Let’s face it. Finding the perfect balance of money management takes time. One of the things that adds to this struggle can be knowing how to make the most of your donation dollars. It’s not like most of us have a pile of cash lying around to give away, right?!?
We’ve all been there: too many good causes, not enough time or resources. So what is the solution?
Don’t spread yourself too thin, and learn when to say no. Often, we want to donate to a bunch of causes because we want to help as many people as possible. However, it can be more effective to donate to fewer causes instead.
Not only does this help others, but it helps your finances. You aren’t going to become caught up in so many donations that you forget you even committed to some charities. You will also know where all of your money is going, and who it’s helping. And because it’s easier to keep track of, it becomes less of a nightmare during tax season.
The best way I’ve heard it explained is that you have a tablespoon of peanut butter and a loaf of bread. Some people try to make more peanut butter sandwiches, dividing the tablespoon between the whole loaf. But the peanut butter has little impact on any sandwich because there is so little of it in each.
Others will spread the peanut butter between one or two sandwiches. This increases the overall effectiveness of the peanut butter.
Likewise, people can set aside money for donations, and focus it on fewer organizations to have more impact while not necessarily spending more money.
Another way to make an impact while saving money can be donating old clothes or furniture. With this, you are still helping people without having to spend any more money.
This can be done when going away to college. If you’re moving out, sort through your old clothes and donate anything you know you won’t need in college.
Staying in your ‘donations budget’ can also be difficult when groups at your school or in your community are fundraising. It can be hard to say no to the band or the girl scouts and boy scouts, but sometimes it is necessary. And if you do buy something from them, make sure you keep track of it and maybe only buy one box of cookies instead of four.
Finally, be sure to do research on any organizations you plan to donate too. Take a look at this Ted Talk by Dan Pallotta, it might change the way you perceive charitable organizations and how you choose to donate.
The quote in the description says, “Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend — not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses).” It really is worth your time to watch!
If you keep all of this in mind, your donations should go farther without having to spend more money. And remember, saying no doesn’t make you a bad person. Sometimes, it just makes you responsible.