This week, I restarted my gratitude journal. It had fallen by the wayside this summer while travelling and I just hadn’t cared to resume it this fall or winter. Or spring. Until this week. It’s only been a few days so it’s not like I’ve been transformed by it–I also don’t think I was really transformed by it when I kept it regularly. But I think it’s a positive and healthy thing nonetheless.

To remind you, or tell you for the first time, this is how I structure my gratitude journal entries, pretty much verbatim:

Today, I’m grateful for [something that I’m grateful for]. I’m praying for [something about my own life] and [something outside of myself]. I enjoyed [something that I enjoyed that day].

That’s it. I write in the evenings so I can try to account for the whole day when thinking about something I enjoyed, but other than that, it doesn’t really make much difference. The whole reason this blog happens is because I’m a trash journaller so it has to be short, simple, and routine for me to make it happen. But resuming it this week has me thinking about another thing, which I’ve kind of structured in my mind in a similar way.

I don’t think it’s all that unusual, but I spend a reasonable amount of time thinking about what I would do if I had money to spend. Sometimes, of course, it’s imagining how I’d dispose of lottery winnings (if ever I play, much less win). But often, I just think about normal things to spend money on. Furniture, plants, silverware, fancy spices (cardamom, always cardamom).

Some purchases are necessary and kind of exciting in that they are good things that you need, but mostly are actually not all that interesting. For example, my government virus money went to getting a new car battery (which I desperately needed) and a new phone (which wasn’t absolutely necessary but which was long overdue. Both of those purchases made me happy and improved my life but I don’t really care about them that much, as purchases or possessions. I guess that’s very materialistic of me, that I need possessions that I don’t even care about but I am what I am.

The current question about how to spend all my money is about donating. I feel pretty strongly that I want to be a regular contributor to things and I’m not sure what. At the moment, I do actually donate to Wikipedia monthly which I love (it’s like $1.75 or something so I feel it’s very in my grasp). But I’m wondering what you guys think? What are causes and organizations that you donate to? Do you do it monthly? Annually? Just on occasion?

I think there’s a lot of value to being a consistent contributor and so I’d like to have my basis of donating be something monthly. That also just makes more sense for the way I budget. Not to say that I would refrain from other, once-off things.

Thinking about this a number of times the past few years (during which I’ve never really felt able to put it into action more than sporadically), I have a bit of a system devised. I have a few categories of things I want to support and then trying to think about local and global questions. So here’s what I’ve come up with thus far and I’d love to hear your thoughts. The thing I like (about this in general, not my system here) is that it’s scalable by nature–it’s not like I have too many options because the amount I’ll be able to donate will just be evenly divided. Anyway.

I want to support the arts (something local like a community choir and something not local like the Smithsonian), the environment (something local like Harbor Wild Watch and something not local like Conservation International), justice broadly defined (something like local homeless initiatives and something not local like the Trevor Project), and the church (perhaps to the church I end up attending locally and something not local like the International Justice Mission).

I haven’t done loads of research or anything, some of those examples are just things I’m familiar with. What do you think? Any suggestions? I’d love to hear what you’re committed to yourself, if you wouldn’t mind sharing. You can just message me, I won’t make you post it to the internet, of course!

I hope that during this time, you are still generous as you are able, and willing to receive generosity as you are given it.

4 thoughts on “Generously

  1. For me, not even conscomiously, I’ve found that I donate mostly to individuals. I support 3 comic artists with monthly support and have done single donations for others. I support one child with Compassion. I have donated money to Bernie’s campaign. I’ve never really thought of donating to larger institutions, though I recognize their importance. I guess I’m just a stupid person who only considers donating when I feel a personal connection. I have considered donating to PP or RAINN, but for some reason have never actually followed through


  2. I think individual donations matter a lot, too. Especially in the arts, and that’s something that I’ve considered as well. I have also given a little money to political campaigns though I’m not sure that it’ll be something that I’m really committed to in the future. I also get some hesitance to support large organizations because they do often tend to be, you know, /organizations/. But they can also do things that individuals can’t, so there’s some trade-off in that.


  3. You might already be familiar with it, but ranks charities in a very utilitarian way that I think is useful when thinking about donating – there is nothing wrong to be motivated to donate by personal connection (i support an orphanage that a friend once volunteered at) or to think locally, but givewell’s cold calculus is a great way to balance out our “emotional connection bias”.


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