How To Give More to Charity

To be honest it is sometimes difficult for me to give large sums of money to charities. I give on a regular basis to a couple charities and the church my fiancee and I have been attending, but it still pains me a little bit to actually donate what to me is a lot of money.

I mean lets face it - I try to live very frugal and the amount of money I give when I write a check every couple months is more than I spend on myself (above food & shelter) for most of the year. To see such a large payment is sometimes hard for me to swallow. Perhaps this is why I haven't been able to give as much I want to.

However, I just discovered that my favorite charity JDRF, now has an option to setup automatic monthly donations on their web site. Not revolutionary, but I realize if I donate in smaller amounts at a higher frequency it is much easier for me not to hesitate. A monthly donation of $75 or so just slips into the noise of the other bills/utils I have to pay. Now I can donate more and eliminate the very slight hesitation on my part each time I go to make a donation.

I think its a great way to give more to worthwhile causes.

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Comments (10)

I absolutely agree. One of the biggest shocks when I first became interested in personal finance and actually tracked my spending for a real amount of time was just how little I gave to charity compared to the percentage of my income I wanted to be giving.

I found two things that helped me a lot: First, I did what you mention - signing up for a monthly deduction for a charity I know and trust. Second, I started an ING account that I have promised myself will ONLY be used for charitable giving. Having calculated the fraction of my income I want to give, I subtract out what's already given automatically, and I have an automatic transfer to send the rest of the desired amount to the ING account. Then, when I find someplace I want to give to or enough accrues in the account, I give it away without worrying as much about how much it is - because I know I've already committed myself to giving that much away, and I've already stopped thinking of what's been transfered to this account as "my" money.

I've been doing this for almost a year now, and I have to admit it: I'm very proud of how much better alignment my values and spending habits are now.

Thanks for taking on this topic!

Props to you for donating, but I don't subscribe to your theory on charitable contributions. I don't think it is prudent to be very frugal when it comes to you and your family but at the same time give money to strangers. I will donate when I can assure that my family and I are able to say that we have enough not to worry about our financial future. Yes, some may say that will never happen and it is never enough, but that is not true. I know myself and I know exactly where I want to be financially. I will worry about my family first until then. This is not to put down anything that you are doing, but just a different view on things.

r, thanks for the comment. I think the savings account is a good idea. I might try it at somepoint and not track that amount of money in my net worth calculations - that way it wouldn't significantly affect the progress to my finanical goals.

art, I have thought similarly to you but I have realized that its not wise to wait until everything falls in place. I am trying to give on a regular basis and grow those contributions as I get closer to my financial goals each year.

i agree with r. you arent wasting your money on unnecessary luxuries or impulse purchases. you are using it to fund your future. worry about yourself and then worry about others. when you are at the point you are happy with and feel like you have more than enough $, perhaps then it is time to start giving a little bit away towards good causes... im not a bad person by any means, but I can assure you that my money is only going towards things that benefit me or my family in some way whether directly or indirectly. if youre sending money towards cancer research and your brother has cancer, thats one thing IMO but if youre sending money to an african nation to feed infants when their government is purposely using money for arms and drug trade, thats another. just spend wisely....

I think it's pretty cool that you mention charities. I think that they get pushed out too quickly when it comes time for saving.

I wanted to add, that a lot of churches are also starting a monthly auto-deposit system. My current church has auto-deposit, which makes it very nice not to have to remember to bring a checkbook every Sunday. It also makes it easy to budged, knowing that payments will be withdrawn on "x day".

Bill Gates and W Buffett are pretty smart.

WB thought that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had enough administrative infratructure to weigh & assess the relative importance of global problems, have efficient operations, and deploy massive amounts of capital toward these problems with a well thought out plan of attack. He's so sure that he pledged over $30 billion to the foundation.

Why not use billpay to send a $5 donation per month to the foundation for yourself and your spouse, and set up $1 or even $0.25/month from your child's savings account as well.

This way your $5/month can make a huge difference.

Other issues that touch closer to home can be added on top of this.

I think it's important when you have a plan in your life in place (which it sounds like you do) to make charity part of it. It's always easy to say, "next year when I'm better off." I know I still don't give enough but because I think more about where I give I find myself discovering more places that I really want to contribute to. Slowly I'm starting to give more, and my personal goals have not suffered.

Have enjoyed your blog for several months & am a fellow big blue employee. You should look at the ECCC program at IBM - monthly deductions & for some/most charities there is an employee match program
Good luck with your assignment

I agree with this post. We believe in giving 10% of our gross income to church/charity, but it becomes difficult when that is even more than our mortgage, our largest expense. We have found that the benefits of doing this make it worth it, although it seems strage looking at our spending chart and having charity be the largest piece of the pie.

I echo the bill pay suggestion. Last year, I opened a checking account in order to receive the sign up bonus. The account was free, assuming I used the automatic bill pay service to take care of two bills each month. I deposited a sum of money, set up small automatic monthly contributions to go to a couple of charities I favor, marked my calendar for six months in the future, and didn't give it another thought until it was time to close the account.

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