Making a difference

How rich are you?

This post is about giving.  I just found this site.  It shows you where you stand with respect to the world population. Frankly,  I was shocked.  I kind of knew where I stood with respect to the US population but never new where I stood with respect to the world population.  It certainly gave me pause.
I believe in the Jewish concept of Tzedakah (charity).  It is an important part of who I am and of my Jewish Heritage but of course giving is not limited to Jews.  The link above hopefully will encourage all of you that read this post to give more than you are comfortable with.  We  all have so much more than most of the people on the earth.  Here are a couple of thought I have about giving.

  • Give more than you feel comfortable giving.
  • Increase you giving in bad economic times knowing that others are cutting back
  • Be proactive.  Don’t just give money in response to being asked but set your own priorities.
  • Distinguishes between helping people and supporting activities.  For instance while I may support some museums and take a tax deduction, I don’t really think of this as charity. I know several very wealthy silicon valley people that think charity is supporting their kids private school.  I don’t.  here are the levels I see:
  1. Helping people out of poverty
  2. Dealing with major world issues like climate change
  3. Support for medical research
  4. Support of arts and education (USA)
  5. Attending fund raising events so I can hang out with people
  6. Religious organizations
  7. Political donations while important are not charity
  • Teach your children to give.  Start early and give them money to give.  Let them decided on where this money should go.
  • Leave a significant part of your estate to charity (like 50%).  If your estate is subject to estate tax, this will be even more significant on a net basis.
  • Be smart about tax deductions so you can give more.  Give appreciate stock.  Set up a family foundation or donor advised funds.  One of the benefits of these are you can control the timing of when you take the tax deduction versus the time you give the donations.  I have a small family foundation. I normally use appreciated stock to fund this foundation.  That way the true cost to me of a donation might be about a 1/3 of that the recipient t gets.  You can even lend money to a family foundation and then give appreciated stock later which can be used to repay the loan.
  • Give of yourself as well as you money.  I believe you can be most effective by giving money to organizations which which you have some personal involvement.  And give of your time even when you can not give money.  Many non profit organizations can really use advice especially management advice I have found.
  • Encourage your friends and family to give.

Certain kinds of Tzedakah are considered more meritorious than others and are described in the Talmud:

  1. Giving begrudgingly
  2. Giving less that you should, but giving it cheerfully.
  3. Giving after being asked
  4. Giving before being asked
  5. Giving when you do not know the recipient’s identity, but the recipient knows your identity
  6. Giving when you know the recipient’s identity, but the recipient doesn’t know your identity
  7. Giving when neither party knows the other’s identity
  8. Enabling the recipient to become self-reliant

2 thoughts on “How rich are you?

  1. Interesting post. I think you missed out in your ‘charity level’ list on local donations. What about that “Youth in Distress” center in your neighbourhood? I reckon it’s below (3) but above (4), now ain’t it.


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