in a perfect world of yancies: The Joy of Living Is In the Giving

08 December 2012

The Joy of Living
Is In the Giving

Or, to put it in another way, we probably need to up our joy around here...
I mean, sure, it's pretty joyous looking at this enthusiastic young man every day:
Eager Eater
But that line from that catchy Toys For Tots song kind of haunts me.

For a while now I've been considering a post about this sort of issue, but the article on giving in today's New York Times—which even included quotes from a philosopher (huzzah!)—sealed, as they say, the deal.

So, for one thing, the author mentions making an actual pie chart, which I agree seems helpful. Here's ours (UPDATED & improved):
2012 Giving
(Slightly bigger version here.)

Okay, there's some data, but what does it mean? Well, for one thing, we give to three radio stations, which are definitely among Peter Singer's "morally dubious" cultural institutions. Look, KEXP and KUOW are basically non-negotiable. And come on, how can we not give to Kansas Public Radio when they keep making (and we keeping playing) episode after awesome episode of the Retro Cocktail Hour?

And who knows whether campaign donations really even belong on this list? But there we are. (Most dubious from my point of view? Boy Scouts. (Why? Mostly this.) But who can say No to a charmer like Braxton?)

Interesting to note that whereas most Americans apparently give mostly to schools and churches, we basically ignore both, and give the major chunk to human services groups at home (United Way of King County) and abroad (Oxfam).

But okay, here's the real reckoning: what do all of these numbers have to do with our actual income? I've been known to puff up a bit when recalling that we give $1200 a year to Oxfam, but all of this giving—ALL—doesn't even add up to 5% of our total gross income.

UPDATE: And just where does that put us, I wondered, with respect to the rest of the country? Well, fortunately there's a super fun website run by the Chronicle of Philanthropy that has all kinds of interesting info on giving (though they're focused on charitable giving, which may skew things a bit since I'm thinking about giving in a more general way...). And it looks like although the dollar amount we're giving is on the high end, when it comes to percentage of income we're barely average.

So, yeah, I guess I'd say things are looking morally dubious after all. How about this: we can call it a start, and do our best to seek a little more joy next year. But how about you, reader? What's your take on all of this? How much is enough? Where should it go?

In the meantime, here's one more look at Franklin, doing his part to spread some joy this season:


  1. I'd rather pay more taxes and have the state provide free healthcare to everybody:)

  2. Indeed, as would I! If there's somewhere I can sign up for that, let me know!