As I pay the last set of bills before the New Year, I also make final charitable contributions. There are some guidelines that I use to select to which charities to give. First, what will I support? I support life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and so give to charities that enable, encourage, and provide these. Second, what must a charity do to retain my support? They must be effective, they must not misuse funds, and they must not give my name and address to other charities. Charity Navigator is helpful in determining the first two of those criteria. For the latter, I received a bunch of junk mail from environmental charities, and so will be removing one from our list. Is the marginal return from selling my address really worth the lost income?
This year due to the foolish behavior of certain people in the financial services industry, we will also not be making contributions in the “happiness” category. (If someone could recommend a charity that sponsors schadenfreude….) Instead, our focus will be on charities which provide the necessities of life: food, water, and shelter.