Charity--Need vs. Fulfillment?

I’d like to discuss the moral implications of our choices as to which kind of charity to engage in.

I’m trying to figure out the most important factors to consider when deciding what kind of charity to engage in (either money or time). There seem to be two values on which to judge charitable work–the need it satisfies, and the fulfillment it gives the person.

Which is more important? For example, I’m facing two volunteering opportunities. One satisfies are terrific need, but it objectively depressing and difficult. Everyone who does it agrees, take my word for it.

The other opportunity involves satisfying a smaller need–definitely helping people, but not people desperately in need, as the first. It, however, is enjoyable and highly fulfilling.

Assuming there are no ways to mix/match, etc., just trying to discuss this on more theoretical terms–how does one evaluate whether the need or the fulfillment is more important? I think there is an argument that we should solely base our work on the utility it creates, meaning the need it satisfies. On the other hand, we aren’t solely here to make a difference, but also to strengthen our relationship with God. Thoughts?

Works of mercy are based on the love of neighbor, and on the needs of our neighbor, not at all on how it makes you feel.

[Matthew]
{25:34} Then the King shall say to those who will be on his right: ‘Come, you blessed of my Father. Possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
{25:35} For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in;
{25:36} naked, and you covered me; sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me.’

It would help if you described the volunteering opportunities.

Are you asking if you should go to Haiti to help rebuild or something like that?

There is no moral obligation to volunteer, at least insofar as it’s not a mortal sin not to volunteer. Any volunteering you do is a good thing, and it wouldn’t be immoral to choose an easier and more enjoyable option over the difficult and depressing one even if you’d be addressing a greater need.

I don’t think it’s either.

I think it’s what you are being *called *to at that time in your life, what you are capable of doing emotionally and spiritually, and the amount of time you have to devote. That changes through our lives.

When I did sidewalk counseling at Planned Parenthood it was extremely emotionally and spiritually challenging. I would have rather been just about anywhere other than there every Saturday. I would go home drained. I had people praying for me, which helped.

When I did a food delivery ministry for homebound AIDS patients, I did not find it difficult, and I did find it very rewarding. The people were in need and always so thankful for the help.

You know, these opporunities come in and out of our lives, and sometimes it will be obvious which to choose and sometimes it won’t. So you pray about it, and make your decision. There isn’t any wrong decision.

And if you pick the difficult one, and find yourself unable to do that very long, then you simply switch to doing something else.

I am presupposing that you have a very generous heart and have love as your sole motive for the charity work. Now in choosing which vehicle then I believe you have to see which one is closest to your capacity to more effective and which is in line with you resources and talent. In such a way you would be adding more “quality” in your charity than merely “quantity”. In the end it’s the quality that matters.

I think it’s what you are being *called *to at that time in your life, what you are capable of doing emotionally and spiritually, and the amount of time you have to devote. That changes through our lives.

Good comment. God always provides for His Works. If I find that a certain charitable work is too draining emotionally and spiritually, then I am not called to that particular work.

There isn’t any wrong decision.

Another good comment.

And if you pick the difficult one, and find yourself unable to do that very long, then you simply switch to doing something else./

If humility is the foundation of all virtue, then common sense is the guide. “See that the bounds of common sense are not exceeded, however, for common sense is the guide of the virtues.” St Albert - Ancient Rule of Carmel - carmelnet.org/chas/rule.htm

TS

volunteer work can be very fulfilling but that is not the primary reason for choosing it. Ideally we should be looking for the face of Christ in those we serve. That does not mean it is necessary to choose the work that meets a greater need than another job, because the need for the individual who receives the help may be great to him. That would be saying those with comparatively lesser needs, like clothing, should not be helped until all those with greater needs, like emergency food or health treatment, have been served. There is also the question of putting to best use your own talents, skills and abilities, and simply what opportunities are available.

I can’t help people with medical needs as I have no skill in that area, but I can help best in catechesis or related areas. I can’t cook food at a hunger center because I can barely boil an egg, but I can wash the dishes, peel potatoes, sweep the floor, and that still helps feed people.

there is also the vocational aspect. Is God calling you to do the more difficult, less fulfilling job?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.