As the needs for government support collide with demands from some politicians to cut government spending, charitable organizations are called upon to provide a safety net for poor and disadvantaged citizens; they are addressing everything from food insecurity to housing shortages to insufficient medical care. When you read the mission statements of many nonprofits, you will see they are committed to such democratic values as equality, freedom, independence, and justice for all. Their programs encourage such democratic virtues as caring, dignity, fairness, respect, and social conscience. An Internet search will yield names and contact information for many charities, and you can read about their programs on their websites. To get into the habit of charitable giving, try one of these simple practices suggested by Rabbi David Cooper in God Is a Verb:

  • Take one dollar and fold it a few times. Put a paper clip on it and keep it handy in your pocket or purse. The next time you see a stranger who is asking for charity, no matter what he or she looks like, give away this dollar. Try to have a dollar in your pocket each day to give away.
  • Write a check for five or ten dollars, leaving the name black. Put it on your fridge with a magnet so that you will be constantly reminded of it. The next letter or advertisement you see asking for charity, fill in the name and send this check. Try to do this at least once a month.
Mary Ann Brussat, Rabbi David A. Cooper in Practicing Democracy with Your Money by Habib Todd Boerger, Kristin Ritzau