How do you decide which charities to support?

April 25, 2008 | 47 comments

Tomorrow is my day to go through mail and pay bills. One of the things I always dislike about this activity (other than typing all those large numbers into Quicken when the student loan check comes up) is that, each week, I have to make the painful decision to discard a large stack of solicitations from worthy charities.

Even disregarding the ones that are suspicious and/or get a low charitable commitment rating from Forbes, there are a lot of wonderful organizations out there! Just last week I received pleas for help from reputable charities that help everyone from impoverished Native Americans to the elderly to abused children to women in crisis pregnancies to kids who need scholarships to the poor of America to the poor of the rest of the world. Every time I’m done going through mail I have this discouraging feeling of “SO MANY people need help SO DESPERATELY and I have SO LITTLE to give!”

I always struggle with whether to give a little bit of money to a lot of charities, or to focus on giving as much as possible to just one or two. Currently we’re going with the latter strategy. We decided on Food for the Poor as our charity of choice and planned to give large amounts (by our standards) to them…although the effective outcome has been that we just blow our charitable giving budget because I end up writing lots of smaller checks for all sorts of causes that I just can’t say no to.

And now Shannon and BooMama have me yearning to sponsor a Compassion child, which is going to mean re-thinking how much we give to other organizations in order to work it into the budget (after we look at other ways to cut back as well, although that’s a whole different story).

So I ask you: Does anyone else struggle with this? If so, how does your family deal with this dilemma? Do you give a little bit of money to a lot of different organizations or reserve your available funds for just one or two? And advice?

47 Comments

  1. Kate

    I was fundraising for my college once and spoke by phone with a woman who simply put all the worthwhile causes in a pile, prayed over it, and picked a different one to donate to each month.

    I tend to give a little something a lot of places, mostly because I only ever have a little something to give at any time. But I like the idea of praying and asking God’s guidance, and then giving to one or two places where you feel particularly called. We don’t all ‘have a heart for’ (to use some charismatic type language) every cause, but that’s ok – it’s not our job to save the world. It is our job to be faithful, in the little things as in the big ones.

    Kate

  2. Daniel

    A priest whom I respect told me that when it comes to charitable contributions (outside of one’s parish) he donates to something local, national & international. This method keeps us engaged on multiple levels and spreads resources (meager though they may be) to the wider Church.

    When the solicitations come along, pray about them and then fill the slots. I’ve found it to be a good approach.

  3. toddleddredge

    My mom and I were just talking about this. She only gives to Christian charities because she says that they only get contributions from other Christians and so are drawing from a smaller donor pool, which includes her.

    We have never yet managed to actually give a tithe of our income to our local congregation, so I don’t give much outside the church until we can manage that. We just took on one regular contribution to an outside charity and I think that will be it. I try to focus our giving on our local congregation for much the same reason as my mom; if we don’t support the church we go to, who will?

  4. Jennifer F.

    Great advice already!

    Veronica –

    We have never yet managed to actually give a tithe of our income to our local congregation, so I don’t give much outside the church until we can manage that.

    You know, this is a really good point. I think this might have been one of the things nagging at me in the back of my mind when I wrote this post. We do support our parish…although we’re not yet at the true tithe level. I guess I should also think about whether / how much to support support other charities if I’m not supporting my parish as much as I could.

    Great thoughts, thank you!

  5. Rocks In My Dryer

    Great question, and one we’ve struggled with. We’ve chosen a small number of “causes” to give to and concentrate our giving on those, rather than spreading it out. Generally, we prefer to give to organizations that aren’t just Christian in nature, but are affiliated with a local church in some form. It provides an extra layer of accountability, and, more importantly, it’s just really what the body of Christ is supposed to be doing. The Church is the organization specifically ordained by God for works such as these. Using this criteria has helped us when we’re faced with the overwhelming decision of what to support. (And I know, that wouldn’t work for everyone, depending on their beliefs, but it’s really worked for us.)

    And (I’m sorry, I feel like this is really rambly) this is one of the reasons I’m so excited about Compassion. Every one of their projects–without exception–is operated in conjunction with a local church. That just seems like a really good model to me.

  6. Tausign

    Supporting our parish is not charitiy but rather a duty and obligation. I don’t know whether you’re thinking 10% when you say the word tithe…but Catholics rarely give that amount to the parish. The best way to gauge that is to look at the parish treasurers report and make some judgement of your commitment based on the number of families in the parish. I’m guessing but I would suspect your pastor would be quite happy if the entire parish gave 2% of income. Ask him for guidance.

    Regarding actual charities my main commitment is to sponsoring a family on a long term basis. I’ve supported two families (one then another)over a period of 20 years with a monthly donation to the Franciscan Family Apostolate, here’s the link [http://www.openhearts.org/index.html] I like this approach as it involves written contact and some level of personal communication and relation with these people on the other side of the earth. We pray for each others family.

    Actually you must realize by now that our names get passed around on lists, so sending money to all is impossible. But I do have ‘slots’ as you suggest. Our local ‘soup kitchen’ is something I support though my Franciscan Fraternity as a group apostolate. Oh, and mustn’t forget the Annual Bishops Appeal which actually covers most of the needs of the Diocese.

    Prayer is the answer…and remember that ‘it’s in giving that we receive’.

  7. majellamom

    Well, we’ve done all sorts of things over the years. One I do NOT suggest is this:

    1 Lent, at least 3 years ago, we were having a hard time financially, so we decided to send a small amount to any charity that contacted us during that Lent ($5-$10 range…more for charities that we really believe in) So, now at least 3 years later, I regularly recieve newsletters from a diocese in Alaska (we’re in CO) because we sent them $5 3 years ago. I’m sure it’s just a mailing list issue, but I don’t forsee us taking on this particular charity again…so it bugs me every time I get something in the mail.

    Right now we have the following plan:

    Give 5-6% of income to parish
    Give 1% to our Archbishop’s appeal
    Give remaining amount to other charities. We have a commitment to $30 a month for our sponsored child through CFCA, and we try to always give something to a prolife profamily organization…usually either the Couple to Couple League or One More Soul.

    When I get a solicitation in the mail, I try to pray about it a little bit (particularly the political ones…give us money to fight this proabortion legislation, etc.) and I set aside the ones that are more important to me at that time. When we have some extra money in the budget, hubby and I talk about what to send to who. I currently have 4 – CCL, One More Soul, St. Gianna’s Maternity Home and the parish near my parent’s summer/retirement home’s building fund.

    We each get a blow fund of a little cash each pay period, and that is what we use for second collections and the like where the opportunity to give is right then.

    I think everyone who gives struggles with this! Perfectly normal!

  8. Heather

    When we are attending a church we tithe there (complete tithe–God really does bless this obedience) and freely give when we have extra as God leads. When we are home-churching, as we are now, we prayerfully consider a ministry that we feel is doing God’s will, preferably something smaller that doesn’t send out shiny brochures and CD’s and have huge fancy websites. If a group has enough to send fancy things in the mail and lots of it then they have too much spare change or are using it poorly.

  9. truthfinder

    This post comes at a time when I am struggling with the same thing.
    The comments were very helpful. I guess I can’t say to my own parish, “Sorry, I can’t give you what is rightfully yours — someone else needs it.” I am going to begin praying, “Father, please increase our ability to give.” and see what happens. Thank you, Jen.

  10. The Wounded Idealist

    For Christmas and Easter, my family all throws any money we would have spent on presents for each other in a pot. Then each person picks a charity, we write it on a piece of paper, throw those in a hat and pick one. That charity gets the money and we don’t exchange gifts. We don’t repeat charities either. It’s much more rewarding than a new sweater.

  11. Kim

    I just want to mention what a gift it has been to have the opportunity to sponsor a child. I went not through Compassion but Christian Children’s Fund (not affiliated with a church) so I can only speak for that organization.

    It has been a learning experience for my oldest daughter who helps me write letters and send small gifts. We were able to purchase a mosquito net for our child as we learned she did not have one. It is but a drop in the bucket, however our family has learned valuble lessons. Truly in giving you receive.

  12. Patience

    I have one charity to which I donate money, mainly because I personally know what great work they do, but also because I know 100% of the money goes towards the actual work. But otherwise we don’t give money, we give time. We volunteer to collect for some organisations, or my dd will do something like a readathon, or we’ll donate clothes and toys, or we’ll find another way to provide practical input.

  13. lyrl

    Our synagogue asks members to give 1.75% of their income and we do that. Receiving that level of support from its membership allows the synagogue to pay the rabbi’s salary, the electric bill, etc. I believe churches that request 10% generally give a significant amount away as charity: that way, the congregation is giving as a whole instead of each member struggling on their own with the decision of which organizations to support.

    For my husband and I, we like to give to the same charities every year. I enjoy following the progress a group is making, and as majellamom pointed out, this minimizes the wasted (in the sense we don’t response) mailings charities send to us.

    We give to one or sometimes two groups every month, I think 14 are currently on our rotation. We did not find any of them through mailings; they’re groups my husband and I were aware of and feel called to support.

    With mailings I open them, find the card with our name and address and shred it, then put everything else in the recycle bin (except for address labels, which I will use). There are just way too many for me to be able to deal with them.

  14. Mary L

    Sometimes, especially when a solicitation envelope for a worthy cause arrives in the mail and I know we can’t spare financial support, I try to say a short prayer for their efforts before I throw the envelope away. It helps assuage the guilt that I feel about not helping them out financially and it reminds me to have faith that prayer is worthwhile even if I never see the tangible results.

    Mary

  15. Anonymous

    We donate about half to our parish/diocese and for the other half, only to organizations that do not accept government money, trying to balance between local/national/international. We do not consider whether the org. is Christian, though most of the ones we select are. We select organizations that have charisms close to our own hearts. Jen, you need to understand that there is far more need out there than you can possibly respond to on a personal level, so you need to set your financial parameters, then decide on any other parameters (e.g. for us, no government support is a requirement), then just do it. No reason you can’t change your mind next year, if you so choose. And it goes without saying that prayer helps it all 🙂

  16. Amber

    I think the best advice I ever read on the matter of charitable giving was to take all the solicitations that pass first muster (i.e. aren’t corrupt, fake, etc) in a folder and evaluate them once or twice a year, allocating money from your budget to the ones that stand out the most. They recommended giving more to fewer rather than spreading the money out more, because that way your donation would do more than just cover their administrative costs for your donation.

    Personally, I don’t like to donate to causes that send out mailings, especially lots of mailings. I prefer to donate, like someone else mentioned, to something local, something regional/national, and something international. For us that tends to be our parish, an international relief agency with a very low overhead and a great rating on Charity Navigator, and the local food bank. When finances get a little less tight, I would also like to start giving to our local crisis pregnancy clinic and at some point I’d love to sponsor a child through something like http://www.cfcausa.org/, which I heard about at my old parish last year.

  17. Anonymous

    Certainly make serious, prayerful consideration, but also, be practical. Do the research to be sure the charity isn’t a front for an anti-life cause (usually disguised as a charity for women &/or children) and that the money goes where you intend. I requested financial statements from the charities that interested us. Any that needed more than 10% of their “income” to maintain their marketing image didn’t get my money. There are a few Catholic charities that give nearly ALL that comes in to the poor. I’m not interested in giving money for somebody’s TV spots or celebrity endorsement budget, so our money goes to the Catholic charities (and to the parish, of course). – Linda

  18. The Koala Bear Writer

    Hi – I usually use the strategy Kate mentioned… I have a few charities that tug my heart, and each month I pray that God would choose the one that most needs the money that I have to give that month, and then I “draw lots.” For a while I was also sponsoring a child. But it is hard. Pray lots! 🙂

  19. CherBear

    My husband and I donate almost exclusively to charities with which we are personally familiar – the campus ministry where we graduated, a couple of really incredible monasteries we frequent, our parish, etc. From my perspective, this sort of ensures that we really know and care about what’s going on at the organization. From my husband’s perspective, those groups don’t have a wide donor base, so they need the money more.

    With the exception of a few one time donations to organizations that friends requested donations for, we rarely make gifts to big non-profits. As far as donating to parish vs non-parish is concerned, we’ve always split the donation down the middle: 5% to the left and 5% to the right.

  20. Kelly @ Love Well

    My husband works with nonprofits, helping them with their fundraising, so he has some unique perspectives on this.

    In a nutshell, we give larger gifts to a few organizations instead of giving small gifts to many organizations. It’s more efficient for the nonprofits and for you.

    One example: If you give a nonprofit a gift of less than $50, they will be inclined to think you don’t share their vision as much as others, and they will sell your name to other nonprofits. (Which might be why you get more and more solicitations each month.)

    Conversely, if you give a gift of more than $50, nonprofits see you as someone who buys into their mission, and they will NOT sell your name (thus limiting solicitations) because they want to hold onto you and find more ways to stoke your fire for what they do.

    And since mailing those appeals is a large chunk of change for nonprofits, the fewer of those you get, the better it is for everyone.

    My husband has many other great ideas. I’m trying to get him to type it all up and guest post on my blog. I’ll let you know when it happens.

  21. Cecelia

    I’m single, so it’s just my own income and my own decisions that have to be made. But in the past I put my tithe toward my church and then supported those that I knew personally overseas and here in the States (and also their organizations when hit up with a good plea). Now that I live in a new area and don’t have a real ‘home’ church I generally send my tithe to various organizations that I supported in the past. Right now I definitely struggle with who to send the check to this month!

  22. Autumn

    This is how my husband and I choose to donate:
    Tithing to church every week, plus an extra 10% from any bonuses earned.
    I sponsor a girl from India through CFCA–monthly check.
    He sponsors St. Gabriel Radio–monthly check.
    Every month, I buy some extra groceries for the St. Vincent de Paul Fund at our parish.
    We tend to congratulate friends/family for new births, baptisms, First Communions, etc… by making a contribution to either Basilica & National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation (Ohio) and having mass intentions said in their honor for a year.
    Same with deaths in the family.
    Every Christmas, we sponsor a needy family via gifts, clothing, groceries, and other needs.

    We tend to stay Catholic-centered in our approach to dispensing extra money. But, it is so hard to choose when there are so many worthy causes!

  23. Jess

    We give to one charity primarily, Mercy Corp, and we make donations monthly and treat it like another bill. I do give other one time large charitable donations throughout the year to a few other groups – American Forests, Second Harvest, and National Trust For Historic Preservation.

    So, I spread it out to include international relief (the Mercy Corp funds are directed to Sudan/Darfur Crisis), environment, national hunger relief and historic preservation, all issues I personally care about. There are really so many great charities it can be hard to choose.

  24. John Seymour

    Kelly’s post finally explains something to me. My wife used to send $5 to each worthy cause that solicited us. The number of solicitations (and address labels and cheap rosaries) exploded. A couple years ago we discussed it and agreed to give larger amounts only to those organizations that really connected with us (e.g., Hope Rural, a local catholic school that targets providing a good education to the children of farm laborers). After a year or two of sticking to this, the number of solicitations is dropping off. I may actually have to buy address labels in a few years and we haven’t gotten new rosaries in over a year.

    This also gives us the ability to evaluate whether an organizagtion is really effectively engaged in the work they claim to be supporting.

    But the decision of which charities to support is tough. One screen I use is the salary of the CEO/Executive Director of the charity. Running a large organization is tough and is worthy of the efforts of the best, but something just doesn’t feel right when the head of a charity is making over $300,000 a year. In truth my absolute bar is less than that, but that is the most shocking one I’ve seen.

  25. Kathy

    There are many great suggestions already given. Most of our tithe goes to parish and diocese, with smaller amounts to other charities (international, state, local). Most are Catholic and all are pro-life. Sometimes God will prompt us to send to a new charity. For all the rest of the solicitations, I pray for blessings on the good that they do.

    One of our favorite kinds of charitable giving is the sort you can’t claim on your income tax. We all often encounter those in need, due to medical issues, workplace reductions, etc. What a joy it is to help them out, especially when we can do it anonymously (Christmas gifts, groceries, a utility payment, a Wal-Mart shopping card, etc.)

  26. susan

    I struggle with this one all of the time. Like you, I pick one or two that are my prime charities based on the work they do and the percentage of their contributions that actually go for the purpose for which it is intended. But then all those solicitations come week after week and I confess there is little rhyme or reason as to who I write checks to other than – how strongly a particular one tugged at my heart at the moment I was writing checks.

  27. Tertium Quid

    Thanks for the post and the comments. I receive solicitations faster than I can write checks. Fortunately, I have lots of checks so I have lots of money, and I know that when I run out of checks I don’t have any more money.

  28. Anonymous

    That used to drive me crazy – and guilty – too. A lot seemed like good causes. Now, working in a very poor country, I have a different rule. The parish were we go has a lot of different missions…an orphanage, a poor barrio, priests and catequists in a rural area etc…So its 2/3rd for the parish and 1/3 goes to the collection of week to support whatever mission. We carry coins to give to those begging around the church.

    Its not a perfect system, but I’m pretty sure the money is used for the destined cause…and I no longer feel guilty.

  29. Beth

    I just wanted to say we also support Food for the Poor, I think they are a wonderful charity and they do a lot of good. They came and spoke at a Catholic church we visited in another town.

    We also sponsor a boy in Honduras through Christian Children’s Fund.

    We also get many solicitations from good charities. My husband and I each pick one or two “pet causes” and agreed on the two I listed above as our main charities. We also give to our church. It can be so hard to decide!

  30. Anonymous

    You might also think in terms of time, talent and treasure when you think of charitable giving. Few people have all of these 3 at once to give, so you choose what matters to you and see what you can give at that point. You seem to have great organizational skills. Can you donate that to a charity or parish you know of on a semi-regular basis? This is a type of in-kind donation that might really be needed. Likewise, giving time to a cause will help you see what impact you are having. Also, ask God to help you discern what is a special interest for you as a family. Mother Teresa’s motto is also helpful: “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” Focus on where YOU (with your talents, interests, time constraints, etc.) can be a conduit of God’s love in your giving.

  31. Anonymous

    We give 10% of our take-home pay to charity: half to our parish (which includes the “Parish Share” that goes to the Diocese) and the other half to something else. We keep $50 of the “something else” aside each month for causes that friends ask us to support. This allows us to give smaller gifts when needed while keeping most of our charity targeted at one or two causes.

    Starting this year, we have been giving the “something else” to a family charitable trust at Fidelity – we get an immediate tax deduction for giving, and once the money is in the trust we can decide where to send it. We plan to leave some of it in there to grow for a while; I was on scholarship at college and would like to give an endowed scholarship in a couple decades.

    P.S. I strongly encourage anyone who reads this far to consider using YNAB instead of Quicken or MSN Money for budgeting. YNAB is a great program and works much better than anything else out there for this purpose. I have no tie to it other than my total satisfaction with it.

  32. Sarah L.

    We’ve sponsored children from Compassion for many years. One thing that concerns me is that many of the countries in which Compassion works are already heavily Catholic countries. Are they “evangelizing” children away from the Catholic faith? Does anyone know for sure?

  33. Steven K.

    A parish we used to attend suggested the following breakdown, which we’ve tried to stay with since it seems to make sense.
    5% to the parish
    1% to the diocese
    4% to other worthy causes
    Since we travel a lot and aren’t always at the same parish, that sometimes gets split up.
    As for WHILE charities we give to, my criteria are that they be:
    – Related to the Catholic Church OR internationally known
    – A large percentage of their donations goes to the causes and NOT to administrative overhead

    Food for the poor is one of our favorites, even though they aren’t Catholic, but we know who they are, what they stand for, etc. I worry about smaller organizations that aren’t part of the Catholic Church, where you don’t know if they are going to use some of the funds you give them to support causes that would be morally objectionable.

    Most places you can call and ask the percentage of their income that goes to administration. It looks like this might be a useful resource as well http://www.charitynavigator.org

  34. lp

    We decide each year how much to donate (based on a percentage of our income) and then make sure we reach that goal by the end of the year. We make a monthy contribution to our parish and a yearly contribution to the diocesan appeal, and then donate to various other charities to make up the difference.

    We generally only choose Catholic charities with which we are very familiar–there are many other good charities as well, but we can’t even keep up with all the good Catholic ones! We try to support groups that we ourselves have benefitted from–so we donate to the order of nuns who taught us in school, to the campus ministry at the college we attended, etc.

    Having a predetermined yearly dollar amount has helped a lot in determining how much to contribute. First, it leaves some flexibility when we feel specifically called to donate to an organization we don’t usually support (eg, after Hurricane Katrina, we contributed to the relief effort through a group we don’t usually support). We also don’t feel compelled to support every group that sends us a mailing, because we have already prayerfully considered how much to donate for the year (and reassess that every year) and are confident that the money we are able to donate is being used well.

    We also support an elderly woman through CFCA, which is one of my favorites–we write letters back and forth, and she has given me wonderful advice about children and family life!

  35. lp

    I meant to add–I also try to support a group that involves doing something, not just writing a check. Right now with the kids being young, that just means making sandwiches for a local soup kitchen a few times a year. I like it because the kids can be involved . . . I worry a lot about them taking all that we have for granted.

  36. 'Becca

    “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” Look for the charities whose work makes a lasting difference. In particular, look for charities that help mothers who choose not to have abortions; that is a more effective way of reducing abortion than passing laws against it.

    A few years ago I was inspired to change the way I had been giving to my parish to be less calculating and more generous; even though it sounded like “more generous than I can afford” I felt a strong pull. I make my annual pledge an amount I can pay by check in January. After that, I do not count my contributions; I put $5 or the smallest bill in my wallet into the offering plate at every service I attend, and I give freely in material things like food or buying a gallon of liquid hand soap for the church when I spot a bargain. Meanwhile, I give 5% to other charities. This has been nothing but rewarding for me. This year, I increased my annual pledge to 4% of my income. It was frightening to give away that much at once and see my bank account balance so low, but time and again it has worked out: People don’t get around to cashing my checks until I’ve gotten paid again, a relative wrote my birthday on the wrong month of his calendar and sent a check early, etc.

    One thing that helps me feel less guilty about the piles of charitable solicitations is to find uses for as much of the stuff as I can:
    Save paper that’s blank on one side for kids’ drawings, phone messages, shopping lists, etc.
    Use excess address labels instead of tape where you don’t need clear tape.
    Use larger stickers to remove lint from clothing.
    Use stamped envelopes for other mail–cover the address and barcode with plain white labels, or glue on blank paper cut from a scrap.
    Use Business Reply Mail envelopes as containers for something–I use them to store flower seeds over winter, and in my Girl Scout troop I give an envelope to each patrol (small group) to put their dues money in and write on the outside who put in how much so that I don’t have to count the money until after the meeting.
    Shred or crumple paper for packing fragile items.
    Cut apart calendars and use the pictures for home decor–at least in kids’ rooms.

  37. Thomas

    I’ve been thinking about this lately too, I just graduated from college, and I should be getting some sort of income boost soon.

    Througought college, I liked that my student parish talked a lot about donating your time, talent, and treasure. All are important!
    As a (former) student with little treasure ($), it’s nice to know that the parish appreciates that I volunteer to help run parish programs a lot.

    As far as giving money goes, I’ve learned a lot from other peoples comments.

    One thought I have to add: I always try to make sure that I think that any charity I give to actually makes a real difference. Some charities concentrate on thinsg like “raising awareness,” which may be important, but I’d rather give my money to help solve a problem, rather than to tell people about the problem.

  38. SuburbanCorrespondent

    I would vote for fewer, rather than more. I cannot believe the amount of solicitation (by mail) that we receive because we didn’t follow this rule initially. Aaargh. I hate seeing all that wasted paper and money.

  39. Sarahndipity

    We’ve given money to Food for the Poor, too! I honestly can’t remember why we chose them – at least partly because they inundated us with junk mail. 🙂 Anyway, I did some research and they seem like a reputable organization. They’re also a Christian organization and they help the poorest of the poor, so they seemed like a good place to give to, since they help the people in this world who are most in need. We’ve also given money in the past to pro-life organizations like the Gabriel Project, which helps pregnant women in need.

    I also have a hard time deciding which charities to give to and how much. Usually they’re either a) a pro-life organization, since the pro-life cause is near and dear to our hearts, or b) an organization that helps people who we think need help the most, such as the poor in third-world countries. As for how much to give, we usually just give a random amount that doesn’t seem like too much or too little. I’m no good with money so I have a hard time determining what amount is right. Sorry, I’m probably not much help. 🙂

  40. Sarahndipity

    As far as the question of supporting your parish goes – my husband and I do give money to our parish every week. But to me, it seems more important to be supporting charities. Isn’t food for a starving child in a third-world country a more pressing need than renovating the parish school? There is certainly nothing wrong with supporting one’s parish financially and indeed I think all Catholics should do so to the extent that they can. But if I had extra money to give, I would probably increase the amount of money I gave to charity more than the amount of money I gave to my parish. Your thoughts on this?

  41. GLouise

    The tithe to our local congregation comes first, and then anything above that is an “offering.”

    We have been trying to think “local, national and global,” although most of our offering funds right now tend to go to Africa thru Compassion. LOVE that group!!

    We also support friends who are out on the mission field, so that probably counts as “global” as well.

    And maybe you can do a post on “local missions,” such as volunteering at the soup kitchen, etc.? I have been convicted lately that I am not doing as much “volunteering” as I could, esp. at the local/neighborhood level.

    Love your blog!!

  42. Theocoid

    I do struggle, but I’ve finally decided that we have to limit ourselves to a few worthies. I passed on Food for the Poor and went with Cross International. Others we take on if their ministry is unique. I try to stick with Catholic charities because they frequently don’t have the overhead that other nondenominational charities have.

  43. Anonymous

    We support our parish and the archdiocese and our childrens’ local public school. I have a family that I support directly by sending them mine and my childrens’ gently used clothing. I also help out a friend who is going through a difficult divorce. My charity giving these days is much closer to home than it has been in the past, but we just don’t have the extra income to support endless charities in a big way.

  44. Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin

    You could institute a blegroll. If you have any suggestions for mine, please leave them in the combox of that post.

  45. Anonymous

    We give about 5% to our parish and I do think that we are required to give generously to our parish and the priests. After all, if not for them, where would we be? And I’m glad to know exactly where the money is going: taxes, utilities, food, etc.

    However, I don’t give a dime to the Cardinal’s appeal. Lost my trust; it’s their job to get it back. So far…nope. What I have done is seen that they use that money for things like helping educating seminarians. Fine; I find a seminarian and help him with tuition. I just don’t trust that middle man.

    And I now give the other 5% to just a few charities I personally know and trust, as I’ve been burned before. (E.g. I used to give to, what’s it called, Samaritan’s purse, run by Billy Graham’s son, until I found out that they do, indeed, proselytize to everyone to enter their church; this includes Catholics. We used to sponsor a child through, again, I forget the name but found out that it didn’t support teaching NFP, so that ended, too.)

    Sure bets for me: Sisters of Life, Fr. Groeschel’s CFR’s/soup kitchens/homes for the poor, Good Counsel Homes, Missionaries of Charity and my favorite: the Carthusians. They aren’t *allowed* to ask for anything; they trust entirely in God’s providence. It’s so scary to me, that I just have to send them donations. And we also give a lot to our kid’s school; even though we pay tuition, it simply isn’t enough to cover operating costs and the school is so orthodox that it simply must survive and continue educating these kids in the faith.

  46. Theresa

    We worked this out a few years back, b/c my husband thought that I was giving away too much money and was too quick to give money to any organization that looked like they did good work. so here’s what we did. We decided at the beginning of the year how much of our monthly income we would spend on charitites other than the Church (that was a different budget item). He gave me full charge of the decided upon amount and I could split it up any way I wanted among the charities I wished to support. It has been fun. And over the years, we have added a few charities that we give regular monthly support, but there are still those that I get to pick on a monthly basis to send some money to.
    Theresa

  47. Jilly

    I personally don’t struggle with this but I understand that many do. There are three charities that I consistently support, two children charities and one animal charity.

    I’ve donated on and off to many other causes too. Just because it’s only been little bits infrequently or just a one-off doesn’t mean that no good has been done.

    Ultimately, I think you have to accept that you simply cannot help everyone. Contributing towards finding a cure for cancer is a wonderful thing to do, so is ensuring that a child has a childhood free from abuse and so is stopping animal cruelty. What’s important will always vary from person to person. It’s very difficult indeed to be objective and I personally wouldn’t analyse it too much. Whether you donate a little or a lot, regularly or just once, you’re helping. Any charity will tell you, every penny counts and they’re grateful for every penny.

    I personally stick to the three that I feel the most about and donate to others as and when I can.

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