Impulse giving

Impulse buying and Retail therapy both rate their own article in Wikipedia. This ideas of reckless spending are probably promoted in no small part by reckless spenders wanting to feel that they are just like everyone else. (I just came across an msn article suggesting that most of us actually have very little credit card debt.)

What do you think of a new idea: Impulse giving & charitable therapy? I think it is practiced by a lot of people too. I wonder, is it better than its commercial counterparts?

Here’s where the missed opportunity analysis comes in. If I give a homeless guy a fiver (impulse giving), in a sense I’m hurting him by not giving the fiver to United Way or Habitat for Humanity. If I donate $100 to every charity that asks, first you’ll be asked by a LOT of charities, but then later regret my generosity, I may have done some spiritual damage to myself.

These reservations notwithstanding, do you think we can get the same high we get from buying a new toy by making a generous donation? I am asking seriously because I think maybe we can.

3 replies on “Impulse giving”

Brilliant. Coining terms, I love it. I think this one could live.

I personally have a tension between impulse giving and a soberly planning my giving for the year. In the last few years I have tended to pick a few charities or organizations and give monthly. This does cause turmoil when the college kid comes to the door canvassing for some environmental cause, and they are new at it and just so cute, and remind me of my first weeks in NM and meeting Jae.

Soberly planning your giving is surely the way to go. It is a better experience for you. You are more likely to put your money where it helps. But, yeah, it does feel cool to make people like that happy.

I think for similar reasons, whenever my brother has money he way over tips. (I’m talking about 30-50% of the tab.) There is a mix of being generous and feeling powerful.

Here’s a quirk I’ve noticed. After I give consistently to an organization for a couple years, I get bored with it. It’s just as a good an organization and cause as before, but I want to switch to something new. Seems shallow, but I switch to another good cause, so I indulge myself.

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