We continue our series on philanthropy, looking at ways to organize your contributions.
As we noted last week, an important first step is deciding how much you want to contribute and setting that money aside regularly. then, when you want to give, the money is there.
Some workplaces allow you to designate charities to receive contributions directly from your salary. The amount you choose is taken from your salary each pay period and delivered to the charity directly. This is a very handy method provided that your workplace offers it, charities you care about are included, and the processing fees are minimal so that the charity gets most of the money. This method is very helpful if you have trouble setting aside the money each month. If you never see it, you can’t spend it!
You can also set up regular deductions from your bank account. Many charities will allow you to set up monthly or quarterly payments. Once it’s set up, you don’t have to do anything. The deduction happens automatically until you stop it. This is great option for organizations you want to support on a regular basis. Just remember to deduct the payments from your account register to avoid an accidental overdraft.
While I have a series of regular donations established, these donations don’t represent all of my philanthropy in a given year. I like to leave some money available for other worthy causes. Of course, I make some spur of the moment donations – when a friend asks for a sponsorship or I make a memorial contribution for someone. But I really enjoy seeing myself as a grant-making institution. When I get requests for donations, I immediately toss any requests that I know I won’t consider. Any that I think I might consider go onto a pile or into an email folder.
I generally pick one evening, once or twice a year, to look through all the requests I have received. Then, knowing how much I want to donate (based on the money set aside), I issue grants (ok, actually, checks or online donations) to worthy causes. There are lots of ways you can distribute your largesse. You can make small donations to many charities or a larger donation to a single charity. You can focus your donations in a single area, such as education, the environment, poverty, animals, religion, veterans, whatever matters to you. You can also choose a few areas and donate to one charity in each group. Everyone in the family should get a say. Older kids may want to research organizations and present their reasons for specific donations. They can even add their own contributions!
Getting everyone involved will teach stewardship by example and help to form the next generation of philanthropists!