‘Tis the season for giving, and many charities will be receiving lots of support and donations from people who are feeling generous during the holidays.
However, the number of charities out there can lead to information overload for many consumers. As much as we’d like to, it’s impossible for us to donate to everyone who asks for help. Instead of fretting about where to donate, consider how you choose which charities get your hard-earned dollars. Once you figure out a donation plan, stick to it.
Don’t worry about how it looks
First of all, you need to get beyond the worry you have of not appearing generous. You can’t donate to each charity out there. Worrying about looking as though you are or aren’t doing the right thing can take a good deed—helping others—and turn it into a reason for stress and anxiety.
Recognize that you are doing what you can to help out, and move on from the guilty feelings that you aren’t giving money to everyone that asks. Learn to say no so you can focus more of your charitable giving dollars on causes that are important to you.
Identify causes that resonate with you
Think about what causes really strike you as important. Then, look for charities that do their work in those areas. For example, I like donating to the local food bank because the thought of hungry children in my community really hits home. I also donate to an education fund that helps young adults in poor countries learn marketable skills. I think that education is very important, and I like the idea of helping others develop skills they can use to provide for themselves. These are things that can’t be taken away.
Vet charities for effectiveness
When giving to charities, you hope every dollar goes to the cause you are supporting. However, some charities may spend between 50 cents and 80 cents of every dollar given on overhead and administration. If high CEO salaries and other administrative costs are a concern for you, do some research before you give.
You can use sites like Give.org and CharityNavigator.org to look at the effectiveness of the charity. I like to find charities where at least 70 cents (preferably more) of each dollar donated actually goes to the work of helping others.
There is one charitable organization that I donate to on the national level, but most of my donations are local. I like donating locally because I can see my donation at work in the community. When you can see the effects directly, it encourages you to do what you can to give even more in the future.
This holiday season, you don’t have to give to every charity that asks. Instead, concentrate your giving, and think about who is getting your money. Commit to two or three charities, and show solid support. You’ll feel more satisfaction in your life, and you’ll also improve your finances.
Miranda Marquit is a freelance writer and professional blogger specializing in personal finance, family finance and business topics. She writes for several online and offline publications. Miranda is the co-author of Community 101: How to Grow an Online Community, and the writer behind PlantingMoneySeeds.com.