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Philanthropy for Touchy-Feely Soft-Hearted Romantics

Here we are again, the holiday giving season. Last year I wrote a little post about how to make sure your charitable gifts turn into positive action: Philanthropy for Cold-Hearted Hard-Nosed Realists. Its message is simple – give money, not stuff, and give it to organizations that will use your money efficiently. Although it has been by far my most popular post ever, it seems that one single blog post isn’t quite enough to end poverty and bring about world peace. Imagine that. So here’s another one.

Let’s suppose, just for the sake of argument, that you’re not actually a Cold-Hearted Hard-Nosed Realist like myself. Maybe all this talk about research and efficiency feels distant and bureaucratic to you, the complete opposite of the warm feelings of generosity and solidarity with your fellow man that you get when you bring food to the food bank or toys to the orphanage. Maybe your gift isn’t “optimal” but it feels good. Writing a check is so impersonal – you want something hands-on! I get it, I really do. And while I’m tempted to get on a soapbox and say that philanthropy is supposed to be about the people being helped, not the helper, I’ll cut you some slack here. We all like to feel that we are making a difference.

Fortunately, you hands-on, personal-experience-givers are in luck, because there is actually one donation-in-kind that even Cold-Hearted Hard-Nosed Realists can heartily approve of, because it’s a gift that’s always desperately needed and no amount of money can buy. If you don’t want to give money, GIVE BLOOD. Sit in the chair, grit your teeth through the needle, and give the gift of your own life force. There’s nothing more personal and hands-on than that. And as for the effects, while donated money may sometimes go to practical, boring (but essential!) things like buying a charity’s copy paper or paying its electricity bill, your blood donation goes to one thing and one thing only: saving another human being’s life. Up to three lives, in fact, from a single blood donation. Check this out: