I just wanted to share a personal simplifying rule for life: when a friend is raising money for charity always give. Whether it’s a cause, a GoFund Me, or the school fundraiser. Why? If you are like many other people with good intentions but little free time, you aren’t hanging out in the comments section of effective altruism blogs splitting hairs about which charities are maximizing return per dollar. Some people may even use this as an excuse. “I haven’t done the homework, so I’m not ready to give”. Guess what aspiring philanthropist? You’re not going to do the homework.
Instead, trust that your friends have done the work since they are putting the effort to raise money. By offering you a chance to give, they are actually doing you a favor. You get to act instead of just meaning to do good. Even if you accidentally give to shyster.org, over the course of your life you will have maximized area under the curve.
I didn’t grow up with money. Not poor but no real savings. The way the remaining middle class lives today. My mother then and now always gives. Small amounts, what she feels comfortable with. But it’s a thing that just sort of stuck with me in watching her. I’m not a political or activist type person. Those people tend to be more wired to give and ask for money from what I’ve seen firsthand. But I think a willingness to give comes from observing others. So if it’s something you value and you have kids, show them that you do this. It probably matters.
A practical note: if you deduct your giving from your taxes, it’s easy to create a label in Gmail for every tax year. When you get the receipt emailed to you just file it under the year’s label. Your receipts will be in one place when you sit down to prepare your taxes.