Should my budget include a line for “charity”?
Now that the Chancellor has delivered the 2014 Budget and you’ve noted the impact it has had on your pension and ISA allowances etc. All that is left to think about is our own spending and budget for the following year. Whatever your incomings and outgoings, should there be room in your budget for charitable donations?
In a word, yes. Charities are the organisations we rely on as a society to give something back to those less fortunate and push forward the good causes and changes to the law that are required to enable us all to live better lives. Giving to charitable organisations should therefore be a part of everyone’s budget – but what reasons can we give for making such a statement?
The Feel Good Factor
Firstly, consider the feel good factor that comes from the selfless act of donating. Whether you are supporting a cause very close to your heart or just want to make a small difference to a large, well known charity, research has shown that giving makes us feel happy and can even have a positive impact on our health.
If you’re feeling charitable but low on money, there are still plenty of ways for you to give back. You can always donate used possessions. Smaller items are best suited for thrift stores, but larger possessions, like a vehicle, can also be given to charity. Boats in particular are very popular amongst some charity organizations. Just go online and look up a service that is specific to your state, trying search terms such as ‘California boat donation’. Once you’ve decided to part with your vessel, simply find a charity you wish to support and fill out a few simple tax forms. It’s a great way to feel good about giving back.
Giving also promotes social co-operation. It brings people together, uniting them under a common cause and ensuring that those who give are more likely to receive. Supporting charities in your local area, or who work with a particularly relevant group of people, can be a very rewarding experience whether you donate your time, your money, or both.
Without your donations many charities simply wouldn’t exist. It is a hard fact but one that is easier to digest when you consider that charitable donations decreased by 20% in 2011-2012 as people started to feel the economic pinch. However, increasingly consumers can now choose to buy ‘better’ rather than donating. By buying through social enterprises, consumers can ensure that they are getting the products they want for their lifestyles, but that the act of choosing to buy from a social enterprise means that the wider community benefits too.
The reduction in donations has led to an increase in charities becoming social enterprises – suggesting that the only way to be charitable in the modern world is to earn some of your own income too. This gives consumers great choice when exploring from whom to make a purchase. The role of social enterprises in the market may be to allow consumers to meet their charitable aspirations within their squeezed budgets.
There are some great social enterprises out there who are doing their bit to change the world for the better. Take advant~age, a social enterprise offering a range of products and services to raise money for their various partner charities. The charities customers, who take advantage of products such as travel insurance, equity release and commercial insurance have the added satisfaction of donating to that charity every time they make a purchase – at no extra cost to themselves.
What makes advant~age different is they are committed to offer their fundraising model as customisable platform for other charities to adopt, to encourage independent revenue streams and the breakaway from overreliance on funding. With much of the hard ground work already done by advant~age, the online platform can be implemented by any charity or not for profit regardless of their size.
The result is that charity shouldn’t be seen as a cost but as a part of your yearly spend, it could be simple the art of choosing who benefits from your expenditure. After all, it feels good to know you are helping someone else – no matter what the size or reason for your donation.
This post is written by a good friend of moneystepper: Jennifer Brighton. To find out more about the great work she, and all the good people at advant~age, are doing and to see the charities they assist, please visit their website www.advant-age.co.uk.
Interhelp Limited t/a Advant~age – FCA number 542097 is an appointed representative of Lovat Insurance Brokers Limited. Lovat Insurance Brokers – FCA number 305302.