Doing the right thing

So, I’ve made it to a blog posting at last.

Of late, I’ve had a growing feeling of wanting to do ‘good’ things. Having devoted over five years of working hard at jobs which overwhelmingly corporate, I’ve managed to do pretty well for myself. I’ve progressed pretty well in my career, towards achieving some personal goals, and financially too.

I took a new job in the summer, and whilst still being with an investment bank, I have been less busy and less stressed, giving me time to put more thought and effort into those ‘good things’. The first thing I did was to sign up to give some money each month to charity. By doing this through the Give As You Earn scheme (via my salary), firstly it goes before it’s even arrived making it less painful, but also it’s tax efficient. I have a percentage of my salary in my head that I plan to give, which will obviously increase as time goes on. I have an account with the Charities Aid Foundation. The money I give each month gets put into this account, and I set up standing orders to leave this account to my nominated charities… Or so goes the theory.

I got as far as setting up the account, and then stumbled. Who should I give money to? What’s the most effective way to donate? Comic Relief has a model of giving money at local, national and global levels. I’d quite like to follow this – but it’s difficult to know who to choose.

I believe strongly in freedom and fairness, and in lifting third world countries from poverty. But all my grandparents died of cancer. There are some charities which I almost want to avoid they feel almost a stereotypical cliche. I’m an athiest too, and would want to avoid charities that push a particular religion on people as part of their receiving aid. Finally there are hundreds of local charities, but I’d have no idea how to be sure I was picking the right one.

In researching where to give my money, it’s opened my eyes to just how many bad things there are going on in the world. It’s almost paralysing – so much to do, and my proverbial drop in the ocean to hand out. I thought I was doing well, then I read an article (unfortunately I’ve lost the link) that suggested perhaps giving to charity was a bad idea, and that I should spend my money ensuring that I bought green energy and sourced my food organically and from local producers. This would inevitably cost more, but would be good for the environment, not to mention the local producers and my health. Only then should I consider charity with whatever’s left.

I have yet to decide where the money goes. My best guess so far is to choose five or six of the ‘big names’, and keep researching for organisations that deal with issues that I feel most passionate about, and refine the list as time goes on. I can heartily recommend Intelligent Giving, which is a good source of that research. If you have any suggestions, let me know.