For many poor, inner city residents, living in neighborhoods full of buildings like this one is a fact of daily life. Industries that once supported city residents have long since left the cities (and in many cases, the country), causing many people to move closer to new jobs in the suburbs and others to be left in the city with few viable sources of employment. White flight has also been a significant factor in this kind of neglect and deterioration.
I would venture to guess that most people reading this article have the luxury of not dealing with problems like this on a daily basis. If that is the case, I hope you will consider starting a regular program of charitable giving. Some religious institutions and personal finance books advocate giving 10% a month. That's a great goal, but I can't stomach that, so let me tell you what I do.
To be honest, I am a tightwad and it is very hard for me to give away any money whatsoever, whether it's buying dinner for a friend or donating to charity, so I've decided to make giving a non-negotiable part of my monthly budget, just like paying my phone bill or buying groceries. I have started giving a minimum of $20 a month to a cause that is important to me, more when I feel particularly strongly about a cause. By choosing a charity whose mission really means something to me (in my case, groups that help revitalize inner city neighborhoods and groups that help feed the hungry), giving doesn't feel burdensome. I feel excited about contributing to something I care about and knowing that I played a part in restoring a historical building, providing a farm animal for a hungry village in Africa, or providing meals to the homeless, just to name a few possibilities.
For those of you who, like me, are skeptical of giving because you really have no way of knowing if your money ever makes it to the right place, choose charities that use the majority of your donation dollar to actually provide the service you are trying to give rather than spending it on high administrative costs, for example. Charities that do this will generally make a point of publicizing this information.
If you need a starting point, check out Network for Good and Case Foundation. And if you really can't stand to part with your money but you still want to help, consider volunteering your time or making a microloan to Kiva. Personally, I don't do any research -- I find that by keeping my ears and eyes open, I always run across more than enough great charities to donate to. I like to donate to small, local groups with a proven track record. Giving to the Red Cross or United Way is just too generic to mean anything to me, and just because an organization is large and well-known doesn't mean they won't abuse your donation.
Tags:Charity Tithing Donating Personal Finance