Monday, December 12, 2011

What's the season about again?

"Tonight's the night we'll make history... honey you, and ... my year-end charitable gift contributions for 2011." (OK, I'm a child of the 70s. You get extra points in my book if you know that musical reference.)

Yes, I'm one of those people who makes a few contributions throughout the year, but really takes a look at the whole giving picture each December and decides how to divvy up my contributions. How do I make my decisions?

(1) What are my top three charitable giving priorities, and are my gifts aligning with these priorities? My priorities for this year are: cancer-related causes, local hunger and homelessness causes, and the youth group for which I serve as a Board member. I'll give to other things, as well, but these three priorities get the biggest piece of the pie.

(2) How did my business do this year, compared to last year? Do I have as much (or, hopefully, more) to give away? How do my expenses compare from last year to this year, and are there big expenses coming up in the first quarter of 2012? Can I at least match, if not exceed, last year's giving?

(3) I keep a spreadsheet of each year's charitable giving, and I keep a file folder right next to my desk where I keep all of the mail solicitations that I receive throughout the year, as well as items I have read in magazines, newspapers, etc. I look over the list of what I gave to last year to decide if I want to give to them again, and I look at the mailings and clippings to see if I want to add any new charities to the mix.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not giving away bajillions of dollars here! But I like to have a focused approach, and I like to keep my priorities and intentions in mind when making these decisions.

"The Best of Times!"