On the surface, they can seem like an oxymoron. Most of the time we squeeze every last cent into the piggy bank, because we know without discipline we’d likely be neurotic spendaholics who are worth more dead than alive. So what about charitable giving? How can we say to save as much as possible, while at the same time handing over money with no strings attached?
Is there any financial logic we can use to justify charitable giving as a responsible characteristic of financial discipline?
Give So That You Receive
Economists, and particularly activists, often try to argue that there is personal gain in giving. For example, “give to cancer research and help find a cure, because one day, you might get cancer yourself.”
I’ve heard that there can be truth to this argument. One of my former business professors worked on research that found that companies who practiced social responsibility often performed better in times of economic hardship. I would not wake up surprised tomorrow if it could be proven that when charity goes around it also comes around. However, I do find this motivation unsatisfying.
I have no problem with people who give in the hope of receiving some unknown, future benefit. However, the idea of giving to receive just doesn’t sit well with me.
Give To Achieve a Goal
If you are like me, you are looking for another argument for how giving can also be financially sound. You might find my next argument more to your liking.
Let’s face it, money isn’t an end, it’s a means. A means to what? That’s a much bigger question for a different post. Money is a means to achieve the goals we want: the dream vacation, the early retirement or the kid’s college education. If it’s all about fulfilling goals and avoiding spending that gets in the way of those goals, then making your charitable giving a personal goal makes perfect sense.
Why couldn’t it be this easy? Giving can be as enjoyable as any other activity, so long as giving fits into something you feel passionate about.
If you want to give to receive or give as an end, it doesn’t matter. The next time you want to open your wallet to a cause, go ahead. Charitable giving does make perfect financial sense and can even help promote personal financial discipline.