When I was a child, my Sunday School teachers introduced me to the word tithe. They explained that it was the voluntary giving of 10% of one’s salary to help those less fortunate than themselves.
It sounded, and still sounds, like a lovely idea. However, the idea of letting someone else decide how best to donate my money, and to whom does not rest well. Further, ten percent can be a lot of money, in importance to the holder, if not in actual value. After all, there are electric bills and car insurance to pay and that does not always leave a lot, especially for younger people.
Still, giving is important – it helps maintain the social networks we create and allows us to leave our mistakes behind. Giving allows organizations to fund research, relief, prevention, or protection of dozens of causes and issues while allowing the giver to feel that they are part of the effort to further their cause.
Most people, I believe, like the idea of giving; most people feel better when they know they are helping other people. However, I think most of us give randomly and with little thought beyond the impulse to donate. Unless we are somehow directly affected by something, say cancer in the family or a natural disaster, we really have very little idea of where or to whom to give our money.
For example, I calculated that during the year 2006, I gave around $600 U.S. to various funds and drives, without really being aware of what or to whom I was giving. It was a ten dollar bill here, or a twenty-five dollar PayPal link there for whatever cause had caught my eye that day.
I decided that I did not want to repeat that pattern this year while, at the same time, I wanted to continue to give what little I could to help; I decided to be much more organized and focused in my giving this year. I decided I would do research on the organization and their efforts before donating. I would also look for renewable memberships and participation opportunities before blindly throwing money at the group. In short, I wanted to stop donating randomly and think about where and why I was giving my money away.
After thinking about and researching many subjects, I have chosen to support First Amendment and free speech organizations. Some of the organizations I intend to look into and possibly donate to include the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Words Without Borders.
Lastly, I would like to say that this is not a boast or point of pride with me. This is just something I wanted to do, to support people and organizations that work to protect ideals that I believe in. I do not expect that everyone will agree with my idea or in my choices but I hope that some may take an interest in the groups that I mention here and consider donating to them.
Thanks for reading.