Kacie and I are fortunate to start our new life together with frugality in mind. Already, we have paid our college credit card debt and have the beginnings of an emergency fund in place.
Now she asks: to whom should we give a donation each month?
“We need to save for ourselves!” … my subconscious mind pleads after hearing this question. For better or worse, my twin brother and I were always showered with gifts growing up, even when my family’s situation was not financially strong.
There was never the expectation that I should reciprocate and give gifts to others, and this mindset has remained for me. Surprisingly, gift-giving or receiving has not become my love language, nor is it Kacie’s. Kacie and I did not buy Valentine’s Day gifts—instead, we had a nice dinner at home. For us, we are much happier that way.
An interesting exception is that I’ve found enjoyment by giving to strangers—especially to individuals in need.
Still, I am hesitant to donate. The question is not “how much”, but “where?” to donate.
I have read often about reviewing a charity based on its efficiency, but instead I am more interested in the experience of donating. Consider the emotional reaction you get when watching a few of these TV shows.
1. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition inspires you to root for the families receiving new homes. Their stories are so moving, and as you get to know the families, you sympathize with them. You share their pain, and celebrate with them when they get a brand-new house and have a short family vacation. You’re genuinely happy for them—not at all envious.
As a 23-year-old guy (as of today!), I try not to cry at these shows, but perhaps I do cry on the inside. Without fail, Kacie cries during this show.
2. Shows like Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and Deal? or No Deal? do not evoke the same emotional response. Many of the contestants on these shows deserve to be millionaires, I am sure. Even so, I am not excited when they win. Instead, I am left wishing I were them. The shows are designed in such a way that you can “play along.” And, you don’t know the life stories of these contestants.
Both types of shows give lots to a few lucky people. If I was not watching TV, but instead watching my donation at work, I would favor giving to a deserving family or a small organization, rather than to a larger organization where I don’t know exactly where my dollars are going.
The thought of donating to a large charity is not particularly inspiring for me. However, the chance to learn people’s story, donate to them, and watch their dreams come true – that is something special.
Being able to touch an individual’s life is a powerful thing.