When people think of charitable giving, everyone naturally thinks about the holidays. People are in a generous mood and lots of opportunities exist for giving. Bell ringers are at the entrance of every store with “angel trees” set up just inside, giving you the opportunity to buy things for kids in need.
That said, giving to charity at any time of the year is important, but it can get expensive very quickly. If you are neck-deep in debt, it can be difficult to set aside money for giving to charity, potentially derailing your debt pay down progress. Here a few tips to consider when charities come knocking on your door during any season.
Budget for Giving
One way to keep your charitable giving at a reasonable amount is to budget for it. Add a line item to your budget for each month and stick to it!
Giving money in cash is a great way to make sure you don’t go over budget when those cute neighborhood kids show up asking for help with a fundraiser. Once the cash you designated for charity is gone, it’s gone.
Pick and Choose
If you only have a limited amount of money to give to charity, you might have to be more selective about which causes to support. Try to choose one or two major charities or organizations with missions you believe in and focus on giving to them.
You could also choose to donate to causes that are locally driven or will have a large impact on your own community. Try supporting a local family with large medical bills or paying a gas bill to keep the furnace on for a family in your area. These types of donations are great because you’ll be able to see their direct impact.
Break it Up
If you just can’t narrow down your charity choices, try breaking up the money you set aside for charity and give smaller amounts to all the causes of your choice. Just be aware that smaller donations are not able to go as far as larger ones.
Donate Your Time or Stuff
Sometimes budgets are so tight that you simply can’t afford to donate any money. If that’s the case, consider other ways to make contributions to local charities and causes in your area. Instead of handing over some cash, perhaps you could donate some of your time. Charity shops and soup kitchens are always looking for volunteers to help with organization or serving. During the holiday season in particular, the Salvation Army has openings for volunteer bell ringers throughout most of the United States.
If your time and your money are both scare, perhaps you can donate some of your stuff instead. Let’s face it, most people in the U.S. have too much crap, much more than what we actually need. If you want to make a difference without giving away your time or money, go through your home and find things that you no longer need. Maybe it’s a coat that’s too small or no longer “in style.” Donate it to a coat drive. Clean out your pantry and donate a few unexpired cans of soup or vegetables to the local food bank.
Giving to other people is a winning situation for everybody involved. People can get the help they need, and you get to feel good about your gift. Even if money is tight, there are plenty of opportunities to give to charities of your choice; some of them won’t even have an effect on your pocketbook!