Giving Gets Personal (And Why I Don’t Pay Taxes)
I don’t pay taxes. For two reasons:
- I’m not obliged to pay taxes in my home country (Ireland) if I’m not living there for more than six months out of the year. Same deal with the other countries I’m passing through on my travels. I’m never in any one place long enough to be considered a resident, so I’m always off the tax-paying hook.
- I’d rather decide for myself where all my money goes, and I’ve never been overly impressed with how governments spend tax payers’ money.
The good thing about taxes though is that you don’t really have a choice. You either pay or you’re in trouble. Nothing like a deadline and the threat of jail time to get your ass in gear and contributing to society.
When you opt out of paying taxes, it requires a lot more personal responsibility to make that contribution. In my case, it would be very easy to just keep every penny for myself. I doubt anyone would give me a hard time about it. The world would keep on spinning, and I’d have some extra cash to play with.
Except I do want to contribute. I totally get what Raam Dev is saying…
Our planetary social responsibility is a responsibility to protect our home (Earth) and our family (all of life). It’s a responsibility to ensure that our actions, as both individuals and groups, support the continued welfare of this home and family.
Last year, just a shade over 1% of my total expenditure went towards gifts and donations1. Granted, it was a year of transition for me as I went from cubicle to coffee shop on the work front, but I’m still quite disappointed in myself that I didn’t contribute more.
So this year I’ve set a goal to give away at least 10% of everything I earn.
Giving gets personal
Having decided on that 10% figure, the next issue is figuring out who I should donate to. I allow myself to make several donations a month on a whim, like whenever I come across a blogger on an inspiring mission, or see that a friend is pushing his physical limits to raise money for a good cause. Sometimes I’ll even give up a little cash to a beggar on the street2.
Beyond that, I like to make occasional donations to world-improving organizations run by people I respect a great deal. The smaller the org, the better. I’m not much for donating to big faceless organizations as it’s hard to know where the money really goes, and I imagine a lot of it is wasted as it makes its way through the hierarchy.
I prefer to know something about the real people behind the organizations. If their story and personality resonates with me, I trust that they’ll put my money to good use.
With that in mind, here are two organizations I’ve decided to make $50 donations to this month…
I first heard of One Girl when I met co-founder Chantelle Baxter at the World Domination Summit last year. Among all the legendary people I met there, Chantelle still managed to stand out as someone who radiated authenticity and goodness.
One Girl works to educate young girls in Sierra Leone, one of the poorest countries in the world. I’m a big believer in girls’ education as a solution to many of the world’s greatest issues. As Tom Yellin notes in this TEDx talk…
Educated girls…marry later, they have fewer children. They earn more money. They’re far less vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation. They immunize their children and educate the next generation and that starts a ripple effect that transforms families, communities and entire countries.
Kopila Valley Children’s Home
Maggie Doyne was a 19-year-old from New Jersey who decided to spend a year traveling the world before college. Except she ended up falling in love with the homeless and uneducated children of Nepal and decided to do something about their struggles. Fast forward a few years and Maggie has managed to build a home in Nepal for 40 children and a school for 250. An inspiring example of the difference one person can make in the world.
You can read more about Maggie’s story and Kopila Valley here. If you’ve got 25 minutes to spare, I highly recommend you check out the first video at that link.
Giving and you
What’s the deal with you and giving? Do you aim to donate a certain percentage of your income? Which organizations do you typically give money to, and why? Or if you prefer not to make donations at all, what’s your reasoning there?
There are no right or wrong answers. My aim here is simply to get you thinking a bit deeper about your contribution to the world.
- In case you missed it, I shared everything I earned and spent in 2011 in this post. ↩
- I usually refuse to give money to people on the street, as advised by a friend who spent a lifetime working with the homeless. She told me that panhandlers in New Orleans can often make upwards of $100 a day, but it’s mostly a waste since they obviously don’t put that money to good use. I still give to beggars on the street occasionally, when it feels right, but I try not to give out of guilt. ↩