Building a December Giving Plan
Build a Money and Time Budget for the Holidays– Building a December giving plan can be the first step to a peaceful Holiday Season. Figure out how much time and money you want to give, and have available to give. The holidays are costly in both time and money.
I believe a good rule of thumb is to give at least 10% of your income to church or charity. Many people tithe 10% of their income, and add an additional 10% to charities other than their local house of worship. Regardless of your financial situation, sit down and realistically evaluate how much money you want to donate to charity in the month of December.
Personally, I set aside 10% of my income for a tithe to my church. An additional 5% to other charities that I am passionate about. And I keep an extra $25 in my available donation fund. This last $25 I use to donate at the grocery store or mall, drop in the Salvation Army’s Red Buckets, or give to someone in need at a stoplight. I don’t always contribute to every charity or person that asks for mone. But I do keep money available so that I don’t feel I am pulling money from another budget item. This enables me to happily have funds ready when needed.
The next step in building a December Giving Plan is to evaluate what your time constraints. Remember, there will be school performances, office parties, family obligations, extra church services, and travel. Take a realistic look at the available time you have and in what capacity you want to use that time to volunteer. For me this year, I don’t have a great deal of disposable time. But I do have one evening available to pack care bags for the homeless in my community. My kids want to give money to every person that we see asking for money at a stoplight. I don’t always believe this is the best way to help someone, although I sometimes do give money to random strangers.
We purchased socks (the most requested item by homeless individuals), granola bars, fruit snacks, meat snacks, individual moist towelettes, and brown paper bags. I ordered everything on Amazon for about $100 in less than five minutes. As a family, we spent one evening packing the bags. Then we printed out a list of community resources to place in the bags. We will then carry the bags in our car, and be prepared to give a small help to those in need this holiday season.
Build a Family Charity List
Not everyone can start a family foundation, but everyone can choose which charities are passion projects for their families. For instance, our family loves NoKidHungry.Org. We are fully aligned with their belief that no kid in America should go to bed hungry, food insecurity should be a thing of the past, and that good nutrition is paramount to the future success of our children. Everyone in my family looks for products from companies that make a donation to NoKidHungry.Org when purchasing anything from La Brea French Bread to Domino Sugar. We also love to go to their fundraising events, and make donations during September’s Dine Out for No Kid Hungry campaign. Because of that, I know we will make a contribution to NoKidHungry.Org in December.
We are also passionate about the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, and AutismSpeaks.org, because these issues have touched the lives of our family members. I could go on and on, listing charities that we feel have value and make the lives and future of those we love better.
The list is different for each of us. But, each family should have a list of charities that are meaningful to them. It makes giving decisions easy. You know they are aligned with your values, and you give. If they are not, you can easily say no. Talk with your spouse, family and friends, and make a list of your passion charities. Then divide up your giving budget and give a little to all of your charities, or reserve it all for one charity. Either way, all of your dollars will combine with the dollars of others, and a difference will be made.
Christmas and Holiday Shopping!
Here is where the fun really begins! I love to shop for presents for those I care so much about. At the same time I realize how incredibly fortunate we already are as a family. Once you build your December Giving Plan, you will be ready to start your Holiday shopping. I started shopping for Christmas gifts early this fall, and am so excited about donation with purchase gifts!
My favorite find has been socks at Bombas.com. Bombas believes in social giving, and donates one pair of socks for every sock purchase made. Now, just so you know, they don’t give the same style of socks that you purchased to the homeless…they give a better pair! Yes, the pair for a person in need has been crafted to have anti-microbial properties. In addition, they are more durable with reinforced seams which prepare the sock for greater durability. This is truly needed in the challenging weather and wear requirements of a homeless person’s sock.
A few other great companies that give gifts to those in need with your purchase are Toms.com which gives a pair of shoes for every pair of shoes purchased. They also give eye health, clean water, and fund anti bullying prevention for the purchase of eyewear, coffee, and backpacks respectively.
WarbyParker.com gives away a pair of glasses for each pair purchased. Shethinx.com gives undies with every purchase to girls in foreign lands allowing them to attend school. Or, you can go really out on a limb. Give the perfect gift for the person who has everything. For $120, you can gift a goat in honor of your gift recipient through Heifer.Org. Your gift recipient will never have to dust or feed the goat. One size fits all. And, a family in Zanzibar will start building a sustainable life. Plus, your gift recipient will have a great story to tell around the water cooler after Christmas break….”Yeah, well I got a goat for Christmas!”
Keep your eyes open, as there are so many opportunities to give in December. Build your December Giving plan, and then give your money, your time, and your gifts, but most of all give hope!