Why You Should Donate More Money to Charity

Someone anonymously guest posted on Monday for Len Penzo and had some strong things to say about donating to charity. Basically, he thinks that he’s given enough to charity and gives us 8 reasons why he wants to keep his money to himself.

Unfortunately, he is wrong. In fact, we should be donating MORE to charity. Here’s why:

1. Charity donations are tax-deductible.

Sure, some portion of taxes go to helping those in need (welfare, disaster relief, etc.), but if we donate $100, we get a large portion of that back if we list it as tax deductible. Suddenly your $100 donation is only $65. The point is to actually give the money away, remember?

2. Giving now is better than giving in the future.

It may seem like a small amount now, but a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow. Don’t wait until you’re super rich to give to charity. Your $100 now may have a larger impact on you now, but it also have a larger impact on the charity than if you waited 5 years to give that $100, when inflation knocks that value down to about $85.

3. You can double your contributions without doing any work.

Instead of simply sending off your money, why not find out if anyone is offering to match? Consumerism Commentary is matching charitable contributions at the moment (until December 11th), and sites like Donation Doubler have lists of companies that will match your charitable contribution. Find one you like and suddenly you contribution goes twice as far!

4. You really CAN make a difference.

J Money has been promoting Love Drop, and guess what? Your money won’t be wasted and he won’t be spending it all on beer (though maybe he wishes he could), instead it will go to someone who needs the help. Can you make any more of a difference than that?

5. You’re just going to blow it on something dumb anyway.

As pious as you are, there’s still extra money in your budget somewhere. Create a budget for charity donations, then some of your extra money (each month or each year) and donate it to charity. Use your spending money to make a difference instead of spending it on Brookstone goods you’ll use once. And if you think you don’t have enough, take that extra 2% you’ll be earning next year and put that toward a charity fund. For someone making $30,000, that’s about $500!

6. You’ll help yourself at the same time.

Studies show that when individuals spend money on gifts for friends or charitable organizations, their happiness increases while those who spend on themselves get no such boost. Even Scrooge can agree that everyone wins.

7. If you don’t help now, you never will.

Don’t pretend that instead of giving money, you’re going to donate time. When was the last time you volunteered at a soup kitchen? Don’t let your mind fall for this trick. Send the money now or you’ll end up giving nothing.

8. Be a leader, not a follower.

Since other people don’t donate, you don’t want to either? If your friends know you’re giving to charity, they’ll be encouraged as well. And your friends are probably in credit card debt, too. Are you sure you want to follow their lead?

Readers, What do you think? Which argument is more convincing? Should we be donating more or less this year?

39 Responses to Why You Should Donate More Money to Charity

  1. If you don’t believe Daniel, you might believe Arthur C. Brooks. His book “Who Really Cares” is a great read if you are interested in charity and the role it playing in our individual lives and our society as a whole.

    I’m with Daniel here, although I donate nothing one year, and then double my donations the next year to maximize tax benefits. :)

    • @Kevin McKee, That’s a really great strategy, and works with other things, like prepaying mortgages too. If you can afford to make extra contributions one year, you could increase your total tax breaks.

  2. I totally agree that we need to be donating more. I’ve worked for a non-profit the last five years and I think a lot of people would be surprised how little donations can make a bit impact. Just be choosy with your charities…

  3. I was brought up to donate to charities. It was part of my parents training me to handle money. I got to spend some, save some and some to donate. It’s something I am passing on to my girls.

    I do take the tax deduction that I am due and I thank you for mentioning some of the sites where I can find companies that will match my contribution. Since I work for myself, I miss out on having an employer match my contribution.

  4. I disagree. I do not waste my money on dumb things. Many do, but I think if we invested it wisely in creating a business it’d do more good than sending it to Haiti. There is a place for charity however I pay taxes and a lot of them, in my opinion, which goes to people who quite frankly don’t deserve it. Maybe it’s just California, maybe I’m jaded from working in banks and seeing people on public assistance who drive around in a Lexus and who have 400 dollar cellphones.. I’d rather help someone I know personally than strangers.

    • @Richard, i totally agree give it to someone you know who personally needs help and if none need help then invest it in stock or start a buisness. also it is outrageous that the goverment gives money to people who “need” help they should see if they really need help and if they do then let them go by themselves and buy stuff for them dont give it to them or they might waste it on drugs have them tell the goverment what they need then the goverment should give it to them. last i think its ok to donate if someone you know has the same problem for example, say a relative has cancer then i think it would be reasonable to donate to a cancer society.

  5. First, I love the new e-’mail interface. My only suggestion is making clearer the link to be able to comment.

    Second, great post. I’d add that there really are only two ways to provide charitable services to those in need. Either we make charitable donations and control whom we give to, or we pay higher taxes and let the states and federal government decide what to fund.

    • @Ira, I will see what I can do to make it more prominent. I’ve always wanted a nice badge to show it, I’m not sure how to go about finding a way to do it. This isn’t a change from the old format, and as usual, you can click on the title (or the small comments link at the bottom).

  6. I very much agree with you! Since kids came into my life, I am much more emotional and really enjoy giving. Do you think its better encouraging your local community/charity or leaning towards bigger ones? I am wondering what are others thoughts about this.

    • @DoNotWait, I’m sure giving to local charities where you see the difference makes people feel better about doing it. And the connection makes it easier to give vs. giving to an organization with no face.

      Everyone has their own preferences and we can rarely be sure whether our money is getting put in a pool of funds or being used for the specific thing we’re hoping for.

  7. Charities need our help, especially in times like ours. When economy suffers, charities are hurt the most. Demand for their services grow, but donations not. Great article. This is so true – if you don’t help now, you never will. I grew up in the country were donations did not exist (serious). I learned about them ten years ago when I moved to the US. It is a great thing and people should support it.

  8. Although I donate money, clothes and furniture, I believe in donating time to charitable organizations. It is actually more rewarding than just donating money or things.

    • @krantcents, Yah… I think you slipped into my mind. for the past years, been giving to http://www.savekids.comuv.com. Gratifing as it is, I feel that the more of my volunteer work taps into my charity instincts. But my question is whether to stop financially and be a hands-on person or take both which can be a strain when you really want to make an impact.

  9. Very compelling stuff! Another reason I have heard for the case of donating to charity is that it is a normal thing for wealthy people to do. And, by donating only a little of your money to charity, you can start practicing healthy habits of the wealthy! Who knows where it will lead!?

  10. Thanks for this refreshing rebuttal. I too read the Humbug guest post and all I did about it was grind my teeth. I am glad you responded.

    I love point 6: Giving actually changes a person from the inside. I read once that a closed fist (representing selfishness) is actually the international symbol of anger. Giving forces us to open our hands and actually demonstrate care about others. I think it is impossible to be selfish and happy at the same time.

  11. Sorry. I disagree with #7. I do give cash to a number of charities, but I have the greatest respect for those who give of their time. Right now, I have more money than time, but I do hope one day to do something in person that helps make a difference.
    I find the tithing discussion always curious. I once suggested that if money were so tight that a person had issues getting by, that donating 4 hours a week to a good cause should be sufficient, and that suggestion was shot down.

    • @JoeTaxpayer, Time is sometimes more important than the money, especially if that time goes directly to the people who will benefit (like a soup kitchen).

      Similar to Jacob’s comment, donating is a great habit to have. For many, if you don’t donate money now, the habit won’t stick, though your point about donating later in life is an easier thing to do and should be strongly encouraged. Thanks!

  12. I like your argument much more; my resolution last year was to donate more to charity (I called it my charitable black hole). I have done so this year, and the rewards are great for all involved, including myself.

  13. I’ve been trying to do my best to donate more this year. I think the economy is making it a lot harder for people to want to give but it also means there are likely even more people in need.

  14. It is so difficult to think of charity when you have a specific finance goal that you have been working so hard toward. I agree it’s good to give though. I also would like to donate more time, but I’m just too busy right now. In a couple of years, I will definitely donate more time. Now I’ll just send money. :)

    • @retirebyforty, I agree that it’s hard to put someone else ahead of yourself when it means it will take you longer to reach your goals. It’s not easy to do. Still, it’s important to be selfless, even for a little bit, and it may make it easier to do if you cut back on one thing every month and donate the savings to charity.

  15. I agree with part of the premise of Len’s take. If I had a choice of diverting the money the government wastes on fruitless and political projects and diverting it to the charity of my choice I’d gladly do so. But until then, I do contribute some funds to local charities, but it’s tough to disagree with the contention that federal tax dollars aren’t also a form of charity, which was part of Len’s argument.

  16. Gotta love the deduction. We waited till the end of the year this year and then gave in one big chunk. My goal for 2011 is to be a more regular giver throughout the year. Nice post.

    • @Michelle @ Chasing Ambulances, Very cool, and a great read, because their research looks pretty comprehensive – add it to the list!

  17. its not that we need to be donating more, just giving what you can helps out too. there are alot of comercials tell people that they should donate because its the right thing to do, well of course its the right thing to do but alot of people who cant afford to donate watch those comercials and feel bad because they dont have the money to do it. even if alot of people gave what they could they still are making a difference. its not about how much someone gives its about that there giving the effort to help.

  18. This is a great article and I loved reading the comments. I love the part about getting someone to match you. That is a wonderful idea. I need to donate my time because me charitable donation gifts are not the highest. But every bit counts right?
    Thanks for the great article!!

  19. Giving to charity only promotes bad behavior. Keep your hard earned money and spend it on you and your family, not someone else..

    • @James Smith, How is helping people in 3rd world countries have access to clean water “promoting bad behavior”? I’d really like to hear about that.

  20. I was brought up to donate to charities. It was part of my parents training me to handle money. I got to spend some, save some and some to donate. It’s something I am passing on to my girls.

  21. Just remember we all should give, but make sure that who you are giving it to is credible and established. A lot of people were ripped off by celebrities in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake and Japanese tsunami because they gave to “new” organizations with no accountability.

  22. There is nothing wrong with donating money. It does not increase unemployment because the money donated will hopefully be spent on food or clothing, which will create jobs in agriculture, grocery markets, and department stores.

    However, I do not agree with many of your reasons why people should donate, namely, reason 2, especially reason 6, and reason 8. I’ll explain why in a list for each reason.

    2. Inflation will occur, but that will also mean that your own wage will be inflated, allowing you to have more dollars to give. If you were to donate, you should think very carefully about why you are donating, and how much you are willing to give. This means that if you truly care about someone else, you will factor inflation into account.

    6. When you donate, it should never be for your own happiness. Beggars have self pride too, you know? If they were just a bit luckier then they might have more money. I’m sorry to say this, but if you were poor and needed money, it would probably feel horrible to accept money from people who simply wanted to feel good about themselves. Rather, the better reason to donate would be because you genuinely care or emphasize with the person who needs help, and because you respect the person who needs help.

    8. Donating just to prevent yourself from being a follower is not a good reason to donate. In fact, from what I’ve read (sorry if I’m wrong), most people donate… Of course, if you genuinely care, you are not a follower.

    • @George, sorry guys. I was a rude. Some of my points still stick, but I also take back some of what I said earlier. I was having a hard time. But also, I’ve now realized that spending money doesn’t create jobs (as counter-intuitive as that may seem). Rather, spending money simply leads to demand pull inflation. But that’s besides the point.

  23. This reminds me of what I always tell the boys in Scouts (being a Scout leader for 13+ years).

    “Q: Why do you help people?”

    “A: Because they need help!”

    It’s really just that simple…

    @James Smith: How does giving to charity promote bad behavior?!? Church? Elderly? Disabled? Am I missing something?!?