Living in a large city, I’m sometimes approached by people asking for money. I politely refuse, since I can’t be sure they’ll spend it on something helpful. For all I know they could use it to buy alcohol or other drugs. Still, I feel guilty about not helping these people. Recently I adopted a policy that lets me provide some degree of aid.

Now when approached, I still politely refuse, but I keep track of how many times this happens. When the tally gets big enough, I make a donation to my local chapter of the American Red Cross. The donation amount is one dollar for every time I was asked. Then I reset my tally and repeat.

It’s not perfect. I use my phone to keep the tally, but I can’t pull it out while I’m driving or on a motorcycle. I’ve probably forgotten some occasions. The Red Cross is oriented more toward disaster aid, so I might donate to OXFAM next time. Anyway my implementation details are suboptimal, but it’s an improvement over doing nothing.

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