I watched Oprah’s new show, The Big Give , and I am very inspired by the giving and the stories of the families receiving the money. It made me evaluate how we handle our charitable giving.
Finding Good Charities
To be perfectly honest, I get nervous about donating to charities that I’m not involved with directly. Unfortunately, I think this mentality has been a roadblock for me. I worry about the money going to the actual cause versus being swallowed up by administration costs and overhead.
That’s where Charity Navigator  comes in handy. You can search your intended charity and find out how much of your donation is going to administration or fund raising. It also recommends similar organizations so you can pinpoint the best charity for the cause you want to support.
Here’s a review  of the site and two other charitable evaluators:
Charitable Gift Funds
Another option instead of giving directly to charities is to use a Charitable Gift Fund. Recently Flexo at Consumerism Commentary opened a charitable gift fund . Jim at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity is considering doing the same thing  and explains some of the pros and cons.
The idea sounds very appealing as I could manage investments for the benefit of others. It would also smooth out our contributions each year. I will have to look into it further to see if the organizations that we currently support are listed.
Establish a Giving Plan
Free Money Finance wrote Establish a Giving Plan  and asked:
Do you have a plan for your giving? Or do you simply give of your money and time haphazardly — responding to some emotional appeals, ignoring others, basically “going with the flow” and giving when you “feel” like it?
Well unfortunately, we’re checking in at haphazard. As a matter of fact I took a look at our budget and charity didn’t even get a line! For someone that claims to be such a big planner, I’m really falling short here. Now, this isn’t to say that we don’t donate, we do, but probably not as much as we would intend to if we had a giving plan.
Our Charitable Giving
I’ve bypassed the payroll deductions for charitable giving because I would prefer to select the organizations myself. However, when I look at our charitable contributions over the last couple years, it’s rather erratic.
In the past few years our charitable contributions have taken various forms:
- We give to organizations when asked to by our friends and family. If someone we know is doing a fund raiser like a cancer walk or bike ride we always contribute.
- We give to organizations that we are members of and events hosted by those organizations.
- We have made larger donations in memory of family members. We continue to support a few very special organizations each year.
- We donate to our alma mater out of obligation. We are required to make a donation for our season football tickets.
- We donate used items: wedding attire , clothing , cell phones, eye glasses, etc.
- We do not donate to organizations that we are not familiar with that solicit donations with phone calls and mailers.
I’m going to talk it over with my husband and try to add a line to our budget to allocate money monthly. I feel like we should try a little harder to come up with a plan of which causes we want to support, how much we want to donate per year and evaluate charities that fit our criteria.
Here are more articles about charitable giving:
- The Dough Roller to donate 50% of its revenue to charity  @ The Dough Roller
- Instead Of Money, My Wife Gave Her Hair To Charity  @ My Two Dollars
- Better to give than receive? An illustration from popular media  @ Sense to Save
Photography: daningram67 
What does your charitable giving look like?