The problem: I’m annoyed by these “big timers” who get media attention for giving a million dollars to charity when they are worth more than a billion dollars. Seems to me that if people gave according to their worth, they should be coughing up a few more million. I feel the same way about all the people who drove new cars at the church I used to attend. And they say charity begins at home, right?
Low road: Start a social media campaign posting photos of all these cheapskates. Title it: “Charity begins — and, apparently, ends — at home for these folks!”
High road: Giving is such a personal decision, based on one’s values, one’s family history and one’s overall relationship with money, which tends to be complicated no matter where you sit. For those of great means, it’s also a balancing act between a genuine desire to heal the world and a less selfless avenue to ego fulfillment. But it’s wise for those of us in the cheap seats to avoid judgment, whether it’s bucks or Buicks.
First, a million dollars is hardly chopped liver (and it sure could buy a lot). And we cannot assume that this high-profile gift is the only donation Mr. or Ms. Billionaire is making. Perhaps he or she serves on worthy boards, or is guiding others to success through behind-the-scenes networking; perhaps he or she is quietly mentoring a protégé who grew up in vastly different circumstances. There is value in all of this. Or, maybe, he or she is a cheapskate.
Don’t get pulled into the dicey territory of another’s decisions. Focus on the good you can do in the world. Remember that while charity does begin at home, it’s also true that “Every little bit helps.”
Send questions about life’s little quandaries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at startribune.com/highroad.