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Allure magazine is full of advice on how women can spend millions of dollars on clothes, cosmetics, and even plastic surgery. (No joke: they actually have a section called “Scalpel News.”) Every month they feature endless lists of new “must buy” products that will make you beautiful and new fashion trends that require you to eschew the styles that they themselves told you to run out and buy last month. While perusing this month’s issue, however, I came across an article that suggested spending money on something outside of the fabulous world of fashion and glamour, titled “HOW TO SUPPORT A WORTHY CAUSE.”

The mini-article actually offered some very sound advice on how to choose a charity that means something to you, how to develop a long term relationship with that charity, and how to maximize the contribution of volunteer time and money you offer them. 

A couple of things struck me about this piece. First of all, is it because of the holiday season that they chose to include it? Or is it that participating in a charitable cause is considered just fabulous enough by the glitterati to warrant being featured in the magazine. If it’s the latter: how can we and the charities we work for capitalizing on this?

Secondly, one of the points they made was that no donation is too small–that even $10 a month is significant. While i completely agree with this, I couldn’t help noticing that just a few pages away from this piece was a page that suggested  $300 shirts as cheaper alternatives to really hot fashion items, and a nail polish that costs almost twice as much as the $10 donation they mention. It might not have hurt to suggest forgoing a new Fendi purse and donating that money to charity instead.  This led me to the following thought: yes, it is true that all donations add up, and that giving a little bit is better than giving nothing, and for those who don’t have much to begin with, giving anything at all is incredibly generous. BUT I do worry that in stressing that no donation is too small, we provide an excuse for people who could do more to do the minimum and feel satisfied with it: “I did my part! I gave $5, which is $5 more than xyz charity would have otherwise had. Now, let’s go to the mall: I’ve had my eye on a new pair of Jimmy Choo shoes.”

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