Len Penzo hosted an anonymous guest poster who 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 out of your pocket. The point is to actually give the money away, remember? So up your donation to $150 and you’ll be effectively giving the $100 you planned.
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? 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! In many cases, employers match contributions. If your company is one of them, take advantage of it!
4. You really CAN make a difference.
If you think your small donation will just be a drop in the bucket, you’re not looking hard enough. There are lots of charities that need your money desperately, and if you want to see the impact of your charity, do a little research in your area to find charities that need the money most. Local food banks at a great place to start and if you take a minute to stop by the charity you choose, you’ll see just how much your small donation matters to the people who benefit from it.
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, so some of your extra money (each month or each year) will go to charity. And if you think you don’t have enough, take 2% of the raise you’ll be earning next year and put that toward a charity fund. For someone making $30,000, that’s about $500 donated next year!
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 when we give to charity. So if you’re selfish, there’s yet another reason to give to others.
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. And if you don’t get into the habit of giving now, you’ll fall into a rut in the future. Stat giving now, even if it’s a small amount, and you’ll be doing yourself a favor in the future as well.
8. Be a leader, not a follower.
Since other people don’t donate, you don’t want to either? Your friends are probably in credit card debt, too. Are you sure you want to follow their lead? If your friends know you’re giving to charity, they’ll be encouraged as well so your small donation will suddenly have the effect you were looking for.
Readers, What do you think? Which argument is more convincing? Should we be donating more or less this year?
This post was originally published in December 2010 and has been updated for relevance.