Charitable deductions

My ongoing exploration of Pagans and money has found an intriguing void surrounding the question of charity.  Specifically, there appears to be a dearth of Pagan non-profits which aren’t organized as churches.

Is there a Pagan way to let money go?

This isn’t to say that Pagans aren’t charitable.  There is no question that some Pagans give to charity.  But for a number of reasons, there isn’t a place where a Pagan can go to answer the question, “Where can I donate money or time to support the Pagan community?  Some of the reasons I have come up with based on my observations and interactions include:

  • Diversity.  Paganism is a much wider umbrella term than Christianity, or even Abrahamic.  Many of us are fiercely independent and resist the idea of believing together.  The label itself is controversial inside the community, as well as without,  Try applying it to a practitioner of a Native American, Hellenic, or Germanic religion and the individual may agree, or be very offended.  The word is also a flash point for some fundamentalists, which leads to the next reason, which is . . . 
  • Paranoia.  For good or ill, Pagans are extremely suspicious of strangers, particularly ones they meet online.  The Wiccan concept of “perfect love and perfect trust” doesn’t apply, nor does the Hellenic concept of xenia, and while I’m not familiar with most other traditions, I suspect whatever they teach about human kindness is similarly ignored in the face of the unknown.  Pagan charities probably use code words to avoid the ire of angry outsiders, and those who know about such organizations guard the knowledge as if it were a blood-sworn coven secret, rather than a publicly registered 501(c)3 which could receive more donations if it got more publicity.
  • Scarcity.  I also think that many Pagans are crushed by the scarcity mindset.  I don’t know a lot of truly wealthy Pagans, and the churches I’m familiar with don’t exactly have the bottomless coffers that build huge temples.  But a lack of money alone doesn’t prevent charity from happening; I work in the non-profit sector and it’s widely agreed that those with the least often give the most.  But take a look at money magic and you’ll see there’s a wide variety of spells and writings about drawing money into your life . . . but how much work has been done on how to spend money with intent?  Too much fear of having nothing makes it more difficult to let money go.
  • Non-religious alternatives.  Environmental causes, human rights organizations, and foundations for the betterment of mankind are abundant.  There are plenty of worthy organizations that Pagans may donate to in order to further their beliefs.  It could be that it’s easier to give to those groups than try to create the Pagan answer to the Salvation Army, given the first two reasons I articulated.
There are plenty of legally-recognized Pagan churches in the United States and elsewhere, and that’s an appropriate place to tithe, if one is so inclined.  But if one wishes to donate to a cause which is specifically Pagan, but not a particular tradition, the list of Pagan charities is still pretty darned small.
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