Around this time of year I am passively berated by charities everywhere I go (I’m guessing most people are), the food bank requesting donations for families to have a nice Christmas dinner (which I am all for); The United Way asking for payroll-deductions that would go to various charities; and the almost nightly calls from telemarketers asking for money. Maybe the constant exposure to people asking for money has put me on edge, but it has also made me think about charities and my budget.
I am not a regular giver to charity. In the past, I have given money to several, including the Shriners, Canadian Cancer Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation and other minor organizations. I understand the concept of giving to charities – helping people and organizations achieve goals that they would not be able to attain without money provided by donors, but on the other hand when looking at an early retirement financial plan it doesn’t entirely make sense. On a daily basis, I think about each and every purchase that I make, whether I should be wasting $1.26 on a muffin when I could have baked a batch of them for $3, to the best way to save on heating and cooling in the house. The thought of just giving away money is essentially alien to the budget and goals that I have set up for my financial future, but in the past I have continued to give.
I understand that giving to charity is a good thing – providing for others that are unable to provide for themselves. I just don’t feel attached to any cause. I have never used a charity, nor have any of my friends or acquaintances and I just don’t know when I would, but generally I think that’s how everyone feels until the day comes when they need to approach a charity for assistance – I just can’t imagine the circumstance.
So, in the next year, I’ve decided that rather then give money to charity I’ll give time (call it a New Year’s Resolution). Time is something that I have enough of to give and donating it to a charitable organization would have a two-fold impact:
Allow me to better understand a specific organization: This understanding would perhaps allow me to understand the importance of the charity, as I am basically a newbie in what they do and how they do it.
Allow me to donate without impacting my budget: I have time, I waste a lot of it doing things that are not productive to myself or others. What I don’t have is excess money kicking around, and as you may surmise from my muffin decision, I would fret a lot less about giving up a couple hours here and there then just giving away money that I so carefully oversee for the most part of my life.
Does anyone else have plans to donate time or money to charity? Are donations a regular part of your budget?