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How And Why We Give To Charity

In the giving season, we talk to philosopher Peter Singer about rethinking how and why we give to charity.

Andre Thompson, manns the outdoor red bucket at a Walgreen's drug store in Tyler, Texas. Thompson is one of three remaining contestants in the third annual Salvation Army World Record Bell Ringing Contest. Thompson along with the remaining contestants have broken the 100 hour mark, and are now vying to be the last person standing. He has been manning the outdoor red bucket though rain and sub-freezing temperatures, and has raised over $6,000 so far, on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.  (AP)

Andre Thompson, manns the outdoor red bucket at a Walgreen’s drug store in Tyler, Texas. Thompson is one of three remaining contestants in the third annual Salvation Army World Record Bell Ringing Contest. Thompson along with the remaining contestants have broken the 100 hour mark, and are now vying to be the last person standing. He has been manning the outdoor red bucket though rain and sub-freezing temperatures, and has raised over $6,000 so far, on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. (AP)

It’s the giving season.  Maybe you do, maybe you don’t.  But many Americans do.  Give.  And it’s interesting to look at where they give and why, exactly, we give.  And where the impact is greatest.  Philosopher Peter singer has been looking at need and response.  At what gets us to pull out the wallet, the checkbook, the debit card – and what doesn’t.  You may be the guy or gal who can’t resist the bell ringer in the snow.  Or the wide-eyed child in the magazine ad.  You may be methodical in figuring out your charity, or impulsive.  Or missing in action.  This hour On Point:  Peter Singer and American giving.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Peter Singer, philosopher and ethicist, professor of bioethics at Princeton University. Author of “The Life You Can Save: Acting Now To End World Poverty,” “Rethinking Life and Death: The Collapse of Our Traditional Ethics” and “Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals.” (@PeterSinger)

Stacy Palmereditor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy. (@StacyPalmer)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Atlantic: Giving 101: The Princeton Class That Teaches Students to Be Less Selfish — “Singer tells his students that though almost anyone would dive in to save a drowning child, Americans eschew giving to the world’s most desperately poor—including the 19,000 children dying every day of sheer poverty-related causes—even though it is well within our means to help. By failing to do so, Singer claims, we cannot consider ourselves to be living a ‘morally good life.'”

Forbes: Inside The #GivingTuesday Numbers: Will American Philanthropy Grow? — “According to Blackbaud, the nonprofit technology provider and #GivingTuesday partner, online giving was up 90% for 3,800 nonprofits (customers tracked by Blackbaud) compared to 2012. The company processed more than $19.2 million in online donations (compared to $10.1 million in 2012). The average online gift yesterday was $142.05, which was significantly up from $101.60 in 2012 (meanwhile, Black Friday shopping numbers dropped by nearly 3 percent according to the National Retail Federation). Blackbaud maintains this builds on a solid end-of-year giving season last year, when online giving (19.1%) outpaced retail e-commerce (15.5%) growth.”

The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Nonprofits Anxiously Try to Show Results for New Charity Navigator Ratings – “Charity Navigator, long lambasted for focusing too much on financial criteria like how much an organization spends on overhead, has thrown its weight behind a growing movement to get charities to become more ‘results-oriented’ and ‘evidence-based.’ Its method: Try to get donors who look at its Web site to consider how effective a charity is when deciding where to give.”

TheLifeYouCanSave.org’s ‘How Much Should You Give?’ Calculator

GiveWell.org

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