Tips for Charitable Giving on Purpose

Although charitable giving is always in season, the holidays and the end of the tax year bring donations to the forefront.  If you doubt me on this, check your mail.  Mine is full of solicitations from many worthy causes.  A part of me wants to donate to everything.  But at the end of the day, unless you’re Bill Gates, you and I have to prioritize what we give.

So how to decide?   Here’s a process I use that may be helpful to you:

  • What’s your budget?
    • How much will you give?  This is a decision impacted by your income and your situation. Additionally, the tax benefits of charitable donations may be one of the determining factors to consider.  You may want to talk to your accountant or do more research to get facts about tax deduction rules for charitable contributions.
  • What kind of allocation do you prefer?
    • Will you go deep for one major cause, or spread the wealth to support several organizations?
  • What really matters to you?
    • What causes or issues affect you most deeply? In my case, I’m drawn to the causes that make me mad (e.g., I can’t stand that such injustice persists) and those that bring me to tears – (identifying with the pain of those who suffer).  Additionally, I make some “pay-it-forward” gifts of gratitude, for example, to my alma mater (that enabled me to prosper in the world), and to the hospital that took care of my infant son when he was ill.  I also like to support friend’s charities throughout the year, especially those that involve running, biking or walking unbelievably long distances.  Those events are especially win-win for a wellness maven like me, as I like to encourage my friends to get out and exercise. So, I earmark some dollars in my giving budget at the beginning of every year to handle those opportunities.

In short, there are any number of criteria you can use, so choose what works best for you.

  • Which organizations make a difference most effectively?
    • I research organizations to which I give.  Even if I like what they do, I want to know that they leveraging their resources effectively so that the people in need get the most help. Are they responsible, accountable? I usually start with the organization’s website.  Another terrific, free resource for evaluating and identifying nonprofit organizations is Guidestar.org.  They list tons of information (including financials) about nonprofits all over the country and it’s easy to use.

They also offer a handy dandy tip sheet if you want another resource for this “Giving Season”.   Download it here GIVING SEASON TIP SHEET – or get it directly from Guidestar.org.

Whatever you decide to do, best wishes for a wonderful season, and thanks for giving!

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Date: Thursday, 10. November 2011 14:08
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