A recent post on decluttering via eBay sparked a little debate in the comments. Is it right to sell things you no longer want for your own gain, or should you donate them to charity shops?
Some felt disenfranchised by charity shops. The amount that they charge for second hand clothes has soared up almost to the original retail price, meaning whilst you are giving money to charity, you almost resent doing so!
Why donate to charity?
Although the majority of charitable donations in the UK go to medical research, I personally think that the most important issue is international aid.
UNICEF estimated that 24,000 children under the age of five die every day, most from preventable causes directly linked to extreme poverty, with undernutrition contributing to about one-third of these deaths. As bioethics philosopher Peter Singer said, if you could save a drowning child, you would, with no regard for ruining your suit or the expensive shoes you were wearing.
How many people donate?
In the UK, 58% of UK adults will donate to charity in any one month. I was shocked to learn that I am in the group least likely to donate to charity (47% of women aged 16-24, compared to 49% of men the same age, or 67% of women aged 45-64).
How much is “enough”?
One solution to the eBay vs. charity shops debate would be to donate a proportion of all income you receive to charity. But how much is “enough”? Some religious groups suggest giving a tithe (10% of all your income). Americans give an average of 1.6%, with the poorest giving proportionally more than everyone else. British people give just 0.7% of their income, although this was significantly more than the 0.14% of French incomes.
David Cameron's plan for Big Society is to increase philanthropic giving, with suggestions for people to donate 1% of their income to charity. Loathe as I am to agree with anything that man says, I must admit that I think that's a reasonable suggestion. It is estimated that to alleviate extreme poverty people earning under $105,000 (£66,000) should donate 1% of their income, with those earning more than this threshold donating proportionally more.
This may sound a lot for people on low incomes, but if you are earning say £12000 a year, 1% is £10 a month. Most people waste a lot more than that on alcohol alone.
How much are you giving each year?
Donations can be achieved in a number of ways. You may already be giving more than you think you are.
- Do you make a regular (monthly) donation to charity?
- Have you sponsored friends/relatives to do something?
- Do you buy from charity shops?
- Have you called in to a telethon or texted to donate?
- Do you give items to charity shops?
- Do you volunteer your time?
Other ways to give
Back in January I wrote about charitable giving on a budget, with ways to give objects, time and money to people who need it.
I think the most important thing is simply to do something!
Who to give to?
If you want your money to do the most good, you need to know how it will be spent. Visit GiveWell to find the top-rated charities by measure of the significantly improving lives in a cost-effective way.