Charitable Giving: What to Give That Makes the Biggest Difference

Debbie Loper |

When hurricanes strike, earthquakes level cities, or economic downturns impact those most in need, many Americans respond to the call with charitable giving. It comes in many forms, from financial donations to food, medical supplies, and other materials. A 2016 report from Giving USA found that 2015 was the most charitable year in American history, with Americans donating $373.25 billion to charities that year alone to break the record for a second consecutive year. The reality is that you can give charitable donations in many different forms to various organizations. So, what is the best way to give while making a big difference?


Who to Give Money to?

Regardless of the charity you choose to donate your money or goods to, it less about the amount that is given, and more about where the money is directed. How and where you give money can be more impactful than the dollar figure or hours donated. There is a big misconception among those donating money, that the amount can have the greatest impact. If you want to make a big difference, focus on the changes you want to help create.

Each person has their own desires and dreams of an ideal world. Perhaps you have a history of losing your home and belongings to a natural disaster. Then your money, regardless of the amount, is best directed to charities that help others affected by floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes. Ask yourself where you believe the best bang for your buck lies, and find organizations to support, that line-up with your values.


How Much Should I Give?

As just mentioned above, the amount of money you give is not always as important as where that money goes in the long run. When it comes to the millionaires and billionaires of the world, the resources exist to tackle tremendous problems such as clean drinking water in Africa or vaccines for children in developing countries. These are major, capital-intensive issues.

For you as an individual contributor, it is possible to make a big difference without spending a fortune. For example, it costs just $150 to provide in-home healthcare for poor families in rural areas of India. Just $7 can help one newborn make it past their early days and weeks of life. If you want to give, find the organization that uses your charitable donation to maximum effect.


Should I Give Locally?

Giving to local charities is one of the best ways to see your donations in action. The key to local charitable donations is to do your due diligence and use online research sites. Consumer Reports often compiles a list of the best charities for you to make donations to, and often looks beyond name-brand recognition to the dispersal of funds and effective work of that organization when making recommendations.

As with any other charitable donation, make sure to find a group whose goal aligns with your values and ideals. Maybe it enhances the quality of arts and culture in your town. If so, you can go see a show and see how many people are attending. Low attendance could mean your donation is having little impact in reality.


Finally, you could just choose to volunteer your time where you feel it matters most. Volunteer to play with the animals and walk dogs at a local shelter or give your time to a local nonprofit packing up relief supplies. There are countless ways to donate that make a big impact beyond the dollar amount.

With more help on income/wealth planning, call us at Hughes Warren. We know you want to help and we want you to be able to do so the right way.