Friday, March 20, 2009

Giving 1% to the Developing World

I've been catching up on the Diane Rehm show via the Internet. The other day, I listened to the show that had Peter Singer as a guest. He's promoting his latest book (all the money he makes on it will be donated) that says that in terms of charitable giving, we should be giving to the developing world (yes, I used to call it the third world, but my spouse, who has advanced degrees in several subjects, informs me that the term third world is no longer acceptable).

He made it very clear that he thinks it's the developing world that deserves our money. Not our neighborhood organizations that help the poor and certainly not museums or universities. He points out that the rich often support buildings and programs, but very little of their charitable giving goes to the poor--not the poor in their local areas, not the poor in the U.S., and certainly not the poor in the developing world.

Why should we give to the developing world? For many moral reasons, but especially because our dollars (or euros or whatever currency) goes so much further and saves so many more people.

He suggests that we give 1% to the developing world. He's partial to Oxfam, for both their advocacy of the poor in the developing world and for their ability to make sure the funds get to places where they will matter most. I will probably give my 1% to Lutheran World Relief. I don't think they do as much political advocacy, but I'm impressed with their ability to help in the developing world.

If your family income is $105,000, then you're in the top 10% of U.S. taxpayers, and he recommends that you give 5%.

I did a quick calculation, and 1% is such a tiny sum. Part of my brain immediately says, "What difference will it make?"

Peter Singer would answer tell us that it could make quite a lot of difference--especially if more of us made the commitment.

Go here and scroll down to hear the show. Go here for Singer's website that supports the book; you can read more about his ideas, read excerpts from the book (or download it), and read more about the charities he recommends.

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