Giving to the arts when people are hurt or hungry

In the wake of last week’s giving frenzy, I had a chance to review some of the numbers in a little more detail. After cozying up with a 99 page pdf file over the weekend, and perusing Minnesotans’ generosity, I was left to wonder: how do we decide who to give our money to?

For instance take a look at these numbers from last week’s “Give to the Max Day” – note: they do not reflect the “match” by GiveMN, but simply the donations made by the public.

Guthrie Theater – $40,075

Children’s Theater Company and School – $57,545

Minneapolis Institute of Arts – $19,058

Walker Art Center – $9,120

Animal Humane Society – $67,069

Habitat for Humanity – $12,539

Graywolf Press – $9,185

American Cancer Society – $7,880

American Composers Forum – $20,314

American Red Cross Twin Cities Chapter – $23,825

Dorothy Day Hospitality House (homeless shelter) – $645

Advocates against Domestic Abuse – $255

Second Harvest Heartland – $183,291

YMCA of Greater St. Paul – $117,175

YWCA of St. Paul, Minnesota – $3,230

It’s interesting to see the range in generosity to both arts organizations and those non-profits that provide crisis services such as food and shelter. I realize some of these numbers may simply reflect an organization’s efforts to get the word out, but it also made me think about the decision to give.

How do we balance our giving to the arts alongside the needs of the homeless and hungry? What questions do you ask yourself before you decide to give to a particular non-profit? How do you ‘justify’ giving money to an organization that many see as a luxury, not a necessity? And if you’re willing to share, who are you giving your money to this year, as unemployment is at its highest level in 25 years and social services are being cut?

No answers in today’s post – just questions. I welcome your thoughts.