Giving money is both easier and with more benefits than you might think!
Research and Support Your Passions
What are you passionate about? Music? Animals? Education? Many organizations that do amazing work don’t fit the typical “non-profit” image. For instance, my boyfriend donates to The Long Now Foundation. They do weird stuff such as cloning wooly mammoths. It may sound weird to most, but he loves it, and it connects him with a like-minded community.
For more research and tools, check out Charity Navigator. They have information on thousands of charities worldwide that meet high standards for cost-effectiveness (i.e. less money spent on administration, more money spent directly helping your cause). The websites ourpromiseca.org and hlcusa.org also list charities that specifically serve the Latino community.
How To Afford It…With Hidden Benefits!
If you want to donate regularly (or even once), you need a plan. First, take time to reflect upon your monthly spending. Did you really need those new sandals last September? Create a budget to help you track small expenses (the so-called “cafecito leaks”). You’ll most likely find a spare $10, $20, $40 dollars you can give toward a good cause.
Remember these donations are tax deductible*, which means that you will get some of your money back in your tax returns. For example, if you donate $100 and are in the 25% federal tax bracket, $25 will be returned! Just be sure to save your donation receipts!
Another tip is to turn your social budget into your charity budget. How? Well, do you have a family and love to go to the zoo? Could you spend hours at the art museum? Believe it or not, most of that membership fee is tax deductible*. Here’s a great example. The New York Bronx Zoo is part of the Wildlife Conservation Society. Their membership fee $155 a year and includes unlimited access to four New York City zoos for two adults and unlimited children in the household.
Finally, to make the most of your donation, check if your company offers “charity matching,” where for every dollar you donate, the company will match the donation. Speak with your employer today; many companies offer matching for major causes.
It’s cliché, I know. Giving to a charity should be exciting like playing soccer with African lions. (Okay, maybe not that exciting.) Still, take the plunge and do some good in the world. You and your wallet will feel better for it.
*Tax Deductible means what percentage of the donation can be considered for a tax refund. Most charity donations are 100% tax deductible. Membership fees to nonprofits like zoos and art museums are only partially tax deductible.
ex) Bronx Zoo $155 membership is 90% tax deductible and your federal income tax is 25%
$155 x 90% = $139.50 is tax deductible
$139 x 25% (federal tax) =$34.88 tax refund at the end of the year