Why and how much we give is a personal thing, and varies greatly from person to person. Andrea’s chosen to make a strategic giving plan to make the most of her giving dollars and prove that you don’t have to be a millionaire to be a philanthropist. This is Andrea’s giving story.
One dollar = one vote. Almost 20 years ago, I heard these four little words and I’ve been striving to spend with integrity ever since. That includes my charitable activities. Donating money is a big deal, and like many people, I work hard for the money I earn. So when I give it away, I want to know that my money will be used well and a giving strategy helps keep my dollars aligned to what I care about most.
What’s My Strategy?
There are a couple things you could call my strategy: set it and forget it, K.I.S.S., easy-peasy. I care enough to give, I don’t care enough to be weighed down by administrative matters more than once a year. It’s efficient and doing something good need not be complicated.
My Giving Strategy in 6 Simple Steps
- Identify what you care about: for me, it’s food security, women’s reproductive health and sharks.
- Determine how much is feasible for now: I started with 1% of my gross income and worked my way up.
- Find charity options that fit your interests.
- Make sure they aren’t charlatans! Sites such as Charity Navigator and Charity Intelligence Canada can help you determine if a charity is responsible enough for your money.
- Set up monthly donations to your charities of choice. If this is on your credit card, pay in full each month (a good idea in all cases!)
- Switch it up every couple of years or when the spirit moves you.
My Giving Choices
Using this strategy, I make small and consistent contributions to the causes that move me the most. Like many things, it’s personal. We all have issues close to our hearts and one isn’t better or worse than the other (except in the case of charlatans noted above). You may not be moved by my choices and that’s okay. Find something that moves you and set up monthly giving that you feel good about.
Here’s how I’m voting with my dollars:
- Daily Bread Food Bank – this is the one I’ve never switched up and I probably won’t until they achieve their goal of putting themselves out of business.
- Sea Shepherd Conservation Society – protecting marine life, including my beloved sharks, in a vast ocean is a tough job. I support Sea Shepherd because they know if you want to make an omelette, you’ve got to break a few eggs.
- Fistula Foundation – obstetric fistula was eliminated in developed countries, but a million young women around the world are still affected due to a lack of medical care during labour. The Fistula Foundation funds simple surgeries to correct fistula and give young women their lives back.
- Kiva – this microfinance institution allows you to loan money in small amounts ($25) to individuals. Earlier this year, I picked up a book called ‘The International Bank of Bob’ at the library, finished it a few days later, and immediately made $500 worth of loans on Kiva. I believe in charitable donations but there’s something extremely satisfying about lending money, getting paid back and lending that same money again.
Those are my regulars. Though my strategy works well, it’s not an impenetrable fortress. So every once in a while, when the spirit moves me, I’ll make a donation to the Canadian Red Cross or The War Amps.
And that’s about it! What I’ve done is easy to do with a modest salary and a bit of forethought. Having a simple strategy allows me to support the causes I care about in the most efficient way possible. Try it out for yourself!