So far, I haven't written anything about charity since I view it to be a very personal issue. But since this blog is anonymous and nobody reads it anyway, I'll talk about charity and what I think about it. I think charity is important, but it's up to all of us to make our own personal choices about charity.
I remember my first experience with charity, my school was collecting donations to feed the hungry. I was only 7 or 8 at the time and had a 25 cent or 50 cent weekly allowance (it wasn't much even at that time - I'm not that old!), or a couple of bucks left over from washing cars. Well I put everything I had into the donation, and I remember being yelled at by my mom that we needed that money ourselves. I don't blame her at all, my dad had passed away already and my mom was already battling cancer on her own while trying to raise three kids. She did eventually come around and tell me that she was proud of me.
I think charity is important because no matter how crummy a condition we find ourselves in, there is always someone worse off who needs food more.
The largest amounts that I've donated have gone to my alma maters, towards scholarships and improving classrooms, and rebuilding a burned down school. I strongly believe in the power of education, and empowering youth to excel.
I donated to Red Cross for Tsunami Relief and Katrina, and generally donate openly to charities sponsored by friends under the assumption that they've done their research already. I donate to Catholic Charities knowing that a good amount of that money gets to the people who need it. Cancer research funding is important to me. I also believe in charity for war veterans.
I've donated to Second Harvest, which got some negative press recently:
Kinda makes me want to give up pork...
I used to be selective about giving money to the homeless, but when I turned 30, I started giving money to anyone who asked for it, thinking that it's not my place to judge what they did with it. After being accused of being an enabler multiple times, I came up with these ad-hoc rules: 1) Give to anyone who looks over the age of 60. 2) Give to anyone missing a limb or an eye or obviously disabled in any way 3) Give to any female. 4) Give to any child - not sure about this one in countries where adults are obviously running some operation feeding off of sympathy towards children; the adults take all the money anyway. 5) Give to any leper (I've seen a lot of them in foreign countries). 6) When in doubt, always err towards the side of compassion and trust in the decency of people.
If you are male, look between the ages of 20 and 50, obviously have no problem walking car to car holding out your hands all day every day, and appear to have most of your mental capacity intact, don't look for sympathy from me anymore.
I believe in what Bill Gates and Warren Buffett did. I will save the bulk of my donations for later in life, because I feel those who have the ability to grow their money will maximize their contributions by keeping the money longer when they are young and giving more of it away as they get older.