Do you want to donate, but are feeling strapped for cash? You’re not alone.
Last year a Vancity report found the percentage of British Columbians making charity donations dropped 20% over the last five years.
Here are nine tips to make the most of your charity donations, no matter what your income level all year:
1. Budget for donations
Set an annual giving budget and stick to it. There are different approaches to choosing how much to give – philosopher and ethicist Peter Singer suggests a public standard minimum of giving 1% of your annual income to charity in his book The Life You Can Save. As another example, some faiths teach about tithing (giving a tenth of one’s income) while others may choose another amount depending on what they can afford.
2. Be consistent
If you donate regularly to specific charities, try to keep it up. If you have to cut back on your donations, let the charity know that you still support them and will try to return to previous levels in the future.
3. Go monthly
Consider changing an annual donation to a monthly one. A monthly donation may be more manageable, and your charity would have reliable regular income.
4. Give in other ways
Giving financially is not the only way to support a charity and its mission. Consider other ways such as volunteering, donating goods, writing letters to politicians, signing petitions and promoting the charity through your social network.
5. Review your current giving
Ensure you’re supporting causes that are meaningful to you and reallocate your giving to more closely align with your values and ideals, if needed.
6. Learn how your money is spent
Are the charities you support using their resources effectively to make an impact and meet their mission? Read their annual reports and financial statements. Look for charities that clearly disclose their overhead and fundraising costs, and pick ones that have reasonable costs.
7. Claim your tax credits
You can claim charity donations on your income tax return to reduce your taxes owed. There are two charitable tax credit rates (federal and provincial) and any eligible amount you give above $200 qualifies you for a higher rate. First-time donors that qualify can get an extra federal tax credit of 25% (called the first-time donor’s super credit).
8. Pay forward a windfall
If you receive a windfall like an inheritance, lottery winnings or capital gains, consider paying some or all of it forward to a charity you support. It’s new money to you, so you’re less likely to miss it (plus it can help offset your income tax).
9. Plan ahead
Put a provision in your will to leave something for a charity you support. These gifts, sometimes called planned or legacy gifts, can include assets like real estate, mutual funds and securities or insurance.