Let's suppose, just for the sake of argument, that you're not actually a Cold-Hearted Hard-Nosed Realist like myself. Maybe all this talk about research and efficiency feels distant and bureaucratic to you, the complete opposite of the warm feelings of generosity and solidarity with your fellow man that you get when you bring food to the food bank or toys to the orphanage. Maybe your gift isn't "optimal" but it feels good. Writing a check is so impersonal - you want something hands-on! I get it, I really do. And while I'm tempted to get on a soapbox and say that philanthropy is supposed to be about the people being helped, not the helper, I'll cut you some slack here. We all like to feel that we are making a difference.
Fortunately, you hands-on, personal-experience-givers are in luck, because there is actually one donation-in-kind that even Cold-Hearted Hard-Nosed Realists can heartily approve of, because it's a gift that's always desperately needed and no amount of money can buy. If you don't want to give money, GIVE BLOOD. Sit in the chair, grit your teeth through the needle, and give the gift of your own life force. There's nothing more personal and hands-on than that. And as for the effects, while donated money may sometimes go to practical, boring (but essential!) things like buying a charity's copy paper or paying its electricity bill, your blood donation goes to one thing and one thing only: saving another human being's life. Up to three lives, in fact, from a single blood donation. Check this out:
I know, not everyone can donate blood. Us globetrotters are particularly likely to fall afoul of eligibility requirements - I've been hanging around near malaria too much lately, so the Red Cross would much prefer that I open my checkbook than my vein. All the more reason for those who can donate to actually do it! So get out there, eligible donors, and start saving lives. If that doesn't fill all your desire to feel like you've made a meaningful positive contribution to mankind, I don't know what else will. Plus - free cookies!
And now, because I'm pretty sure this is actually why that last post got so many hits, here's another adorable kitten video: