Charity print for auction for Haiti, creative common license by Ðeni
Why do we give? Is it selfish or altruisitic?
“Humans’ motivation to give is rooted in their desire to find meaning through community, not the hope that doing so will benefit them,” writes Sean Stannard-Stockton, the CEO of Tactical Philanthropy Advisors, in a blog post in 2008.
The Freakonomics guys at The New York Times in 2007 asked readers to talk about charitable giving and how they made decisions. The column started with a reference to Maimonides’ hierarchy of giving from the year 1180, followed by 235 comments from readers answering how they decided to give, and to whom. It’s worth the time to read these.
Helping those in need stand on their own is the highest form of giving followed by anonymous giving where neither knows the other is the second, according to Maimonides.
Giving, in this country, has a tax benefit – you get a receipt and you get a tax benefit – no anonymity there.
In 2009, the worst year economically since the Great Depression, giving fell 3.6 percent to $303.75 billion, according an article in USAToday in June. Charitable donations were about $307 billion in 2008, down almost 6 percent from $314 billion in 2007, according to The New York Times. Until the recession wrecked giving in 2008 and 2009, charitable giving had grown faster than the economy for some 50 years, according to Charity Navigator.
“Giving USA 2010 estimates that 2009 charitable giving was 2.1 percent of GDP – the thirteenth consecutive year that charitable giving has been higher than 2.0 percent,” says the E-Jewish Philanthropy website. “Charitable giving has been integrated into our identities as Americans.”
Butter, and Guns
While we Americans are the biggest givers on the planet, we also spend the most on our military.
The US spends some 41.5 percent of the world total spending on military, estimated in 2008 at $1.464 trillion, distantly followed by the China (5.8% of world share, for the first time, ranked number 2 in spending in 2008), France (4.5%), UK (4.5%), and Russia (4%), according to a report in Global Issues,
Total spending on military equals about 2.4 per cent of world gross domestic product (GDP), or $217 for each person in the world, Global Issues says.
The United Nations and all its agencies and funds spend about $27 billion each year, or about $4 for each of the world’s inhabitants.
The Global Need
According to the World Bank, 1.4 billion people in the developing world (one in four) were living on less than $1.25 a day in 2005, down from 1.9 billion (one in two) in 1981. The new international poverty line of $1.25 a day at 2005 prices is the mean of the national poverty lines for the 10-20 poorest countries of the world.
In the US, a family of four in the lower 48 states, earning below $22,050 a year is considered living below the federal poverty line, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Wikipedia says that 13 to 17 percent of the population lives below the federal poverty line at any given point in time, and roughly 40 percent falling below the poverty line at some point within a 10-year time span. Most surprisingly, some 58.5 percent of Americans will spend at least one year below the poverty line at some point between ages 25 and 75. [Wiki reference — Hacker, J. S. (2006). The great risk shift: The new insecurity and the decline of the American dream. New York: Oxford University Press (USA).]
It seems that a year or so ago, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, David Rockefeller, Michael Bloomberg and others well-heeled got together in New York to talk about philanthropy, specifically, getting the Fortune 400 (perhaps with a gross worth $1.2 trillion) to pledge to give at least 50 percent of their net worth to charity during their lifetimes or at death, according to Fortune. We’re talking about $600 billion.
The magazine looks at tax numbers and “To take one example for 2007 (the latest data available), the 18,394 individual taxpayers having adjusted gross income of $10 million or more reported charitable gifts equal to about $32.8 billion, or 5.84% percent of their $562 billion in income.
The roundtable gathering, which included spouses, discusses causes — education, again and again; culture; hospitals and health; the environment; public policy; the poor generally, Fortune reports.
The Fortune 400 can make a big difference, but, according to E-Jewish Philanthropy, “A simple math equation shows how giving could be impacted by a small decisions: If 55 million households across the United States each elected to increase their giving by $100 a year, that would raise all charitable giving by 1 percent. “
$100 a year is $0.27 a day. When I came to New York to live as a graduate student in 1994, I would give away a quarter when asked on the street – that is, until I did the math. I was living on a tight budget.
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 63 million Americans, or 27 percent of the adult population, gave 8.1 billion hours of volunteer service worth $169 billion in 2009, reports IndependentSector.org, which estimates volunteer time valued at $20.85 an hour.
The higher volunteer rates were seen among women, especially women ages 45-54; among individuals who are married; and among those who were employed, especially individuals working full-time.
The top volunteer activity is fundraising, followed by collecting and food distribution, then general labor, then tutoring and teaching. Utah is ranked as the top state for volunteer rates in the US while Minneapolis-St. Paul is top large city, according to the volunteeringinamerica.gov website, which also noted:
The top place where people volunteer is the religious arena (36 percent) followed by education (26.6 percent), then social services (13.8 percent)
States with higher unemployment rates were more likely to have lower volunteering rates. The relationship is such that if the unemployment rate decreased in a state by 1 percentage point, the volunteering rate could be expected to increase by 1.2 percentage points.
Among America’s 51 largest metro areas, those with higher rates of foreclosures were more likely to have lower rates of volunteering. The relationship is similar to unemployment in that if the foreclosure rate decreased in a metro area by ` percentage point, the volunteering rate could be expected to increase by 1.2 percentage points.*
So what does all this mean? I have no answers. Sorry. It turned into a technical exploration, for sure, but I am a journalist and I need to lay out the facts.
I know that there is great need out there and that Americans are giving their money and their time, but is it enough? Should we give more. How much? I support Kiva.org and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists with voluntary donations. I give a little bit to great subway musicians, when I can. But, I will do more.
What about you?
This is the third installation of 13 consecutive Tuesdays where I go through a reflection, based on web research, in a 21st Century way, following the tradition of those who admire St. Anthony of Padua and follow the 13 Tuesdays devotional practice of spiritual meditation. The 13 comes from the date of St. Anthony’s death – June 13.
Getting ready for a road trip is about packing lightly and about getting equipment together.
I’m heading for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists annual convention and as is my practice, I plan to share interesting people, things I hear and things I see over the next few days.
That means deciding on what equipment to carry – always a question between how much I can carry and what I need to carry.
Clothes are easy. I try to limit myself to one carry-on piece of luggage, containing all of my clothing needs. I wear my heavy stuff on board – that would be a jacket, dress shoes. But, it’s the equipment needs to make me think.
First off, do I really need to carry a laptop? I have a MacBook Pro and it’s fairly lightweight. I’m going to be traveling a few miles from my hotel to the convention center in Denver daily. This decision saved me at least $500 and that is not insignificant. But, schlepping a computer around all day and worrying about it is something I’d like to not have to consider.
But, it will go, as well as an extension cord, an outlet adapter as well as power plugs for my phone and my portable HD camera kit. I will also carry a portable 320-gig hard drive for archiving video. I plan to shoot a lot of HD video and sharing it as quickly as I can. I shot in 720 resolution to share on YouTube and Facebook, and here.
I also carry my mobile phone and a charger as well as extra batteries for it and my video camera. Additionally, I carry a small tripod and a light and bracket for low-light situations.
That’s my mobile kit.
I will share text and photos on Twitter from my phone, as well as short video clips when the situation warrants, also via my Nokia N97 phone using the Qik.com service.
The laptop will allow me to do some longer segments using UStream.tv, so I will also pack up my Logitech webcam.
That’s how I roll. Two bags and all my travel information.
Oh, I also fill up my iPod touch with new music, usually some new genre I want to explore as well as a few books from Google books. Additionally, I put fresh batteries in my mobile recharger.
Going to be a long trip to get there as I booked through Salt Lake on the way out, then Minneapolis on the way back. Will I be forced to hit Mall of America due to a travel delay on Sunday?
Van Gogh’s four fishing boats shows hope says Anthony Scioli, a psychology professor at the University of New Hampshire at Keene State College. Note the ropes anchoring the boats to land — that is hope for a return from the sea, Scioli says.
Hope must be the feeling that a parent has on the birth of a baby.
Or, it is the feeling you have in first class of a new school year, the opening of a savings account or even on the second date of a new love interest.
Hope is “a feeling of expectation and desire for something to happen,” the Oxford compact dictionary online says.
“Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark,” said George Iles.
Every culture or faith has this idea deeply ingrained in it. It’s one of the things that makes us human. I need to know more about it.
You can read the first article on faith here, or, ahem, take it on faith.
On Babies Named Hope
Hope is also one of the top 1000 most-popular names for babies in the U.S., the Social Security Administration says. But, over the last 10 years, Hope has fallen from the 146th rank at the dawn of the new millennium to now the 233rd rank. Isabella is the top name for 2009.
Emily Dickinson gave hope an image in her poem, Hope:
Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune—without the words, And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land, And on the strangest sea; Yet, never, in extremity, It asked a crumb of me.
As I looked around online, I found hope a hard search. It is too broad a search term. Everybody has it, but thoughtful discussions on hope are hard to pin down. But, Wikipedia came through.
There, at the bottom of the entry under hope, was Anthony Scioli, a psychology professor at the University of New Hampshire at Keene State College. He divides hope into four elements – attachment, mastery, survival and spirituality — all coming from psychology, anthropology, philosophy and theology as well as literature (western).
There are 17 chapters to discover about hope but, I think, this is a good place to start:
“To experience a full measure of hope, an individual must perceive a living presence that can give as well as receive. In fact, this is undoubtedly one of the reasons that earth-centered cultures such as the Native Americans, the African Ifa or the Australian aborigines treat nature as an animated collective of gods and spirits.”
First, there's Faith. Not Religious, but Spiritual Faith and Strong Belief
Today, I’m taking time to begin a meditation about spirituality. For the next few weeks, I’d like to reflect here on 13 ideas. This is not a religious exploration, nor a witness, but a exploration about the human spirit.
On Sunday, I learned about St. Anthony and the miracles ascribed to this Franciscan friar, later made a saint, who died at the age of 36 in 1231.
In New York, the church at 154 Sullivan Street in Soho is a shrine to St. Anthony. The stone facility was built by Italian immigrants and has served the community for nearly 150 years. Mother Cabrini even taught there.
It was at this service, that I learned about the 13 Tuesdays devotional practice. This intrigued me and seemed a wonderful way to explore spirituality and something to pursue over a summer of great change for me.
I’ll start with faith. I believe I have faith and I believe that I can be faithful, but I want to explore this to see what I can find.
Faith is strength and belief in things that are not apparent on the surface, but indelible beneath, at least to yourself. It’s a highly personal concept and one that, once obtained, must not be held privately.
“hope n faith go together. Hope is what we hold on to when things are out of our hands, but faith is where God picks things up.”
In exploring faith, through Internet searches, I learned that even Mother Theresa questioned her faith, deeply questioned it, but privately, as she served those in deepest need:
According to this article in Time magazine in 2007, St. John of the Cross in the 16th century coined the term the “dark night” of the soul to describe a characteristic stage in the growth of some spiritual masters.
Mother Theresa began her mission when she described a voice coming to her — she later said it was Jesus — who told her:
"Come, Come, carry Me into the holes of the poor. Come be My light. You are I know the most incapable person — weak and sinful but just because you are that — I want to use You for My glory. Wilt thou refuse?"
She couldn’t, but she only had that voice to guide her and it did not return, yet she carried on. Faith
My favorite is about Judah Folkman, a wise man who gave me an interview at the American Association of Cancer Researchers convention I covered in the early 2000s. I was saddened when he died, but will always remember his kindness in giving me a few minutes.
Next week, hope.
I hope you will join me in this discussion, because I need and want to hear your ideas and thoughts, and arguments, even.