One of the most useful parts of A Path Appears is its broad look at philanthropy, dividing it into three categories. This week, we’ll look at the first category: giving money.
When most people think about philanthropy, this is what they think about – the occasional or regular donations to charitable causes. There are lots of ways to organize your donations. I think it’s always helpful to start with an annual target. You may not get there, but having a target gives you a goal and accountability. Your target can be a specific amount or a percentage of your income. I like to work with a percentage because it helps me to push toward my ultimate goal of a tithe, but your preference may be different. Your choice should take into account all of your financial obligations (education and medical costs, home maintenance, assisting family, etc.) and goals (retirement saving, college funds, etc.), but stretch to be more generous when possible. Extra meals out, more clothing purchases, and entertainment might take a backseat to giving.
I find that my giving works best if I divide it into two pots: regular and occasional. I have five donations that come out of my bank account each month. I make the decision once and things proceed from there. Those regular donations, to causes that are important to me, form the foundation of my philanthropy. The second pot of money gets me the rest of the way to my goal. The organizations that get that money may change from year to year as I try to meet emerging needs and explore new causes.
How do you decide how much you should give and where it should go?