So, here we are with only 35 days left in 2010! It is usually around this time of year when savvy financial planning people(unlike myself) look at their total giving for the year and decide if they should throw more money in the pool just to bump up their charitable tax receipts for the year. While this may be financially smart, it’s probably not out of a “generous attitude”. Don’t get me wrong. I figure if the government is willing to give us tax receipts for what we give away then by all means we should be smart about it and good stewards of the money that God has given us. But that argument about when to give and how often is not my reason for posting today. Rather, I’d like to make you all aware that WHO you give your money to is as important if not THE MOST important part of your charity giving plan.
There are many that may argue that the biggest and best known charities in the country are the only ones to support as they’ve been around the longest, have great track records and obviously with more money can do more work. Not necessarily so, though, is what I have discovered. It appears that size does not matter in this case. More often it comes down to the cause, the people running the charity and your own personal belief in that cause.
I believe that for myself and my family, helping the less fortunate in our town, city, province and world trump all other charities. I believe in missions minded people and serving ministries that tend to disasters. But that is me. You may have a completely different opinion that centers around the MS Society, Breast Cancer Awareness and The Heart and Stroke Foundation. All are worthy causes and thank God we all feel led to give in all of these areas.
But it is still important to know how your money is being spent and if you can justify it. After all, God expects us to budget our own family’s income wisely and therefore the money we give away needs to be just as justified. We have left churches over the mis-management of funds. Churches where a lot of money was coming in weekly and no ministries were happening, no homeless being served, fed or helped. No children’s or youth ministries and the list went on. We simply were so convicted that our money was being mishandled that we had to quit tithing and ultimately leave.
But we’ve also been part of churches who had an abundance of ministries even if their congregation sizes were small. A strong volunteer force, an awesome work ethic, great planners and people who gave above and beyond helped these congregations to be able to serve literally thousands of people in their surrounding communities.
And then there’s the “luxury” lotteries for charity….
I don’t buy STARS air ambulance lottery tickets or any other “lottery for charity” tickets. Why? Because the focus is on what I could get and that’s not charity. We are to give out of the abundance that we’ve been given~ generously. And I’ve also found out that very often those lotteries , though they do well, have about 80- 90% of money raised paying for the prizes and the company who actually facilitates the lottery. These charities argue that any money that they receive is more than what they were getting before but if I , as a donor, am buying a $100 ticket, I want at LEAST $80 going to the charity when in reality it is often only $8-12. This sort of thing is often repeated when any charity does a major fundraising drive.
So, what can you do? Research, research, research. It is your money, so spend it wisely. Check out their website, Canada Revenue Agency or any other charity ranking site like this one: http://list.moneysense.ca/rankings/charities/2010/aid/Default.aspx?sp2=1&d1=a&sc1=0
You can also call the charity and ask what percentage of their donations actually go to the cause. If they fumble or change the subject, hang up. Any charity that does not want to share that information is not worthy of your hard-earned cash.
When you feel comfortable with a charity or two, or three, give generously and give often. Don’t be cheap and don’t wait till December. They need your help all year. Haiti still needs all sorts of help. And when the call came in, Canadians more than any other nation stepped up to the plate the fastest and with the most cash.
Show your kids that being generous does not always mean getting a tax receipt. When you enter the Walmart store this weekend to spend WAY too much money on Christmas gifts, don’t just walk by the Salvation Army bucket. Do you realize how many people that charity helps every year? Those bell ringers are volunteers who believe in serving and helping their fellow man/woman in need. Give your kids each a $5 or $10 bill to put in. Not just the nickels and pennies jingling around in your pockets.
Our family has had the same charities for a few years. Their records are impeccable and they are the kinds of charities that don’t pay their CEO’s multi-million dollar salaries. I don’t mind sharing them with you.
Whatever charity you decide to give to, give generously. Don’t be greedy hoarding all your money for yourself or your kids who you think you need to spoil and buy more and more stuff for. We are blessed so much in this country and we need to be sharing that with the world around us.
Bless and be blessed.