An Exploration of the Many Ways of Giving

Today I dropped off our Christmas Hamper to be delivered this weekend to a family in our town. (Although the hampers are organized by our church, the recipients don’t have to attend any place of worship to receive one. In fact, many recipients have no connection to any faith group.) I like performing this annual gifting although I know it only ensures one good day for a family. (Well, one week the way we stock the hamper.) Consequently, we give year round to other charities supporting people in our community who don’t have what they genuinely *need* to survive. (Krystal Yee is running an interesting poll on what we think we actually *need* if you’re interested in adding your opinion.)

Thinking about donations and gifts to help others sent me out reading around the internet. Here are a few articles I found that may be worth a browse:

Volunteering and therefore donating time is a great way to help a charitable cause. Somewhat to my surprise, however, StatsCan says that volunteers tend to give *more* money than non-volunteers!

“… in 2010, among people who had performed 60 or more hours of volunteer work in the previous year, 91% made donations, giving an average of $784. In comparison, 79% of those who had not volunteered during the year had made donations, averaging $288.”

The article has quite a few interesting insights into where we give (shopping malls anyone?) and why we don’t give more (asked at the wrong time of the day.)

Blonde on a Budget reminds us that giving can be of our time rather than of our money, despite what StatsCan reports. That’s an important message especially for people with debt or very small incomes. I had never thought of either of the two ways she would like to gift her time, have you?

Here’s another one I’d never thought of: Back in 2011/2012 some personal finance bloggers discovered a way they could encourage gifts to charity: by auctioning off a Guest Post spot. Michael James on Money hosted one of these posts and a charity was $100 the richer for it.  Perhaps in the New Year some adventurous bloggers will offer a similar idea.

A post on the NPR site says doing one thing can boost by 20% the likelihood that kids will donate their money. I wonder if that same technique would work with adults?

One way that adults can discourage other adults from donating is to bully them. I still remember one employer who bullied all staff to donate to the United Way because the employer wanted to report 100% employee participation and a huge amount donated by the employees. It was very uncomfortable for everyone. Apparently, others have experienced the same, as discussed in comments such as “But if you are going to shame, harass, and even penalize staff because they don’t support the UW you are a bad employer.” You can read more at

BigCajunMan pointed out that you can help an organization such as a church or thrift shop by donating your excess unwanted goods for re-sale. The downside is that some people donate garbage for which the charity then has to pay for disposal. If de-cluttering your home is one of your New Year’s resolutions, please use some common sense in deciding whether something should be donated to a charity or to a big green garbage bag.

Some of you may have heard that the Federal Government Is offering a special tax incentive for people who have never claimed a charitable donation on their April return.  The Blunt Bean Counter reviews what the deduction looks like for a $500 donation—and gently chastises those who don’t donate even a modest amount while earning a monstrous amount. Personally I kind of resent that this reward is only being given to people who have never donated before, instead of being offered to everyone who donates this year.

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Have you read something interesting about giving or volunteering? Please share your suggestions with a comment.

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