'Tis the season for giving. I'm sure your mailbox is brimming with catalogs and donation requests. In addition to Black Friday and Cyber Monday we now have Giving Tuesday. Americans have been known for their generosity thus creating the opportunity for fraud.
Here are a few tips to help you give wisely:
- Have a "giving strategy" the same way you have a spending plan and a saving plan. Calculate how much you'd like to spend in charitable giving annually and stick to that number. This way you won't be tempted by every appealing pitch that comes your way.
- Give intentionally - Know what causes are dear to your heart - the poor, the homeless, ill children, abandoned pets, the rain forest, human rights, etc. Give with your heart to support what rings true.
My favorite is Habitat for Humanity, "give a hand not a handout", requiring sweat equity and offering an interest free mortgage.
- Vet the charity - Go online to see how much money actually goes to the stated mission and how much is spent on fund raising and administration.
Use online sites like Give.org, Charitynavigator.org or Charitywatch.org to;
1. confirm their 503(c) status,
2. review executive compensation, and
3. obtain financial records
This information will determine if those charities are worthy of your hard earned dollars.
- Personal fulfillment - Realize how giving makes you feel and acknowledge your ability to make a difference. Don't give out of obligation.
Years ago I had a very wealthy client who lived off her family trust. She diligently gave 10% annually to several charities "because that was what was expected". She had no idea what these charities supported!
I encouraged her to reevaluate her giving. She was an aspiring artist and chose to create a scholarship at a local art school. She gained tremendous satisfaction in supporting a struggling art student.
Be $ Smart - use your head to give with your heart.