Why don’t people give more to charities? Part II: Values

Yesterday I wrote about how one of the reasons people don’t give more to charities is because they don’t know the people personally.  I think another very real reason is that it’s hard to give aid to people whose values don’t match yours.  I know people that could very much use some help – or at least help with the things I value – but I wouldn’t help them because I think they are spending what they have on things that aren’t important.  For example, here are some stories from individuals I know personally:

  • Can’t afford insurance but bought a $225 chihuahua puppy,
  • Can’t afford to send their kids to preschool but pays twice the market rate in rent to live in a really nice place,
  • Complains about not having enough money for baby formula but owns a big screen TV,
  • Talks about how they can’t afford a car while holding a Starbucks cup.

(And don’t tell me they deserve all the nice things!  I’m sure they do but when you have to make trade-offs because you don’t have enough money, do you choose a TV or food for your baby?)  I want to give them financial education but who’s to say that my values are better than theirs?

P.S.  I should also note that none of the above people asked me for any money!  So this is all a theoretical debate.