Donating time, money, and goods are all great ways to engage with and support those in need. But how much should you be giving away? This is a highly personal decision that everyone must make for themselves. Here, we provide guidance to help you find the appropriate balance for your life and circumstance.
“Secure Your Own Oxygen Mask Before Assisting Others”
Do not give away what you cannot afford to be without. Prioritize paying your own expenses and building up an emergency fund against unexpected expenses in the future. Once that is done, you can decide how much of what remains in your budget you can donate.
Create a Budget and a Calendar
Consider your annual income and expenses and decide what you are comfortable setting aside for charitable giving. Remember, giving to a 501(c)(3) organization is tax-deductible. Determine when you’ll make your gifts to the organizations you choose to support. Will it be mid-year when you receive your annual bonus? Will you set up a recurring monthly contribution? This arranged frequency is preferred by charities as it allows them to have a more informed idea of how much money they will have available to budget for the projects ahead.
Similarly, decide how much time in a year can you afford to spend volunteering. Can you book a weekly slot at a food bank? Commit to donating blood every two months? This decision will be as personal as your calendar and lifestyle.
Then, take a few moments to think about your passions, values, and beliefs. What do you love? What frustrates you? If you could be remembered for changing the world in one way, what would it be?
Once you’ve identified what you’re passionate about, you can find an organization that aligns with your values and goals. Use Charity Navigator’s search tool help you find your perfect match.
Never feel like your gift is too small to make a difference. While major gifts are an important revenue source for most nonprofits, individual donations are also necessary. A diverse support base makes charities more sustainable.
We recommend limiting the number of charities you support. Rather than supporting 10 organizations with $10, consider supporting 2 organizations with $50. This is more beneficial to the charities and increases your investment in their work.
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