Science or conScience: On Donating

Money cannot buy happiness but how you spend it differently will make you feel better and happier. Michael Norton experimented on making people spend money on others rather than on themselves and measure their happiness as shown at TED.  Michael went to University of British Columbia campus and approached people to be part of experiment.  The subjects were given some money ranging from $5 to $20 and spend it.  One group was to spend it on themselves.  One group was to spend it on others.   At the end of the day, people who spent it on themselves are not less happy, it just did not do anything for them.  People who spent it for others became happier.  The morale of the story is: you will be happier if you spend money on others.  And this brings me to an experiment on myself.

Me, myself and I are the best experimental subject.  The experiment is about donation.

Quid Pro Quo is my motto when it comes to donation.  What do I get in return should I donate to United Way or other charitable organization?  Writing a list always helps:

  • How much donation should I give in order to get a tax receipt?  Is it as low as $5 or $10?
  • How will they spend the money?  I want to know because I don’t want my hard-earned cash to be wasted.
  • Will I win a BMW car or 50 inch flat screen TV or a trip to Bahamas?

United Way fund-raising is big at work.  There is Pancake Breakfast, BBQ lunch, 50/50 draw, silent auction, etc.  The prizes are phenomenal especially they are all donated for fundraising sakes.  Breakfast and lunch are a good deal for $10.  The 50/50 draw for seven tickets for $10 could win half of the pot at least $700.  I get a good return on my ten bucks.  In fact, I won four bottles of wine: 2 red and 2 white. I don’t even drink.  These can be useful for re-gifting, I thought.  Silent auction that I spent $30 got me two flashlights worth more than $70.  So far, I am a winner.

Then Typhoon Hayain came. Somehow, I went through major dilemma whether I will donate or not for typhoon relief.  Again, I made another list what can I give up to give in monetarily.

  • Give up two cups of Starbucks coffee plus one Ginger Cookie.  Cost $5.41
  • Root beer and Jalapeno Ms. Vicky potato chips. Cost $3.15
  • A pack of cigarettes. Cost $9.91

Looking at this list did not move me into giving.  There is something in me that I cannot put a finger that stops me from donating.  The devil was blocking the goodness of my intention to help and it was overpowering.

My colleague at work sent me an e-mail about typhoon relief.  For $5, it buys rice, clean water and canned sardines that feed a lot of Filipino. I posted it at my work station for others to see but I ignored it the whole time.  Surely, I can spare five bucks. My conscience does not bother me but what bothers me where is this apathy coming from?  It came from social media.

Social media such as this affected me from giving.
Filipino PoliticsIt’s true.  It happens not just in the Philippines but as well as other countries.  It happens here in Canada when this country is naturally rich.

Feeling morose on my way to work, waiting for the train, the sky stopped me on my tracks.  The many hues radiated by the sun appeared as if angels dancing happily with merry morning greeting. At the edge of the platform, there I stood for the longest time and took a picture to capture the moment.  In the meantime, many trains have gone by and the clock is ticking.   I forced myself out of the reverie so that I won’t be late for work.
Sky am Nov2013When I turned around, a lady was standing behind me and I excitedly told her how beautiful the sky is.  She smiled back and said she was waiting for me to turn around and does not want to disturb the moment.

“Oh, how come?”  I asked.

Then she handed me a five dollar bill and said I dropped it.  With her honesty and kindness, I thanked her and we separated ways.  I thought since I’ve lost this money, I might as well donate it for the typhoon relief.  The thought did not make me happy but the encounter of an honest stranger did.

When I came home, the dreaded moment of receiving visa statement of expenses from the trip to Spain came in the mail.  I know how much the trip to Camino cost me: a year of skimping and saving.  When I looked at the statement, much to my surprise, there are two credit notes:  one day’s credit from the trip that I completely forgot and some returned items.  Suddenly, I felt so rich with these credit notes.

And then the still small voice appeared.  With no hesitation, I wrote a cheque for the same amount of credits received to go towards the typhoon relief and I keep the five dollars.

Starbucks, here I come.

P.S.  Did this whole experiment make me happy?  Heck no.  At least I got rid of the devil on my back. Thanks to those dancing angels in the sky and the honest stranger.

6 thoughts on “Science or conScience: On Donating

  1. You are not going to on like me. I do not give money to charity, except on Poppy Day which we buy artificial poppys and the money goes to the armed forces and childrens charities.

    I can hear people now saying “What about the starving people in Africa?” I say what about the starving, homeless and orphaned children in the UK, one of the richest countries in the world and 85,000 children were homeless on Christmas day.

    I was stopped in the street by a very pretty girl who were collecting for a African charity and wanted me to sign up for monthly payments to the charity, I refused and said to her, but its nice you can give your time to stand on the street and do y his, she told me that she gets paid for doing this. There goes one of the reasons why I dont give to African charities, I like to see where my money goes. For example if I agree to give £10 to her charity at least £1 will go on her wages, then £2 will go on admin, the dayglo jackets she was wearing with the charities name on, then £4 will go on the staff who do the admin, then another £1 will go to the War Lord who runs the protection who alliws the charity ‘safe passage’ and will spend that money on guns which was one of the reason that caused the problem in the first place.

    Charity shops are as bad, I was in the Heart Foundation charity shop just before Christmas, I do go in looking for a bargain and yes it gives to charity but its a ‘at home’ charity. Anyway my wife picked up a jersey and the price tag was £4.50, to buy that same jersey new from the clothes shop ‘George’ would cost £4.00 brand new……. I told the woman who worked the till and her reply was ‘Sir, its for charity’

    These organisations get these items for FREE, they pay no tax, no rent, very little, no business rates, and have volunteered staff and people sent from the unemployed benefit office they still think that they can sell pre worn clothes more than the new price.

    This is not the first time or charity doing this, a dvd selling in Asda/Walmart for £3 the charity shop £3.20. If they sold the free goods at a lower price they will sell more. In the town of Arbroath there are 7 charity shops in one high street, thats a lot of old clothes. Some even break copyright laws by selling illegally copied dvds and music cd’s, they say ‘oh we didnt see it’ when it was pointed out.

    So charity shops are and the charities they are suppose to represent are just trying to rip people off with lines like ‘We are saving lives of children’ ‘You could save a village from drinking dirty water’ ‘Our stuggle to save the eye sight of hundreds of people in this one village’

    In one of British charities employed a retired chief inspector police officer who would already been put on a huge police pension, his pay as CEO of this charity £70,000+ expenses.

    I say no more

    Google ‘Head of British Charity pay’

    Its no longer charity its multi million pound business

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