A good exercise for the heart is to bend down and help another up. -Anonymous
My wife and I have been able to give a substantial amount of money away during the past ten years. We did not set this as a target or have any type of long-range plan. We got involved in our church and community, and met needs as they arose.
When you give money away, you prove that money does not control you. There are smart and foolish ways to give away money. I encourage radical, rational generosity. Here are a few thoughts, many learned from my mistakes:
- Budget your giving. When you budget your giving, you ensure that you are not giving "leftovers" (which often means zero) and you are also not being too extravagant and thus creating future regrets.
- Don’t give emotionally. My worst giving decisions have been when I heard or read an emotional appeal and then gave money, only to find out later that the organization was not efficient or spent most of its income on fundraising rather than helping others. Research an organization by going to a website such as www.charitynavigator.com.
- Demand the highest level of financial accountability. Idealistic, visionary leaders start many non-profit organizations. These leaders provide compelling visions for their organizations, but often money can be wasted through a lack of fiscal discipline. Ensure that your donations only go to non-profits that have strong financial accountability.
- Invest in your passion and organizations you know well. Look for an organization that serves your passion and volunteer there. Check out the financials to ensure money is used efficiently. Then, you can invest your time, talent and money with passion, knowing you are filling a need that satisfies you internally and others externally.
- Talk to your spouse. If you are married or have a significant other, you should discuss your giving with your spouse. Hopefully, you can find a cause that you are both passionate about, and contribute time and money together.
- Be careful of multi-year pledges. If you meet with professional fundraisers, you will often find you are asked to pledge a certain amount for multiple years. The problem with this is that your situation or the receiving organization can change during those years. Instead of a multi-year pledge, give annually in an amount dictated by your situation and view of the organization.
- Specify special gifts. If you are supporting a non-profit, you should consider giving an ongoing amount to help pay for its operating costs, and then special contributions to support one-time spending. When you give a special contribution, it is best to designate how you want the money spent.
• Plan your giving as part of your budget.
• Give to causes you are passionate about.
• Do your homework to make sure your donations are not wasted.
• Agree with your spouse about where to give.
• Don't make multi-year pledges.
• Designate your giving.
Your money put to good use for a cause you believe in!
Excerpted from Chapter 3, Rich Rewards, of The Surpassing Life: 52 Practical Ways to Achieve Personal Excellence, thesurpassinglife.com.