If you are feeling the urge to begin a journey of generosity, congratulations! You’re ready to become a philanthropist, but you might wonder how to get started. Here are some tips that might help.
You don’t become a philanthropist only by giving away thousands or millions of dollars. Even if you only donate $10 or $20 a month to an organization or even a few dollars to a special campaign or a once-a-year fund drive, you are still making an important contribution to a good cause. Start small according to your income level, and build up from there. Remember that even major philanthropists like Don Friese had to begin somewhere.
If you aren’t sure where to make your donation, look around your community and identify some needs. Your hometown might have a substandard playground or swimming pool. Your local museum might need extra help. The food shelf down the street might be struggling. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and neighbors if they know of deserving organizations that could really use a generous donation. You can also check local websites or social media pages for ideas.
Make a Plan
If you intend to donate on a regular basis, you should consider making a philanthropy plan. Working with a budget that lays out your monthly income and expenses, determine how much you can give each month. Alternately, you might notice that your budget will allow for one or more donations scattered throughout the year. Either way works.
Make a list of the organizations you’ve identified as in need of financial help. You might then select one to support with a larger gift or series of gifts, or you might select two or three and give smaller donations. If you choose to donate monthly, you might want to make a donation pledge with the organization or organizations you’ve chosen. This will help the organization plan its own budget. Just be sure to honor your pledge if at all possible. The organization is counting on your support to fund its programs.
Know Your Limits
As soon as you begin donating to your chosen organization, you will likely discover that generosity feels wonderful. However, you must be careful not to get in over your head. Know your giving limits, and don’t be afraid to make changes if your circumstances change. While philanthropy is a marvelous thing, you must be able to pay your bills and meet your necessities before you can give too much to others. Don’t feel guilty if you have to cut back. Most organizations understand if you must put a pause on your giving for a while.
Look for Alternatives
If money is tight, look for alternatives to monetary gifts. Most organizations are in need of volunteers and would greatly appreciate a donation of your hours and effort. You could, for instance, volunteer at the food shelf or spend some time helping kids in a library reading program. The opportunities are endless, and your time and good will are extremely valuable.
Whether you can give a lot or a little, whether you focus on one organization or several, whether you can donate money or mostly your time, be assured that your efforts at philanthropy will be greatly appreciated.
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