James M. Dahle, MD, editor and founder of The White Coat Investor (whitecoatinvestor.com), a physician-specific personal finance and investing website, also emphasized the importance of using these online sites to gather information on a charity of interest so that you can make an informed decision when donating. “I think it is a good idea to look up organizations,” he said, adding that you can also donate to charities that you know well, such as your own church, charities you donate your time to, local food banks, homeless clinics, and shelters.
Explore This IssueDecember 2018
Brewer also said that many of her clients donate to their churches, which they consider a non-negotiable charity. “People may have their non-negotiable charities that they always give to,” she said. “When they have extra dollars, they may want to pick another two or three organizations to give to, and that is when I encourage people to do due diligence.”
For Dr. Dahle, who is a physician rather than a financial advisor, attorney, or accountant, contributing money is not just about giving to others, but also improving oneself. “One of the best parts about charitable giving is what it does to you and your psyche,” he said. “When you give money away, it sends subtle messages to your unconscious like, ‘We have enough,’ ‘Money is for helping others,’ and ‘You don’t need to die the richest doc in the graveyard.’”
When you give money away, it sends subtle messages to your unconscious like, ‘We have enough,’ ‘Money is for helping others,’ and ‘You don’t need to die the richest doc in the graveyard.’ —James M. Dahle, MD
Other Ways to Give
Donating money is but one way to give; donating time and medical expertise are other ways. A 2014 survey that assessed the prevalence of charitable giving by physicians in the U.S., as well as the types of preferred charitable giving, showed a range of non-monetary ways physicians contribute their time and expertise (J Compassionate Health Care. 2015;2:1-8). According to lead author of the study Paul H. Caldron, DO, PhD, MBA, clinical assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix, the researchers found that the main types of giving included teaching to students and to the public, offering pro bono medical services within the U.S. and abroad, and waiving fees for uninsured or underinsured patients in their practices. “The average amount of waived fees in 2013 was about $22,000, and collectively about $7.3 billion, or about 1.24% of total healthcare spending on physician care,” he said.