giving.jpgBringing flowers to the grave is one of the oldest funerary traditions humans have. They were buried with the dead in ancient civilizations in recognition we are part of nature and they represented the regenerative power of life and death. But these days charitable giving is more practical in the hope donations in someones memory will serve a useful purpose beyond the grave.

I learned yesterday that a friend of mine lost a friend of his, in his 30s with a young wife and child. He died of complications from skin cancer. He was a gardner and his income was meager to begin with. It seems we are all one disaster away from tragedy. My friend’s father donated some money to help them through the crises but I remembered another organization that might help, Modest Needs. It is a small registered charity who, “…have stopped the cycle of poverty for 3012 individuals and families who stood to lose everything over a short-term financial emergency.” I passed the information on to him as something that could help but it got me to thinking about the donations I’ve made in the past and how best to vet the charities you give to.

I personally like to donate close to home when possible because you know the people or personally use their services. When I lived in Montana I tried to support the Montana Horse Sanctuary, and I heard good things about Trout Unlimited.

On a larger scale Oxfam has always been one of my favorites which was rated higher than a¬† similar organzation I also like, Heifer International. I don’t think you can go wrong with either one. My cousin donated to them in my father’s memory and I always thought of their global missions as important ones. When I have had extended family pass away from diseases like cancer I have donated in their name to the Cancer Society even though their record doesn’t seem very good lately. Once I remember spending a lot of time finding a place that would plant a tree for me in rememberance but when I’ve gone back to find it again it seems that charity has disappeared. If you have any favorite charities or ones you’d want people to keep in mind, please go ahead and put them in the comments so we all can bookmark them.

(Photo credit: Catalogue for Philanthropy)

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