Budgeting More Giving
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Our finances have stabilized over the last few months. We've focused on getting situated with the expenses of being homeowners.
We had a dinner discussion on including another category in our monthly budget – charity.
We're thinking it's time for us to consider the option of regularly support one or two worthy causes and organizations in our community and beyond.
Charities We Have Supported
There are definitely numerous causes to give to, but we have a few personal favorites you could say.
- DonorsChoose: This is a charity that I personally enjoy giving to. DonorsChoose lives up to its name; you choose which classroom projects you'd like to support. You can search by subject, location, or need. I really love how you can see the impact you're making in children's lives.
- Charity: Water: Chris Guillebeau introduced readers to the charity and he has committed himself to give 20% of his royalties from his new book.
- Camp Sunshine: I discovered this worthy cause when Steve at Nerd Fitness was raising money for the camp.
If you're looking for charities yourself, please consider supporting any of the above. I think they are wonderful causes and your donations make a big difference.
Spontaneous Giving vs Planned Giving
While we're open to spontaneous giving at needed times, such as disasters, I'm more cautious and I would feel more comfortable having specific charities to support.
One reason may hold off in giving money is that they are worried that their donation might not be used wisely.
There is an online resource that can help you see how charities spend money. Charity Navigator rates different charities based on evaluating how efficient an organization is and how effective they are with their money.
The site examines expenses such as administrative and fundraising.
I decided to see what their top 10 charities. They have several lists, so I went with the 10 charities earn high ratings, but aren't as well known as others.
- Princeton Area Community Foundation
- ETV Endowment of South Carolina
- Hispanic Association of Contractors & Enterprises
- Washington Women's Employment & Education
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- Furman University
- Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy
- Cary Christian Center
- Ohio Wesleyan University
I could include links to the charities directly, but I really want to encourage you to poke around Charity Navigator and learn more.
Your Thoughts on Giving Back and Budgeting
Do you include a charity in your monthly budget? Which specific charities do you enjoy supporting? Why?
I definitely think that it is better to include giving into your budget. This way you can do the necessary research and be sure that you are making a wise decision.
One problem I have with Charity Navigator and Guidestar is that they are automatically biased toward the larger organizations. A large part of their analysis is how much of your donation goes toward administrative costs. This ratio is usually larger for small organizations that don’t benefit from economies of scale.
They provide a wonderful starting point, but hopefully that won’t be the end of the research. Contacting the agency and requesting a meeting, call, or even the ability to review financial documentation is always a great “next step”.