many organizations trying to help these people. It is towards these organizations that I offer my money. Being a father of 2 amazing kids, I lean towards any charity helping children. According to me, this is important. For someone else, it will be cancer or the homeless. But I believe in one thing; if you are living a comfortable life, you should definitely consider helping others.

I don’t spread my money around the globe. I select a few organizations to which I contribute. Charities that mean something to me. I don’t believe in giving money to a person that may be buying drugs. I prefer giving to an organization that will try to really help them improve their situation.

I actually feel good when I give. Try it, you will see, you’ll feel like a “much better person”. My personal dream would be to completely finance a dream of a sick child. I would like to visit the Children’s Dream Foundation and give them a check of $10,000… this would be amazing. In the meantime, I try to send a few hundred every year.

Are you giving any money? To individuals or to charity?

image source: bopswave

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also I only give when I can receive a donation receipt. this means I never say yes to the cashier when asked if I would like to add a $1 to my grocery bill or (big meanie) to the boy scouts selling apples outside the liqour store. (although I do buy a poppy from the salvation army in November). I also always check the “receipt wanted” box when there are fundraising events at my kids’ school (like jump rope for heart). Why not take advantage of these deductions if they are available. the organization gets the same money either way and this way I have more to give.

on a side note, everyone needs to watch for donation schemes. if you are offered a receipt in excess of your donation amount, then run! these scams are being audited (sometimes years later) and the resulting penalties and interest can be substantial. you can also verify the legitimacy of a charity on the CRA website where they have a search feature and they show who is ok and which charities have had their licenses revoked.

I’m blessed to have never known how it is to be living on the streets and I know how you feel walking past homeless people. My heart breaks for the homeless and sometimes I’ll stop and give some money. However, I’d rather go and buy them a burger or something and sit and talk to them – which I’ve done on occasion. But I think the best way is to give to the individuals and charities who’s mission it is to help and reach out to the homeless. Also, help the missions and charities that are on the cutting edge of helping people ever getting into homelessness. Thanks for your honest post.

[…] My Point of View on Charity […]

I used to work at a non-profit organization in the inner city of Winnipeg and I often got asked for donations. I used to give a fair bit of money even though I wasn’t making very much. Very often the request was so the person could buy food. So I stopped giving money and started offering to take him or her to a neighbourhood restaurant. I stopped altogether when the beggars started to get aggressive and belligerent because they only wanted the money. NO ONE ever took my offer of food. Now I give to charities that help street people and for the most part ignore beggars.

by: The Financial Blogger | August 26th, 2009 (9:19 pm)

I actually wondered a few times what would be their reaction if I was to offer food… quite interesting to find that I almost avoid getting beaten up 😉

[…] Financial Blogger from The Financial Blogger presents My Point of View on Charity, and says, “Should you be giving to the homeless? How can you walk by them without thinking a […]

[…] The Financial Blogger discusses his views about giving money to the homeless and how he chooses a charity in his post My Point of View on Charity.  The Financial Bloggers charity of choice is The Children’s Dream Foundation.  As a father of 2 young kids, he chooses to give to charities that help out children in need. […]