Sunday, September 24, 2006

Are there four kinds of charitable giving?

I was reading a Laura Rowley article at Yahoo Finance on charitable giving, and came across this section:

Boone asked us to sort our giving into one of four categories: Honored obligations, social/fun giving, passionate giving, and strategic/transformative giving. Honored obligations are the groups we feel compelled to support, such as a college alma mater, or a church or synagogue. Religious entities received $88 billion -- the bulk of charitable contributions in 2004 -- while education is in second place, at $34 billion, according to Giving USA.

Social/fun giving includes the cookies you buy from the Girl Scout next door, the art museum you support that has terrific parties or exclusive family night events, or the tickets you purchase for a charitable golf outing because your boss is on the group's board.

Passionate giving, on the other hand, goes to causes that reflect your deepest beliefs or ideals. Strategic/transformative giving provides the resources for making systemic changes in society -- proactively addressing the underlying cause of an issue, rather than treating the symptoms.
Does this ring true for you? If so, how does your giving fit into the various categories?

I don't really have any "honored obligations," but I know that plenty of people do, so it makes sense as a category. The "social/fun" area doesn't make up a large portion for me, but is definitely there occasionally-- I'd guess something like winning a nifty prize in a silent auction would fall into that area, or a donation to a blogger's kid in need who I feel a connection to.

As for the last two... for me, those categories overlap almost completely, and make up the bulk of my giving. It is hard for me to be really passionate about something unless it is also strategic and addresses underlying causes; that's one of my three priorities I identified in my giving plan. So breaking "passionate" and "strategic" into two groups seems redundant to me-- but that might just be a personal thing. I can see how people might feel their passion is in, say, supporting music/the arts, which doesn't really hit the root causes of society's problems.

(By the way, although it's not really emphasized in the article, I think these categories could work just as well if it's time you're donating, instead of/in addition to money.)

So, what do you think? Do these categories make sense, and are they useful? Roughly how much of your giving-- time and/or money-- falls into each? Are there other ways of categorizing that might be more helpful? (For example, I was thinking "individuals" vs "organizations"-- ie, giving to a particular homeless person vs giving to an organization for the homeless.) Or do we not need these categories at all?

3 comments:

HC said...

I'd say that most of my giving is strategic/transformative. It's such a habit by now that I wouldn't call myself passionate about it, if that makes sense.

Then there is a small amount of social giving, and some honored obligations.

Money Pays The Rent said...

Homeless peopel should be given some assistance if you are able to do that - I think you knwo taht already though, I agree too.

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