A Libertarian Christmas: Charitable giving, the Libertarian way

Libertarians are widely regarded as uncaring isolationists. That could not be further from the truth. Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON, DC, December 11, 2012 ― If there were just one word by which to define Libertarian ideology, it would be “efficiency.” We have, by one means or another, come to put great stock in efficiency. The focus on efficiency is not reserved only for politics and economics, but is very important in every aspect of our lives, including charitable giving.

There are thousands of charitable organizations in the United States, with noble goals, every one. But you would be a poor libertarian if you simply gave your hard-earned money to just any of them.

While choosing charities based solely upon their stated goals may be fine for a liberal, most libertarians will first look to which charities are the most efficient, then pick one of those whose goals strike a chord with our “inner liberal.”

It is the libertarian way; by valuing and recognizing efficiency by supporting organizations that embrace it, we encourage other organizations to follow suit.

There are some great sites that evaluate charities, providing potential donors with a great deal of information on everything from efficiency ratings to CEO salaries. An excellent website of this type (though there are other fine websites) is Charity Navigator.

The American Endowment Foundation is a great organization that helps donors make wise decisions about donating their resources, as well as providing insight to unique and flexible giving. I would recommend contacting an organization like theirs, especially if you have deep pockets and donate to a wider range of organizations, or if you want organize a charitable organization for your workplace or similar group of donors.

Regardless of the virtues of the cause, I find it difficult to acquire that warm-and-fuzzy feeling when I know that the CEO is getting a couple million bucks off the top. That being the case, I look closely at administrative costs. Although high executive pay is not necessarily a sign of inefficiency, it simply rubs me the wrong way.

For those of you wondering, my meager donations go the the Salvation Army.

Being a Marine, Toys for Tots becomes my charity of choice during the holidays, and I of course urge you to drop off an American made toy, purchased from a local small business at a drop off station near you.

I am not a rich man. I do however feel that charitable giving is an important part of life, regardless of your personal financial status.

No money to give? Grab a couple friends and pick a street; make a vow to shovel the driveway of every elderly resident on that street every time it needs done. Just be sure to go and introduce yourself and let them know what you’ll be up to when the snows come, or you may find the recipients of your kindness to be more alarmed than pleased.

I have done it, and while I never accepted money, I have been the recipient of thousands of years worth of baking experience. Believe me, it is more than worth it.

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Mike Shortridge

Mike is a former Marine who served in the Middle East. He is disgusted with both the Republican and Democratic parties, seeing them as two heads of the same beast. He writes from the conservative perspective, with a focus on making complex subjects easy to understand.


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