How To Help: A Friday Chat

Where have you donated thus far?

Image: theaftershock

MEGAN: Hello, friend. Another beautiful Friday in Trump’s America :-/

NICOLE: Is it still Obama’s America, for now? Or are we already thinking towards the inevitable future?

MEGAN: Technically, it is Obama’s America, but I’m alarmist by nature and have already started thinking towards our horrifying future. I can’t help it; I’m trying to steel myself for the road ahead, preparing mentally, financially, emotionally…whatever it is I need to do.

NICOLE: So what are you doing, financially? I’ve been looking at all of that financial advice and trying to figure out what to do myself. So far my biggest thoughts are “donate money” and “save money.”

MEGAN: There is an awful lot of financial advice out there and yeah, I’m somewhere in between donating and saving. My personal alarmism tends towards nihilism, also. In addition to donating money and trying to save money for whatever’s coming, I’m also spending money, in sort of a “fuck it, might as well, who cares, who knows” mindset. That’s not ideal, but I am hoping it’ll wane.

NICOLE: The Fuck Off Fund and the Fuck It Fund. I like that. And the Donate Fund. Maybe we could rename that to the Fuck the Haters fund or something, to keep the theme going.

MEGAN: YES. A Fuck the Haters fund is a nice way to rebrand donating! It also injects some levity into a situation that is anything but humorous. Where have you donated thus far?

NICOLE: Planned Parenthood, NAACP, ACLU, and Child’s Play. How about you?

MEGAN: I have thrown cash to all of those organizations except for Child’s Play. One thing I am grappling with, however, is whether or not I should make recurring donations or not. Like a one-time thing is no big deal in the grand scheme of things, but is it that every little bit counts? Or does every little bit count especially if that every little bit shows up every month?

NICOLE: Probably both, and that’s something I’m thinking about as well. It’s harder on a variable income to figure out what you can donate on a recurring basis, but right now I could probably give $20 to two orgs every month and that would be no big deal. BUT WHAT ABOUT ALL OF THE OTHER ORGANIZATIONS? If I give $20 to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU every month, what about The Trevor Project? I feel like I need to donate to as many orgs as possible.

MEGAN: Yeah, the variable income thing is very real. $20 to two orgs per month is about what I can afford, too. When you think about something like donating money, it’s super tempting to be like HALP I NEED TO GIVE ALL MY MONEY TO ALL OF THEM. However, here is an idea that i just thought of: what if you swap out the orgs you donate to every month? That way your contribution goes to a bunch of different organizations and your simmering anxiety re: giving everyone all the money is eased a little?

NICOLE: That’s actually what I’ve been doing for the past several months. Looking at my expected income, figuring out how much I can donate this month, and giving it all to one or two organizations. Then changing the organizations every month. Which makes sense, but it isn’t that monthly recurring donation that is auto-pulled out of your bank account each month.

MEGAN: Yeah, I feel that. The autopay thing is immensely helpful. None of my bills would get paid in a timely fashion if the money wasn’t just yanked from my bank account without me thinking about it. Maybe there’s something in the act of having to physically donate to your chosen two every month that makes it more mindful? I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but maybe by taking the time to like, sit down, find your debit card, put the numbers in the thing and then click “donate” makes it less rote.

NICOLE: Choosing where to put your money every month does make it more mindful, but I almost wonder if there’s a bit of mindlessness to it as well. Like, am I donating where I am because I’m a white feminist, and what am I ignoring because of that?

What I’d really love — and maybe there’s already an app for this — is a big old app where you could just click a bunch of different charities and nonprofits that have already been vetted by someone to be doing good works, and you could donate to the app every month, and the app would say “okay, these organizations got the most money last month and they have enough to cover their operating expenses and financial goals, so we’ll divert your cash to this other organization that needs it more.” That kind of thing.

You could choose which organizations you want to support, and the app would keep track of which one is in greatest need of your money.

MEGAN: That is the best idea for an app I’ve heard to date. Does it not exist?! It should exist. Also, your point about what you could be ignoring as a white feminist is valid too, but I think that part of the mindfulness aspect would be doing the research into the organizations that you’re going to donate money to. That takes time, but it’s useful time spent!

NICOLE: Or I could just donate where Jezebel and John Oliver tell me to donate. Maybe. But yeah, I get the point. Figuring out who is in need and which organizations support them — like, the most recent Last Week Tonight listed an organization that helps refugees that I had never heard of before. (I had to look it up to remember: the International Refugee Assistance Project.)

MEGAN: Yeah! I think that just paying attention is a good way! And the great thing about John Oliver and other mouthpieces like that is that they have staffs to do that research. I don’t know man, it’s a tricky thing. But doing SOMEthing is better than nothing, I say.

NICOLE: I agree. And if there’s one thing I know about Team Billfold, it’s that we do things. At least one thing every Thursday, and a lot of things in between.

MEGAN: No words have ever been truer. I love doing things. Everything. And then nothing, sometimes, when the time calls for it.

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