Charitable Giving On A Budget

Pink breast cancer ribbons

[Photo Credit: Flickr/Kai Chan Vong]

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and AmOne is doing its part to contribute to charity and raise both money and awareness.

Donating to charity is a fundamental part of many people’s lives; sometimes it’s due to religious beliefs or family tradition, but other times it’s because they’ve known what it’s like to need a little help.

Whether you’ve had to rebuild after a natural disaster or get through a tough financial situation, once you’ve been there you know how important money is. When you’re struggling to make ends meet, every penny is required to ensure you maintain balance on the path to recovery.

Keeping your household on a budget means making sacrifices and cutting extraneous spending from your budget. However, at some point you may begin to wonder how you can help give a little, even if you’re not flush with extra cash. You’re not alone; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the poorest fifth of Americans donate more of their annual income than the richest fifth. It seems that those who have known what it’s like to make those difficult decisions feel the need to reach out and help however they can. Luckily, there are many ways that you can make a difference for a charity, even if you’re on a tight budget yourself.

Think Differently, Give Differently

Most times, charitable donations are a spur-of-the-moment expense: a few pennies dropped in a collection jar, your neighborhood kids ringing the doorbell selling cookies from the Girl Scouts or coupons from the Boy Scouts, or donating a few bucks at the register when you buy groceries. But if you make charitable donations a regular and planned part of your budget, you can maximize your impact without losing track of how much you’ve given.

One of the best ways to do this is to consolidate your planned donation to one charity: whether it’s a wildlife foundation, cancer research, or your child’s school programs, you can do more with one check than you can by spreading a little bit of money around in a lot of different ways. Check up on your state’s tax guidelines to determine whether your contribution will be deductible, and find out if there are any other loopholes you can take advantage of: you may be able to write off a physical donation of furniture, electronics, or other goods for their estimated cash value. Just make sure to get an itemized receipt when you give for use when filing taxes.

Another key for giving to charity while on a budget is to develop a focused target and be aware of your impact. Do some research into your various options, to make sure that you actually know where your money will end up. Charity Navigator investigates non-profits according to their financial health, accountability, and transparency, and assigns a rating to indicate how well they put the money to use with the communities or groups they help. The more informed you are, the more effective your donation will be. You can also reach out to your social circles to create a larger group pool. Approach your boss and ask if your company will match your donations to a cause; about one in six companies in the U.S. will provide cash grants to a nonprofit when an employee donates their time. Depending on the circumstances, you may end up with double the amount you originally thought you’d give.

Finally, take advantage of micro-transactions and small additions to your other expenses. There are dozens of different credit and debit cards which use the rewards-per-swipe concept to donate to charity. At AmOne, for instance, one of the recommended credit cards we have available is the Pink ACE Elite™ Visa® prepaid card. With each swipe of the card, a portion of your purchase goes to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

For a small addition, when you’re asked if you’d like to donate a few bucks at the register, say yes instead of buying an impulse candy bar or pack of gum. There are hundreds of ways to give back to the community, even if you’re not rolling in the dough; but the personal and emotional rewards of even a small donation is worth making it a regular part of your financial plan.