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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How, When and Why Do You Give?

by Seattle Jon:

The New York Times ran an op-ed recently outlining Alicia Keys' plans to "gather an army" from her fans in support of 12 groups that further social justice causes.

Here are the groups: All Out, a gay rights organization; CARE, the aid group; Equal Justice Initiative, which combats racial inequity in the criminal justice system; the Future Project, which empowers high school students in America; Girl Rising, which supports girls' education around the world; Keep a Child Alive, which helps children affected by H.I.V. and AIDS; Moms Rising, which supports universal prekindergarten, maternal leaves and tighter gun laws; Oxfam, which fights global poverty; Partners in Health, which tackles disease worldwide; the Trevor Project, which prevents suicide among gay and lesbian youths; the Trayvon Martin Foundation, which fights racial profiling; and War Child, which supports children in conflict areas.

To get the effort started, Keys donated $1 million of her own money, released a new song related to the effort and has said she will do more to address racism, injustice and poverty in future songs.

I applaud Ms. Keys' - she is one of the world's best-known singers, and with 35 million fans on Facebook and almost 20 million followers on Twitter (MMM is close behind with 1600+ followers), I'm sure her efforts will yield impressive results and I admire how she directs her time and money to causes she believes in. Naturally, this got me thinking about where my own time and money goes.

My wife and I support not only the LDS church but her non-denominational Christian church as well. Most religions, though, including the Mormon church, are less than transparent about where and how donated funds are allocated and spent. As a result, other organizations – our local YMCA and Sunrise Children's Village in Cambodia in recent years – have received a generous portion of our giving.

Our kids also spread around what they have to give. Some years they hand a tithing envelope to the bishop, other years one or more of our kids have felt passionate about a specific cause and sent the money there. Or they've done both. We think it's important to give them control of their giving, so encourage them to be thoughtful in giving to organizations they felt especially connected to during the year.

We haven't always spread our giving around. The church asks for a lot in terms of time (callings) and money (tithing). If you're active and temple-going, like my wife and I were until a few years ago, it's easy to feel like you're giving all you have to give to the church. And we probably were.

Circumstances changed, though. We no longer felt the obligation that everything go to the church after finding ourselves building connections to other organizations that needed our time and money. I'll admit, at the beginning it felt odd to not just write the church a check and call it good. To see other organizations, especially local ones, benefit from our time and money was an addicting feeling, though, and we quickly adjusted to our new normal and continue to give time and money to a variety of causes.

What about you? How, when and why do you give?

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