Charitable giving can feel difficult or even impossible when we’re in debt and barely scraping by. When we’ve lifted ourselves up to a position of financial strength and confidence, giving back feels like the right thing to do.
Sharing the wealth with our neighbors in need is a privilege and an honor.
There are so many who need our help here in the United States:
- Over 400,000 American children are in foster care
- Around 40 million people struggle with hunger in the US
- Over 550,000 Americans experience homelessness on a typical night
Globally, the issues are even larger:
- Nearly 800 million people live without access to clean water
- 130 million girls are not in school due to threats of poverty, war and gender discrimination globally
- 10% of the world’s population lives on $1.90 per day
When you hear statistics like that, it can feel overwhelming. But I believe we can tackle these huge challenges the same way we tackle our huge financial challenges. One step at a time.
Here are 7 strategies to help you make charitable giving with family a tradition that lasts a lifetime.
1. Ladder Up Your Giving
You may not be giving much today, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change. Set a goal to increase your giving by 1% or 2% and pick a realistic timeframe to make it happen.
My family did this over the past few years and it’s been an exciting adventure of discovering what is most important to us.
Five years ago, we realized we were only giving 1% of our income. There was nothing wrong with that. We just felt we could give more.
We set a goal to give 3% the following year. And we did it.
The year after, we laddered up to 5%. We didn’t do it overnight. We did this over a 2-year period of time and now it doesn’t feel like such a jolt to our budget. It just feels right.
Now, we give 10% (just in our own way). 5% to charities and causes we believe in and another 5% to family, friends and neighbors in need.
If you're interested in increasing your giving, pick a timeframe and a percentage and ladder up!
2. Encourage Your Kids to Give
Giving becomes a lot more fun and impactful when you get the whole family involved. Try setting a tradition where you give with your kids. This can be with your money and their money too!
A couple of years ago, I started a tradition with my kids called “The Big Give”. This is an opportunity for our family to give together.
Here’s how it goes:
Get milkshakes and ice cream because everything is better with milkshakes and ice cream.
Count Out Your Give Jar Savings
Empty out each of the kids “Give Jars” and count the money. This is a glass jar where our kids have been saving 10% of their chore and reward money each week for the past 12 weeks. As the kids have gotten older, we have gone digital with Ally buckets and we don't have physical jars anymore.
Watch 3 videos from charity websites so the kids can decide who they want to give to.
Match the Donations
Double the impact by matching your kid's donations. That way you're showing your kids that you care about what they care about.
Leave a Nice Note to the Charity
Make the donation on the website and write a special note to the organization about who is making the donation. (This little extra step allowed my 4-year-old son to meet Mitch Albom!).
Talk to Your Kids About Giving
Be sure to talk to your kids about the impact they are having on these organizations and the world. Let them know you are proud of them because they are making the world a better place to live in.
Do It Every Few Months
Rinse and repeat every quarter for the rest of their childhood. And maybe, just maybe, they will do the same with their kids.
3. Make Giving Automatic
One of my favorite sections in David Bach’s book, “The Automatic Millionaire” was about becoming an automatic giver. He encourages readers to sign up for an automatic monthly contribution to their favorite church, charity or non-profit. This way, you can’t forget to donate.
If you do this at the beginning of the year and plan for it each month, just like investing, you’re giving will grow. In what seems like no time at all, you’ll be a generous giver.
4. Find Charities That Move You
If giving away your money feels like pulling teeth, then it may be time for you to look for another charity or cause. Give your money to an organization that lifts up your heart and makes you feel like your money is going to make the world a better place.
Here are a few charities that I admire and I’ve had the pleasure to interview on my show:
- Together We Rise (and here’s the interview)
- Thorn (and here’s the interview)
- Sandy Hook Promise (and here’s the interview)
Find organizations that align with your values and create a fire in your belly. The majority of my charitable giving goes to organizations that are focused on giving kids a better shot at life.
Ask yourself …
- What do I care about the most?
- Who inspires me?
- What wrong do I want to make right in my community and my country?
I think these are some of the most important questions we can ask ourselves.
5. Give Big Year-End Gifts
We’ve talked about the power of sinking funds for our everyday finances, but how about using a sinking fund for some big giving?
Instead of giving $100 per month to your favorite charity, consider giving a one-time $1,200 donation. How fun would that be?!
In the past, we’ve done automatic giving and it’s allowed us to stay consistent and support our favorite charities year-round. And other years we've done a big donation in December. I’m not sure which one we like more, but experimenting is fun!
6. Donor-Advised Funds
If you are looking for a tax-efficient way to give back, consider Donor Advised Funds.
A Donor Advised Fund is like an investment account but for charitable giving. Your contributions (or donations) can grow like an investment account allowing you to give now or in the future. And the tax benefits of giving stock to charity instead of cash can be really worth it!
This could be a way for you and your family to have a big impact.
7. Random Acts of Kindness
Have you ever heard of those people who pay for someone’s entire bill at the grocery store? Or the people who leave a $100 tip for their waitress on their $10 lunch bill?
Those types of people are my heroes!
I want to be a hero like that. And I want you to join me.
My family loves taking part in a holiday tradition called “Big Tip Tuesday”. My wife and I both take a $100 bill (or multiple $20's) and give it randomly to people who are working in the service industry during the holiday season.
These folks are paying off debt, providing for their families during the holidays or just simply working to make ends meet. They might be working at your favorite fast food place, driving you in an Uber or cutting your hair. Let's bring a smile to their face with a BIG tip.
And maybe, just maybe, that kindness will have a ripple effect that will make others smile.
I’d love for you to join me, my family and other folks in our community. Let’s make a difference.
My goal is to spread $3,000 of joy during the holiday season to our hard-working neighbors in the service industry so if I could get more of you to join me with $100 tips, we’d make this happen all around our country!
This is what the holidays are all about … giving with all your heart.
Do you do charitable giving with your family? What traditions do you have that make it special?
Please let us know in the comments below.