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Improve Your Charitable Giving: Let Not Your Left Hand Know What Your Right Is Doing

Improve Your Charitable Giving: Let Not Your Left Hand Know What Your Right Is Doing

20090602-charity

    According to virtually every religious and ethical tradition, meaningful charity does not draw attention to the giver, and dignified charity does not draw attention to the recipient.  Here I will offer an economist’s perspective on the Biblical injunction to “let not the right hand know what the left is doing” in charitable giving and will argue that this results in more efficient charity (meaning that it increases the bang we get from every charitable dollar) in addition to strengthening the moral community.

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    One reason economics is a dismal science is that it shows us how the best of intentions executed with the greatest fidelity and sincerity can nonetheless worsen the problems people are trying to solve because they change incentives.  Some of the most basic ideas in economics concern the fact that people respond to incentives, people make decisions at the margin, and there is no free lunch.  The hidden wisdom in Biblical teachings about charity embody recognition of and respect for these principles.  I don’t know whether this is intentional or not; I’m not a theologian.  Regardless, this verse teaches an important economic lesson.

    Let me be absolutely clear, here.  I am not arguing against benevolence.  Far from it.  I agree that we should help people who are less fortunate than we are.  My argument here is that there are effective ways to do this and uneffective ways to do this.  Letting not our right hand know what our left hand is doing makes our charity more effective.

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    This follows readily from the idea that people respond to incentives.  When charity is predictable and well-known, people will expend resources trying to become the beneficiaries of others’ charitable endeavors.  This is socially wasteful, and the entire value of the prospective transfer will be competed away as people fight over the most lucrative begging positions in town, rent children, or pay to have limbs amputated to increase their begging take (Tyler Cowen discusses this in his book Discover Your Inner Economist).

    It also follows readily from the proposition that there is no such thing as a free lunch.  The money we are giving to charity has to come from somewhere, and it isn’t always clear that it will do more good, socially, if it is given to someone than it would if it were left in a bank account and lent to an entrepreneur.  That isn’t for me to decide, of course, but it is worth considering.

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    There are, of course, good reasons to be totally open about your giving–when you are trying to honor someone, for example, by naming a building or lecture series or something after them, or when you explicitly want to change people’s incentives.  If you just want to give people stuff, though, then your charity is most effective when it is given in secret.

    So when you are giving, don’t let your right hand know what your left is doing.  And don’t let anyone else know, either.  Unless you’re explicitly trying to change people’s incentives, you do the most good when your charity is kept quiet.

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    More by this author

    Art Carden

    Art Carden is an Assistant Professor of Economics and Business at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.

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    Last Updated on February 11, 2021

    Want to Get Free Product Samples Like Bloggers and Beauty Gurus Do? Read This.

    Want to Get Free Product Samples Like Bloggers and Beauty Gurus Do? Read This.

    Imagine receiving a regular supply of free samples through your letterbox?

    These free samples by mail could include things such as cleaning products, cosmetics and packaged food.

    Free samples are a great way to try out some of the latest products. One week you may have a new toothpaste to try – the next week you may be snacking on a delicious chocolate cookie sample.

    As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life. And by requesting free samples by mail (I’ll show you how shortly), you’ll have not just variety – but fun too!

    Tell Me More About Getting Free Samples Sent to My Door!

    So, it looks like I’ve caught your interest. That’s great news!

    Just before I introduce you to 10 places where you can get free samples by mail, let me clarify a couple of things.

    Firstly, all the places I’ll talk about are currently active in sending out free samples to consumers. (In other words, no links to out-of-date or dead pages!)

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    Secondly, location is key. If you live in North America, then you’ll have a wide selection of places to sign up to. In other locations (for example, Africa, Asia and Europe), you’ll have fewer choices – but free samples by mail are still a possibility.

    Lastly, to whet your appetite for the freebies, here’s a short list of product examples:

    • Pet food.
    • Beauty products.
    • T-shirts.
    • Greeting cards.
    • Wallets.
    • Snack bars.
    • Vitamins.

    Free Samples by Mail… Tell Me Where to Get Them!

    It’s now time to share my recommendations for the best sites to claim free samples from.

    Let’s start with…

    #1 SampleSource

      This company sends out boxes of 6-12 free samples about four times a year. Products include baby wipes, cereals and tissues. Register with SampleSource to be notified of the availability of their free samples. (Canada and U.S. only.)

      #2 Influenster

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        As their name suggests, Influenster wants to send free samples to you in exchange for you sharing about the products on your social media accounts. Once you’ve become a member (join for free!), they’ll send you a box of free goodies every few months. The more you share pictures and reviews of the products – the more free samples they’ll send you! (All major territories.)

        #3 PINCHme

          This organization will send you free samples in the hope that you’ll then go out and buy the equivalent full-size products. To receive regular boxes of free food, drink and cosmetic samples (and sometimes coupons), then sign up and create your profile. (U.S. only.)

          #4 House Party

            Thinking of throwing a house party? If yes, then be sure to sign up with this company. They’ll send you a box of ‘themed’ products and services that you can hand out at your party. Register with House Party. Wait for the fun freebies to be mailed to you. And then start sending out your party invites! (Worldwide.)

            #5 YoFreeSamples

              This site is a great resource for a whole host of free samples that can be mailed directly to your door (with no survey requirements!). You’ll find anything from books to perfume, with new offers listed daily. Head over to their site to see what’s currently available. (Mostly U.S., with occasional offers for other countries.)

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              #6 Magic Freebies

                The U.K.’s most popular freebie site. Register for their email newsletter, and they’ll send you a daily email with eight free sample offers. These include products such as disposable razors, dog bowls, and even fake tan! So, what are you waiting for? (U.K. only.)

                #7 SweetFreeStuff

                  Since 2002, this simple site has been linking to the best free sample offers currently available. To get started, sign up to their daily email newsletter, which contains links to the latest offers. As well as free samples, SweetFreeStuff also gives information on coupons and deals. (Worldwide.)

                  #8 Sample A Day

                    Would you like to receive a notification of a new free sample every day? Well, that’s the promise from this site. They claim to thoroughly research all offers, ensuring there are no catches or hidden surveys! From baby products to socks, this site is sure to have something for you. Registration is super-easy. Simply enter your email address. (Australia, Canada, U.K. and U.S. only.)

                    #9 Pretty Thrifty

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                      This site specializes in free beauty products, but also lets you claim free samples such as energy drinks, snack bars, and even magazine subscriptions. Pretty Thrifty has more than 85,000 followers on social media, so clearly knows how to attract free sample hunters. One thing that makes Pretty Thrifty stand out from most of their competitors, is that their email newsletter is available in daily, weekly and monthly formats. (Mostly U.S., with occasional offers for other countries.)

                      #10 CrazyFree

                        My final tip for getting the best free samples by mail, is Australian company CrazyFree. Their funky website offers big brand free sample offers, which currently include items such as Dolce & Gabbana perfume, Coke Zero, and Happy Dog pet food. To claim the offers, select the free samples you would like, and then complete their registration form. (Australia, U.K. and U.S. only.)

                        Receiving regular free samples by mail is a fabulous way of testing out the latest products on the market (and some that aren’t even on the market yet!)

                        You’ll impress your friends and family with all the free stuff you’ll be receiving. And take it from me… it’s a fun, free and rewarding hobby.

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