December 17, 2010

the Year of Charity in review

as we all know by now, my 2010 resolution was to donate to a different charity every month. and with the exception of being late a few times, i've succeeded. i believe this is the first time in my 30 years that i've a) been successful at a new year's resolution or b) followed through with something that lasted more than approximately 3 weeks.

it's been... well, fantastic, mostly. and oddly embarrassing. here's the thing: between january and december, i donated $50 each to 14 different charities. i donated three gift cards when the bloggess kicked off james garfield's christmas miracle. i donated $25 every time anyone else asked on their blog for a cause / needed a donation for a race / etc - i didn't keep track of them, but there were probably about 15 of those. i figured that if i was spending an entire year focused on being more charitable, i shouldn't be discriminatory: if someone asked me to contribute, i would. so i did. december i've had earmarked for the groups i've always donated to at the end of the year: the leukemia & lymphoma society and st jude's. (and my grammar school, highschool and college, although those aren't counted as charities, obviously.)

so the embarrassing thing? i haven't felt any financial impact from this at all. it's made me extremely ashamed i haven't been giving more. more often, and more of it. it's terrible that i hadn't done this before now.

everyone says the best gift is to give, and blah blah tritecakes... but, i mean, it's kind of true. i received an email that made me cry at my desk from one of the families to whom i sent a gift card. and knowing that i'm in a position to be able to donate to so many different places this year has made me so, SO thankful for my own life and what i have.

i don't think i was really tending toward a mopey woe-is-me existence in the first place, but MAN am i definitely not headed there now. if you follow me on twitter, you know that i had $1000 stolen from my checking account a few weeks ago, which was a royal pain in the ass. it involved fraud paperwork, speaking to a detective and filing a police report, and about 2.5 weeks before i got the money back in my account. it was irritating, but overall i just couldn't believe how LUCKY i was that i could have $1k stolen from me and... be ok. i don't want to sound like i'm bragging about it - that is definitely NOT my point - but the fact is that a few very short years ago, the loss of $1k, even temporarily, would have been disastrous. it would have meant i couldn't pay rent or utilities. i would have had to ask my parents for help, and i wouldn't have been able to eat for those 2 weeks until the money was replaced. i was EXTRA lucky in the timing of this, since i'd been hoarding money in my checking account with plans to buy a new macbook, but HELLO, i was PLANNING TO BUY A COMPUTER and it is not lost on me that that's a very nice option to have.

so i guess my point is that i got a lot out of this too, and will definitely be continuing. and that i'm glad my life is good. and that i'm glad that i KNOW my life is good, which is something i don't think everyone is lucky enough to realize.

the downside, though? holy shit has my junk mail skyrocketed. you donate to onnnnne environmental charity, and next thing you know you're getting mail from every other environmental group in the country. multiply this times 13 other charities, in all sorts of fields, and i'm now chucking several envelopes a day full of charitable pleas. NOT VERY ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY, charities.


  1. You my dear are one of the most thoughtful, kindest, sweetest people I know. And I mean that.

    On another note, spam sucks yo. Especially the paper kind. ESPECIALLY when an environmental charity keeps sending paper stuff! What is wrong with them??

    You went and done good friend. Real good!

  2. You done good, Alice.
    And yes, donating once will get you onto multiple mailing lists for life.

    Had I known, my boys would have sent out a plea for their mission trip to a Native American Reservation last summer! ;)

  3. That is SO INTERESTING that you didn't notice it financially, and that makes me want to try it! I do remember there was a year when we'd just donated to St. Jude's and then that same month TWO of my friends did fundraising walks---and I remember thinking, "Crap, that's going to be tough when the bills come in" but then it wasn't.

    The paper spam drives me BERSERK. I feel like they're using up my entire donation to send me mail I don't want.

  4. What a fantastic resolution! I try to give as much as I can, and like you I've found the impact to be somewhere between negligible and imperceptible. Such a privelege to be able to give.


  5. I love this--it's a really good idea, and so interesting that you didn't feel the hurt financially. I'm inspired!

  6. Is it too late to ask you to help me out with my fund raising for a charity?

    I may have a long way to go, time and goal-wise, but ever bit helps. Especially when people tell others.

    If anything please go to the Uncultured Project's page and honestly look at what he's doing. It is truly amazing.


  7. This is a very interesting recap. Back when we had two incomes we donated money fairly regularly and we never noticed the difference either. At this point with only one income we definitely would feel the pain--but this is a very good reminder that once we have two incomes again, we should definitely donate, even if it's just $25 here or there, and we would never notice the missing money. I look forward to that.

  8. This is definitely a wake up call. I'm sure that if I budgeted better I could afford to do something similar. And probably feel like a better human being in the process.

  9. What a nice post!

    Not to take away from the spirit of generosity of your post, but whenever i donate to someone I end up getting 10x more calls to donate to others. My husband NEVER gets calls, and he says I'm on the "sucker list." haha
    Oh well.

  10. It may not work, but you could make a condition of your donation that they do not share your name with their "lists", and tell them if they do share your name, you will not donate in the future.

  11. That's really great to see you follow through with your giving!

    I agree with Amanda, I try and support my friends' causes but I find it very annoying when I end up on lists after donating money.