I consider it part of my spiritual practice to give away 10% of my income every year. This is a standard tithing amount, though I don’t give it all to my church. I have also been influenced by the effective altruism movement, as well as by its critiques. For me, giving as a practice is about pushing myself into an expansive idea of who my neighbors are and making practice about more than just personal transformation.
There are many different philosophies on how to give well and clearly money can distort incentives and, by extension, behaviors and outcomes. I do think it’s important to be thoughtful about where I’m giving and the likely impact of my support. I think there are fairly bad ways to give, like to micro-financing organizations or to large aid organizations after a natural disaster. However, I don’t think that past failures in giving are a good reason to just keep everything I have for myself and those in my most immediate circle of concern. I don’t believe markets distribute resources equitably. It’s a fact that I have more than I need. Spiritual traditions throughout history have a recommendation for those in my situation: you give.
Here’s where I gave money in 2021:
- GiveWell – making grants to highly effective global health charities
- Marie Stopes International – providing contraception and abortion services to women around the world
- Rainforest Foundation USA – working directly with indigenous communities and local governments in Central and South America to preserve existing rainforests and legally formalize indigenous land stewardship
- Give Directly’s “In Her Hands” Seed Funding – a joint initiative between GiveDirectly and the Georgia Resilience and Opportunity (GRO) Fund to launch a UBI pilot for black women in Georgia
- Black Queer Artists Farm Fund – two black queer women building a farm and community space near Jackson, MS (this team is accepting direct contributions to their project; they are not a charity)
- City Church of Long Beach – my awesome local church that also does direct outreach in our community to find out what’s happening for folks and what they need
One thing I also added to my budget this year was a mutual aid line item so I had money set aside to give to mutual aid requests that popped up in my extended network of friends, family and acquaintances. This feels especially important to keep going as we all stumble forward together in the midst of a global pandemic, changing climate, and broken social institutions. May we keep finding creative ways to take care of each other!