This may sound a bit cheesy, but I’m a big fan of H. Jackson Brown’s Life Little Instruction Book series. I’m such a fan that every year I choose my favorite rules and assign one to almost every week in my planner.

This week’s rule is: Contribute five percent of your income to charity.

As I mentioned earlier this week, last year was my first time to really take this rule to heart.

(Brace yourself: I’m about to get very patriotic.)

Because I am lucky enough to live in one of the most successful societies in the world, and because I am constantly in awe at the fact that I was granted this luck, I think it’s important to be mindful that other people are not so lucky. In fact, most of the world is not so lucky. By giving, especially to charities that help people who live in communities where there are no schools, or no playgrounds, or no movie theatres, or no grocery stores, I feel like I’m able to pass on a little bit of that luck. Not much—just a little.

This month, I’m donating to Heifer International.

Heifer’s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and to care for the earth. Their strategy is to “pass on the gift.” As people share their animals’ offspring with others—along with their knowledge, resources, and skills—an expanding network of hope, dignity, and self-reliance is created that reaches around the globe.

This sounds like a noble goal to me.

Give a little:

Heifer offers a lot of different options if—like me—you are interested in giving just a little. Here are some highlights from their gift catalog:

For $20, you can give: A flock of chicks

A good hen can lay up to 200 eggs a year – plenty to eat, share or sell. Protein-packed eggs from even a single chicken can make a life-saving difference. Because chickens require little space and can thrive on readily available food scraps, families can make money from the birds without spending much. And chickens help control insects and fertilize gardens.

For $30, you can give: Honeybees

Bees help struggling families earn income through the sale of honey, beeswax and pollen. Beehives require almost no space and, once established, are inexpensive to maintain. As bees search for nectar, they pollinate plants. Placed strategically, beehives can as much as double some fruit and vegetable yields. In this way, a beehive can be a boost to a whole village.

For $50, you can give: A hope basket

The Heifer Hope Basket, with its fast-multiplying chickens and rabbits, offers just that to Heifer’s project partners. Rabbits are easy to care for and reproduce quickly, allowing their owners to sell the offspring for extra income once they’ve fulfilled Heifer’s “Passing on the Gift” promise; and chickens lay eggs and provide manure for vegetable gardens.

For $60, you can give: A trio of rabbits

Rabbits are easy to care for; they eat simple foods, such as carrot tops, sweet potato vines and grasses. Rabbit manure can be applied directly on gardens without composting. And because rabbits have so many offspring, the process of passing on the gift multiplies each gift quickly and helps many other impoverished families better their lives.

Another great thing about Heifer is that you can also do a gift share with other people. If you get together with ten friends, you can each donate $25 and give a water buffalo!

Note: I feel compelled to disclose that in many cases the families do eat the animals that you provide, so if you’re a vegetarian, this may not be the best organization for you.

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