Does the right give more to charity than the left?

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KeyStone
Does the right give more to charity than the left?

Forgive me if this is a topic that has been discussed before, but I only came across this recently, and to be perfectly honest, I was stunned by the conclusions of the author.

I had always assumed that the right gave very little, other than to churches etc, but this study suggests otherwise.

Now, the easy thing to do is attack the author, and given his Conservative credentials it is certainly easy to do. But he does seem to be using empirical evidence, and rather than just dismiss something that does not conform to my views, I prefer to examine it. 

So, here are the findings of the author:

- Religious conservatives are far more charitable than secular democrats.
- Those who support the idea that government should redistribute income are among the least likely to dig into their own wallets to help others
- Religious people gave about 3 and a half times as much as non-religous.
- Even with religious charities excluded, they still gave marginally more.
- Households headed by a conservative gave roughly 30% more to charity, even though the Liberal households earned slightly more.
- Republicans also donated more of their time than Democrats.

So, my questions then are:

1) Can this report be believed, or is it total bunk?
2) Does the trend also follow in Canada?
3) Why do religious people give more non-religious donations?
4) Why doesn't the left give more?
5) Are there some that think political opinions are a substitute for charity?

There is an article that discusses it here:

http://philanthropy.com/free/articles/v19/i04/04001101.htm

 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Yes, this has been discussed at length several times here. 

Which increases my frustration at the loss of the entire archive of threads from the old babble board. I hope they will be made available again soon.

Sven Sven's picture

Well, intuitively, KeyStone, it makes sense.  Most progressives want the government to solve problems, not private institutions and individuals.  Charity is inherently private action.

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Here's a google cache: Politics of giving. Here's another: Philanthropy Expert: Conservatives more generous. Interestingly, I was unable to find much left of babble in the google caches about a month ago, but they seem to have been renewed since. 

Michelle

I hope they will be too, LTJ.  It's very frustrating not to be able to link to old threads covering the same ground!

It makes sense because religious institutions are considered "charities".  So, if you tithe 10% of your income to your church so that they can spread the good news that god hates fags, women are second-class citizens who shouldn't have any rights over their bodies, indoctrinate your children in Sunday school, and build lots of pretty stained glass windows to look at, then that's considered "charitable giving".

Whereas, if I give a monthly donation to rabble.ca because I believe in citizen journalism and media democracy, and give money to homeless people on the streets, and donate many hours of my time to activism in order to try to change the ROOT CAUSES of the social problems that some charities try to address, that doesn't count as "charitable giving".

It only counts as "charity" if you aren't trying to do anything to actually change anything.

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

 LTJ, thanks for reposting that thread. It pretty much recovers most points.  It seems like some article or study about this comes out on a regular basis.

 I actually don't personally find it counterintuitive at all.  Giving or being chairitable, compassionate,  isn't just about money and stats.  Michelle covers some of those points.  

 The posted article goes on to make some more and that in order to get a clearer picture, rather just using just money as an indicator and thusly used to call 'liberals' hypocrites more indepth study is needed. 

 

Quote:

Mr. Abramson also argues that scholars will need to examine the data
more closely to determine whether conservative and religious donors are
more compassionate — which doesn't necessarily follow from giving more.

Much religious giving is akin to paying dues at a club; it goes for
such things as paying salaries and keeping the lights on. And in their
secular giving, Mr. Abramson says, it is conceivable that conservative
and religious people may be more likely than liberal donors to give to
charities like colleges and hospitals, which do not focus mainly on
serving the poor. "Even if conservatives or religious people are more
generous in that they give more, it doesn't necessarily follow that
they're giving redistributively," Mr. Abramson says.

Mr. Brooks says the data show that religious people, on average,
give 54 percent more per year than secular people to human-welfare
charities. Some of those charities may be religiously affiliated, but
their work is focused on charity and not religion, he says.

 Although completely anecdotal to my own life experience it's just more likely that you'll find people who actually work and DO the charitable type work ie use the money to be more liberal in there political viewpoint.  I'd take Brooks comments about human welfare charities further and look at who the people are who are actually doing the work at those type of charities. Those utilizing the money.    The point has been made that well that's 'working' so that doesn't count.  I'd argue that no it actually does when you'd get into the reason that people get into 'helping' type jobs, especially considering that in those sorts of job the pay isn't exactly that great.  It's generally not for financial renumeration and many such people could work in other more financially lucritive work if they chose too. 

If someone looked at my charitable giving in terms of money I'd likelt be considered chinzy as chinzy can be.  I don't give much money to charity mainly because I don't have much.  I give a crapload of time though and other things, always have.     I'd be the type that would take a job at a charitable ngo based on the work instead of another job that paid twice as much and had better benefits.  I'd be the type that would actually volunteer my time in fundraising efforts.  Now being self-employed I design my actual work more around the giving aspect then just my own personal monetary gain. 

 It's just too simplistic and binary in my view to equate just $$$ with some sort of moral highground and being better and more compassionate but heck it does make good fodder for more 'us and them' sort of battles. 

 

 

Maysie Maysie's picture

An oldie but a goodie:

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist" Dom Helder Camara

That completely exemplifies the problems with the charity model. But that would be thread drift. Smile 

A reminder that charities have specific tax-exempt status in Canada. There are also many non-profits that don't have charitable status yet do extremely good and important social justice work. Would donations of time or money to such organizations "count" for this study? I don't think so.

And why am I remembering a study (posted on babble, who knows when) that as a percentage of income, lower-income earners donate more than higher income earners? Does this ring a bell for anyone else?

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

Maysie wrote:

An oldie but a goodie:

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist" Dom Helder Camara

That completely exemplifies the problems with the charity model. But that would be thread drift. Smile

And why am I remembering a study (posted on babble, who knows when) that as a percentage of income, lower-income earners donate more than higher income earners? Does this ring a bell for anyone else?

 One of my favorite quotes of all time Maysie. Smile 

 It does ring a bell. I googled and found this...

 

Bequeathing billions

Quote:

Charity begins with the poor

A Statistics Canada survey released in June 2006 shows, low-income
earners are no slouches when it to comes to charitable donations. In
fact, those who earn the least tend to give away the most when measured
as a percentage of income.

In 2004, those earning less than $20,000 a year gave away on
average 1.7 per cent of their income. Those with household incomes of
more than $100,000 gave away an average of 0.5 per cent.

"Isn't it fabulous?" says Lisa Hartford, spokeswoman for Imagine
Canada, a non-profit group that sponsors research into philanthropy.

"My personal speculation is someone making less than $20,000 might be more aware of community need."

The survey shows that regardless of your snack bracket, motivation for charitable giving is always the same.

It's all about compassion toward people in need, or wanting to help a particular cause in which one believes.

The Statistics Canada survey, in partnership with Imagine Canada,
showed that 85 per cent of Canadians aged 15 and older gave money to a
charitable or non-profit organization in 2004.

 

 

Sven Sven's picture

Maysie wrote:
And why am I remembering a study (posted on babble, who knows when) that as a percentage of income, lower-income earners donate more than higher income earners? Does this ring a bell for anyone else?

Joe Biden: Over the last ten years Biden and his wife gave an average of $369 per year to charity (or about 0.3% of their income): http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/election2008/2008-09-12-biden-fina...

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

danmaggi

Might it have something to do with conservatives giving more to their own church or other religious institutions? (should my stereotype of church-goin', gun totin' rednecks hold true)

 

Oops...just read that above...maybe my stereotype is shared! 

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

  Oh noez.... well that cinches it. We have an example that runs counter to the actual study and stats...  Must be wrong!!

  Who the hell gives a flying f about Joe Bidens charity and what in the f does is that example supposed to 'prove'.  Yeesh already. 

 Does that mean that if I can google and find a single Republican that doesn't give to charity in any meaningful way that  I can use it to  'prove' that Republicans are scrooges?

 The biggest problem that I have with this is that it assumes that peoples political viewpoint is totally binary.  One side, vs the other side and sets some sort of data point on what exactly a 'liberal' is and what exactly a 'conservative' is.   That  itself is debate and very subjective. One's person 'liberal' is anothers 'conservative' and vice versa.
  For example and I expect that if anyone decides to take the time that many here would say that Joe Biden isn't even a 'liberal' but a right winger,  so that his example actually runs counter to the authors points that right wingers give more. 

 

 

 

 

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Michelle wrote:

I hope they will be too, LTJ.  It's very frustrating not to be able to link to old threads covering the same ground!

It makes sense because religious institutions are considered "charities".  So, if you tithe 10% of your income to your church so that they can spread the good news that god hates fags, women are second-class citizens who shouldn't have any rights over their bodies, indoctrinate your children in Sunday school, and build lots of pretty stained glass windows to look at, then that's considered "charitable giving".

Whereas, if I give a monthly donation to rabble.ca because I believe in citizen journalism and media democracy, and give money to homeless people on the streets, and donate many hours of my time to activism in order to try to change the ROOT CAUSES of the social problems that some charities try to address, that doesn't count as "charitable giving".

It only counts as "charity" if you aren't trying to do anything to actually change anything.


 

 

Sven Sven's picture

ElizaQ wrote:

Who the hell gives a flying f about Joe Bidens charity and what in the f does is that example supposed to 'prove'.

I don't think it proves anything that can be extrapolated to support any general proposition.  Although, it does provide some evidence that Joe Biden, specifically, is a tight ass. 

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

[

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

   And that's relevant to this overall disscussion and specifically Maysie's question how exactly? 

   Or was it posted as just sort of random, pulled from the ass fact that might prove useful if ever participating in a trivia game about the US 2008 election year?

Fidel

What billions of desperately poor people need is socialism not random acts of kindness which solves nothing except to put a human face on a system that does not work for the large majority of humanity.

Rich people receive good PR for their good works. And most often its a tax write off. Meanwhile millions of ordinary people donate their time and money to charity to prop up an old world system of privilege and rule by the wealthy.

It's not guilty consciences that cause the right to donate money to charity. It's because they have a pretty good idea of how much of the national income is shovelled their way in various capitalist countries. It's in their best interests to play the Machiavellian every so often and be seen and heard doing it, too.

Maysie Maysie's picture

ElizaQ: thanks for that link. Guess I could have done that myself but was too tired at that point. Nice to know my memory isn't failing me. Yet. Smile

As for the Biden factoid posted by Sven, I'm sure he meant it in two ways, the first, a "gotcha lefties!" about Biden's stinginess representing lefties (which is hilarious and pathetic for reasons stated above) and second, perhaps an agreement with my point (it's so rare that Sven and I agree on anything) that rich people, in general, give less than lower earners. I don't consider myself a lower income earner, but I give way more than $369 per year, mostly to non-profits which are not charities, therefore no tax claims.

And I believe Michelle's point about giving to churches in general, is that such funds are always counted as charitable donations, the churches all having charitable status in Canada, but that when giving to a church one is far more likely to be supporting a non-left agenda, and that's the nice way of saying it. Therefore the link between supporting charities and being progressive is a flawed link. Hence, the factoid that conservatives gives more and therefore are more "compassionate" is also based on a flawed premise. 

Caissa

Michelle wrote: So, if you tithe 10% of your income to your church so that they can spread the good news that god hates fags, women are second-class citizens who shouldn't have any rights over their bodies, indoctrinate your children in Sunday school, and build lots of pretty stained glass windows to look at, then that's considered "charitable giving".

 

I tithe ten percent of my income to my congregation and I support equal marriage, am pro-choice and have never spent a cent on stain glass windows. I plead guilty to having our sons attend Sunday School.

 

Equating the support of a congregation with being right wing is overly simplistic.

Le T Le T's picture

I work as a cook at a shelter. I can tell you that we receive a lot more donations from corporations and rich people in December. Not because of Christmas either.

Refuge Refuge's picture

ElizaQ wrote:

Giving or being chairitable, compassionate,  isn't just about money and stats.

Maysie wrote:

Hence, the factoid that conservatives gives more and therefore are more "compassionate" is also based on a flawed premise. 

I agree that money is only one aspect of compassion.  I have worked in both non profit and charity at food banks, shelters, kitchens and other assorted places.  It seemed the larger the donation the "further away" the person was (ie very large donations means they live a lifestyle in which I would never cross paths with them).

I heard a really good quote about compassion

"Feel the pain of other. Understand their struggles and disappointments, their hardships and inadequacies and open your heart to them. Realize that everyone is doing the best they possible can. Judge no one. But rather, cradle all of humanity in your heart" - Unkown

To me the people who gave the money were only able to feel a fraction of that ( manily because of the distance from the people they were giving to ) but I have compassion for them because they are doing the best that they possibly can.

The more you get into working because of compassion the more you realize that it is not a competition and the less you work because of compassion the more competitive it is.  Money can be a very competitive way of measuring how much you give but maybe that is just the best they can do right now.

Refuge Refuge's picture

Le T wrote:
I work as a cook at a shelter. I can tell you that we receive a lot more donations from corporations and rich people in December. Not because of Christmas either.

By the way I  think that figuring out how much you can get as a tax break at the end of the year is a form of competition.

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

Refuge wrote:

ElizaQ wrote:

Giving or being chairitable, compassionate, isn't just about money and stats.

Maysie wrote:

Hence, the factoid that conservatives gives more and therefore are more "compassionate" is also based on a flawed premise.

I agree that money is only one aspect of compassion. I have worked in both non profit and charity at food banks, shelters, kitchens and other assorted places. It seemed the larger the donation the "further away" the person was (ie very large donations means they live a lifestyle in which I would never cross paths with them).

I heard a really good quote about compassion

"Feel the pain of other. Understand their struggles and disappointments, their hardships and inadequacies and open your heart to them. Realize that everyone is doing the best they possible can. Judge no one. But rather, cradle all of humanity in your heart" - Unkown

To me the people who gave the money were only able to feel a fraction of that ( manily because of the distance from the people they were giving to ) but I have compassion for them because they are doing the best that they possibly can.

The more you get into working because of compassion the more you realize that it is not a competition and the less you work because of compassion the more competitive it is. Money can be a very competitive way of measuring how much you give but maybe that is just the best they can do right now.

 You bring up some good points that I don't really disagree with.  Some people do just give money and there are a numerous different reasons and motives that drive that giving, everything from base level just helping out fellow humans to motivations based around getting the tax breaks. 

 My comments aren't mean't to try to argue or judge that their is some sort of moral superiority of one way over another or that my way of thinking and doing is 'better'.  They're mainly comments against making such arguements, based on a monetary figures and money giving alone and extrapolate that to make statements about the moralness  or  'hypocrisy' of people as group who are supposedly left or right.    Compassion, charity, giving, care for fellow humans,  whatever you want to call it, manifest in numerous different ways.   It's these sort of A + B = C type arguements that just bug me.  It's to simplistic. 

 While studies such as these I think are useful in terms of bring up discussion (like this one) questions  and useful from a sociological/cultural perspective they lose their usefuness when they're simply used as some sort of 'proof' that my 'side' (which defined can be totally subjective in the first place) overall is better then your side, A + B= C ipso facto, you guys suck.    That hasn't happen so much here on this board but I've seen it used exactly in this fashion and it's annoying.  Smile

 They're also useful in a completely practical fashion I guess.  Say I'm the consumate stereotypical leftie, running a charity. One of the things I need is $$$ to run it. I have limited funds and wherewithall to fundraise. Looking at demographics, who am I going to target to get that $$$?  To me that really speaks to the irony of trying to use this sort of as some sort of political dividing talking point and making it all about 'sides' being better then the other.   That of course is if one chooses to buy into a binary worldview where everything, at all times is, just about two competing 'sides.' 

Sven Sven's picture

Refuge wrote:

By the way I  think that figuring out how much you can get as a tax break at the end of the year is a form of competition.

That may be true for the mathematically challenged.

If a person makes a $10,000 charitable contribution and has a marginal tax rate of 40%, the net cost of the contribution is $6,000 (i.e., the person has $6,000 less in her pockets by virtue of the contribution).  If, by contract, the contribution had not been made in the first place, the individual would have $6,000 more in her pockets (keeping the $10,000 but paying the 40% tax on that $10,000).

So, unless a marginal tax rate is more than 100%, a person is always better off financially not making a charitable contribution than making a charitable contribution.

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I think the amount of money you give to charity is in proportion to your compassion level. For example, I give very little to charity and I'm an asshole.

Come to think of it, I don't even have what you might call an 'income' so I guess whatever I give counts as, like, a million percent. Maybe more.

Refuge Refuge's picture

ElizaQ wrote:

My comments aren't mean't to try to argue or judge that their is some sort of moral superiority of one way over another or that my way of thinking and doing is 'better'.

I didn't take them as such Laughing.  I just continued my own thinking from your starting point.

Sven wrote:

That may be true for the mathematically challenged.

If a person makes a $10,000 charitable contribution and has a marginal tax rate of 40%, the net cost of the contribution is $6,000 (i.e., the person has $6,000 less in her pockets by virtue of the contribution).  If, by contract, the contribution had not been made in the first place, the individual would have $6,000 more in her pockets (keeping the $10,000 but paying the 40% tax on that $10,000).

So, unless a marginal tax rate is more than 100%, a person is always better off financially not making a charitable contribution than making a charitable contribution.

Contributions that reduce or eliminated taxable income in a higher tax bracket will have a significantly greater tax value.

Ahh but sometimes a contribution is worth much more if it reduces your taxable income.  Thus where the tax break competion comes in - is the amount you are giving going to be less than the taxes difference you would pay in the lower tax bracket.

rural - Francesca rural - Francesca's picture

I would suggest that the left does give and certainly those with lower incomes give a higher precentage of their income - antidotal thought based on person experience.

I run a chairty and when I look at the United Way campaigns in organized workplaces it's massive.

So what if people get a tax break?  I'll take that donation and affect change with it.  I'm not questioning anyone's motivation.

Making a donation needs to be a win-win for both the giver and the receiver.

 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

I hate to say it, but Sven's right - even in Canada, there is no case where a charitable contribution puts you ahead financially.

A contribution may be made far less onerous due to tax deduction, but it always has a cost. 

Refuge Refuge's picture

Lard Tunderin' Jeezus wrote:

I hate to say it, but Sven's right - even in Canada, there is no case where a charitable contribution puts you ahead financially.

A contribution may be made far less onerous due to tax deduction, but it always has a cost. 

ok.  I'm no tax accountant or lawyer so I will take both your words for it!Smile.  Thanks.

Fidel

Americans generous? Not really

Quote:

America's legacy of giving to charity is indeed impressive. In 2006, individuals, foundations, and corporations gave $295-billion to charitable and religious organizations throughout the country and overseas.

As a result of the exponential increase in the country's wealth over the past few decades, however, it seems fair to ask whether Americans are really all that generous. At a time when the wealthiest Americans have achieved sharp gains in income, it is a distressing sign that the overall share of income going to charity has remained relatively unchanged at about 2 percent. . .

Martin Feldstein, the noted Harvard economist and former chief economic adviser to President Reagan, estimated that about 25 percent of charitable donations are made because people want to deduct the donations on their income-tax returns.

Other economists have estimated that anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent of charitable giving is the direct result of the desire to get a tax deductions. Moreover, a great deal of charitable money comes through bequests, as wealthy Americans seek to shield their estates from taxation.

That affluent people want tax breaks in exchange for their charitable gifts would be less disturbing if they were giving a bigger share of their money to people who were truly in need. Instead the wealthiest Americans give largely to institutions that benefit people like the them — supporting the nation's elite colleges, museums, hospitals, symphonies, and other nonprofit organizations that are often out of reach of the nation's needy people.

It's donating to social programs to benefit their own kind and their own causes. And it's still far cheaper for the rich than actual socialism. The bottom line is that the poor need real socialism not bullshit capitalist philanthropy.

 

KeyStone

Well, the study did say that even when religious giving was factored out, the Republicans still gave more than the Democrats. So while the religious giving is certainly a big part of it, it's not the only part. 

As for volunteering, which is every bit as valuable as donating, I read from the same book that Republicans donate more of their time as well - although whether that time is donated to a religious cause or not, it didn't say.

Equating religion with 'God hats fags' is a little offensive frankly. I would think a tolerant place such as rabble wouldn't engage in such generalities that ostracize people. I'm sure rabbi Michael Lerner would be very impressed with you. 

I think that there may be something to the fact that many of the donations given by the Democrats are not accounted for since they are less likely to want a receipt etc.

 

Fidel

So the fact that charities do exist and are deemed necessary to serve the poor is an admittal that markets do not work for millions of people in America on the receiving end of charity. Charities are social causes that are necessary to make capitalism appear to work for everyone.

KeyStone

Well, let's be careful about what kinds of charities we are talking about.

The fact that charities are needed to support museums and opera houses is not a failure of the free market. It is a choice. The existence of such things is certainly not an essential need  in our society.

If however, we are talking about fundamental human rights, such as food, shelter etc, then yes the fact that charities such as food banks exist, is definitely evidence that the free market system (at least in its current form) is a failure.

However, refusing to give to charities or help the poor directly is a poor excuse, if we are choosing instead to spend our money on self-indulgent things. It frustrates me very much that the compassionate are forced to shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden as a result of the indifference of others to help and the indifference of others to make changes.

Fidel

So even though the creme de la creme in America, and Canada, too, apparently have enjoyed windfall gains in income in recent years, the overall percentage of income that the well-heeled in America donate to charities is unchanged at about two percent. And I think it's safe to say that the American system is one of the stingiest among richest countries when it comes to spending on social programs as a percentage of GDP. It's good to be rich in that country with the highest concentration of wealth in the hands of relatively very few of its citizens.

Michelle

LTJ, it's true that no one is ahead in mere dollars when they make a charitable contribution to something.  But the net payout is more than compensated by the social capital and/or advertising and power they get in exchange for the donation.

At churches, the big donors are the powerbrokers at church.  They become the elders, the deacons, the ones who are listened to at church council meetings, the ones that no one can ever offend in case they leave.  Even the ones who are "modest" and try to give "quietly" are known by the few people in administrative positions in church and so the people who run the place know who they have to tiptoe around and consult more than others. 

When you give to your church, even if your church does do the occasional progressive thing, what you are mostly giving to is the perpetuation of your social club.  The vast majority of church budgets go towards the salaries of their religious leaders, upkeep of their buildings and assets, and running the various self-perpetuation functions of the church like religious indoctrination (like Sunday School) and stuff like that.  Not to mention huge membership payments to the denomination, money to missions, etc.  My former church was involved in a good number of progressive "causes" but the vast majority of the budget was simply self-perpetuation - pastor and administrative salaries, church building maintenance and upkeep and utilities, church supplies, etc.

I don't get a tax receipt for paying for swimming lessons and art lessons and such for my son, but churchgoers get tax receipts when they pay for their kids' religious indoctrination in Sunday school.  I don't get a tax receipt if I pay to attend a concert every week or pay for music lessons for my son, but churchgoers get tax receipts when they pay for their church choirs to perform every week simply for their own amusement and for music leaders to teach adults and children at church how to sing and play.  I don't get a tax receipt when I hold a dinner party or drop-in at my place, but I get one if I donate to my church and then that money goes towards church suppers or coffee hour after church.

In hospitals and universities, the big donors get their names (or the names of their businesses) on plaques, on wings, on buildings.  They're buying advertising and getting a charitable receipt for it. 

Other charities like the illness charities give people the opportunity to buy influence with their charitable donations, by throwing exclusive events for their rich donors to rub elbows with each other.  

rural - Francesca rural - Francesca's picture

sponsorship should not be confused with a donation

 A line mention of a name on a plaque is one thing and a donation that is recognized in this fashion does get a reciept.

A donation to help a special event, is a "sponsosrship"  and no tax reciept is issued.  You want banners and logos and signage on my documentation -> no reciept.

In my communtiy I'd say 80-90% of the individual donors do not want thier name publicized.  What happens if we do is another charity takes the list, mines it and then sends them requests for money too.  So it's all very hush hush.

My limited understanding of left vs right charitiable philosophies relates to what has already been spoken.  The right believes in the free market and with that they recognize a social responsiblity to assist those who are challenged by life.  The left tends to feel the government should cover those challenged by life.

But we sawthis inthe arts industry in the 90's.  Government funding was cut with the understanding that the private secotr would pick up the slack, well studies proved it didn't happen.  (and no I don't have a link to such studies but I know they are out there as I've seen them).

As for churches I've seen churches who are insular and just look after thier own and I've sat in a church with a Minister and swapped 'practicle joke' stories.  One minister in town, who I respect greatly, has cable show on Rogers and I've been on a few times.  The last show I did with him was on poverty and it generated the most feedback he's ever had on a show.

He has me on because I don't pull punches and I've had many discussions lamenting the lack of support within the faith community for social issues, when it's suppose to be a primary aspect of faith.

For those of you who feel those of us in the social services charitble field should go away and the government would then have no choice to step in...don't get that that just won't happen.

They won't step in, they continue to pull back on services.

Besides I wouldn't risk any of my people on such a plan, they deserve respect and dignity, not to be pawns of a political game.

For those who just want to claim I am doing this because it's a job, fine.  Whatever.  Walk a kilometer in my shoes.  Tell me to my face I'm just putting in time.  Yeah I get paid, so what.  Why shouldn't I?

People have asked why we can't use volunteers to run the organization.  I simply tell them that the grocery store refuses to volunteer groceries to me, and neither will Hydro volunteer me free Hydro etc.

Ok this has struck a nerve and I shouldn't rant on in my office at 7:30 am in the morning because I was up at 5 to make a presenation at a company to solicit donations because they want to help and thier meeting was at 6 am.  But at 7:30 the phone doesn't ring with people in crisis, so I can collect my thoughts.

 

Michelle

Your people?  That's kind of problematic, don't you think?  Just because you give money to someone, that doesn't make them "yours".

Except that, often it does.  I have experienced this in past work I've done at church.  One person in particular used to collect people with her money.  She'd give money to help a family or person in crisis or whatever, and forever afterwards, that family or person was "hers" and nothing about their life was off-limits to her nosy-parkering.

I'm not saying that you do this, Francesca, and I know you do good work.  I know what you mean.  But they're not "your people".   And the truth is, they shouldn't even be your clients.  And if people donated even a FRACTION of the money they give to charities like food banks and shelters to organizations that actually put pressure on governments to change the root causes of homelessness and hunger, you can be sure that governments WOULD raise social assistance rates and change eligibility criteria to be more fair, and those people wouldn't have to be "your people" any longer.

rural - Francesca rural - Francesca's picture

"My people" "Your people"

They are 'my people' and I try and protect them from the intrusions of the government, other donors, my board even.

Basically what I mean is not a term of ownership, and certainly not in the context of the horror of the example you gave.

For me it's means people have to go through me to get to them.

My board would love for someone to come forward and say how life changing interacting with us has been.  Really tell an impactful story, charities do it all the time, and I flatly refuse to ask anyone.  If someone asks me what they can do I ask them to 'pay it forward' of offer us thier talents.

I had a reporter I helped in 2007, major family break-up and crisis.  He and I had not always seen eye to eye and I knew when he called me that it was a hard call to make.  But he got the help he needed and was treated with dignity and respect.

I emailed him the following year and told him he could access the program again and he told me he'd gotten back up on his feet and was actually going to make a donation to support the program he'd accessed.

I told him not to do that, but to come and do a story on the program.  So he came and interviewed the student we had working on the program and I never breathed a word that he had personally accessed it.  He kept looking at me and finally told her he'd accessed the program.  I told him it was his story to tell not mine.

He did an amazing story that got legs and generated major support for the pogram.

My people have been abused by a system, they are demoralized, frightened, bullied and tired.

If I can insulate them, if I can be thier voice, if I can just make it a little easier than I will.

When people speak in sterotypes about people living in poverty, I tell those people they are talking about 'my people' and 'my people' don't fit those sterotypes.

It's a collective statment, not an individualized statment.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Michelle wrote:

...if people donated even a FRACTION of the money they give to charities like food banks and shelters to organizations that actually put pressure on governments to change the root causes of homelessness and hunger, you can be sure that governments WOULD raise social assistance rates and change eligibility criteria to be more fair, and those people wouldn't have to be "your people" any longer.

Quite right. I came to the same conclusion a couple of years ago, and now my occasional generosity goes towards generating political action. Donations to the NDP provide enhanced tax relief; donations to rabble.ca provide none, but are more effective in my mind than yet another food bank donation.

The rich create the need for food banks through corporate hijinks that cause layoffs and their constant demands for tax cuts. They should be the ones to fund the food banks.

BTW, I'm still on the call lists for a dozen or more charities, and I've come to realize how self-perpetuating even the best of them are - with apologies to Francesca and others like her simply doing their best to help in a fucked-up world. 

KeyStone

Interesting Responses.

I had thought that this information would do one of two things:

1) Either we would dismiss the information as inaccurate
or
2) We would do a little soul-searching.

But it appears that the preferred response is to tear down those that give, rather than build ourselves up. Much easier.

I know that I have been guilty of delaying my charitable work in the past. First I wanted to wait until I finished school, then I wanted to wait until I bought a condo. Next it will be a worry about the children and then their college education. In other words, it isn't going to end, there will always be an excuse as to why I should wait.

I think that there are a number of reasons why the right gives more than the left. From excerpts that I have read from the study, it all comes down to religion. Those that are religious give considerable more than those that aren't. The study also said that those that even factoring out religious donations, they still give more. And, they volunteer more as well. The study also said that the left makes more, but the right gives more which I found particularly interesting.

As much as religions has its faults, most religions also teach a certain level of compassion. I know many religious people and they are very generous - they give to the humane society, to the food banks - they volunteer. 

Go and join up with an organization dedicated in helping the poor (that gathers food and clothing etc), and I think you will find that the majority of the people involved are religious. 

On the other hand, I think that groups that focus more on effecting government change through lobbying the government etc, are less likely to be filled with religious people. OCAP would be a good example. Does anyone have experience with them?

I think that both advocating for change, and directly helping those in need as a temporary measure are needed. It's fine to say if we help the poor, then the government won't need to change, but go and explain to the unemployed single mother of three why we shouldn't help her out until these reforms are made. 

The difficulty in only advocating for change, is that the left has always been accused of wanting to spend other people's money. If we don't walk the walk, and put our money and time where our mouth is, it really undermines our credibility. 

I, for one, don't intend to increase the suffering of the poor, to use as a bargaining chip, to bring about permanent change. 

 

 

 

 

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

KeyStone wrote:

Interesting Responses.

I had thought that this information would do one of two things:

1) Either we would dismiss the information as inaccurate
or
2) We would do a little soul-searching.

But it appears that the preferred response is to tear down those that give, rather than build ourselves up. Much easier.

I know that I have been guilty of delaying my charitable work in the past. First I wanted to wait until I finished school, then I wanted to wait until I bought a condo. Next it will be a worry about the children and then their college education. In other words, it isn't going to end, there will always be an excuse as to why I should wait.

I think that there are a number of reasons why the right gives more than the left. From excerpts that I have read from the study, it all comes down to religion. Those that are religious give considerable more than those that aren't. The study also said that those that even factoring out religious donations, they still give more. And, they volunteer more as well. The study also said that the left makes more, but the right gives more which I found particularly interesting.

As much as religions has its faults, most religions also teach a certain level of compassion. I know many religious people and they are very generous - they give to the humane society, to the food banks - they volunteer.

Go and join up with an organization dedicated in helping the poor (that gathers food and clothing etc), and I think you will find that the majority of the people involved are religious.

On the other hand, I think that groups that focus more on effecting government change through lobbying the government etc, are less likely to be filled with religious people. OCAP would be a good example. Does anyone have experience with them?

I think that both advocating for change, and directly helping those in need as a temporary measure are needed. It's fine to say if we help the poor, then the government won't need to change, but go and explain to the unemployed single mother of three why we shouldn't help her out until these reforms are made.

The difficulty in only advocating for change, is that the left has always been accused of wanting to spend other people's money. If we don't walk the walk, and put our money and time where our mouth is, it really undermines our credibility.

I, for one, don't intend to increase the suffering of the poor, to use as a bargaining chip, to bring about permanent change.

 

 

 

 

 Keystone, I really don't see much tearing down going on here and neither do I see that only two options available. What I actually see and have participated in is a discussion about the information that is available, problems that could come up with the actual study data and conclusions that there author has come too with the data that he collected as well as some comments about the whole idea of charity itself.  That's not tearing down, that's looking at it more indepth and it's prudent.  I personally don't see the authors conclusions as something that should be dimissed outright without thinking about it and I personally am not.

 The one fact that I don't think has been really addressed is that this book or study was done in the US context and within the US socio/political context of left and right ' as well as the US context of relgiousity which is different the Canada.  Whether the authors conclusions would extrapolate to a Canadian socio/political context wholeheartedly or to another country is a question.  I know personally I'm not about to make some whole hearted conclusion about 'left' vs 'right' across the board just by going on a USian example.  We don't even define 'liberal' in the same way that the US tends to define a 'liberal' for a start.  

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

I find your assumptions rather offensive, Keystone. I'm inclined to ignore you from this point forward.

Michelle

I heard on the radio that the Daily Bread food bank generated way, way more than their target this year through their Christmas fundraising drive with the CBC.  Plus they have a bunch of corporate food sponsors, etc.

I think OCAP needs our help more than the Daily Bread Food Bank does.  I think OCAP does better work, frankly.  They helped poor people across Ontario get access to more social assistance through the special diet allowance.  While of course this doesn't mean that those people had enough to live on yet, it certainly means that it reduces to some degree their need to go to food banks and soup kitchens and beg for their supper.  And OCAP almost always has food available at their political actions too.  I have no problem with providing food to people who need it.  What I have a problem with is doing that while sucking up to governments and corporations who perpetuate the disparity, comforting the rich, perpetuating poverty, and not speaking any truth to power.

remind remind's picture

Interesting discussion, and I believe voluteering is way more productive than just giving money. I volunteer at least 15 hours per month, and sometimes up to 30 hours, and indeed the money we volunteers generate, gets paid out into other charities, people's and NPO's.

I simply could not afford to donate 500+ per month to a charity, however, my labour generates that much and more to be paid forward to other orgs or persons.

Having said that, I rarely, if ever, speak about my volunteering and would never respond to a poll about it, it is my business and because I believe that there in fact should be NO charities. But at present there has to be, so I volunteer.

Wonderful words Michelle:

"comforting the rich, perpetuating poverty, and not speaking any truth to power."

___________________________________________________________

"watching the tide roll away"

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

I just received a call from MADD. Serendipitous, given that I was just talking about the 'self-perpetuating' nature of charities. 

MADD in particular has been noted for spending 80+ percent of their revenues on fundraising. However, they claim that as public awareness is their goal, fundraising is a legitimate function for raising awareness - so that the more they are given, the more they will fundraise. 

Caissa

Parenthetically, I have found the latest MADD tv ads to be emotionally disturbing and manipulative. Most especially the ad with the child in the playground with a white sheet drwped over her.

KeyStone

People that give examples of charities that don't work as anecdotal evidence of why we shouldn't waste time with charities, remind me a lot of the people who have stories about some alleged panhandler with a five bedroom house and two car garage.

Yes, there are always people who manipulate and defraud the system. It certainly isn't a reason to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

There are many ways for intelligent people to research charities before they donate, so that they understand how much of the donated money goes to administration and how much goes to fundraising.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Once again, your presumptions about others are offensive, and your analogy completely false. This is not 'anecdotal'. And MADD is far from the worst of the abusers of people's best impulses.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

I dislike the term "charity" - but I am not going stop making monetary contributions because of my distaste for the term. I think Billy Bragg said it best in his song "I Don't Need This Pressure Ron":

Neither in the name of conscience/
Nor the name of charity/
Money is put where mouths are/
In the name of solidarity

While I fully acknowledge the validity of some of the posts here about problems with many charitable groups (I am thinking here specifically of Michelle's post #32 -- and I think I have a few first hand horror stories about some large charities that would surprise even the most cynical) this does not mean I am convinced that the answer is to stop making monetary contributions -- the only thing that I am convinced of is that I have to critically examine the operations of a group before making any contribution. I also have to bear in mind that making monetary contributions in no way lessens my responsibility to be actively involved and volunteer -- monetary contributions and volunteering are not mutually exclusive things and being able to do one does not absolve me of the responsibility to do the other within my means and ability.

To me, it is vital to be both informed and pragmatic about monetary contributions.  If the group I am considering contributing to uses an excessively high percentage to maintain itself (usually salaries and advertising, something frequently found with the large illness/organ medical charities) there is no way I am going to make a contribution. If the money that is received is used to proselytize or make political interventions that I think damaging (most religious charities) I would also refrain from making a contribution. There are, however, still a wide range of groups with charitable status, engaged in what I consider to be valuable "solidarity" activities, that I can contribute to without compromising my ability to "speak truth to power". So, I make the contributions and accept (and in some cases insist) on the tax receipt. 

Why the emphasis on the tax receipt? Because it means more capital (in the form of a tax refund) coming my way that I can direct toward future contributions. I consider the groups I support worth being bloody minded about. If I am involved in a group on a volunteer basis and am putting a lot of kilometres on my car when doing things for the group, I am most definitely going to charge mileage (kilometrage?) at the same rate as the federal government pays for use of a personal vehicle (approx. 50 cents per kilometre). Then, I immediately donate back the full amount I have received to the group I have charged, which leave me with a tax credit of approx. 1/3 the amount of the donation. When I get my tax refund I have that amount of money to donate again - either to this group or another one. Trust me, this can quickly add up, and I consider it the pragmatic way of dealing with volunteer donations "in kind". (As a side note, it is possible to do this when dealing with political parties [NDP, Greens, etc.] and any charitiable group --- BUT, political parties (and their financial agents) are prohibited by law from "soliciting" such donations (exchanges) and it is the responsibility of the volunteer to make such a proposal -- if it is the volunteer who suggests it, it is totally legal and, in fact, makes for a more accurate and complete report from the riding association to Elections Canada if the volunteer does, in fact, bill for value of their volunteer services. Those of you who are actively involved in electoral politics should keep this in mind.)

I think part of the discussion should be about the need for different categories of charitable contributions and how they are dealt with under tax policy. Going back to Michelle's examples in post #32 -- the churches who use the donations they receive to sponsor indoctrination sessions (whoops, I meant hold Sunday Schools), should not be treated the same way something like the Stephen Lewis Foundation is -- donations to support people (at a distance) affected by the AIDS pandemic is of greater societal value. This greater value should be reflected by more favourable tax credits. We need reform of the laws governing charities and, while I have some sympathy for the idea of stripping some groups of their status entirely that would be an almost impossible sell. Pragmatically, we should be working for a tiered structure for crediting donations.

 

KeyStone

Hmm, that is an interesting idea bagkitty.

Currently, we already have two-tiers of political donations.

The top tier (and therefore the most valued) is to political parties.
The second tier is everything else.
I suppose the third tier is Hezbollah and Hamas (ie illegal).

But, I think that you are right about differentiating between giving to the poor, and giving to the opera house. 

Obviously, we don't want to mire down the process, but perhaps having two simple tiers, and allowing a simple check to allow a charity to move up to the first tier, would be helpful.

For instance, the criteria could be:

1) Less than 25% of overall funds go towards fundraising and administration.

So for instance, MADD woudl not qualify

2) No financial, gender, orientation, race, religion etc barriers to being able to benefit from the contribution.

So for instance churches would not qualify themselves, but many of the programs that they fund and support would. The Salvation Army would not qualify because of their orientation bias, and the opera house would not qualify as the price is prohibitive.

 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Why equality of opportunity in a social democracy works better than the charitable impulse of pity in an inequitable society:

 

"Kishiyama, Knight, Boyce and their colleagues selected 26 children ages 9 and 10 from a group of children in the WINKS study. Half were from families with low incomes and half from families with high incomes. For each child, the researchers measured brain activity while he or she was engaged in a simple task: watching a sequence of triangles projected on a screen. The subjects were instructed to click a button when a slightly skewed triangle flashed on the screen.The researchers were interested in the brain's very early response - within as little as 200 milliseconds, or a fifth of a second - after a novel picture was flashed on the screen, such as a photo of a puppy or of Mickey and Minnie Mouse."An EEG allows us to measure very fast brain responses with millisecond accuracy," Kishiyama said.The researchers discovered a dramatic difference in the response of the prefrontal cortex not only when an unexpected image flashed on the screen, but also when children were merely watching the upright triangles waiting for a skewed triangle to appear. Those from low socioeconomic environments showed a lower response to the unexpected novel stimuli in the prefrontal cortex that was similar, Kishiyama said, to the response of people who have had a portion of their frontal lobe destroyed by a stroke."

mybabble

And Madd needs to get real in this information age and realize that these marketing agencies are big business out to get their hands on the little guys buck.  And they do and there is absolutely no reason for them to even be hired as anyone with a cause can get there message out there all thanks to the information age.  If I can tell a story or give my views on a topic and see it materilize in the news then there is no need for these scam agencies helping the poor as we all know its just more helping themselves because thats what they do the best and not others.

mybabble

Your conclusions are pretty much right on but its not because they are more charitable its just that its all part of the belief system as its what food banks and homeless shelters are made of along with stale bread.  And when it comes to charity did you know the wealthy neighborhoods get the same amount from United Way, etc?  Although clearly these neighborhoods are not lacking in anything but its the way things go around here as money has a way of working itself right back to the pockets of the rich.  Its really their whole belief system is eliminate social programs and leave the needy on the streets to die while they receive recognition for the few dollars they threw their way.  And money that was put into the social safety net well has all but disappeared as the money now finds its way into the pockets of big business.  They then say communities and charitable donations will assist these people using the trickle down theory.  And that charity dollar for the different drives ends up being little money as most ends up in the pockets of its organizations leaving little for the cause.

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