Strategic Holiday Giving

As we near the end of the year our inboxes are becoming full with requests from the organizations we have supported in the past, currently support, or just happen to be on their mailing list. What's a loving & giving mama to do on a limited budget?

No matter where you decide to give your money, please keep these items in mind:
  • While giving via PayPal is easy for you, PayPal does take quite a chunk of money out from your donation. Want all of your money to go towards your charity of choice? Send a check. Even calling with your credit card may end up having the organization lose a few bucks from a transaction fee.
  • If possible, give to a few places with larger amounts than "spreading the wealth" by sending $10 to 10 different places. If you give, as you most surely know, you get on the mailing list. That $10 won't even cover the 5 mailings you will get next year. For your benefit, the environment, and the organization's, give to fewer places to reduce the amount of mail.

So where to give? I work at a university, so I'd be shot on sight if I didn't say to give to your alma mater. But say you went to Harvard or another institution with a large endowment? Will your $50 do much good there? I doubt it (but willing to hear contrary). My personal choice when giving to my alma mater (which is also my place of employment) is to give to either a scholarship fund or directly to a department that meant a lot to me. I have no reason other than to give some love back to those who really helped me. I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention that I've been reading stories (sorry no links) about people who give to universities close to them and not where they went. Huh? If you went to school at Brown, but live down the street from UIC, there isn't a rule to say you can't give to Loyola.

Food pantries are in desperate need of our donations - food and money.

Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual hunger survey, which was released last week, did not show an increase in the number of hungry people in the United States since 2006, officials at food pantries are certain that more working people are seeking their assistance. At the Society of St. Vincent de Paul food pantry in Cincinnati, for example, clients now get three or four days’ worth of food instead of six or seven.

Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks, said, “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I can’t believe how much worse it gets month after month.”

Unless we're vacationing every month in Aruba, I think we're all hurting from the increase in energy costs, health care costs, and our salaries not keeping up with those increases. I have no idea how people making minimum wage are surviving. Some may be turning to food pantries. My daughter's pre-school is doing the traditional food drive, yet as with any food drive the request is for non-perishable food.

Through the end of August, the food bank was down almost 700,000 pounds of USDA commodities that include basic essentials such as canned fruit and vegetables and some meat _ food that is very difficulty to make up in donations, Executive Director Mark Quandt said. [link]
While I'm sure that food pantries wouldn't turn away another jar of peanut butter or mac-n-cheese, food pantries want to give out balanced meals. And that means fresh veggies & fruit. You can't get that in a food drive. That's where your cash donation might be able to go.

However you decide to give this season, please involve your children. I'm doing that with my lil one and I hope it becomes a part of her character. If you have involved your children in giving, especially during the holiday season, please share your story with us. How is it going?

X-posted at Chicago Moms Blog

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