Saturday, November 24, 2007

I think that should count! Right?

As I mentioned once before, I'm trying to live up to the old-school charitable giving standard of "tithing." That is, giving 10% of one's gross income to charity.

As it happens, I don't think my tax return will quite reflect that, because not all of what I see as "charitable" giving counts in the eyes of the IRS. Traditionally, as I understand it, charity is supposed to follow out from your life in concentric circles, starting with family, then friends and then community. That doesn't mean that regular gifts count as charity. They don't. Rather, you should help those in need in order of those circles of life around you.

So I've given to some people in need who are just individuals, not "charities" in the legal sense. Even so, a good person whose life has gone in the tank through no fault of their own is as deserving as any big charity, if not more so. So I've given to some individuals (of course, I'd never share their identities--that would be crass), and I'm counting that toward my personal tithing goal.

I know it's my own goal, so it's not like I'm being graded on this, but I have a fair level of spontaneous guilt, so I don't want to feel like I'm cheating. That's not cheating, is it? I think I should be able to count any gift to someone who really can use the help in their life. Right?


Jeff said...

Just get them to give you a letter saying you received no goods or services in exchange for your donation. LOL, kidding. ;-) You're making a difference, and that's what counts!

Patrick said...

As you told me recently, just being a better person is the goal, and clearly you've been working towards it. I've no doubt the individuals you have helped are very grateful for your care and generosity. The IRS may not think so, but you've been taking care of people in your community, and that's what tithing is supposed to do. So count it guilt-free, I say.

Angie said...

I think everything counts. From writing a check to Drs W/O Borders to showing up at a friend's house with groceries when they're having a rough time financially. :)

CoffeeDog said...

Yeah, it counts...heaven points :-)

Tuna Girl said...

The husband and I were talking about you guys recently. You're the most generous people we know!

Your 10% goal is noble in the best sense of the word, but don't forget that giving of yourself (like inviting someone to stay in your home or visiting someone in the hospital) is the most important gift of all.

Jess said...

Thanks, everyone. I feel better!

And special thanks to Tuna. What a nice thing to say! We try to be good to as many people as we can!