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October 15, 2008


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Oh, this question occurs to me on a regular basis! There are so many causes I want to give to: animal rescue, arts (our city's ballet and symphony), all of our (many) alma maters, hurricane relief, SmileTrain, Doctors Without Borders, etc. Oh, and have I mentioned the ongoing presidential campaign? Over the past year I've given $250 to Obama's campaign, and believe me, I want to give more in the next few weeks.

And at the moment, I feel like I can't give anything. (Actually, I do still sometimes give a dollar at the grocery store to their charity of the month, because then it just feels like part of the grocery bill.) I am paying off a lot of credit card debt, and my husband is in a grant-funded position (i.e. soft money). We have no emergency savings, and property taxes come due in January. It really makes me feel hopeless and panicky.

As I'm sure your board will discover, a lot of the well-off donors make gifts of stock, or donate their stock dividends. It helps their tax liability more than a straight cash donation in many cases. There are also a lot of foundation gifts that are paid from the investment income of an endowment. Obviously, all of these sources will suffer greatly this year. I was working in nonprofit development for a university in 2001, and I was actually laid off -- unheard of at the university level -- because the downturn was so bad.

My tithe has actually increased recently, due to increased income, but my "Other" charitable giving will decrease a bit. It wasn't that large anyway. We're really picking our spots right now in order to pay off our debt ASAP, which will allow us to give much more later.

My giving is planned at the beginning of each year, and I've put it on autopay at the bank. I don't intend to change anything at this point, and am even considering some additional giving by the end of the year, as I've had some "windfall profits" recently.

Interestingly enough, the nonprofit I work for has actually experienced increased giving. I'm not exactly sure why, because I don't work in that department, but I did find that a bit counterintuitive, based on this economic climate.

Actually, partly because we decided to forgo a week long vacation this year we are probably going to donate a couple larger lump sum amounts to a worthy charity or two this year. I think we have one lined up - a friend of a friend is going to Africa to help build a village so we're giving some to that cause. The second one hasn't been determined yet, but I forwarded your previous blog to my wife for her review/approval.

We just feel so lucky with all we have that we need to give back. Even with this recent downturn our country is probably in better shape than 95% of the rest of the world.

My charity donations are all line-items in the budget, so they're pretty much automatic.

Rising expenses have influenced my giving, however, in that I haven't been able to increase how -much- I budget out each month.

I've also found it useful to give donations of time or effort when I can't afford to fund all the charities I'm interested in.

Depends on what you compare it to. Compared to last year, my giving is up this year. My goal was to hit 10% of net income. Due to some unexpected events and the fact that I didn't automate all of my giving (only about half of it was set up to be done automatically each month) I will probably have to throw in the towel and just accept that I will fall short as I have no plan to charge a donation if I don't have the cash on hand. I'll probably hit somewhere between 7-9%. Next year I plan to try and further automate things if I can because I've found that very helpful in terms of keeping to my intentions. I wish more charities would sign up for things like ParishPay and other automated services. They might lose a bit in a service fee, but if I am any example, there total donations from me will go up significantly if they can allow me to not have to remember where I am at in my giving plan and to sit down and write those checks.

We are not increasing our giving but are on track with last year. People need it more this year, so I might have to rethink that. Thanks for posting this.

In all honesty, I thik I need to have my own financial house in order before I can give monetarily to any charity. It would be irresponsible to do so. I do some volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity and have been considering being a Big Brother.

I normally like to give to individuals or families directly because I don't like to think how much of the monies donated go to the upkeep of charitable organizations. I will continue to keep pace with last year's donations and am adding a special donation during December of this year to some needy senior citizens.

Charities will undoubtedly suffer budget shortfalls. In the charities I work with we are adjusting our marketing to emphasize the value, if you will, of what we do. In some cases this means emphasizing the low administrative fees.

In a down market we can expect people to scrutinize expenses closer. Charities will be no exception.

Wow. I have become so wrapped up in the financial turmoil that it honestly did not occur to me that many who usually donate to charity will not do so either because they simply cannot afford it or, as noted in one of the first posts, it is a gift of appreciated assets, of which there will be few for the next few years.

As my financial situation has not changed (fingers crossed) I will continue to give the same but I may try to kick a little extra to the cold weather charities like THAW in Michigan. I guess those of us who are not harmed or who may actually become busier because of the financial chaos should do what can be done for those who need help.

Thank you FMF for the reminder.

I think those who were living on the edge with maxed out CCs and triple-HELOC'd houses probably weren't giving that much to charity in the first place. I expect my level of giving to remain stable or increase slightly in 2009.

Unless one of us loses a job, I expect my giving will stay the same, or possibly increase, as I plan to cut expenses to the bare bones to save more, and I may give some of what I save. (I do feel a little guilty about cutting my spending, as I know that doesn't help the economy. On the other hand, my husband and I agreed that we don't know how his job will fare in this economy, so it is best to increase the emergency fund.)

My giving is correlated with my income, so since my income has increased this year, so has my giving. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the general trend in giving is a stand-still or decrease, however.

Giving overall will take a hit. This past year, we gave towards a special project which was a larger than normal giving opportunity. I suspect that we will not be doing the same in this coming year, but can't say for 100% at this point.

Compared to last year at this time, my charitable giving has increased slightly. I generally increase what I give on an on-going basis, either adding a new item or increasing a current giving, when I get my yearly "merit raise". Fortunately my finances have been only marginally affected by the current economic situation (I'm young enough that my 401K and IRA should be able to recover from all of this mess), so I'm good. In fact I may actually end up making slightly larger end of the year contributions to help out some charities that I know are particularly struggling this year.

“proselytizing under the cloak of humanitarian work is unhealthy, to say the least. It is most resented by people here" - Mahatma Gandhi

I am quite happy that this crisis is more of a western crisis. Since a big part of this "giving" involves creating social unrest and Proselytization in non-christian countries leading to social unrest and hurts world peace folks there can heave a sigh of relief for a while.

My charitable giving is up this year and I'm always looking for ways to squeeze out a little more for charity. That remains as true today as it did last year and the one before.

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