Guilt by comparison

“… more than seven in 10 women (71 percent) say they feel badly they can’t give more to charity this year, compared to 51 percent of men.”

 — American Red Cross Holiday Giving Poll, October 2011

Each Christmas our church (Presbyterian) collects The Joy Gift – a denomination-wide offering that provides financial assistance to current and former church workers and their families.  A portion of the Joy Gift also provides scholarships for deserving students wishing to attend certain Presbyterian-related colleges and schools.  For “the poor in circumstance or in spirit,” the Joy Gift is a great blessing indeed.    

Whether directly or subliminally, many of us were taught early that giving should always be done joyfully and with a glad heart.  Giving from gratitude or compassion are also on the “approved” list of motivations.  Giving from a guilty conscience?  Not so much.

But let’s face it: guilt  is often a great motivator.  And given the survey finding above, women’s guilt meters may be set a tad higher when it comes to notions of charitable giving.  (Perhaps that’s the reason it took Ebenezer Scrooge THREE visitations from ghostly apparitions before he opened ye olde checkbook.)

At this time of year, thoughts of giving are uppermost in most of our minds and hearts.  And frankly, whatever prompts you to make that charitable donation (an abundance of compassion, need for tax relief, yes, even guilt) – in the end, the impact is the same.  

And your preferred charity doesn’t care whether you’re male or female.   Still, I can’t help but take a perverse joy in scoring higher on the compassion meter than old Ebenezer.