Thursday, November 27, 2008

Alfidi Capital Editorial: Go Ahead and Donate

I don't editorialize much here on the Alfidi Capital blog, but in the spirit of the holidays I do have something to say about charitable giving.

Giving to charity in bad economic times is even more important than in bull markets. A lot more people have a hard time making ends meet. People with dependable incomes need to be mindful of how lucky they are not to be starving.

The cynical among you should think of charity as a form of insurance against social instability. The idealistic among you can think of it as a moral imperative. Me, I think of it as a tax writeoff along with the two reasons above. See, I don't make a decision about important things in life unless I have several good reasons for doing so.

If you need a better personal example than me, check out what Uncle Warren and some other fortunate people are doing with their money:

Many of America's ultra-rich continued to give big donations to charity in 2008, despite the worst financial crisis in decades. In the past year, seven philanthropists gave north of $200 million and nine gave more than $100 million to causes ranging from wilderness preservation to fighting malaria.

My play: I have given a chunk of my earnings to charities in San Francisco every year since the late 1990s, even in those years when I was making next to nothing as a graduate student. I recently emptied out what was left of my pantry to support a local canned food drive. Who knows, some of my canned goods might end up feeding a bankrupt ex-Wall Street preppie looking for work. I actually hope they come out okay. I know I will.