Insightsthe blog of Porter Hills
The Spirit of Giving
During the holiday season, going to the mailbox is definitely more fun as we receive greetings and holiday wishes from friends and family. It is not just bills and the typical junk mail. There is another type of letter that we receive and usually in great abundance at this time of the year. I’m sure you have noticed that there are numerous requests to give to charities and non-profits large and small. Do you throw them away or do you give? And for many seniors, how do we help them make the decision? As the Silent Generation often they feel that they have to honor every request. There are many good reasons to give to charity, but there are also some guidelines you may want to follow when making that decision. Here are some insights on the benefits of giving and things to consider.
Donations are tax deductible
One of the main, obvious reasons for the sheer number of “asks” is that your gift is tax deductible and as we approach income tax season, it is a way to increase that deduction.
Giving improves our sense of well-being
A recent study by Harvard Business School faculty and graduate students titled “Feeling Good about Giving”, confirms that the act of helping others can create an improved sense of well-being. Knowing that you sacrificed something such as time, or in this case finances, in order to help others gives us a rewarding feeling and sense of purpose in life. This is especially true for seniors who may feel this is one way that they can contribute and gives them a sense of value.
Keeps us informed about new causes and social issues
Researching a non-profit to find out more about their cause or concern can keep us connected to the organization and educate us in more depth about the work they are doing. We may also be able to increase the awareness and educate our own sphere of influence on a particular charity that may have been previously unknown.
Giving to charity out of spiritual conviction can strengthen your spiritual life
Selfless giving is an important responsibility to many religions and faiths. Knowing that you have taken actions in line with your spiritual beliefs can bring a sense of inner peace.
Becoming involved with a charity helps build friendships and business connections
We may feel compelled to not only donate resources, but time to a cause that may have special meaning. By volunteering our time and our talents , as well as treasures, you have the opportunity to build social circles, friendships, and connections.
So, given the number of requests, how do you make a decision on where to contribute? Nobody wants to give to a sham charity or a non-profit that may be misusing contributions. There are a few guidelines to help us through the process.
- Decide what is most important to you Acknowledge that there are many worthwhile causes and recognize the limitations of your own resources. Decide what is most important to you – education, the environment, health and medical, helping sick children, hunger, performing arts, veterans, animal welfare – the list goes on. Where do you want to make an impact – locally, regionally, nationally, internationally? Do you want to support a large or a small charity, one that is new or old?
- Do your research Make sure the charity’s mission aligns with your beliefs and desires. Avoid charities that won’t share information or that pressure you. Very importantly, if it is a charity that you are unaware of, look them up on GuideStar to ensure that it is a legitimate organization in good standing with the IRS.
- Trust your instinct If you have doubts about a charity – don’t contribute. Instead find another nonprofit that does the same kind of work and with which you feel comfortable.
Perhaps you are blessed and able to help many charities. Maybe selecting just one is appropriate for you and your family. Find something that touches your heart and you will have the gratification of knowing that in some measure you have helped the multitude of causes and needs that surround our lives.