Charitable Giving: Making Sure Your Money Makes a Difference

When hurricanes strike, earthquakes level cities, or economic downturns impact those most in need, many Americans respond to the call with charitable giving and donations. You can donate in numerous ways – financial donations, nonperishable food, medical supplies, and other materials. In 2016, Giving USA found that 2015 was the most charitable year in American history, with Americans donating $373.25 billion to charities that year alone. If you want to contribute, you can give charitable donations in many different forms to various organizations. So, what is the best way to give while making the largest impact?

Where Should My Money Go?

Regardless of the charity to which you choose to donate your money, it is less about the amount that is given, and more about where it is given. One misconception among those donating is that a large amount of money makes the greatest impact. If you want to make a big difference, focus on the changes you want to help generate.

Each person has their own dreams of an ideal world. Maybe you have a history of losing your home and belongings to a natural disaster. Then your money, regardless of the amount, is best directed to charities that help others affected by natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes. Look for organizations that line up with the results you seek, and give your support to them.

How Much Is Enough to Make a Difference?

As mentioned earlier, the amount of money you give isn’t as important as where that money goes in the long run. When it comes to the millionaires and billionaires of the world, the funds exist to tackle tremendous problems such as clean drinking water in Africa or vaccines for children in developing countries. These are major, capital-intensive issues.

As an individual contributor, it is possible to make a big difference without spending a fortune. For example, in Birmingham, Alabama, the Downtown Jimmie Hale Mission, a Christian charity that helps homeless people, says just $1.95 provides a meal and $20 supplies someone with a night in a shelter and three hot meals. If you want to give, find the organization that uses your donation to the maximum effect.

Should I Give Back to My Community?

Giving to local charities is one of the best ways to see your money in action. The key to local donations is to do your research. Consumer Reports often compiles a list of the best charities for your donations, and often looks beyond name-brand recognition to the spreading of funds and effective work of that organization.

As with any other charitable donation, make sure to find a group whose goals align with your values and ideals. Maybe it enhances the quality of arts and culture in your town. If so, you can go to a show and see how many people are attending. Low attendance could mean your donation is having little impact.

Finally, you could choose to volunteer time to your cause rather than money. Volunteer to play with animals and walk dogs at a local shelter. Or give your time to a local nonprofit agency by organizing and packing supplies. There are countless ways to donate that make a big impact beyond the dollar amount.

For more help on income and wealth planning, call us at Connections Financial Advisors. We know you want to help and we want you to be able to do so the right way.

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