Or Just Till It Starts to Go Numb?
So, you've researched your charity and have picked a winner. Now you're ready to donate your hard earned cash or even harder-to-come-by time. How much do you give? Well there is a very simple answer to this question:
It depends on what you can afford. It depends on how strongly you believe in the cause. It might even depend on your religious views. It all just depends on so many factors that I can't give you a dollar amount or percentage. But I can tell you what others give.
What The Joneses Give
The average American gives 3.1% of their pre-tax income to charity. So let's say you make $100,000. Presumably, if you're average, you're donating $3,100 per year to charity. But remember, these are averages, greatly skewed by the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Right?
Well, kind of. But here's an interesting fact: The individuals who, as a whole, donate the largest percentage of their income? Know who they are? Those who make less than $10,000 per year. Those folks donate about 5.2% of their income. Feeling guilty yet? No?
Well let's bring religion into it then. After all, that always helped increase the guilt factor for my Catholic grandmother. Most churches believe you should give 10% of your money to charity. Of course, they have a vested interest in telling you that, but I leave that topic to someone else (yeah, even Burbanmom has some areas where she doesn't tread!). So if we're still talking an annual income of $100,000, that would be $10,000 of philanthropy.
So, after hearing those numbers... how are you feeling about yourself and your giving? Good? Below average? Right on target? Or still clueless?
So, let's say you want to raise the bar above the 3.1% average and "Go for Five" - a 5% annual contribution. But, your spouse is gonna freak out when you ask if it's ok to fork over five grand to save the polar bears. How can you accomplish your giving goal of 5%?
Simple. Do a combination of dollars, donated items and volunteer time to get there. Again, for ease of calculations, let's say your family makes $100,000 per year. There are a number of ways you can get to the $5,000 mark without hurting too much.
Declutter and Give Your Stuff to Charity - $1,000
You'd be surprised how quickly your junk adds up. Imagine if you took all your unwanted stuff and had a garage sale. Except, instead of haggling on pricing and not selling half your crap, you actually sold it all for top dollar. That's basically how donating works. They take almost all of it at Goodwill and if you diligently record all the items you donate, you'll see just how quickly those unwanted items add up!Donate Your Time - $2,000
According to Independent Sector, the estimated dollar value of your volunteer time is roughly $19.51 per hour. Not bad. Hell of a lot more than I make in my thankless job as stay-at-home-and-clean-up-puke-mom. Oh, sorry... rough week here. But imagine if you just gave two hours per week to your favorite charity. At the hourly rate of $19.51, you'd be donating the equivalent of $2,029.04 in a year.Cold Hard Cash - $2,000
That's $166 per month. Which might sound a bit scary if you're not used to giving. But try this instead: Donate $25 per week to your favorite charity. This can easily be accomplished through setting up a recurring transaction in your online banking account. Or you might even ask your employer if a payroll deduction could be made. Once you've got your auto-giving set up, you'll be kicking in $1,300 per year with really no effort.
Then, to supplement your weekly donations, change the way you gift-give to adults. Anytime you have a gifting occasion (wedding; baby shower; birthday; anniversary; Christmas; Mother's Day; Father's Day; etc.) instead of giving a "thing", make a $50 donation in the recipient's name to their favorite charity. Assuming you have 16 adult gift-giving occasions per year, you're all set. Bonus? No wrapping required.
Another Heading... Because I Seem To Be Doing That TodaySo as you can see, determining how much to give can be as tricky as figuring out where to donate. But with most things in life, you do the best you can. Right now, just try to give more in 2008 than you did in 2007. Maybe you could donate an extra $100 this year. Or take those old toys to the children's hospital, even though it's a little out of your way. Or perhaps this will be the year you finally try your hand at volunteering.
So try to be a giver this year and help a worthy cause. I promise it won't take up all your time or money. And what you get in return is absolutely priceless.
This post is another one in my series on giving. If you haven't yet signed up for The Giving Challenge, it's not too late! The Challenge will be going on for the whole month.