The Rambam defined eight 'rungs' of charitable giving.
1. The lowest: Giving begrudgingly and making the recipient feel disgraced or embarrassed. 2. Giving cheerfully but giving too little. 3. Giving cheerfully and adequately but only after being asked. 4. Giving before being asked. 5. Giving when you do not know who is the individual benefiting, but the recipient knows your identity. 6. Giving when you know who is the individual benefiting, but the recipient does not know your identity. 7. Giving when neither the donor nor the recipient is aware of the other's identity. 8. The Highest: Giving money, a loan, your time or whatever else it takes to enable an individual to be self-reliant.
I have found the codification of the obligation to 'give' to be strangely liberating. Previously, I would feel guilty for not donating to 'good causes' and inadequate when I DID donate (because of course, nobody can ever donate ENOUGH). Somehow, having guidelines to consult makes the process far more 'free' in a sense - like a ball game, having boundaries and a couple of rules gives the process of playing with a ball more of a point or a feeling of 'usefulness'.
It is, of course, 'that time of year' when giving is on everybody's mind, if not because of 'the season for giving' then because of the tax year! I'm a big proponent of having a 'plan' and investigating what is actually done with that hard-earned money or goods that I am donating!
My question to you readers out there:
do you have a plan for giving? do you focus on local issues, or international issues? do you focus on 'Jewish' causes, or 'human-wide' causes or initiatives? (and how are those the same, or how are they different?) do you budget for giving? and - do you wait until asked?
[quote author=simcha board=talk thread=289 post=1241 My question to you readers out there:
do you have a plan for giving? do you focus on local issues, or international issues? do you focus on 'Jewish' causes, or 'human-wide' causes or initiatives? (and how are those the same, or how are they different?) do you budget for giving? and - do you wait until asked?[/quote]
Since I do not work my giving is very limited but when I do I focus on our local Jewish Family Services, the city's large homeless shelter and though you didn't ask, I'll tell you I also give to animal shelters. Those are my main three though occasionally I add in an individual that I know needs some help.
Giving includes volunteering, service, and gifts of 'goods'. Giving can be 'moral support'.
By halakhah, even people who are themselves on public relief are obligated to 'donate' - I guess on the principle that there's always somebody, somewhere, worse off!
This has been a bad year for so many.
When my husband and I first sat down and 'planned', we came up with a couple of 'major areas' we wanted to help out on, one was housing and another was refugee relief. As our kids grew up, we got them involved as well - so we've added food, environmental causes and legal aid for civil rights cases - it's funny what kids come up with around bar/bat mitzvah time!