An anonymous female donor has come forward to pledge
$10 million to help families recover from the devastating effects
of flooding in Grand Forks, ND and East Forks, MN. She has arranged
for $2,000 to be distributed by a nonprofit organization, North Dakota
Community Foundation, to each needy household that has been victimized
by the recent Red River flood. AIP praises this anonymous donor for
her selfless gift to help the flood victims to back on their feet.
From the Summer 1997 Watchdog Report
Rungs of the Giving Ladder
This contrasts with philanthropists Edith and Henry
Everett who recently withdrew a $3 million contribution to fund
half of the renovation cost of the Central Park Children's
Zoo in New York City. One of the reasons according to The New York
Times-they were displeased that their donation would earn only a
small plaque with two-inch lettering on the Zoo's entry gate.
The concept of giving anonymously without knowing
the recipient can be traced back to ancient Israel. Beggars would
regularly congregate next to a wall of a courtyard and donors, being
aware of this, would face the opposite direction and toss coins
over the shoulders in the direction of the wall. Therefore, the
recipients of the charity would not feel ashamed or indebted to
Maimonides, a 12th century Jewish scholar, invented
the following ladder of giving. Each rung up represents a higher
degree of virtue:
1. The lowest: Giving begrudgingly and making
the recipient feel disgraced or embarrassed.
2. Giving cheerfully but giving too little.
3. Giving cheerfully and adequately but only after
4. Giving before being asked.
5. Giving when you do not know who is the individual
benefiting, but the recipient knows your identity.
6. Giving when you know who is the individual benefiting,
but the recipient does not know your identity.
7. Giving when neither the donor nor the recipient
is aware of the other's identity.
8. The Highest: Giving money, a loan, your time
or whatever else it takes to enable an individual to be self-reliant.
It is too bad that most Americans are not following
Maimonides' sage advice. Think how much more money could be
spent on much needed programs if donors would rise to even Level
Number 4-giving before being asked. I encourage all of you to pick
your favorite category or field (36 are included in the Guide) and
learn about each charity in it and if you are satisfied with an
organization's grade and like what it is accomplishing than send
the charity a contribution before it has to incur the cost of asking
you and thousands of others for one.
Perhaps if Maimonides were alive today, it's
what he would do.