Many of my posts are dedicated to finding ways to save money. One of the best reasons to save money is to be able to give more away!!
I realize I feel differently about philanthropy than most people. My profession is fundraising. I do this for a small private Quaker college (Wilmington College, Wilmington, Ohio). However, I am not just talking about Wilmington College. I am talking about generosity in general.
I have read tons of books about finance or becoming successful over the years and I have yet to find a single one that does not tell you to give some of your money away. The thought is that when you give money away more comes back to you in a different way. It may not be exactly what you expect, but I believe this to be true. The more generous (and purposeful) I have become with my money, the more money I seem to have and the more meaningful my life has become.
My hometown of Wilmington, Ohio has been in the news a lot over the past year. We lost one of our largest employers (DHL). This eliminated 8 thousand jobs from our community. Times are tough here. My husband lost his job before the announcement of DHL was all over the news. He found his new job before too many people flooded the job market and before our unemployment ran out. We make a lot less now, but we have jobs and a new respect for money. We no longer argue over finances. We work together. There are too many people who will suffer over the next year or two. My family is extremely blessed to still have a home, transportation and food on the table. If you also are one who is fortunate enough to still be able to provide for your family, count yourself lucky.
During these tough economic times, there are many organizations who are trying to help everyone without a job or a home. My husband and I have learned not only to save more money, but also to give more away. This does not ever mean giving to strangers on the street. Give your money away purposefully. If you want to help the homeless or the hungry, give to a homeless shelter or food pantry. They will happily give you a receipt for tax purposes and you can feel confident that your money is being stewarded properly.
If you do not have much money to give, give of your time and resources. Start a clothing, bedding or food drive. Or help a friend or family member in need. Do they need babysitting during hours you are at home? Maybe they have a child with a birthday coming up and you have clothing or toys in their size - give them to the parents to give as gifts. There are many ways to help out.
And I would not be responsible if I didn't mention higher education. I know it probably doesn't sound as needy as a homeless shelter, but it is definitely worthy of support. Think about a few things for me. Manufacturing jobs will likely be few and far between in the near future. What will those people do for a living? Colleges will help re-educate these people to join the workforce in a different way. Higher education will keep young people AND some of the unemployed out of the job market for awhile giving the economy time to recover. Also, many of our students had parents that may have been laid off or lost a portion of their income. These kids are finding it increasingly difficult to find financial aid. Banks aren't lending money to these students and the government has been forced to take some financial support away from higher ed. We want these young people to have an education and we want them to stay out of the workforce for a few years.
When you make gifts to these organizations, it does not have to be a lot.
It matters who you give to and when, but not necessarily how much. Please keep this in mind when you go to write out a $10 or $25 check to an organization. That money helps a lot when lots of people give. The more generous you are and think of others, the more it WILL come back to you.