According to the Giving USA Foundation™ charitable giving for 2007 exceeded $300 billion dollars for the first time in history despite the tough economy. Historically, a large majority of these donations occur during the last three months of the year. There are many good strategies to ensure that your donations are being made wisely and being used for your intended purpose. However, spontaneous and unplanned monetary donations can sometimes lead to giving beyond your means.
One strategy that can help to prevent this, especially during these difficult economic times, is to include your intended donations in your monthly budget. You can start by setting aside a certain amount of money each month that is earmarked for the charities that you will donate to. Once the money has been set aside you can let it accumulate and make the donation all at once or you can set up a periodic donation to the charity.
Including your charitable donations in your budget allows you to effectively treat it as a planned monthly expense. It spreads out the impact of giving over the entire year rather than just during the holiday season. This gives you better control over the timing and amounts of your donations while still letting you accomplish your charitable intentions. Regardless of the method you choose, you should make sure you still keep good records in order to receive the tax benefits for making those gifts.
Keep in mind that monetary gifts are usually best for charities because it allows them the most flexibility to accomplish their goals but donations of non-monetary items such as goods, services or your time are also excellent ways to give back.
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