Thursday, July 31, 2014

I'm THAT person...Why I Don't Give Money to Charities

You know the scenario. I'm in line at the grocery store. I put my groceries on the conveyer belt. I watch sadly as the total gets higher and higher. I get out my credit card and slide it through the card reader.

Then, the cashier asks the inevitable question: "Would you like to donate $____ to the _____________ charity?"

And I, with my "Catholic Radio" bumper sticker, and crucifix on my neck, and rosary in my purse, always say the same thing, with incredible guilt bubbling to the surface as I say the words:

"No, thank you."

I feel all eyes on me, including (and especially) the cashier's, judging the living daylights out of me and my crucifix necklace: Typical Christian. Talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk. 

How can you say no to me??
I always hate this. I hate passing by the bell-ringing Salvation Army people without giving change. I hate turning away the sad eyes from those puppies who need medical help. I hate saying no to the children in third world countries who don't know where their next meal is coming from.

But for me and my family, we know it's the best thing to do for us. Because here's the thing: do we ever really know where our money is going?

To me, giving money is like voting. You can't just walk into the voter's booth and randomly fill out circles, not knowing a thing about the candidates. Well, you can, but it's not a good thing to do. I personally do not feel comfortable giving money to any organization that I know nothing about. So I say no. Because I'm sure that some of it will go to that good cause...but do I really know?

I'll never forget the day I decided to stop buying Ben and Jerry's ice cream. It was (and still is) my favorite store bought ice cream in the world. Just typing about it right now is making my saliva production substantially increase. I used to eat it all the time. Then I found out that they give a substantial amount of their profits to Planned Parenthood. And the internal battle inside of me raged: Really, do your $4 per pint make any difference at all? Surely it doesn't matter.

I ultimately decided that it did matter. And from that day forward, I resolved never to buy it again. (I will admit that people have bought it for me as gifts, and I accept it and eat it....but that's the only time I eat it).

But here's the thing: if I were to boycott every single product, business, or organization that gave money to something I didn't agree with, it would be virtually impossible for me to live. Disney. Whole Foods. American Airlines. Oreos. Amazon. Cheerios. Google. The list goes on and on.

So what do I do? Do I live in a bubble, become completely self sufficient, and never buy another product again?

Again, I'd like to compare this to voting. When we vote, we must decide what political subject is most important to us. Because the reality is that no perfect politician exists. And every one will probably stand for at least a few things that we disagree with. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't vote. We must simply make the best informed decision that we possibly can which aligns with our beliefs.

So I do believe there's no doubt that a lot of those charitable organizations to which I do not contribute certainly do a lot of good. (Did that sentence make any sense at all?) But I must pick and choose which organization is the most aligned with what my priorities and beliefs are.

We choose one organization to give our money. We have chosen the Catholic Church, because it is the biggest charitable organization in the world. It feeds, educates, clothes, houses, heals, and supports more people than any other charity. We trust that when we give the Church our money, it will be used in the best way possible. Of course, there's always going to be a level of trust when you give money, and you will never know for sure if it's being used wisely. But we have been doing it for years, and we feel like it's the best decision for us.

So next time you see me at the grocery store, hanging my head in shame as I softly mutter "no" to the picture of the near extinct tropical birds, please don't judge...I promise, I do give as much as I am able. I'm just picky.

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