In the wake of the Presidential elections and various other necessary fundraising efforts, I have received an unusually high number of requests for my money lately. There is no doubt in my mind that there are worthy causes that people should dip into their pockets for. Some causes even boast a nice tax-deduction for your contribution. However, I just believe that everyone should think carefully about where their money goes and what charities to support. It is especially difficult for people with limited means to dip into their meager wallets and come up with change to spare.
These are definitely trying times. Incomes are not rising to meet rising costs of living. Newcasts are discussing possible recessions (even though I think that we are already in one). The whole world is changing and evolving which is causing all of these unpredictable natural disasters of Biblical proportion. I get it. The world needs. But there are a few questions that you should ask yourself before you empty your piggybank.
To some extent, there are some events that we’re prepared for: the Sunday church collection plate, or the annual Girl Scout Cookie sale. But others may catch us off-guard: your co-worker’s kid’s candy drive or the random donation requests you get when you open your mail. When we go to the supermarket, the movies, or our favorite restaurant, our attention may be called to a collection jar. When we go to church there may be raffles, bake sales and fund drives. The list is never-ending. But why does the average Joe feel so compelled to give “until it hurts”?
Brother, can you spare a dime?
Charities have many methods to ensnare you into obligation. Guilt-ridden tactics–such as the use of photographs of starving children with big eyes staring into the camera–have worked for years. Such advertisements succeed at tugging at our heartstrings, forcing you to relate to another’s suffering and the human condition. But it is also important to note that the largest percentage of those who comply or succumb to these clever tactics are often poor. Not middle- or upper-class, but at or under the poverty line. So why do these methods seems to work best on those in need of financial help themselves?
Suze Orman, financial guru to the world speaks a lot about people’s this concept. She discusses ways in which Americans get caught up in consumer marketing ploys and guilt-trips when it comes to impulse buys. Now, let’s add fundraising to this concept. There are various motivational factors: people want to do the right thing, feel that they’ve helped the less fortunate, or get into Heaven. But how much is enough? It all amounts to a certain level of fiscal responsibility. You owe it not only to yourself, but to your loved ones to give…but within reason. No one’s asking you to go to the poor house. Give wisely by figuring out what causes you would like to support next year, and stick to those only. Maybe you would like to sponsor your friend on her annual Walk for Breast Cancer. Account for this figure every year when, say doing your taxes. Set this money aside for when the time arises, and then never deviate from that amount. The same goes for your church functions. Since you know you will be contributing each year, factor in that amount and set it aside before the new year. It may also be helpful to get an INGDirect account and start building interest from your tax return. What I love is that you can name each account / subaccount that you create on INGDirect’s website so that you won’t get confused over the amount your setting aside for “Timmy’s prom” and the “Charity” money.
Here’s the scenario: Johnny Co-Worker shows us Little Timmy’s selection sheet and you automatically feel obligated to give even though you really didn’t count on purchasing a tin filled with chocolate covered almonds. Stop caving in, man. No one’s saying that you shouldn’t occasionally purchase an order of shortbread cookies, but don’t feel imprisoned by that decision. If you are, then you really shouldn’t buy it. No one’s saying that you’re a big meanie for declining. You’re just frugal with your money. I knew folks getting paid my salary twice over who wouldn’t lend a dollar to a bum, let alone to be coerced into supporting Little Timmy’s drive. If those folks could avoid buyer’s remorse and manage to stay within their limits, why can’t you? Hang tough and stay true to your feelings. We all know that Little Timmy’s Dad will probably end up buying out his son’s candy anyway…Isn’t that what all great parents do?