Charity Begins ...

As a child, there were several proverbs/idioms that didn't make any sense to me. For a long time, after I was familiar with 'Charity begins at home' , I had no idea what it meant...Even today, I am not sure I fully understand what it means...Same goes for "Raining cats and dogs" and "Fraility thy name is woman" ...

Anyway, back to charity...I have been observing people's behaviour around charity and this led to some interesting observations:

1. People generally donate to causes which have had a direct impact on their lives - either a personal tragedy or a tragedy that has unfurled in front of them...I was talking to an NGO which works with cancer patients and was surprised to note that there are people who donate money with explicit instructions on the age/gender profile of people who should be helped. Maybe, personal tragedies change people in ways one cannot fathom...I am no one to judge. This world needs all the help it can get and better a conditional help than none at all...

2. Most rich people, tend to start their own foundation, rather than donate to an existing charity. This, I don't understand at all...why do you think starting yet another organization would dramatically solve governance and other related issues? Or is it a question of tax optimization?

3. In corollary to one, certain causes are always cash strapped, while others get more than their share of focus.

4. There is often a feeling that if you donate time and effort, it is a much more superior way to help than if you donate money. I tend to disagree...Both money and effort are required to make a change and if one feels he/she is better suited to work elsewhere, to generate more money for the cause, then why not? Others, who are more tuned to help hands on, can use the money to actually operationalize the change.

5. It is not easy to put aside a portion of your income for charity. There will always be something at home that needs to be taken care of, or the distant retirement to save for...Religions, that insist on a certain portion of income to be set aside for charity - I am ambivalent about that also. Ultimately, I tend to agree with my mom who says "Manasthithiyum dhanasthithiyum undengille aarkkengilum kodukkan pattuu" ..which means both mindset and financial health are required for charity..Also, "You will always have enough to share. You will never have enough to share". Both statements can be true...It depends on you which one you want to believe in...

6. There are soo many causes out there, and several organizations which work around each of these causes...So, how do you choose which ones to support? Again, like financial planning, the first step is to start...Else, you can spend an entire lifetime searching for the perfect cause, and never do anything tangible.

7.  Hubby often says that he doesn't feel the need to do charity, as he does help people on a day to day basis as part of his job. He also believes his job is more superior to mine in terms of 'nobility quotient'...Is charity all about just satisfying one's urge to help others? Or is it that there is only a finite amount (maybe varying but still finite) of oneself that one can give...and the nature of your profession has a role to play in determining where your limits are?

8. Some causes offer instant gratification, others do not. For example, if you are helping someone for a surgery, you will know fairly quickly what difference your money made..On the contrary, if you are helping with a child's education, it will take atleast 18 years to know whether what you did made a difference...Like everything else in life, patience is a great virtue...Doing the right thing, without worrying about the result is an even greater virtue...

 

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