Between medical expenses, car payments and rent, it can be hard to find room in your budget to give, no matter how much you want to contribute to a good cause. With the following tips, you can still help those in need even while on a tight budget yourself.
Pick a Cause You Care About
Before you decide to budget for charitable giving, you should pick a cause you feel truly passionate about.
Tyler Dolan, a financial planner for the Society of Grownups, says if you’re making a sacrifice, it’s critical that you believe in the cause.
“Contributing to a cause that resonates with your values is better than donating to everything that comes across your email or Facebook feed, because it will mean more to you,” he told The Huffington Post.
If you pledge to give to a charity you find important, you’ll be more likely to stick to your commitment and feel good about it.
Set Up a Labeled Savings Account
Budgeting for charitable giving can be exactly like putting money aside in your savings account — though putting money aside for yourself should come first.
Priya Malani, founder of Stash Wealth, a company that helps young people manage their money, says she sets up labeled savings accounts for her clients who wish to start giving.
“People say, ‘Should I or shouldn’t I donate?’ But if the money’s already there, you’re going to do it,” she explains. The key is to name the account appropriately, like “Donations.” This will discourage you from drawing funds from the account for other purposes.
It’s better to give a little than to give nothing. Charities will be grateful to accept a $10 monthly donation even if you wish you could afford to give more.
Setting up automated monthly payments also has the benefit of giving the charity predictable support while helping you better assess your own budget. If you can afford to give no more than 10 percent of your income, then give 10 percent and let that amount grow naturally as your income also grows over time.
Furthermore, donating has a positive impact regardless of the dollar amount you contribute.
“We see value not just in the donation itself, but also the relationships that we build with our donors over time,” says Paul Olson, a spokesman for The Task Force for Global Health. “They often become our best advocates and help raise awareness about the importance of the work that we’re doing.”
Donate Used Items
One way to give without drawing from your income is to donate used items. Take a look around your home and see what you can do without.
Sometimes, simply cleaning your attic or closet can reveal a number of items that you forgot existed, no longer use and could give to someone in need. You can donate toys, clothing, household appliances, furniture, and more at the Salvation Army and Goodwill, but your options aren’t limited to just those places.
“Women’s shelters always need donations of clothing and personal hygiene items,” Rebecca Lake writes in a September 2012 article for Money Crashers. “Books and magazines can be donated to your local library or neighborhood school.”
Volunteer Your Time
One of the most important ways to give that costs no money is volunteering your time.
“Many organizations need a constant and steady supply of volunteers to fulfill their mission,” Camilo Maldonado writes in a July 2018 article for Forbes.
Opportunities to volunteer locally are everywhere and include schools, hospitals, food pantries, senior centers and libraries. Dedicated websites like VolunteerMatch and Catchafire can help you find places to volunteer in your area or virtually.
Even with modest means, it’s still possible to give to charity without compromising your own life and savings account. Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of priority. Can you cut a coffee or two from your monthly expenses? If so, you may find putting that money toward charity instead can quickly become a natural, rewarding habit.
Get Help Managing Your Wealth
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This blog was updated on Dec. 17, 2021.
Published by Minster Bank
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