Giving, Not Getting
We seem to be surrounded by people who are in crisis-- victims of natural disasters, disease, poverty and homelessness. Many people want to reach out to those in need. While we think that is great we do just suggest that you use caution whenever you donate to whichever charitable cause you are interested in.
We all get phone calls from organizations asking for our financial help. We did a little research and came across these tips from the Federal Trade Commission's website that you should keep in mind before you commit to making a financial donation:
- Ask for the charity's name, address, and phone number, and written information about its programs.
- Ask whether the person contacting you is a professional fundraiser and how much of your contribution will go to fundraising costs.
- Check the history of the organization with the office that regulates charities in your state, National Association of State Charity Officials [or in Canada].
Also from the same website, there is a list with some clues as to whether the appeal for donations may be a scam:
- High pressure pitches. Reject them: It's okay to hang up.
- A thank you for a pledge you don't remember making? Be skeptical; scam artists will lie to get your money.
- Requests for cash? Avoid giving cash donations.
- Charities that offer to send a courier or overnight delivery service to collect your money.
- Charities that guarantee sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a contribution.
- Charities that spring up overnight, especially those that involve current events like natural disasters, or those that claim to be for police officers, veterans, or firefighters. They probably don't have the infrastructure to get your donations to the affected area or people.
We want you to share with others, but you need to make sure that you get your money to the people you intend to help. Keep in mind that when a charity outsources its fundraising, it may actually only get a very small amount of the money you contribute. Do you have a favorite charity? Give to them DIRECTLY to make sure that all your money makes it to the charity.
Okay, but let's say you really want to help your fellowman but you don't have any spare cash. Are you out of luck?—of course not. There are plenty of ways to give without giving money.
- Things you make
- Your time
- Your patience
- Your compassion
- Your expertise
- Where and how you shop
Time, talents, experience and cash are all ways that you can make a "contribution" that will make a difference in someone's life!
Why do people choose to give? There are many reasons: to help those in need, to make a difference in someone's life, out of guilt, because there's a tax break—maybe perhaps just because it makes them feel good. Whatever the reason...we do think it goes without saying that there are many people in unfortunate situations and that are in need of help. How and why you choose to share what you have is very personal. The important thing is to do something!
P.S. The twelfth chapter of our personal finance book: Power Spending: Getting More For Less, is about Giving, Not Getting. There are seven sections: Charitable giving on a budget, Money isn't everything, Do we have a volunteer?, Encore careers, My brother's keeper, Give me a (tax) break and Final Words of Wisdom.