Why I Give To Panhandlers

The more I reflect on the issue of panhandling, the more reasons I come up with as to why I choose to give people money:

  1. At my funeral, I don’t want them to say, “None of his charitable donations were ever misused.”  I want them to say, “He gave every chance he had.”
  2. In the case that a panhandler uses my money to purchase drugs or alcohol, the act of giving still reduces harm in the community as they would otherwise have had to resort to illegal activities to address their addiction.
  3. I have less human connection with people in absolute poverty than I did when I worked as a street nurse.  Giving to panhandlers provides, at times, a means to connect with people conversationally.
  4. As someone who preaches the importance of greater income equity, particularly in relation to health (we know at a population health level that income equity is more important than absolute income level for health), I need to actively pursue ways to share my above-average income with those who have a below-average income.
  5. I want my children to see me give to panhandlers so that they develop an ethic of compassion.
  6. I want others to see me giving to panhandlers, so they will at least be triggered to think about giving.  When I am with friends, they often give when they see me do so.
  7. 100% of panhandling donations go directly to those in poverty, which is better than the most efficiently run charity.

What do you think, are there ones that I have missed?  Or are there an overwhelming number of reasons not to give?

2 thoughts on “Why I Give To Panhandlers

  1. 8. Because it is the right thing to do.

    Than again, all your points lead to 8.

    Thanks for this. I am as poor as dirt. Some days in each month panhandling sounds like a good idea. I have not been poor long enough, though; I still have what I am calling “some dignity”. Once that is drained from me perhaps I’ll hit the streets when I am in need.
    Of course I could get off assistance and get a job. I mean if I could get hired to a job. I mean if there were jobs out there for an old guy like me. I mean…..hey wait…is panhandling a job? Maybe I could start a union and……..
    Sorry…I go off sometimes…my point was/is, thanks for this. It is appreciated that you write. IMHO more people should post at least a “Thank you” for you and perhaps I should have just stuck with that myself. 😛

  2. Thank you. 🙂

    Certainly there are people who take advantage of panhandling, who it does no good (or even does harm) to give to. But it’s better to err on the side of giving, for the reasons you point out here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *