Understanding Your Charitable Urges
Why do you donate to charity? Is it because you truly want to help others or do you just want to feel better about yourself? For many people, it's feeling better about themselves.
Many people donate hair to make wigs for children with cancer. It turns out that donating money would be better.
Perhaps they would be less adamant if they could visit Ms. Coffman in the Locks of Love office in Florida. Every day the hanks of hair arrive, filling some 10 postal bins, representing the best intentions of donors, but so much of it destined for the trash.
"A check would be easier for me," Ms. Coffman said. "But would the donors get out of it what they do? No."
I think people going on missions trips to build houses in third world countries suffer from the same problem. Ideally, they'd donate a week's worth of pay rather than a week's worth of time. That money would then be used to hire local workers. The money would stretch further, help more homes to be built, and boost the local economy.
It would be a far more generous and effective way to donate. But people wouldn't feel nearly as good about themselves. And, often, that's what really matters.