“To give is better than to receive”, “I want to give back something to society”. Similar statements are repeated by philanthropist often in the media. There to be a constant barrage of organizations and even individual people that are vying for your resources. Do you ever find yourself wanting to say “Enough please”?
This might sound selfish and could very well not sit well with societies image of a good person. Yet, I think almost everyone can identify with the frustration of constantly being asked to donate. Is there a sensible solution that allows us to be charitable to our fellow man without feeling guilty for saying no? Let’s examine this topic a little further.
Even though giving amounts have risen in the last decade, the percentage of households donating is in decline. The stock market has seen meteoric growth for years (not counting the downturn around 2008) and has allowed philanthropy, especially for businesses to elevate giving, which in turn has led charities to become more bold with their marketing plans. I hope this does not sound disparaging toward charities. They do fantastic work for the underprivileged and those that cannot support themselves. Yet, all non-profits require additional funds, a few examples are churches, schools, girls scouts, the United Way, and the list goes on. So, how does a person support worthy charities and still maintain a household budget? The solution might be in percentage giving. Once the percentage is set in your budget, you are free to pick the ones that have captured your heart. This will help avoid the last minute calculations to determine if the gift is affordable.
Another trend has surfaced which involves giving in someone else’s name in honor of their birthday or other special occasions. This has several problems, some that can leave people pondering what their level of involvement should be. The first scenario could be “I don’t want to support that charity”. The second one could be “I did not budget for donating at this time”. The third one may present the greatest dilemma“Do I say yes to you and no to my other friends”? Again, I hope this does not sound like a negative narrative about giving to charities, nothing could be further from the truth. There is just a fatigue factor involved with hearing anything too frequently and we might reach that point with charitable giving unless we exercise some prudence. Remember, people’s resources are limited. I will put it this way, imagine trying to give a Christmas present to everyone you have met in the last 10 years. This is not feasible and neither is trying to give to every charity. Choose wisely the method used to obtain these donations. A little planning will go a long way in preventing Charity burnout.
We plan our budgets, we also plan for vacations and we even plan for dinner out with the family. The same amount of care should be taken to plan for the charities we support. Give all you can to help your fellow man. Psychiatrists have known for years the selfless acts of giving will produce happiness in a person’s life consistently. Hopefully, charity burnout will be avoided by people taking care of each other and not always relying on monetary donations. Taking someone food, cutting someone’s yard, adopting pets from a shelter. Give yourself to people, it is a gift that has an endless supply.
So, is it possible to become hardened by the constant solicitation for donations? I believe it is, and that would be a tragedy for more than one reason. We don’t have to look long or very hard to find people less fortunate than ourselves. Guard your heart against cynical thoughts. There is a whole world of people waiting for your help.