The Finance of Giving

The Finance of Giving: No Money = No Progress

  • Post author:Bob Haegele
  • Post last modified:March 14, 2024

If you follow me on Twitter or have been following my blog for a while, you may know that sustainability is important to me.

Recently, I semi-binged on the Our Planet series on Netflix. This series is very well done. It’s similar to what you typically see on National Geographic, but the visuals are amazing, even by today’s standards.

In addition, some of the footage shown is unlike anything ever seen before. This includes rare animal sightings as well as those more intimate than we’ve before seen.

The show importantly makes sure to emphasize what is happening to these animals’ environments. Many have been hunted almost to extinction. And while some are seeing a rebound in recent years, there is still much work to be done.

This is where I started to think about giving.

The Importance of Giving

Like all things in life, progress toward a more sustainable future can’t happen without money.

But if you think about it, the organizations working toward these goals are different from others in a way. While other charitable organizations look to provide something – be it healthcare, housing, or what have you – with sustainability, it’s more about prevention.

What are they hoping to prevent? Well, I mentioned poaching earlier. There’s also the prevention of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

There’s also other unsustainable practices, like offshore drilling and the continued use of coal.

But while these organizations are preventing more than providing, they still need money in order to succeed. In this case, it largely comes down to the fact that money = power.

I donate monthly to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) – one organization that is working toward a sustainable future. Donations allow them to lobby congress for policy changes.

The fossil fuel companies have trillions of dollars at their disposal which allows them to heavily influence laws and policies. Giving to organization like EESI and others is about starting to take that power back so we can build a more sustainable future.

The Struggle of Limited Funds

Without money, these things cannot happen. I am giving what I can, but as my income is non-existent at the moment, I am very much limited.

I would like to give more in the future so I can be a bigger contributor to the changes that need to happen. Truthfully, there is no limit to this; the more money I have, the more money I will likely give.

And that represents a fundamental change. The funny thing is that I did not necessarily see this happening.

Without income, though, there is really quite little I can do. So for me, making money is about more than just covering my expenses or even FI.

Now that I am debt-free, I am shifting my focus to giving back. I just wish I could give more.

How Can We Help When Money is Tight?

There has to be some way to help even if funds are limited, right? Sure – of course there is.

Spreading awareness is one of the best free ways we can all help the cause. For example, “Our Planet” mentions that some animal populations have lost as much as 90% of its members. In addition, huge portions of our forests have been destroyed.

The more people are aware of these things, the better.

If you’re feeling especially ambitious, you could write to or call your policy makers. While there is no guarantee that will be effective, it certainly can’t hurt. We all have to stand up, speak out, and make our voices heard.

Again, the more people who know about this critical issue, the better.

What if I Do Have Money to Give?

If you do have money to give – great! I figured I would research some good organizations to which you should give. I wasn’t sure about WWF even though “Our Planet” links to their donation pages, so I decided to dig deeper.

Now, you could certainly do worse than WWF, but they are not one of the charities I would personally recommend. As mentioned, I donate monthly to EESI, one of the few organizations with a perfect score on Charity Navigator.

Just to give you an idea, 86.9% of EESI’s expenses go directly to program expenses. Charity Navigator defines this as “percent of the charity’s total expenses spent on the programs and services it delivers.”

For comparison, this number is only 74% for WWF. The biggest difference is that they spend 19.8% of their expenses on fundraising. While that’s not that worst thing, you certainly want program expenses to be as high a percentage as possible.

EESI is focused on clean energy policies, which certainly benefits the environment, although more in an indirect way. If you want to help animals more directly, there are several organizations listed at the link above with perfect scores. Any on that list would be great.

In Closing

The purpose of this post is to reiterate the fact that change does not happen without money. It shouldn’t have to be that way, but that is the reality. And some very important causes are disappointingly underfunded.

As for me, I plan to increase my contributions as I am able. In particular, I would like to give to at least one of the organizations in the “animals” section of Charity Navigator’s list.

In the meantime, anything you can give would be a huge help. Note that I am not affiliated with any of these organizations. I just understand how important it is.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you with my next post!


Hey there. My name is Bob Haegele and I'm a personal finance writer who has been freelancing since 2018. Since then, I've built a six-figure career as a freelance writer. My work has been featured in Business Insider, Forbes Advisor,, USA Today, and many other outlets. Interested in starting a blog of your own? Check out my post on starting a blog.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Johnzelle

    Great post. For years now, I’ve made it a standard to give 10% of my income to others in need and organizations that I care about. I look forward to the day I’m debt free so that I can make a bigger impact.

    1. Johnzelle

      wordpress did a weird thing but I think my comment went through.

      1. Bob Haegele

        I was making changes to my plugins so that’s probably what happened. 🙂

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