So, I found out about five minutes ago that J.K. Rowling isn't on Forbes Magazine's list of billionaires. Prior to this discovery, I wasn't aware she should have been. But as this article explains, she's only off the list because she's given too much of her money away to charity:
"New information about Rowlings' estimated $160 million in charitable giving combined with Britain's high tax rates bumped the 'Harry Potter' scribe from our list this year," stated Forbes.
Naturally, none of this likely bothers Rowling, who from the beginning has made giving back a priority for her wealth.“You have a moral responsibility when you’ve been given far more than you need, to do wise things with it and give intelligently," she said in a past interview.
This made me think about my amount of charitable giving lately. (None, apart from Kiva's recent promotion offering 25 dollars to lend for free. So, arguably $25 but still none.)
I'm in a lot of debt right now, so I can't afford to start giving money. But last time I had a job, I wasn't giving regularly either -- I gave some, when it occurred to me and was convenient. But I didn't have a regular donation schedule set up, and that bothers me.
So, I'm going to start a new list in my book: my charity debt. Every month, I'm going to pick a charity, write its name down on a line, and add a $5 debt to them. When I have more steady work and have paid off my more pressing debts, it will be $5 or 5% of my monthly income, whichever is more.
This month's charity will be Planned Parenthood, which has a convenient $5 minimum. I'm sure I'll have more to say in the future about my philosophy of charitable giving as it develops, but offhand I imagine I'll be mixing it up between health organizations and homelessness relief in the US, responsible aid in the developing world, and direct donations to specific artists who produce work for free. (Aaron Diaz and Jeph Jacques deserve my money, for instance.)
I hope to stick to this for the rest of my life, well into my extravagant wealth, when 5% of my income for a month would be like winning the lottery. Or, maybe at that point I'll divide it up a little... And maybe give away a larger percentage.