If you missed Part 1 yesterday, be sure to go back and read that first. In part 2, we continue our report on what charities real life WCI readers are supporting. Some have requested anonymity, some have not, but all are trying to make the world a better place and increase their happiness by giving.
An Orthopedic hand surgeon in Utah writes, “My primary charitable donation goes to my church. Having recently completed training, I look to donate to causes that I wasn’t able to contribute to while in training. For example, a friend of mine died a few years back and I couldn’t attend his funeral due to my work schedule. One of his passions was bicycling and helping marginalized children. So I donate to the Bicycle Collective in Salt Lake City, where he used to volunteer. They provide bikes to the poor. As I become more established, I will look for more local causes that build up my community.”
A retired CPA from Arizona and his wife donate to their church, the local Catholic Tuition Support Organization, the Friends In Deed (senior services), and local Boy Scout troops. In addition, we rescue several tons of fresh produce from local distributors for the local food bank. Also we provide accounting help to a couple of non-profit organizations in the community. We spend a lot of time visiting our older neighbors who need companionship and occasional help to remain independent. We try to make our contributions to build a stronger local community.
Jon Appino, Principal at Contract Diagnostics [one of the WCI advertisers-ed], donates to local charities tied to kids of all ages. The main charity that receives not only money but time is Northland Miracles. The charity serves children who are truly in need with basic items (weekend food, clean undergarments, school supplies, winter coats, etc). They feel a parent’s lack of income (despite best efforts) should not hinder a young students ability to learn and participate in school. Jon and his family also adopt numerous families each Christmas season and provide gifts for children they otherwise would not have. They donate their personal time throughout the year and a generous percentage of all Contract Diagnostics revenue on a quarterly basis. They are getting their 4 year old involved at a young age in many aspects he does not yet understand (donate all but 1 birthday present, holiday shop for others, etc).
An Orthopaedic doc from Columbia, MO donates to family’s church, Unbound, Catholic relief services, Catholic charities, Habitat of Humanity, St. Jude and Goodwill industries for a total of 10% of gross income. He says, “Supporting these charities is often more fulfilling then practicing medicine itself.”
Paul and Katherine, a GI fellow and anesthesia resident in North Carolina, donate to their church, the dynamic catholic institute, Coventry house, and sponsor an elderly woman in Guatemala through Unbound for a total of 5% of their gross income. Charitable donations are important to their identity as Catholics in giving time, talent and treasure and setting an example for their two daughters under two.
An early retired doctor couple says, “One doesn’t believe in charity at all, the other has some misgivings about charity replacing good sense and good government. So we give minimal amounts: non regular <1% income total to Doctors Without Borders and Zonta International and sometimes Heifer International or a cancer research charity as gifts for relatives, <1% some years to alma mater, about 1% income on our (not strictly charity) societal interests such as political donations and participation in/ support of events with Zonta Women’s Club and our veteran, political, and faith groups.”
David Ciaccia, a physical medicine and rehabilitation resident in Tampa, Fl donates to his church and individual person donations for a total of about 12% of his gross income. “My wife and I firmly believe in giving to causes that greatly impact individuals of the community and to those with global outreaches. Giving financially allows us to focus our attention off ourselves and on to those who have need in various areas. It helps transform us into individuals more concerned with the greater societal good than solely on our own life improvements.”
Ndy Ukwe, a general pediatrician in Fort Smith, AR, says, “We donate to our local church, Child Fund International, St. Jude’s hospital and a few christian ministries for a total of 11.5% of our gross income. I have been doing this since I came to this country 9 years ago as an immigrant. We were heavily influenced on the importance and essence of generosity by Dave Ramsey and it is one of our core principles in life. Giving has been the greatest fun I’ve ever had with money. I am constantly challenged on the many more ways to give (random acts of kindness), while at the same time working on our financial independence, so that we can give even more.”
Dennis Hursh, a physicians’ lawyer in Middletown, PA, donates to his church and the United Way, for a total of 10% of his net income.
Justin Hilson, a pathologist in Somerville, MA, and his family donate primarily to charities dealing with environmental causes, social justice and homelessness, breast cancer (patient support more than research), and women’s health access. Our list changes every year but some of the mainstays are Doctors Without Borders, Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood, and HeroRATS (love those rats!). Our family also includes a much-loved retired racing greyhound, so we donate to local shelters that specialize in transitioning retired racers from the track to adoption. Our rough standard is to donate 10% of the previous year’s Adjusted Gross Income. We feel very fortunate to be financially stable and so for us it’s important to give back and give enough so that we feel the loss of the income as a reminder of our good fortune.
Robert Anderson an Orthopedist from Zanesfield, Ohio, says, somewhat tongue in cheek, “I ‘give’ over a third of my income to the US government who gives it away to folks all over the world doing wonderful things for mankind. After tax money donations go to the USO who did nice things for my son and I when we served in combat zones OCONUS. Substantial financial donations go to my family members who I think need the support and I can monitor spending behavior. The Ayn Rand rational self interest concept appeals to me.”
Tyler A, an emergency medicine resident (PGY3) in Kalamazoo, MI, donates 15% of gross income to charitable sources each pay check. “We sit down each quarter and decide where we want our money to go. We also try to involve our little kids. We give to church, local boy scouts, people looking for money for mission trips (I did 4 and try to pay it back), and often try to find people in the area needing extra help. This last category seems to help our kids see how important it is to help others. Recently we’ve done donations to the children’s hospital, a local skilled nursing facility and habitat for humanity as well as helped others with Christmas gifts and home improvements.”
A surgery resident in Salt Lake City, UT donates 10% of his net income to GiveDirectly, a charity that delivers unconditional cash transfers to extremely low-income households in developing countries via mobile phone-linked payment services. This resident feels it’s important to donate to charities backed by evidence that their programs actually work, and uses the nonprofit GiveWell to select charities that fit this standard.
An emergency doc and her husband have become mindful of the damaging effects of faceless aspirational charity. They follow the tenants in Toxic Charity. They donate 10% of their household budget to 3 churches and a smattering of local self-help organizations. They (mostly) avoid any charities based in Washington DC.
An emergency doc in Sandy, UT donates to the local church, school PTA, and multiple youth and school fundraisers.
WealthyDoc donates to church, local food pantries, local homeless shelters, goodwill, United Way, local hospital foundation, AHA, Parkinson’s foundation, SPOHNC, and others. His favorite is Donors Choose. He also has a charitable donor fund at Vanguard. The giving amounts and percentages vary. “We started the donor fund with 25k and it still now has over 50k without adding any new funds and despite several $500 donations to charities.”
Greg Wilde, a musculoskeletal radiologist in New York, NY, donates to his church, public school PTA, Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, Cure Duchenne, Georgetown and Tulane University, GiveWell, St Ignatius Loyola Day Nursery, Jesuit High School New Orleans for a total of about 5% of gross income. He uses a donor advised fund with T Rowe Price to donate appreciated securities. The donor advised fund then reinvests the money tax-free in funds that he chooses, and then every year his family recommends grants to the above organizations after a discussion.
Manuj Agarwal, a Radiation Oncologist in Baltimore, MD and his wife Niti Agarwal, an Allergist in Wilmington, DE donate to their local temple, Akash and Shai Kuruvilla Memorial Scholarship Fund- a collegiate scholarship Manuj co-founded, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma society to support their friends who participate in Team in Training. They recently completed their training and bought their home, and aim to donate 5% of their combined gross income annually. They hope to increase this % as they become more financially sound. They feel it is important to give back to the society that reared them and to support individuals in need.
Patrick Showalter, a urologist in Murfreesboro, TN, and his wife (along with five children) donate to their church and other local charities, but by far, sends most of their support to Divine Grace Ministries which is a Christian ministry in Uganda. He and his wife travel to Uganda 1-2 times per year to be involved with the ministry which runs 2 elementary schools, supports secondary school students, does evangelism, builds churches, and performs other aspects of Christian ministry (including to orphans and women). He does a little medical work there, but mostly, he and his wife feel very strongly about the relationships they’ve built there, and see that their donations go much further than if it would in the U.S.
Mocha Doc, a professional moonlighter in Saint Louis, MO believes charity begins at home. As a result, she “donates” approximately 33% of her after-tax income to student loan repayment in hopes of paying them off within the next 20 months. Despite this aggressive debt reduction plan, she also donates annually to her alma mater, Princeton University, and A Better Chance (she is an alumna of the program). The majority of her charitable giving is impulsive and constitutes less than 2% of her after-tax income but has historically been given to her church, organizations that provide services to underserved and under resourced black communities and the LGBTA community and it’s members. Although her financial donations are less than stellar, she attempts to make up for this by donating her time to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. Once she has paid off her student loans, she plans to be more organized and intentional with her financial charitable giving.
An anesthesiologist in Alabama donates to their church, Compassion International, Undone Redone (an addiction ministry), Operation Smile, and sponsor several local missionaries for a total of 12% of gross income. We set aside 10% to church and sponsor 3 kids through Compassion that match our kid’s ages, and the remainder is given to local ministries that are run by people I know personally.
An emergency doc in Charlotte, NC donates each month to a different charity. Total donations during the year are around 5% of annual income, increasing each year. Each month my wife and I decide which charity to help, both local and national. Have a few usual suspects such as Jimmy V foundation and Nothing but Nets. This year included Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and NC Med Assist, helping the working but uninsured with their meds (helping to avoid ED visit and associated large bill). Others this year included relief funds when natural disasters such as Mission of Hope Haiti after damage from Hurricane Matthew. Biggest challenge is finding good charities that actually use their money for its intended cause.
Dr J. Mitchell, a family doc in rural Montana donates a total of about 15% of gross income. “The majority of donations go to our local church (~10%). We also donate to Compassion (helps third world country children), a college student non-profit, my child’s non-profit school & daycare, my hospital, and local fundraising efforts for trails, school, food bank, etc. I always buy something from kids fundraisers (Girl Scouts, etc) as long as the child is selling; I don’t buy from parents.” We budget with Mint and have semi-weekly meetings about our finances. We donate to help organizations that we feel are helping make the world a better place and to remind us that our possessions are only ours to hold/borrow until we die. We can’t take our “treasures” with us, despite what the pharaohs thought.
A pediatric subspecialist in Phoenix says, “I only recently completed my training. My family started a donor advised charitable fund and have recurring donations scheduled to Action Against Hunger, Against Malaria Foundation, Feed the Children, Heart to Heart International, World Pediatric Project, and a hometown organization supporting health and education to an immigrant community. We also support other causes as they arise or as we are inspired. We like to use GiveWell and other similar websites to help direct our recurring donations. We currently budget ~2% of our gross income for charity but plan for this to increase quickly as we pay off student loans and discover more local charities. We think that supporting those that are less fortunate or that have experienced tragedy is important, especially when we ourselves have been so fortunate.”
An emergency army doc in Germany, donates to his church, four missionaries including one doing a full time mission in Honduras, and New Hope Children for a total of about 14% of his gross income. His family sits down each January and decides any new people or organizations to donate to on top of our ongoing donations. We feel blessed beyond our means and love to bless others.
Jen Casaletto, an emergency physician in Charlotte, NC, and her family donate to her alma mater (University of Notre Dame) as well as to her medical school, husband’s high school, church, children’s elementary school PTO, PBS, NPR, Emergency Medicine Foundation (EMF), and Ronald McDonald house for a total of about 7% of her gross income.
An advisor and her husband donate to a variety of charities including our non-denom church and several others, Galilean Children’s Homes, St. Jude’s Hospital, Operation Family Fund, an interfaith Christian/Muslin project through Mountville Mennonite Church, Prison Fellowship, Food for the Poor, and other smaller donations. The amount we give varies from year-to-year based upon specific requests and needs we become aware of but is not based upon a percentage. We both believe in the New Testament principle encouraging us to “Give as you have been prospered” and believe that the tithe (Old Testament) places a restriction on charitable giving.
A non-medical family (finance and IT professionals) from the Bay Area, CA donates to their local church, the PTA and other organizations supporting the local public schools, various charities our friends and family fund raise for, and a single mother through below market rent for a total of about 8% of gross income over the past few years. We believe in being good stewards of our money and support organizations we believe do good in this world. We also want to support other people’s generosity. We believe in saving money to provide financial independence and enable us to retire early, if desired, but we do not believe in simply accumulating wealth.
Whew! You made it to the end. Sorry that was so long, but I thought it was useful to give a real cross-section of the organizations WCI readers are giving to. Actually, I’m not sorry at all that it was long. I think it’s awesome that there are so many philanthropists out there.
There are a few trends here- most of the “big givers” include a tithe to a religious organization of some kind. There are lots of health care related charitable organizations. There are a lot of “savvy givers” concerned about how their charitable donation is used. But most of the charities described above would be supported by most Americans as a “good cause.” You are doing an immense amount of good and should be congratulated on your efforts.
I was going to write a bit about the charitable tax deduction as well as the various donor advised funds, foundations, and trusts that can be useful to maximize your tax break for what you do give. But this post is already way too long, so I’ll hold that for another day aside from pointing out that if your goal is maximal wealth accumulation, the math would suggest that giving, like any other tax deductible spending, is a poor way to do it. Remember that you are giving a dollar to get 30-40 cents off your taxes, so you need to have a motivation ASIDE from tax savings. But as you can see above, many of your peers have found this motivation for personal, spiritual, or other reasons. I challenge you to give it a try yourself this Giving Tuesday. Find a cause you support and give some money away. You may find you really enjoy it!
What do you think? Do you give to charity? Why or why not? Which charities do you support? Do you give mostly at the end of the year or as you go along? Comment below!