How much do you give?

I was sitting in the park at the weekend when a charity collector asked an unsuspecting woman for a donation.

She may as well have asked for a kidney and the arranged marriage of one of her daughters.

“I’ve only got a $50 note,” the woman answered, which is an odd way to shirk a donation, pleading unbreakable wealth and all. The charity collector countered swiftly. “That’s fine, we have change.”

Awkward pause. “I’d rather not.”

Charity is a quirky thing. Some of us give merrily and without discretion, others with a cynical eye. Some of us don’t give at all. Even the ones who can most afford to.

“Only six in 10 of the wealthiest Australians give money to charity and philanthropic causes, according to a 2008 report by researchers at the Australian Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies at the Queensland University of Technology.

”Given the propensity of this group to benefit from professional tax advisers and utilise the tax system, some 40 per cent are likely to be engaged in minimal – if any – giving,” the report said.

There are those who give generously, as Fairfax noted when it spoke to Simon Mordant, a multi-millionaire Sydney financier.

”I hope my last cheque bounces. I want to die with nothing.”

That’s the aim of the game for people like the mega-rich Bill and Melinda Gates (who have so far given away some $28 billion of a $61 billion fortune) and billionaire Warren Buffet who has joined the Gates’ in doling out massive cheques for global health programs.

But Aussies? Well, our wealthy are ‘morally bankrupt’ according to a former Microsoft executive. The rest of us aren’t too bad, but are we generous enough?

So, wealthy or not, what’s your take on giving? How do you do it, how often, is there anything that charities do that make you keep your change?

Have you checked out Mamamia Cares? A huge range of touching stories from Mamamia readers sharing their favourite charities and causes. Have a look.