I don’t know who decided it was okay to ask old folks, like me, to restructure their wills to make charitable bequests, but I find these appeals offensive. I’ve no wish to be rushed to the grave, not even for a good cause. Nor do I want to feel guilty for popping off later rather than sooner.
Solicitations for bequests, even for a charitable purpose, are crass and frankly, not always as charitable as they seem. I stopped giving to one organization dedicated to third world children when I saw the salaries of the executives.
The December issue of Town&Country profiles a philanthropist who takes his giving in a different direction. He talks to the people who work for him. If he discovers a need, he fills it anonymously. One late winter afternoon, for example, a cleaning woman arrived to tidy up his office. As the man hadn’t left yet, he and the woman got to talking. During their conversation, she confessed she was a nun, Sister Maria Trinity from Veracruz, Mexico. She told him she’d come to the United States to earn money for her Order. The nuns provided respite care to the abandoned elderly and the terminally ill in her country. “’With the money I earn here, it’s like hiring five people down there,’” she explained (“Manners & Misdemeanors,” by Kevin Conley, Town&Country, December 2013 pg.164) The philanthropist nodded and being impressed by her dedication, he made sizeable contribution to the nuns of Xalapa. What’s more, he’s quietly continued to do so for the last 20 years.
I like the philanthropist’s idea of by-passing institutions and giving directly to those in need. True, if I follow his example, I won’t get a tax write-off. But write-offs aren’t what giving is about, anyway.
(Originally posteed 1/8/14)
(Courtesy of ebay.com)