Charitable giving is best when voluntary

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The other day, I was chatting with my childhood friend, Linda, who owns a carinderia (small restaurant) in our barangay (village). I noticed when a bumbay (Indian guy) arrived, she immediately dipped into her cash box and gave him P100. I asked her, “Why?” She said she owes the guy P5,000 and the term is that she pays him P100 daily for two months. “5-6” in two months! And after two months, she again borrows P5,000.00, pay P100 per day for two months; then, borrow again, pay, etc.

Moje Ramos-Aquino, Fpm

Moje Ramos-Aquino, Fpm

This has gone on for years on end up to this day and as long, she says, as she is in business to send her only son to college.

And this is the lot of practically all the small enterprises in our barangay. The bumbay is raking in a lot of profit.

So I offered to lend her the same amount after she has paid off her debt but without interest and she has to pay every 15th and 30th of the month so that she could still roll back her money and use for 15 days more . She was open to the idea, but offers to pay 10 percent interest. I said no. She said she will give me free viand or cooked rice or whatever I want from her food store. I said no. She replied that she cannot accept my offer. She doesn’t want to be a charity case.


I told her that she is diminishing my good intention to share the little that I have and help her in her business. This is not a charitable gesture, just a genuine intention to help a friend. She said she will think about it.

Giving makes us feel better. It is almost impossible not to feel better when we are helping others. It never fails to put a smile in the face of the giver and receiver. P5,000 will not even buy me a stylish and sturdy pair of shoes or a corporate dress at my favorite (not made in China) clothing stores. But P5,000 will give Linda a better chance at offering other more nutritious and delicious viands and improving her food business to better serve her numerous customers. I also said I will share with her my mother’s recipes. BTW, she makes the best, and reasonably priced, lumpiang prito, okoy and turon!

In his book, Rush, author Todd G. Buchholz wrote, “People who give their time or their money to charity are 40 to 45 percent more likely to say they are very happy. Please, I am not telling you to help people because of your own self-centered motivation. A selfish misanthrope would look at an old lady at the curb and say, ‘I’m going to help her cross the street so I feel good about myself. After she crosses, I don’t care if she gets hit by a runaway bus on the sidewalk.’ I’m saying that regardless of motivation, helping others will [make your body]release oxytocin and give you a warmer glow. And that glow does not discriminate by income. A study of 115 lower-income senior citizens who served as Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions [to older and disabled adults]showed a sunnier state of mind in those who volunteered than those who turned down the opportunity.

“There’s one caveat here. Charity brings happiness when it’s voluntary. If an authoritarian government required you to come to everyone’s aid, and to hand over your hard-earned savings, that glow would fizzle out.”

I remember when I used to work in a big corporation and every December the company deducts P10,000 from the salaries of executives and some managers to buy raffle prizes for the Christmas party. Some of those executives and managers ended up not attending the party or attending it but grudgingly. They said they want to give but not to be forced to give. The glow, the buzz, the warm fuzzy feelings from good acts come when we volunteer, not when we follow commands. Then our search for happiness is thrown off when we lose control.

Todd wrotes, “When governments levy very high taxes–even when those revenues are used to promote social welfare–they tend to discourage charitable acts by individuals.

Public charity crowds out private charity. Unhappy people will volunteer less, which means people who need help will get less help. ‘Oh, well, they must get my money anyway through taxes, so why should I bother reaching into my own pocket?’”

This is true of churches with their forced tithing requirement, first, second or even fourth and fifth collections after Mass. What kind of God forces you to give more than you want to give or could afford to give?

Feedback to moje629@gmail.com.

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