With so many needy and deserving causes out there, it can feel overwhelming to choose a select few to donate your time and money to. And of course, choosing who or what organizations to support is only part of the task—you also want to make sure your money or time will have as great an impact as possible.
Giving can mean more than just writing a check. Here are some tips about how you can give back in your community and support causes you care about while being mindful of financial implications.
1. Reflect on what’s important to you
It can be difficult to determine which organizations to support, with so many worthy groups hard at work to help the world. To help find direction for your giving efforts, reflect on what is important to you.
Thinking about your own values could help you narrow down the types of causes you’d like to support. Ask yourself: What is the change you want to see? Who or what do you want to help?
It could also be helpful to consider the potential scope of your impact: Do you want to get involved on a neighborhood, city, state, or even global level? Do you want to give money somewhere where you can also volunteer?
If you do some research, chances are you’ll find organizations that are already doing great work on causes close to your heart.
2. Give what you can
Don’t feel discouraged from giving if you can only make modest donations. Small efforts can add up if you make them consistently, like with a recurring monthly donation. Some employers may even match your donations to certain charities, so you can double your financial impact.
And while opening your wallet is great, giving can look different from just writing a check. Volunteering your time can be another impactful way to give back. Check if your employer has any programs to let you periodically volunteer some time during the workday. Think if you have a specific skill set that could be valuable to a cause. For example, if you have a knack for numbers, you could help tutor math in afterschool programs for kids. You could also consider working on a fundraiser, so that you donate time, but can still make a financial impact.
Giving money and volunteering can make you feel more connected to the organization you are helping. Whether it is time, money, or a specific skill set, you can make a measurable difference.
3. Be generous and wise
You work hard for your money. When you give, you deserve to know exactly where it’s going and whether your donations may impact your taxes.
Start by doing some research on any organizations you’re planning to give to. Is the organization a 501(c)(3) nonprofit? Have you looked to see what percentage of your donation will go to the cause, as opposed to administration fees?
Although donations may often be tax-deductible, there’s plenty of fine print to be aware of. (Learn more about the basics of tax deductions for charitable donations.) Consider checking in with a tax professional before you donate, to understand any potential tax implications.
Finally, remember that not every group or website asking for donations may be a legitimate organization. If you are donating online, make sure to do so safely. For tips on donating online, read our guide.