'Tis the season of giving on many fronts—personal and charitable—but in an economy like this one, it's hard to open your wallet. Some ways to let the spirit move you:
- Don't feel pressured to give $100 to public radio or any organization if you can't afford it. "While a small donation might not seem like much, each one absolutely makes a difference, both in the aggregate as well as by themselves" says Marty Lipp of the Harlem Children's Zone. "Even ten dollars can buy two days of breakfast and lunch for one of our charter school students."
- Not sure where to give? Check out Change.org, GuideStar.org or ChangingThePresent.org and browse their directories of non-profits to see what sparks your passion this holiday season.
- Think small. Many charitable groups today help channel small amounts toward a common end, as with Kiva.org (which distributes micro loans) and Heifer.org, which bundles contributions to make a bigger donation to a family or community.
Intrigued? Relieved? Inspired?
- Your money can only go in so many directions, so think like an investor. Create a modest, balanced giving portfolio that includes contributions to local, global and personal causes.
- Donate in different ways. Many organizations need your time, goods or abilities more than cash. Sites like WorkInCulture.ca (for Canadians) and Idealist.org (for those in the U.S.) help volunteers find projects that need their skills.
- Do two good deeds at once! “Many people are combining their holiday shopping and their charitable giving through programs like OxfamGifts.com," says Marc Ruben, vice president at M+R Strategic Services (www.mrss.com), a consulting firm that specializes in online fundraising for nonprofits. “It’s a great giving option if you’re on a tight budget.”