It’s end of the year and the charities are out in force with their hands outstretched. Do you succumb to every request? Or do you give nothing out of overwhelm? Having a strategy will help make this process more satisfying and deserving charities will appreciate you.
Who to give to?
- You can sort charities by their mission to focus on the ones that have the most meaning to you or your family. Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving Alliance are two organizations that research charities based on their financial health and accountability. A good benchmark for a worthwhile charity is having at least 75% of their income spent on the the non-profit’s mission. One of our clients recommends Charity Navigator because they provide a rating for each of the 1,600 charities they research and you can do all your donation tracking and giving through them.
- Ask your friends who they give to. It can be a very enlightening conversation.
- Keep a running list of your favorite charities and donations given. This helps at tax time but the bigger purpose is to avoid confusion about what you’ve given and to whom.“Did I give to ‘Children’s Alliance’ or ‘Children’s Allies’?” A spreadsheet or chart can help you track how much you give year-to-year.
How often to give?
Taking control of how often you give helps avoid feeling pressured every time you get a solicitation in the mail.
- Rotate donations into monthly bills
- Recurring automatic donation payments have the convenience of knowing you’re supporting your cause without having to remember to do it. Guaranteed monthly donations also help with an organization’s cash flow.
- Setting aside a time to donate once a quarter or once a year helps you keep perspective.
- If you are concerned about tax or estate planning considerations, work with a wealth manager, estate-planning lawyer or certified financial planner on your giving strategy.
Do you give a donation and later find yourself inundated with multiple requests from other charities?
Charities have varying privacy policies. According to Charity Navigator, the more small donations you give, the more likely your name will be sold to other organizations. Charities are more likely to protect the privacy of their larger donors. The reason is; small donations barely cover the cost of processing them. They can make more money by selling your name. Once you establish your list of favorite charities, just recycle any solicitations that aren’t on your list.
What to do with all the solicitations that flood the mail?
This depends on how complete your list of charities is. If you feel the need to hang onto solicitations to consider “later” create one box or folder to catch them and sift through them regularly to eliminate duplicates.
Does this make giving any easier? If so, then go out there and share the wealth.