I have always had mixed feelings when it comes to charitable organizations. The positives speak for themselves, as despite watchdog groups like Charity Navigator spotlighting the less than savory aspects of some charities (high administrative costs, fundraising efforts exceeding charitable contributions, etc.), charities do make a substantial difference in the world.
The problem for me is that donating to charities is like using a magician’s box. You put your money in the box, the magician puts the lid on and when he removes it, the money is gone. You get told that you made a difference somewhere in the world and go back to your sanitized daily routine feeling like a good person.
I don’t have a problem with charitable donations making the world a better place. I do have a problem with charities offering a sanitized experience that allows donators to avoid experiencing and connecting with the benefactors of the donation.
Charity should be about more than simply giving away money. It should be about connecting with others; developing a sense of empathy and compassion for their situation and making a decision based on this knowledge to provide a charitable donation. In short, charity should cultivate in all parties involved empathy, communication, and all the other emotions that reflect humanity at its best.
I recently came across an article that I feel represents a tremendous step in the right direction. The article discusses a concept known as 2040 Love. The premise is simple enough. At the start of every month, you take a $20 bill, $50 bill, and a $100 bill and you put them in your wallet. At the end of this month, all that money needs to be given away. Also no, getting mugged or bribing someone doesn’t count.
The focus here is that in by having to give the bills to 3 separate people, the practice of 2040 Love requires that you communicate and connect with those around you to judge what amount of money the individual warrants. Communication, empathy, and direct connections with others is what to me charity should be all about and beginning in the month of October, I intend to adopt this practice for 1 year and impose my own rule that the money cannot be donated to a charitable organization.
On a side note, for those of you those of you perplexed by the name, I assure you that given my dismal mathematical skills, I was also confused until someone explained /drew/interpretively danced the concept to me. 2040 Love is a reference to the fact that the practice requires that you give away $170 a month. Multiply that by 12 months in a year and you have $2040 dollars…Twenty-Forty Love!
I will be starting a new section for 2040 Love chronicling my thoughts on charity and this new found experience over the course of the next year. The postings will be irregular but at least monthly. If anyone decides to try out the practice, I would love to hear your own experiences and can always use additional guest posts on my blog. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments below.