I take our charitable giving seriously. We don't tithe, per se, and we don't have a tzedakah box - but then again, we're atheists and those two traditions are rooted in organized religion.
But still, the idea of taking a percentage of one's income and giving it to those who need it more is a good and honorable practice.
With the end of the year approaching, consider charitable contributions to local organizations. The local ones are often smaller and less able to fund the glossy direct mail pieces that are likely flooding into your mailbox packed with address labels and greeting cards. Consider instead:
- A local food pantry
- The homeless outreach program nearby
- The nearest animal shelter
- Your child's daycare center
- The amateur orchestra in your county
- The safe house for domestic violence victims in the next town
- Your village's volunteer ambulance corps
There's nothing wrong with the big guys, it's just that small non-profits often have to work a lot harder for the funds they raise, and will be enormously grateful to you for your donation, no matter how small.
I'm locally encouraging local giving via a series I wrote for our local on-line "paper". My impetus for the series was two-fold: 1) the annual start of the New York Times Neediest Cases fund drive, and 2) encountering a local non-profit at my farmers market that I'd never before heard of. I figured if the Times could encourage charity, and there were obscure non-profits in my very town, my local paper could and should shine a spotlight on our local organizations. Happily, the editor agreed.
So give locally this year, just like you shop locally and eat locally produced food. You can make a difference.