Nov. 10, 2021

14. When your donations aren't stacking up


Today's letter is about donations that aren't quite stacking up. Here's the letter:
I feel like I donate all the time, but when it is time for me to do my taxes in April every year and I gather up all my receipts from the year before, I'm always surprised the total isn't actually that much. How can I do better?

This happens to a lot of us, we overestimate how often we do good things and underestimate how often we do bad things. But you’re right, the truth is in the accounting at the end of the year. So how can you donate more often? Leaving it up to chance isn’t cutting it. So here are four ideas then a wildcard:

  1. Donate with friends. You might have a bookclub or a Dungeon’s and Dragon’s den or be a part of a runner’s group that meets on Saturdays, whatever group you’re a part of, might be a great place to start. Test the waters, see if you think people would be interested in pitching in together to donate as a group. That could be really fun. Or you could ask your friends if they want to form a small giving group where you each pitch in some amount of money every month and decide where it goes or maybe you have a designated place, the point is that doing it with others can make it more fun and help generate more momentum so you’re less likely to forget or fall off the wagon.
  2. Consider tying your donations to holidays or other special events. Most months have causes associated with them, you could use that as a guide. In February you could donate to organizations committed to uplifting Black communities, in November, you could give to organizations fighting against voter intimidation. There’s Pride month, women’s history month. If you already have a particular community you’re fighting for, you could use that as your center for the other months. Let’s say your focus is uplifting Black communities all year long, well on Earth day, you give to organizations that are fighting for climate justice in Black neighborhoods, during PRIDE, you give to the organizations that are fighting for the safety of LGBTQIA+ migrants that are languishing on the border right now. The point is, you could use holidays and themed months to spark your giving throughout the year.
  3. You could also give up trying to keep up with giving throughout the year and do it once a year, one lump sum. Like on your birthday, or if there’s a religious holiday that’s particularly resonant for you. Maybe Eid is the biggest giving day of the year for you. 
  4. If you already know where you want to give, you might consider setting up auto deductions. You can set that up with a lot of charities nowadays, but you could also set it up through your bank, especially if you want to be careful to limit the time frame that those checks are being automatically deducted.
  5. Last idea is a wildcard, but you could tie your donations to a particular activity. Like if you’re a runner or a voracious reader or you’re into doing puzzles. Every time you reach a particular milestone, you donate. Every time you log another 100 miles. Or read a book. Or complete a puzzle. Or sew a quilt. Or maybe you’re a streaming master- every time you finish a season of something, you could donate.  

The overall idea here is to stop leaving it up to chance and to introduce a little bit of structure in a fun way.

To submit your letter to the show, email spenddonateinvest@gmail.com

To support the show visit buymeacoffee.com/spenddonate

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/spenddonate)
Transcript

Today's letter asks what to do when your donations aren't quite stacking up. Here's the letter:
I feel like I donate all the time, but when it is time for me to do my taxes in April every year and I gather up all my receipts from the year before, I'm always surprised the total isn't actually that much. How can I do better?

This happens to a lot of us, we overestimate how often we do good things and underestimate how often we do bad things. But you’re right, the truth is in the accounting at the end of the year. So how can you donate more often? Leaving it up to chance isn’t cutting it. So here are four ideas then a wildcard:

  1. Donate with friends. You might have a bookclub or a Dungeon’s and Dragon’s den or be a part of a runner’s group that meets on Saturdays, whatever group you’re a part of, might be a great place to start. Test the waters, see if you think people would be interested in pitching in together to donate as a group. That could be really fun. Or you could ask your friends if they want to form a small giving group where you each pitch in some amount of money every month and decide where it goes or maybe you have a designated place, the point is that doing it with others can make it more fun and help generate more momentum so you’re less likely to forget or fall off the wagon.
  2. Consider tying your donations to holidays or other special events. Most months have causes associated with them, you could use that as a guide. In February you could donate to organizations committed to uplifting Black communities, in November, you could give to organizations fighting against voter intimidation. There’s Pride month, women’s history month. If you already have a particular community you’re fighting for, you could use that as your center for the other months. Let’s say your focus is uplifting Black communities all year long, well on Earth day, you give to organizations that are fighting for climate justice in Black neighborhoods, during PRIDE, you give to the organizations that are fighting for the safety of LGBTQIA+ migrants that are languishing on the border right now. The point is, you could use holidays and themed months to spark your giving throughout the year.
  3. You could also give up trying to keep up with giving throughout the year and do it once a year, one lump sum. Like on your birthday, or if there’s a religious holiday that’s particularly resonant for you. Maybe Eid is the biggest giving day of the year for you. 
  4. If you already know where you want to give, you might consider setting up auto deductions. You can set that up with a lot of charities nowadays, but you could also set it up through your bank, especially if you want to be careful to limit the time frame that those checks are being automatically deducted.
  5. Last idea is a wildcard, but you could tie your donations to a particular activity. Like if you’re a runner or a voracious reader or you’re into doing puzzles. Every time you reach a particular milestone, you donate. Every time you log another 100 miles. Or read a book. Or complete a puzzle. Or sew a quilt. Or maybe you’re a streaming master- every time you finish a season of something, you could donate.  

The overall idea here is to stop leaving it up to chance and to introduce a little bit of structure in a fun way. Hope it helps!

To submit your letter to the show, email spenddonateinvest@gmail.com

To support the show visit buymeacoffee.com/spenddonate