Monday, August 20, 2012

How Charitable?

This morning I caught an NPR segment on the geography of giving.

Very interesting to learn that lower income folks actually give away a bigger percentage of their discretionary income.  
  • Households with incomes of $50,000-$75,000 donate on average 7.6 percent of their discretionary income.
  • That's compared with about 4 percent for those with incomes of $200,000 or more.
Also, "red" states give more than "blue states.  Religion seems to play a large factor in this division.  Red states are more religious and citizens of those states give more to their church.   Utah ranks number one in giving, and that is due to the high Mormon population and the tithing to their church.  Personally, I'm not sure giving to church, in general, should count as charitable giving.  Certainly some of those funds goes to the church's charitable mission, but a good chunk of it goes to support the church on an administrative level (the upkeep of the church, heating and A/C, the pay for the preacher, etc.)

The Chronicle of Philanthropy has some great data that you can drill down into.  Some of the data is restricted to those that subscribe, but much of it is available to the public.

Florida ranks  # 15 in giving for percentage of discretionary income.  And, I think that is an interesting way to measure giving.  We rank fourth for total giving, which makes sense when you think of Florida population.  Overall, Florida's population is older and we have pockets of great wealth.

Thinking about our own level of giving, I think we could do better.  I know, because I've kept track of my personal finances for years and I used to give more when I was less focused on my (now our) personal finance goals.  Now that we set regular and focused goals, if we have "extra" cash available, I am much more likely to put those funds towards our personal goals rather than charitable giving.

This is how we give:  First, I make a monthly regular contribution to the children's charity that I am involved in.  This giving is set up to go automatically to our credit card and then I pay it off each month.  We give $40 a month, which is $480 a year.  I have to say, that automatic giving, like automatic savings is really a great way for me to give because I don't have to think about writing a check.  Once the giving is set up, I don't think about it all.

We also give money at Thanksgiving for our turkey give away (same organization), we normally give $100 in November.  We also give $100 to the annual fundraiser (same organization) which is also in November (I am on the board, so we strive for 100% board participation for our annual fundraiser, because that level of participation helps with grant writing).  We also normally sponsor a family at Christmas time, which means buying basic supplies and a few gifts for the family (same organization) which runs around $200.  So, to one organization we normally give close to $900 a year.

Second, we have two health/disease focused charities that we give to.  These are organizations that focus on support, research and finding a cure to two diseases that impact my family.  We normally give at least $100 a year to both, for a total of $200.

Third, I'll give $20 here and there to support friends that are fundraising.  Plus, we always buy Girl Scout cookies and support the kids in our neighborhood that are doing fundraising.  Finally, at Christmas time we have, for the past few years, bought everyone in our family a Christmas wreath which is shipped to them as part of the local marching band fundraiser (that normally runs $100+).  So with miscellaneous giving and the Christmas wreaths, that adds another $200 to our yearly total.

So, our grand total runs us about $1300 in giving. I've decided that I am going to increase my monthly giving from $40 to $50.  How about you, how much do you give and how do you give?

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