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Giving Back

Giving in Times of Disaster

As many of you have probably seen, the Philippines has been hit by Typhoon Haiyan and it has left a trail of destruction and calamity as the country is scrambling to get aid to its citizens.  My husband and I have been discussing it, simply astounded by the numbers given in the news, especially with the amount of people estimated to have died. During sad times like these we look at our monthly budget so we can set aside something to give to one or more of our favorite charities.

I know we’re not the only ones who are eager to help so I wanted to provide information for Couple Money readers looking to offer financial assistance and some tips on avoiding scams.

Avoiding Charity Scams

What really boils my blood is how many scam artists come out to take advantage of the outpouring of generosity. However there are things you and I can do to make sure that the money given gets to the intended destination.

  • Do not donate online unless it is the organization’s official site. Social media has made it easier to spread information, but it has also helped spread misinformation and bad links. Go ahead and go to the official sites (I’ve listed a few below) and donate directly from there.
  • Ask how much  of your donation goes directly to the cause. This is not a rude question – many charities are happy to share information on their organizations. You can also use Charity Navigator to find out how the organization handles their finances.
  • Get a receipt with the name of the charity on it. Please don’t give cash to a charity, if you’ve been scammed, it’ll be almost impossible to track. Have a receipt to help you during tax time as well.
  • If you do fall victim to a scam artist, contact the Federal Trade Commission. Call the agency toll-free at (877) FTC-HELP to report it. It could help protect others from getting scammed as well.

If you have any other tips, please leave them in the comment box below.

Where You Can Donate to Help During Disasters

This is not an exhaustive list, but the organizations below have a long history of helping those who have been hit by a natural disasters. Please check with their site to get updates on what they are doing with each disaster, as some organizations have a criteria to assess the situation before intervening.

  • OxFam – The organization’s main goals include fighting injustice and poverty around the world. They also respond to disasters as they happen globally.
  • Doctors Without Borders – Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists.
  • Red Cross – This is probably the most familiar to Couple Money readers. Red Cross is an international organization tries to tackle several goals, including disaster relief.
  • The International Rescue Committee – IRC seeks to help people rebuild after a devastating crisis.

I hope this information helps you and your family get your charitable donation to the right place. Please pass this information on to those who want to give, but don’t know where to go.

Photo Credit: HowardLake

Making 2013 a Year of Giving

I think most people are generous in nature and want to help others. Around this time of year, many are looking to give more to the causes dear to their heart. Perhaps they have a goal of giving more next year than they were able to this year.

However with finances squeezed for some families, how can couples and the rest of the family give more in 2013? I have a few ideas to get you started.

Finding a Charity That Fits You and Your Family

As a couple, finding a cause to financially support without breaking your budget is not only doable, but something that can draw the two of you together.

You can use free services like Mint to help you review your actual spending habits this year and come up with a doable number. It’s easy to use; it took us about 20 minutes to set up our accounts and we were good for the rest of the year.
Some wonderful organizations that could use your support include:

  • Camp Sunshine: Camp Sunshine offers children with life threatening illnesses and their families a retreat from the strain and toll that these diseases can cause. Services given at the camp include medical, counseling, accommodation  and meals. The camp also offers families recreational activities.
  • Feeding America: With a network of over 200 food banks around the country, this hunger-relief charity maximizes your donations. For every dollar you give, it will go towards getting $8 worth of food to someone in need.

If a big donation is out of your budget right now, perhaps you can go ahead and sign up for a smaller monthly subscription instead.

Including Kids in the Giving

Not to be overlooked when giving is helping your kids to appreciate that they can also help out. For some parents, they’ve found including giving as a part of the family budget has encouraged their children to include giving in theirs.

For children to know how to set aside a little something each month, it helps for parents to include them in the family budget meetings, perhaps reviewing what they gave the previous month.

You can then ask your kids if they want to give. Having a list of a few organizations and what they do in the community can help start the conversations. You may be surprised at how quickly your children can come up with ideas.

One online project that may get your kids excited about supporting is DonorsChoose. It allows you to choose which classroom projects you’d like to fund and support. For some families they may want to help other children with literacy programs or others would like to lend a hand for the arts. It’s by the classroom so it feels a bit more personal.

We’ve funded some projects ourselves and we’ve been so touched at the thank you cards and updates received from the kids themselves.

You can sit down as a family each month and decide which projects(s) to give towards. Perhaps each of your kids can list their favorites and you divide the money among them.

Thoughts on Giving More

I’d love to hear from you about your plans to give more in 2013. What are some causes that are dear to your heart? How will you support them next year?

Join Betterment’s Giving Better Series!

Love Drop Diomi and Nallee (Our Last Drop!)

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Help give a Love Dropthis season!

This month the team’s coming together for Diomi and her son Nallee, who are going into the cold Milwaukee winter with very little food, clothes, and other necessities. Diomi has been through so much, including the loss of her father, the loss of her job, and clinical depression. But even through the pain you can see all the love she has for Nallee, who has one of the most beautiful personalities you’ll find. :)

We want to make this month special for them! We’re working with their pastor to help get things they really need, including school uniforms for Nallee, interview clothes for Diomi as she looks for a job, and food to help them through the winter months.

If you can find it in your hearts to give one extra gift this year, whether it be money or a helpful item they can use, please send it in – our goal is to reach $3,000 worth of necessities.

Help Diomi & Nallee!

Want to join us in helping Diomi and Nallee? Here are 3 ways:

  1. Give $1.00This money will be put towards basic necessities and care.  Maybe even a Christmas present or two (They’re currently spending it alone, w/out anything at all).
  2. Give a gift card – Gift cards are extremely helpful, especially to places that are national.
  3. Donate personal products - These two need anything you can thing of in the personal product department: bathroom/kitchen/bedroom stuff, etc.

Thanks guys! You can reach the Love Drop team anytime over at: team (at) love drop (dot) us, or by checking them out at LoveDrop.us. Thanks everyone! We’ll let you know how it goes!

Love Drop October 2011 – The Triplets

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This month the Love Drop is helping a family make the transition from 6 members to 9 members. Please help and/or share their story with others.

Hey guys!  The Love Drop team is at it again! They just came back from the Boston area where they dropped $5,000 worth of appliances and gifts to a woman who recently got hit by a car and is recovering in a wheelchair, and THIS month they’re trying to round up the love for precious newborn triplets!

We want to help Jeff and Becca (the parents) prepare to bring them home from the hospital, as all three were born very underweight and are currently in the Neonatal ICU (they’re doing great though! And will be coming home soon). With four children already, adding a surprise batch of triplets is going to put considerable financial strain on the family, and that’s where we come in!

Let’s help give them everything they need to welcome the triplets home, including diapers, food, furniture, gift cards – any cool baby stuff you can think of. We’re shooting for at least $3,000 in cash, plus gifts.

Want to help? Here are three ways you can participate:

  1. Give $1.00 -This money will help go to their family, and every dollar counts!
  2. Give a gift card – Gift cards are extremely helpful. Places like Target, Wal-mart, restaurants, etc would be incredible. out.
  3. Donate baby stuff! – Specifically diapers, formula and clothes. Gift cards here are awesome too.  (Or maybe you have contacts in the baby world?)

You can reach the Love Drop team here anytime with questions: team (at) love drop (dot) us., or by checking them out at LoveDrop.us. Thanks everyone! We’ll let you know how it goes!

 

Love Drop in July: Felicity

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Every month, I receive information from the Love Drop Network about a family in need of some support. They’re deserving families who could use a break. Here’s the Love Drop family for July:

This month we’re coming together to help out the Withrow family – Jon and Amanda and their two children. Their four-year-old daughter Felicity was diagnosed with brain cancer just a few months ago.

Felicity had immediate surgery and is currently undergoing aggressive radiation treatments for the remaining portion of the tumor, which has left the family with a huge amount of medical bills. Let’s raise at least $5,000 to help them with the cost of radiation therapy, especially with upcoming expenses from a new baby on the way!

Where Your Money Goes

For the entire month of July, we’ll be giving money, gifts and services to the Withrow family to help in three main areas: (1) medical expenses for Felicity’s treatment, (2) clothes and supplies for the new baby, and (3) prayers for the other kids at the hospital. Along the way we hope that people will also help out by coming up with cool things to give that will help them spend time and have fun as a family, as we’ve done for our other families. And by the way, if anyone could swing it (or part of it), their *dream* gift would be a new bedroom suite with a king-size bed. Just throwing it out there . . . you never know what you’re gonna get. :)

heartWhy We’re Helping This Family

In just the past few months, the Withrow family has gone from perfectly “normal” to experiencing the unthinkable – first when Felicity was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and then shortly after, when her 24-year-old uncle Chad, the life and spirit of her family, passed away from heatstroke while working outside. In addition, Amanda is pregnant with their third child, which is due sometime during Felicity’s treatments.

The emotional weight of these three situations is incredible, and the financial stresses are huge, but through it all the Withrow’s continue to care for others. In fact, when Amanda gets back from the hospital each day, she tells others about all the kids they met there, and asks for prayers and love for them as well. If you’ve ever had a child in the hospital, you know how valuable a loving community can be. This month, let’s become that community for them.

How You Can Get Involved

If you want to get involved and help the Withrow family and others, please sign up for membership to donate $1,$5, or even $20/month. When your donation is combined with other contributions, some wonderful results happen. You can also make a one time contribution.

Love Drop is a great project and I can’t wait to see what the team is up to next!