"I do have to switch some funds. The charity I like to work with is gonna take a hit."
It's one of the first things most people seem to mention when they talk about what they'd do if they won a major lottery. Pay off debt, buy a new car...and give. I believe (because I choose to believe) that most people would love to do more volunteer work and charitable giving because most of us really do want to use our blessings or gifts or luck or whatever you want to call it to benefit the greater good.
|Research charities at CharityNavigator.org|
In theory, I like to choose a charitable giving budget early in the year and decide where that money will go, but it doesn't always pan out that way. As important as I think giving is, if we need new tires on our car, that is our priority.
We've recently begun living on a cash budget, a strategy I believe has been advocated by Dave Ramsey, but since I've never read his books or heard him speak, I can't say that with any certainty. I'll discuss our cash budget in more depth in another post at some point, but basically for us it means that we pay our bills and then take out a set amount of cash to keep filed away for certain expenses. I'm bringing this up because in the fall, once we've sort of gotten it down pat and worked out the bugs, I plan to add a charitable giving allotment to that budget.
At this point, our giving is a bit more spontaneous. We support friends' charities with small donations if we're in a position to do so when the fundraising is actually happening, and I'm definitely trying to work in more volunteer hours for our family, but it's so sporadic. I'd really like giving to become as normal to my children as breathing and sleeping, but I have to adopt that mindset on my own first.
As far as the organizations to which I'm motivated to give, they tend to be either things that my trusted friends are passionate about or things which directly affect my family's quality of life. By that, I mean that we're more likely to give to our local NPR affiliate than perhaps a noble-but-distant medical research organization in Oregon. Or a local literacy* or children's wellness program as opposed to a fabulous-but-well-funded hospital. Or our local library. These are things that matter deeply to us, and because of that, we're more likely to commit to supporting them.
What are your thoughts on charitable giving, and how do you decide where and how to spend your money? Do you have a regular budget or is it more sporadic?
*I had mistyped the word "literacy" on my first pass. YES.