Posted by: Nim | January 29, 2010

A better way to give

Today I read this story: Switchboard, from NRDC :: Kaid Benfield’s Blog :: Downsizing for charity: how less became more for one family.  This family downsized and gave half the proceeds to charity.  It came to about $800k, so it’s by far not your typical American family to begin with, but still, it got me thinking about an idea I had a while back.

What if we all truly tithed?  I don’t mean tossing a 20 into the collection plate at a church.  I don’t even mean tithing just money, necessarily.  What if, as a society, we valued giving and volunteering and being helpful so much that it was no problem to give 10% of our money or our coffee or our lunch or our energy to someone else?

Or—if we were in the tax bracket that truly cannot afford even one dollar less of our own money to go to something other than our insurance, food, or some other actual need—what if our employers were not just fine about giving time off for volunteer works, they encouraged it?  Maybe having employees who gave their time consistently could even be an enviable metric for successful companies.

What if every 1 day out of 10, I was encouraged to go work a paid work-day for Habitat? Or if my employer was more flexible, what if 1 month of 10 I could get time off to go build a home for someone?  Or even, what if 1 year of every 10, I dedicated myself to a charity, like City Year?

Wouldn’t that look good on a company’s metrics?  X number of hours dedicated to charity by their employees?  X percentage of man-hours given back to the world?  Of course, a company could write off all those hours as charity they themselves had given.  After all, if they pay me for a day that I work for a charity, that’s the company money going right to charity, right?  I’d like to think that the bottom line could stop being the bottom line.  I’d like to imagine that folks are past the idea of paying the cheapest price possible for an item, regardless of the human cost.

I’d like to imagine the folks running companies, especially the ones running mine, would see the merit of human compassion and the holistic view of the world and their company as a healthy part of it.


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