“I deem it the duty of every man to devote a certain portion of his income for charitable purposes; and that it is his further duty to see it so applied as to do the most good of which it is capable. This I believe to be best insured, by keeping within the circle of his own inquiry and information the subjects of distress to whose relief his contributions shall be applied.” – Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson would never compel charitable giving. He considered it an individual’s “duty.” A duty is a moral obligation or responsibility, like voting in a free republic, or protecting one’s family.
“The circle of his own inquiry” suggests what we might call “doing our own research.” Doing good involves doing the most good, in Jefferson’s opinion. That can mean finding the most pathetic and downtrodden, weakest and most vulnerable, defenseless or nearest death individuals. Or it may mean a few dollars here there to dozens of struggling businesses. Or maybe a single donation each year to an impoverished family for a child’s important operation.
“Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”
In terms of money itself, the only limit on necessity is “more,” so we really can not give too much. If you think of it in terms of the US Govt, 3,000 billionaires surrendering everything would simply pay a year of status quo taxes. And then the billionaires would all be gone. Paying taxes has nothing to do with charity or good works, but it is another duty . . . within reason.
Two of my primary charities are both orphanages. One in Kenya, one in Pakistan. They always need help, and I have watched as they monitor and photograph the lives of the children. At first it was a kid here and there with a special smile, then the new kids. The directors with whom the interaction takes place. The longer I watch, the easier it is to send money through Paypal. I have no doubt of their good work, the sincerity of their missions in terrible places.
Perhaps most interesting is that both orphanages encourage me to visit.
And I have to admit it is tempting, but if I did visit either of them, it would cost my entire charity budget for more than a year. And that is how I ultimately know my choices are good ones.
Both directors have repeatedly told me, “The children would be more blessed, excited, and encouraged to meet you than to eat or wear good clothes.” Let that sink in.
And that means I have to admit I am afraid to go where these incredible people live all day, every day — especially central Pakistan.
George Washington was incredibly generous to individuals, organizations, schools, churches, and missions to poor Americans. He almost never talked about it, but he did say, “It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”
There are 26 children in the Kenya orphanage right now. Every once in a while Director James in the Kenya home writes to me and says, “The kids have nothing to eat today. The pantry is completely empty.” That sounds like a scam, right?
I no longer believe it a scam, even for a second. At all. James told me this morning it costs $32/day to feed the kids if they can buy in bulk for the month, “and that includes the salt, oils and spices. . .”It’s terrible when it gets this bad. To run out locally and buy a day of food costs $52.
$960 to feed around 26 beautiful kids for a month. $37 apiece. A buck and a quarter per day. Add another quarter each day for clothes.
I won’t tell you who they are in this post — in part, for the safety of Munir and the Pakistani children . . . but I would be happy to tell you as part of your personal inquiry! Do your own research, and I pray you feel really uncomfortable if you do nothing with freedom’s duty.