I handed in my tax returns yesterday, so I got a decent overview over how wealthy I am. Unsurprisingly, I’m not very wealthy, the loans that are financing my studies are really showing on the bottom line. There were two good things about the tax returns, though. First, I’m getting back some money. Maybe enough to justify buying one of the new MacBooks from Apple.
The second thing was the field where they list how much money you’ve given to charity; that amount is deducted from your taxable income. It turns out I gave about 7% of my income to charity last year. I didn’t earn that much, so I’m not Bill Gates in the philantrophy department just yet, but it’s still enough that I take some pride in it.
Considering that most people I know contribute small amounts to charity, and usually do it on a random basis (as opposed to giving a set amount every month, like I do) I thought this is worth mentioning here. If they all gave 5% of their income to charity – it would make a difference. So this goes out to everyone who doesn’t contribute to some worthwhile cause on a regular basis: You should consider it.
It doesn’t have to be much. I don’t know many students who couldn’t afford giving 10$ or even 20$ each month. My 30$ go to Medecins Sans Frontieres, because after reading up on their work, I was convinced that they use my money well. If you need inspiration, you could check our their website, the Red Cross website, Amnesty’s website, Save the Children, or just do a web search for “charity” and whatever particular cause that appeals to you. I favour organizations that try to do something about world poverty, because poverty on the level seen in the third world (Africa, mainly) today is something we should do without. Freedom – in all of its guises – freedom from oppression, freedom of speech, religious freedom etcetera is a good second. And then there’s the environment to worry about.
In other words – there is no shortage of causes you could be supporting on a regular basis. Giving 1 music record’s worth of money every month to a good cause won’t dent your finances much, but it’s an investment you make in a better world. If we all do it, it makes a huge difference. If only you do it, it makes a small difference. And it might make you care more about the world as a whole than you do today, which is a good thing in itself.