Be a "do-gooder"
Updated: Jun 22
Most people who know me know that I’m an open book about finances. I’m the first to talk about all the things that we think are private – our salaries, our expenditures, our tips and tricks, you name it. I do this because I believe in equality and helping others. And I know that transparency around finances will help lead us there.
But there is one thing I have been more hesitant to share. My giving strategy.
I regularly give my time, energy and money to charity, specifically organizations aligned with the effective altruism movement. This is not something I widely broadcast to people when I meet them. In fact, I’m much more open about Yield & Spread being a nonprofit designed to do good, rather than me being direct around my personal approach to giving.
What’s behind my hesitancy? It’s fear.
I’m fearful of the skeptics. What will they think? Will they question my motives?
She only gives because she feels guilty
She does this to make herself feel better
She only just started giving, why is she preaching?
She has a white savior complex
There’s certainly truth to all the above. I definitely give for selfish reasons! But those aren’t the only ones. I’m also motivated by the below beliefs:
It’s our moral duty to give back to those without the same privileges
My actions matter and I can have an impact on others
I have the capacity to help, and help is certainly needed
At the end of the day, my motivation for giving is not what matters, it’s about the impact we can have as a collective community. If giving makes us feel better and also helps others, why not?! I’d say that’s a win-win.
We watch action movies about superheroes saving the world, read books about Germans who hid Jews from the Nazis, listen to news stories about the neighbor who jumps in front of a bus to save a child. We are enamored with these stories. We honor these high ideals, and we respect these heroes that rise to the occasion during times of strife. We don’t question their commitment.
Donating to charity is no different. We can all be heroes, without having to jump into a burning building. Instead of being driven to help by an immediate crisis (say a war or a natural disaster), we are compelled to help because we should.
I personally would never call myself a hero, or a “do-gooder”, but I have deep respect for anyone who gives their time, energy, or money to others. No matter what the scale. And maybe celebrating my giving strategy openly will help others give back too...
So here goes nothing. Below is my full and complete giving strategy.
Direct charitable giving: Joe and I donate one share of VTI to GiveDirectly every month. We have chosen to donate stock at this time because for us it’s the most tax-effective way of giving. We formally kicked off this approach this year.
Volunteerism & indirect funding: I run Yield & Spread, where all proceeds after operating costs go to The Life You Can Save. Under this model, I’m indirectly raising funds for charity in exchange for services provided.
Invest to Give: Joe and I have both committed to donating approximately 80% of our net worth to charity upon our death. We have a large investment portfolio that we live off today as early retirees. We use our stock dividends and bond interest to cover about half of our expenses, and then we also sell off some assets each year to cover the rest. We are taking very little from this nest egg so we expect it to grow significantly as we reach old age. Then upon our passing, we plan to donate these funds to charity. We used FreeWill to help draw up this paperwork.
Sporadic giving: As and when I see fit, I donate to additional causes that are important to me and or friends.
I also donate my time in other ways, such as volunteering at Ogden Valley’s Adaptive Snow Sports program, simply because I enjoy it.
All of the above is certainly subject to change for a variety of reasons, whether it be my health, financial circumstances, or I learn something new that guides me in a different direction. It’s ok that it’s not set in stone. But for now, I am committed to the above causes.
So, what can you do?
Be kind: Take a moment to quiet the skeptic. I know this stuff is intimidating, maybe even guilt-inducing. These feelings are not very different from the first time you take a look at your personal finances. But just like you can make a difference for your own wallet, you can for others.
First, get informed: Read The Life You Can Save. It’s straightforward, clear and direct around the ethics of giving. Or, listen to the 3-part podcast series “Doing Good Better” from the Center for Effective Altruism
Make the commitment: If you’re ready to make a difference, consider taking an effective giving pledge. There are communities full of people like you where you can receive ongoing support and information you need to do the most good. A favorite of mine is One for the World. They motivate people to donate 1% of their income to the world’s most cost-effective charities, every month, for life.
Reach out: I would love to hear from you if you have any questions or thoughts on effective giving. Hit reply and shoot me a personal note, and I'd be more than happy to chat.
Thank you, Yield & Spread community, for being part of something bigger and better. Let's continue to spread the love.
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Even a small portion of your philanthropy on effective giving can still produce massive impact. Take the 1% pledge today.
Disclaimer: The information contained in the Yield & Spread website, course materials and all other related content is provided for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, or financial advice, and may not be suitable for every individual. Yield & Spread is not a registered investment, legal or tax advisor or a broker/dealer.