How much do you give to charity?

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Scott 2
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by Scott 2 »

I'm genuinely curious - why half the estate to your university? I'm seeing the state school experience running $30k a year. Apparently my university is now $70k a year! I can't understand how the cost is justified.

What are you expecting them to do with the money?

EdithKeeler
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by EdithKeeler »

I'm genuinely curious - why half the estate to your university? I'm seeing the state school experience running $30k a year. Apparently my university is now $70k a year! I can't understand how the cost is justified.

What are you expecting them to do with the money?
Well, I went to school for free, because of scholarships, Pell Grants and work study programs, plus I worked all thru school. I would not have been able to go to college otherwise, or wouldn't have, I suppose. ideally I'd like my donation to be able to fund some kid or two who doesn't have any money, like me, to go to college. And my university is awesome, and historic, and it was a great experience for me that has had a significant impact on my life. I think my donation could enhance that in some small way. It's a public school, and public funds keep getting cut and cut and cut... which is one reason the tuitions are so high. I dunno. Plus I feel guilty for never giving when they have the big fundraiser. And it's not like they have a giant football program or anything that contributes a lot of money.

Plus, I just believe in a liberal arts education. Lately all you hear is "College isn't worth the money, learn a trade, liberal arts are stupid, blah, blah." I think that's good advice for some people... .. but I didn't go to college to get a job, I went to college to get an education. I just believe in the mission, I guess.

Scott 2
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by Scott 2 »

Interesting. I can understand wanting to pay that experience forward.

I naively signed up for the private university experience, lacking social skills to benefit from the connections. I studied and worked my part time job, while the rich kids partied. I left with a lot of resentment. I felt tricked into buying a very expensive piece of paper. I always thought it ludicrous they would ask alumni for even _more_ money.

bryan
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by bryan »

Heads up on a couple tax rule changes for charitable contributions: https://www.nytimes.com/article/coronav ... swers.html
NYT wrote: Charitable Contributions
I want to help people who are suffering from the pandemic. Does the bill do anything about charitable donations?


Yes. The bill makes a new deduction available — and not just for 2020 — for up to $300 in annual charitable contributions. It’s available only to people who don’t itemize their deductions, and you calculate this new one by subtracting the amount you give from your gross income.

To qualify, you have to give cash to a qualified charity and not to a donor-advised fund.

I am lucky to have substantial wealth, and I want to give more to charity than I usually do. Have the limits on charitable deductions changed?

Yes, they have. As part of the bill, donors can deduct 100 percent of their gift against their 2020 adjusted gross income.

The new deduction is only for cash gifts that go to a public charity. If you give cash to, say, your private foundation, the old deduction rules apply.

If your assets are substantial enough that you can give more than your income this year, you won’t lose the deduction for the excess amount. You can use it next year, as has always been the case.
That $300 deduction (Section 2204) is above-the-line, so should be something everyone considers. The modification of limits to charitable deductions (Section 2205) might be useful if you don't already have a funded DAF and you are ready to make hella charitable donations this year (and still plan on having a high income this year, or in future years).

chenda
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by chenda »

Nothing apart from donating unwanted items to a charity and clothes bank. Like Jacob I see my taxes as charity enough. I might leave a small legacy to a very old charitable institution in my will although it would be more of an immortality project act if I'm honest. I like the idea of my name been added to the list of benefactors which go back centuries.

white belt
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by white belt »

The story of former billionaire Chuck Feeney has been floating around the internet: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenbert ... 760bc53a2a

Radical Personal Finance also did an episode that talked about the Giving While Living concept at the individual level (here). His categories for giving were children, family/friends, and then charitable organizations.

I've been thinking a lot about the concept of giving and how it relates to ERE. I'm just going to focus on giving that is funded from financial assets, since that is most appropriate to this thread. First, we must operate under the premise that for ERE (not to be confused with E-ER or FIRE), money is a solved problem. Financial capital is just one form of capital and for most folks (except perhaps semi-ERE), they are going to end up with way more financial capital than they need. In a way, this is the same problem that billionaires like Chuck Feeney have, just on a different scale.

Holding on to excess financial capital may even be damaging to your strategy in some way (also discussed in Semi-ERE threads): viewtopic.php?p=120304#p120304

For the ERE systems thinker, what are some viable ways to spend this excess capital? Here are some ideas just to start the discussion:

-increase other forms of capital (perhaps giving to improve social capital shouldn't actually qualify as charitable giving)
-spend money in a way that improves the environment such as purchasing land to keep it undeveloped, paying to stop destruction of watershed, etc (is it even possible to spend money in a way that improves the environment?)
-donate to local politicians or causes that fit into your web of goals (most ERE folks probably have sufficient capital to sway things at the local level, not so much the national level)
-support individuals doing important work that may not receive financial compensation (I know Jacob mentioned Patreon)

I think the issue with any form of giving is that it is hard to predict 2nd and 3rd order effects. There were examples in another thread talking about how eradicating hunger in an area might lead to population boom and then conflict over limited resources. Another issue is that conspicuous charitable giving violates the principle of stealth wealth, which may bring you unwanted attention from those who are seeking to get a piece of your "generosity."

white belt
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by white belt »

I’ve been thinking about charity again, especially seeing that there are a handful of journals on here that give to charity. I also used one of those net worth percentile by age range calculators and discovered I’m in the the 98th percentile for net worth and will likely cross into 99th percentile in next 12 months.

However, I’m still unsure how to give that fits in my web of goals (I highlighted a lot of concerns in my previous post). For now I’m just sitting on the money in my investment portfolio.

Hristo Botev
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by Hristo Botev »

white belt wrote:
Wed Sep 23, 2020 12:44 pm
Radical Personal Finance also did an episode that talked about the Giving While Living concept at the individual level (here). His categories for giving were children, family/friends, and then charitable organizations.
As a list of giving priorities, this certainly makes sense to me.
white belt wrote:
Wed Sep 23, 2020 12:44 pm
For the ERE systems thinker, what are some viable ways to spend this excess capital?
I certainly don't think I can call myself an ERE systems thinker, but FWIW, our view of charitable giving has changed a good bit given that the increase in the standard deduction, coupled with DW and I both taking lower-paying jobs in exchange for less BS and less time commitment, means we don't itemize anymore. In the past we compartmentalized charitable giving as donations to 501(c)(3)s that we'd keep track of for when I did the taxes each year. Now, however, we don't really compartmentalize "charitable giving" that way; we have a much broader view of it. We still give generously to our local parish and our archdiocese, but from there it's usually some combination of being generous with family, friends, and the various local institutions/organizations we are actively involved in, whether or not those institutions/organizations are 501(c)(3)s or whatever. So, what that looks like is "donating" a lot of money to make sure the church's Easter Egg hunt is a success, or donating money to buy equipment or do field maintenance or whatever that our kids' various sports leagues need, or donating food/snacks to our school's athletic board so that they can sell it at basketball games (which money will support their activities), or just being generous with buying gifts for family and friends, or contributing money/resources to help out a friend or family member that is in need.

I like this way of looking at it much better, as I worked in the non-profit world for several years before law school, and I don't have a favorable opinion of many/most organizations that are on many people's list of charities to donate to. I've come to view a "career" in the non-profit world, and even the non-profit "industry," as all just being really counterintuitive--do you really expect someone, or some corporation, to actively work towards "solving" whatever problem it is that they are working to solve, knowing that would mean the job/industry would no longer exist? I know there a whole lot of good people out there working in industry--probably almost all of them--but as a system, it's designed to not actually solve the problem it was created to solve. It's like paying a lawyer (or a plumber, etc.) by the hour and expecting him to be efficient; the system isn't structured in a way to encourage efficiency.

Separately, we also set aside $100 each month that a member of the family gets to decide where to contribute--so, this month DD gets to decide where it goes; DS gets May; DW June; me July; and so on. With the kids this tends to go to something like a Make a Wish or an American Cancer Society or whatever organization spends so much in marketing that even our elementary school age kids have heard of them. For DW and me that money typically goes to some local non-profit that we are otherwise involved with, by volunteering time, etc.

SO . . . , from a "systems" perspective, we give to/support the various "institutions" that are important to our daily lives.

Edited to correct a typo.
Last edited by Hristo Botev on Tue Apr 20, 2021 4:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

white belt
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by white belt »

@HB

Thanks for the input. I have similar reservations about donating to charitable organizations.

I think I can see putting money toward local causes that directly impact me much more (e.g. maybe I buy a vacant lot down the street to turn into a community park/permaculture site/nature center, or donate money so the local beekeeping association can establish more hives in the area). I suspect at some point I will use some money to gain political access to further some of my own zoning law changes, although I’m not sure if that really qualifies as charity or just “bribing” to allow for my backyard livestock. I think the net effect might be beneficial though on the community.

Hristo Botev
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by Hristo Botev »

@WB: Your thinking certainly makes sense to me. I read Bill Bonner's "Family Fortunes" book a while back, which I enjoyed; and I bring that up as he is someone who has some interesting thoughts about charity, which basically boil down to something along the lines of: it's more likely than not that your check to some national/international non-profit is doing more harm than good; whereas the money I spend hiring, buying, etc. is more likely than not doing more good than harm (as well as just being generally a generous person with what you have, in a real, local, and personal sense--i.e., being generous with employees, friends, family, etc.; leaving a really big tip at a restaurant, and so forth). IIRC, he's also one who has the view that he's merely a steward for the money and resources he currently has possession of; he views that stewardship as preserving that money/resources for his kids and their kids, etc., as opposed to being a steward in some more abstract sense. But at least for me, personally, an abstract concept is certain to be a concept that I never put into practice, as opposed to a concrete one. And wanting to be a good steward of the money and resources in my possession, or which I otherwise "use," so as to preserve them for my kids and their kids, is something I'm actually likely to try and do, as opposed to some abstract concept of "future generations of people." In practice that means that the money I spend is money spent for their benefit (broadly defined), not my own, and not just to make me feel better about myself for "doing my part," or whatever.

Qazwer
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by Qazwer »

Check out ‘Effective Altruism’ if you want to donate more towards outcomes
In the middle of reading
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poor_Economics

you can direct your donations to projects that randomized trials has shown benefit - taking out random theory and give to what we know works

white belt
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by white belt »

@Qazwher

Right, but as far I can tell, there is still the issue of 2nd and 3rd order effects. Like giving money for treatments will lower deaths due to malaria but what happens when all those children who are saved grow up and now there is fierce competition for scarce resources? I’ve seen that movie before and it usually ends in civil war, refugee crisis, etc. Maybe I’m just a bit jaded on the concept of foreign aid because I’ve seen how it can prop up terrible governments and prolong structural issues.

Qazwer
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by Qazwer »

@WB
Always are second and third order effects of everything you do - no way to know
Maybe try a modified version of Peter Singer’s argument for donating
If you were wearing a $1000 suit and saw a kid drowning in front of you, would you rush in to save him/her?
Now what about if you were deployed and saw a kid drowning?
In either case would you consider the second or third order effects?
Maybe you are saving the next Hitler (have to use that in the internet). Maybe you are saving someone who will cure cancer. You cannot know.
Now if that person is not right in front of you, but in another country, how is it different?
No easy answer but at least worth thinking through
For what it is worth, I have trouble with some of Singer’s simmilar arguments so no easy way to decide whether he is correct or even whether this form of argument is correct.

ellarose24
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by ellarose24 »

Has anyone thought of setting aside a fund specifically to give directly to community?

This-
-prevents charity using your money inefficiently
-often makes you feel better.

I donated I'm not sure how much last year and was doing $200 this year and quit. I quit because I see the projects the charities are taking on and they are more in line with building something in remembrance of some rich dude and also funded by shady corps. Also, see "Seaspiracy" which was cringy and I despised the narrator--but it did bring to focus how hard it is to find a good charity.

So for instance set aside $200 a month (or less, whatever you want)--and it is your determination on how it is spent.

Some ideas I've had

-there is an indian lady on Nextdoor that sells wonderful indian food. Her profile is very sad--in broken english it says she has 10 children and her husband passed away and that she is struggling, and then offers homemade indian food. I've sent her a couple hundred and it felt infinitely better that my monthly donations to charities where they send me 10 letters a month to donate more, or tell me how awful the world is (so donate more) and maybe send me a calendar.

Also free donations to people. Instead of trying to make a buck off of thing you don't use, give them away. I made gift boxes of dog toys that had never been used and you'd think I was Oprah throwing out money. Favorite story was a lady picking it up for her neighbor who is an old man and had been isolated since cover and was involve with his dog. This was also fun because one lady sort of bartered without me asking giving me laundry detergent and dryer sheets in exchange, which was useful!

Future plans would be both guerrilla gardening and offering people in my neighborhood free trees for their front yard. I don't have some large trust to buy land with, but why not make the land around me better? We have a large unused park and I am starting a neighborhood committee to talk about how to revamp it, unfortunately most of the people want things such as movie nights and food trucks and said a community garden isn't fair as no one wants a community garden (my original post was on a community garden, people mostly shit on it and then said well lets do something else! Like large concrete and food trucks. UGH). So I plan on just going in and planting trees myself similar to the youtube channel "Crime Pays but Botany Doesn't" (Highly recommend btw). In fact, I bet that's easier than getting the city to do anything themselves.

(Edit: I see Peter Singer being mentioned. Perhaps the only charities I would trust are things like Doctors without Borders and others to combat actual diseases.The problem with international charities is it's really hard to know the good they do--for instance, I was donating to a charity that helped girls have menstrual products. But it was founded by some rich white person and they did all the sewing in the US almost like a fun little get together with wine etc, then sent them to third world countries. Why not employ people in the third world countries and not ship across the world? Charities are tough, my take on Peter Singer would be that you have enough capital to directly influence charities as well--which takes a lot of money and is not feasible. There is probably a point where my approach of direct action in community can be expanded as your resources expand, but it needs a lot of resources--which is why effective altruism first asks that you choose an extremely high paying job)

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Alphaville
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by Alphaville »

ertyu wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 12:34 pm
The American insistence on charitable giving is to justify billionaires' unwillingness to pay taxes. The argument for taxes is, well you need to pay them because the gvt uses them to run necessary social programs. The don't tax me counter-argument goes, well if society really valued these outcomes, they would be provided via charitable giving. Also, no one gets any brownie points for paying their taxes. But if you're a billionaire and you donate 0.00001% of your income to some cause, suddenly you're in all the papers for having ended starvation in africa

so the plebs think you're good and they shouldn't kill you in the next revolution. also, you're clearly doing a lot of philantropy, they surely shouldn't tax you, should they?
this. & veblen.*

*this book, originally published in 1899, has been out in the public domain for a very long time, so this pdf is as good as any other format you may find freely available on the internet.

Frita
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by Frita »

On the same lines, “Billionaire Wilderness” ( https://press.princeton.edu/books/hard ... wilderness) is a good read about high income charity. It could have used more case studies as they are amusing.

Also, I notice locally that our many, many nonprofits are created to 1) make people (creators and donors) feel good about themselves (usually at the expense of the clients’ dignity), 2) focus on solving a problem without examining/understanding/addressing the root cause(s), 3) generate income/career for the creator(s), 4) want no strings $ without any questions. All very Kegan 2/2.5/3.

basuragomi
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by basuragomi »

@ellarose24:

I've thought about this, but the issue is that your personal network may quickly get saturated with money, and expanding it causes a rapid decline in giving opportunity quality. The charity instead aggregates demand to meet it in bulk. You may judge $20 to stop someone starving to be more valuable per unit cost than $2000 to give their horse chiropractic therapy, or even $200 to keep their rent. But once that $20 is flowing only the other options remain, unless you expand your network specifically looking for charity cases.

There's also the issue of being notorious as the person with lots of money to give away. May attract unwanted attention. Alternately you could maybe become the Godfather.

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Alphaville
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by Alphaville »

i also have the petty annoyance that whenever i've given any piddly sum to any "charitable cause" i automatically start to get bombarded with soliciting junk mail from said cause... so that my donation basically pays for future junk mails sent to me. good job, guys!

ellarose24
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by ellarose24 »

Alphaville wrote:
Fri May 07, 2021 9:12 am
i also have the petty annoyance that whenever i've given any piddly sum to any "charitable cause" i automatically start to get bombarded with soliciting junk mail from said cause... so that my donation basically pays for future junk mails sent to me. good job, guys!
This really pisses me off. I don't know how charities got my address but I now get about 5 letters begging me for money a month. The last one was for meals on wheels and essentially said if I don't donate poor Gloris is going to die (yes they gave a real person's name and stated they often go without meals waiting alone in their cold house not sure if they will starve to death).

Not sure why this pisses me off-perhaps it's because I am already well aware of the state of suffering of people, and I don't need to be advertised to--yes it feels like the cheapest and most disgusting type of advertising, to make ME feel responsible for an elderly person starving.

This is where Singer would say "well you are responsible."

That letter sent me spiraling for a couple of days and overwhelmed me to where I felt I couldn't do anything at all. That's another reason when I do donate, I focus on local charities. The problems of the world, when placed on my shoulders, sends me into dark places--besides the fact that my small amount of money is a drop in a leaking bucket.

But if we're talking about highest impact, I do think donating to third world countries that help access to medical care/reduce poverty are the most important and biggest impact both for human suffering and environmental impact (ever seen the rivers in India surrounded by slums? Just a conveyor belt of trash).

For my own mental health, I've determined to work directly with the community I live in. There is plenty of suffering here too.

chenda
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Re: How much do you give to charity?

Post by chenda »

I recall a well known charity sending a transparent plastic sachet of brown coloured water to people on their mailing list as an example of the dirty water the poor have to drink. I thought that was a bit overkill, like hungry Gloris.

There was also a spoof documentary made in the 90s where they duped some celebrities to promote a fake charity dedicated to helping an elephant in East Germany, who's trunk, following an adhesive mixup, was allegedly stuck in its anus, to the horror of numerous animal rights activists who let their emotions override their common sense. And their skeletal sense.

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