Ribbons, bows, tags and shiny paper. Boxes of all shapes and sizes, begging to be gently shaken for clues to their contents. These are images most of us envision when we hear, “Happy Holidays!”
Not everyone is so fortunate. Wouldn’t your gift giving be a little bit richer if you improved the condition of folks that need some help during the holidays?
Charitable giving during the holidays can be fun and enriching. Follow these simple tips to maximize your giving:
Make a List and Check It Twice
Just like Santa, make a list. Instead of sorting “naughty” and “nice,” look for folks that would appreciate helping out fellow human beings more than adding to their bad tie, sweater or coffee mug collection.
If you’re in a business profession, this is also a great idea for clients and partners. Often their offices are flooded with expensive goodies and gift baskets from vendors. Even worse, most gifts are sent in a mindless, bulk and automated way.
It’s much cooler to personally pick out and give to a charity for each client or person on your list. Often they already support some specific cause or charity. Do a little research or pay attention when folks talk about the causes they are passionate about. Then when you contribute on their behalf to a cause that is personal to them, your gift will be all the more special and appreciated.
Find the Best Charities
Once you have your gift list, the fun of giving has just begun. Now it’s time to pick the very best of the thousands of deserving causes.
[Check Your Credit: Don't Guess. Know.® Get your free credit report and score. No credit card required.You want to maximize the impact of your giving. And you certainly don’t want to give a gift in someone else’s name to a poorly managed charity. Unfortunately, the sheer numbers of organizations can make sorting the good from the marginal a tough task.
That’s why I like using CharityNavigator.com. They do all of the comparing and due diligence for you. One of my favorite ways to use CharityNavigator.com to spot a new charity or steer clear of less effective ones is to browse their Top Ten Lists.
These are just a few examples of charities you may want to consider:
- 10 Highly Rated Military and Veterans Charities
- 10 Top-Notch Charities
- 10 Charities Expanding in a Hurry
- 10 Charities Worth Watching
And a few you might want to reconsider:
- 10 Charities Overpaying Their For-Profit Fundraisers
- 10 Highly Paid CEOs at Low-Rated Charities
- 10 Charities in Deep Financial Trouble
Finding the right charity is often a matter of the heart. However, it’s worth taking some time to think a bit like an investor and try to maximize the impact of your giving.
Make it a Year-Round Habit
At this point you’ve put a bit of effort into giving. It feels good, doesn’t it?
There are so many benefits to giving: emotional, spiritual, even financial. Why wouldn’t you want to make it a regular habit? It’s not that hard to turn holiday gift giving into a year-round habit.
You might consider just a couple of these ideas:
- Just like savings, set a monthly goal and put your giving on auto-pilot.
- Set specific times during the year to commemorate with a charitable gift.
- Donate your time or skills. Find a cause that could use your help.
What are some of your ideas for giving? Leave a comment and tell us your favorite charities and gift giving ideas.