7.11.2010

Philanthropy Bleg


I got a letter from Christian Aid earlier this month, stating that the ministry I support in Kenya has identified other sources of funds and therefore is no longer in need of my monthly donation in support of the five orphans I have been sponsoring since 2006. I have appreciated the opportunity to contribute through Christian Aid to this ministry for the past 15 years. It was neat to see, through semi-annual report cards and photos, the progress of the five kids I first started supporting in 1995, to see them graduate from the orphanage in 2005, and then to start anew with five new kids. I hope they, and others served by this ministry, will go on to adulthood and faith and gainful employment.

I called Christian Aid back in response and told them to call me back in 12 months and let's talk about what else I can contribute to. In the meantime, I thought it might be fun to take 12 months' worth of what I would have sent Christian Aid's way ($15 a month per kid, times five kids, plus a $25 a month contribution to a parallel street outreach ministry in Kenya, means $1200 a year) and contemplate how that can be deployed in a slightly different manner, just to change things up a little: both that I would think about a one-time gift rather than an ongoing commitment, and that I would be open to another ministry or cause.

To provide additional context to this decision, I would want to think about how this donation would fit into my overall portfolio of giving, which at this stage in my life includes tithing to my church, $100 a month to Opportunity International to fund small business loans to women in Uganda, $25 a year to support hunger relief advocacy efforts through Bread for the World, $200 or so a year in support of The Enterprise Center here in Philadelphia, a tithe of my IRS refund to whatever worthy causes happen to cross my desk that time of the year (note to charities: you should think of this when planning your solicitations), and whatever else I decide in the spur of the moment to respond to in terms of random campaigns and asks.

The only other piece of information I'll offer is to say that while I don't want to just write a check and forget about it, neither do I want whatever I give to to become high-maintenance. In other words, while I may have a temporary blip of money to redirect to something interesting and worthwhile, I don't have, temporarily or otherwise, any excess blip of time to redirect. Other than that, I am open to any topic and any location in the world, so long as it resonates with what I am about and I can learn a thing or two along the way.

So, all of that said, does anybody have any suggestions regarding what I should give to, or how I should go about deciding? Also, I would welcome you sharing about your own thought process concerning how you make your philanthropic decisions.

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