Thank God #GivingTuesday is Finally Behind Us. But It Is Time to Consider Giving Strategies During America's Most Generous Giving Month
In my bubble, today is #CelebrationWednesday. Perhaps I should call it #ReliefWednesday instead. Regardless, it is the day to celebrate the end of emails begging for dollars under the insidious guise of #GivingTuesday.
The paint is wearing off my keyboard’s “delete” button. And it is essentially my fault. Not because I’m the one pounding the button, but when you give to many organizations, the deluge of daily snail mails, emails, text messages, and even spam calls is relentless. It does make one wonder how such organizations are using my modest contributions. I am not interested in subsidizing direct mail vendors with my charitable giving.
However, that does not mean that we should not automatically be generous with favorite non-profit organizations during the final month of 2021, especially those who help “the lost and the least,” as radio host Hugh Hewitt describes the Salvation Army. The appeals for tax-deductible contributions will only accelerate in the days ahead. December, not surprisingly, is our most charitable month for giving.
And in these days of “wokeness” and dubious fundraising schemes, it is wise to reconsider your giving strategy. The Salvation Army may fall off my list this year. Why? They appear to be allowing elements of Critical Race Theory into their work. From National Review:
In a guidebook titled “Let’s Talk About Racism,” the organization calls Christians to reflect on and rectify their contributions to the social inequities and prejudicial systems that have harmed minorities. Citing its “International Position Statement on Racism,” the organization writes that it “acknowledges with regret, that Salvationists have sometimes shared in the sins of racism and conformed to economic, organisational and social pressures that perpetuate racism.”
An accompanying document created by the Salvation Army’s International Social Justice Commission, called the “Study Guide on Racism,” claims that white people are responsible for “unconscious bias,” an idea promulgated by critical-race-theory advocate Ibram X. Kendi. Kendi argues that white people’s legacy of racism is irredeemable, and that the only remedy is reverse discrimination as a matter of retributive justice to level the societal playing field.
The study guide reads: “The subtle nature of racism is such that people who are not consciously racist easily function with the privileges, empowerment and benefits of the dominant ethnicity, thus unintentionally perpetuating injustice.”
Yet, leftists — most especially LGBTQ groups, which spread a remarkable amount of hate in the name of “love” — seek to crush The Salvation Army. They threaten and pressure whoever supports the Salvation Army. “British pop singer Ellie Goulding,” the Wall Street Journal recently reported, “threatened to cancel an appearance at the Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving halftime show, which will celebrate the army’s red-kettle campaign, unless it made a ‘pledge or donation to the LGBTQ community.’ She backed down after the Salvation Army assured her it serves needy members of that community.”
Most depressing of all, Chick-fil-A, a business owned by a Christian and heretofore run according to Christian principles, caved in to LGBTQ organizations’ pressure and stopped funding the Salvation Army, while it has also donated to a left-wing group that hates the good, the Southern Poverty Law Center.
As a result of these attacks on the Salvation Army, I began increasing my annual contributions. They do great work to serve people in need. They are also a nondenominational Christian organization, and most donations remain in local communities.
Much of what the Study Guide says is very good and well-intended. Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor, presidential candidate, and Baptist minister, says as much:
Much of what’s in this guide is very good. There’s a lot about unity. On the first page, called “The Salvation Army International Positional Statement on Racism,” it “denounces racism in all its forms.” But the SA apparently is not seeing what millions of concerned Christian parents do: that some of the “anti-racist” principles espoused here are, in themselves, racist.
The guide wisely says, “Racism is fundamentally incompatible with the Christian conviction that all people are made in the image of God and are equal in value. The Salvation Army believes that the world is enriched by a diversity of cultures and ethnicities.”
And the “Theological Framework” makes some valuable points about the spread of Christianity in the New Testament and the “global multi-ethnic reconciliation plan of God.” But, really, if it’s true that “in some mysterious way we shall retain our ethnic identities in heaven,” as this guidebook says, we hope the proponents of “anti-racism” will finally --- at long last --- look to their better angels and stop their eternal “harping” about race.
The Salvation Army is hardly alone. Goodwill Industries is going “woke,” too. And the names of companies leading the way are too numerous to mention here, many of whom may be using their charitable dollars to influence the non-profit sector. Fortunately, only 20% of all charitable giving in the U.S. comes from corporations. Individuals make the vast majority.
So, what should our charitable giving strategies be? I’ll share mine.
Strategy one: Establish your specific criteria for giving, and hold to it
It is easy to conclude, “I give to those which reflect my values.” What, exactly, are your values? And how do you prioritize them? For many, religious faith prioritizes our giving, including worship and para-ministry organizations like the Christian Research Institute. Other organizations I have long engaged with, such as the Fund for American Studies, a civic-education-minded college intern and education program, are easy for me.
But other causes also motivate us, including preserving religious freedom, valuable research organizations such as the Capital Resource Center or Ballotpedia, or an institute for civil political communication. As the father of an active-duty soldier, I have a heart for programs that help military families and wounded veterans, but you need to be careful. The Semper Fi Fund has an A+ rating from Charity Watch. More than a few have earned an “F.”
Also important is to make sure you’re not supporting organizations that foster or promote causes hostile to your values. That’s where insidious ideologies such as Critical Theory come in.
Another criterion I’m adopting this year: Will my contribution be used slam me with almost daily emails and endless, wasteful, and sometimes deceitful snail mail solicitations? Many organizations sell their contributions lists; avoid them if possible. I almost never respond to direct mail solicitations.
Strategy two: Keep it local
Your church, synagogue, or worship center is a great place to start. They often feature ministries of service, including meals to the hungry, food banks, clothing shops, and temporary shelter for the homeless where you live. It is a wonderful way to see your contributions at work. Also, local religious institutions, with exceptions, tend to veer away from partisan or politically motivated causes.
Organizations like the Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries, despite their increasing wokeness, also keep most donations local. Last year, like many others, I donated thousands of dollars worth of household items to Goodwill that made their way to a retail outlet across town. We heard stories of how our items benefitted others in our southeastern Pennsylvania county. The Center for Prevention of Abuse is a leading charitable organization in Peoria, Illinois that can’t operate on tax dollars alone. There are many like-minded local organizations that deserve support.
Strategy three: Know your charity
Hewitt and other media entities also promote national charities, including the Alliance for Defending Freedom, Food for the Poor, etc. Charity Watch, Charity Navigator, and other non-partisan, non-sectarian websites provide detailed information and reporting on a wide range of charitable organizations.
Americans are generous. According to World Giving Index, Americans ranked sixth in the world in charitable giving, narrowly behind Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada, and Switzerland. And Americans in 2020, during the height of pandemic and a contentious political environment, gave a record $471 billion to charities. According to this website, those making less than $50,000 a year give more in relation to total income than those in all other income ranges except the highest earners. And the top states for giving, as a percentage of gross annual income, may surprise you. Or maybe not.
Colleges and Universities are popular donation destinations, especially alma maters and schools that provide terrific educational programs that are widely offered, even free of charge. Hillsdale College, which doesn’t accept federal tax dollars, is one such institution.
I’ll resist the temptation to discuss the general political leanings or voting patterns of these states. After all, not everything should be political or politicized, and charitable (501c3) organizations should not be used for partisan political purposes. And the Salvation Army and others need to remember that, as well.