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Charitable Giving and Service

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Charitable Giving and ServiceIn my opinion, charitable giving and service should form an important part of any personal financial plan and an important part of life.  Below are some quotes that I believe help answer some of the more commonly asked questions regarding charitable giving and service.  I also add a few of my own thoughts.

1.  Why are charitable giving and service important?

 “The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.”  Albert Einstein

Charitable giving and service allow us to help others while helping ourselves.  It helps us to be less selfish while helping others in need and making the world a better place.

2.  How much is enough?

“I don’t think you ever stop giving.  I really don’t.  I think it’s an on-going process.  And it’s not just about being able to write a check.  It’s being able to touch somebody’s life.”  Oprah Winfrey

I don’t think we can ever give or serve too much.

3.  What are the benefits of charitable giving and service?

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Besides helping others, charitable giving and service also give us a chance to meet other people, expand our network, and improve our skills.

4.  What is the financial cost of charitable giving?

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”  Buddha  

I believe we generally get just as much if not more out of charitable giving and service than the recipients of our generosity do.  If you don’t have room in your budget to give, consider trying to make room by thinking of ways to cut expenses or make more money

5.  When should we give?

“You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Giving is seldom convenient, and there are always good reasons to postpone it.  We should do it anyway.  If we can’t give when we are poor, we may not be able to give when we are rich.

6.  Who should we help?

“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.”  Seneca  

  • I think we should support good charities and causes as well as help individuals we see in need
  • Perform your due diligence before giving money to a charity
  • The website Charity Navigator is a great resource for evaluating different charities.
  • Ask if your contribution is tax-deductible and consider tax efficient gifting strategies.  However, don’t let the lack of a tax deduction prevent you from helping someone in need.
  • Watch out for charity scams
  • There are many worthwhile causes out there.  I think we have a responsibility to put our time, money, and resources to the best use possible, consistent with our personal values and goals.

7.  How much should we give?

“I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare… If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us… they are too small.  There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.”  – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Some people give a fixed percentage of their income to charity rather than a specific dollar amount.  As their income increases, so too does their charitable donations.

8.  How should we give and serve?

“Wealth isn’t always measured in dollar signs. We each have time, talent and creativity, all of which can be powerful forces for positive change. Share your blessings in whatever form they come and to whatever level you have been blessed.”  Jon M. Huntsman Sr.

It doesn’t always require money to give or help others in need, although donating money is one way to give.  In fact, sometimes the most meaningful form of giving is of our time and talents rather than our check book.  Think about what you are good at and enjoy doing, and see if there is a way to help others with it.

Below are a few of the ways I’ve been privileged to serve and give during my life.

  • Missionary in South America for 2 years
  • Teaching English classes
  • Volunteering in orphanages in Asia
  • Playing sports with prisoners in jail
  • My Eagle Scout project
  • Visiting the elderly in a rest home
  • Visiting and bringing toys to children in a Central American hospital
  • Donating financially to various causes, including the following:
    • My church
    • Education for less privileged
    • Natural disaster victims
    • People without food

There are so many ways to help people in need.  Some of my favourites were when I was living abroad and was able to help people of much more humble circumstance than myself.  You don’t have to go abroad to find people in need, but it can be an eye opening experience to see the lives people live in third world countries and how blessed we are.

I hope to be able to take my own children on a “volunteer vacation” some day to a third world country so they can bless the lives of others as well as fully appreciate the blessings they have been given in their lives.

Additional thoughts on charitable giving and service

  • Keep proper records and receipts of your charitable giving so that you can substantiate them come tax time.  Developing a good recordkeeping system can help greatly with this.
  • Consider setting up a separate online savings account or online money market account for funds earmarked for charity.  Each time you receive a paycheck, you can have your “giving” money automatically transferred into the account.  By doing this, you will never forget to set aside your “giving” money.  Additionally, you will always know exactly how much you have set aside to give to worthwhile causes and individuals in need.  If a need arises, you can respond immediately.
  • Giving is very personal.  I think we should be hard on ourselves but give others the benefit of the doubt, or even better, not judge others at all for what they do or don’t give.
  • While I don’t think we should flaunt our charitable acts for the praise of others, I do think we should involve our children so that they learn that service and giving are important to us.  Help them experience how enjoyable it is to help others.

Inspiring examples of charitable giving and service

There are some very inspiring stories of charitable giving and service.  Two of my favourites are:

What are your thoughts on charitable giving and service to help others?  What ways have you helped others and how have you been blessed from it?  What examples and stories of selfless service and charitable giving have inspired you?  Leave a comment below!

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