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Charity Is Not Just for Christmas Time

Open Your Heart All Year Long

Every year, the festive season stirs a range of emotions in us and because of this, charities give their biggest marketing push to drum up donations in the weeks leading up to Christmas time. In recent years, corporate charity appeals have become a Christmas tradition. After all, isn’t Christmas a time for giving?

Actually, Every Day Is for Giving

Just because the festive season is a strategic time to ask people to dig deeper and give more, it doesn’t mean that it’s the only time of the year that we should be doing what we can for others who are less fortunate. For most, the end of the year is the time to take a little break from the pressures of everyday life and focus on the unique period that is the festive season. Consequently, many experience increased feelings of empathy, which can lead to thinking about charities and causes that we care about. Driven by emotion and charity marketing campaigns, individuals and corporations are more likely to give during this time.

Sadly, these charities and causes are not only in need in December. People are homeless and hungry; animals are abused and abandoned every single day of the year, and those are not the only charities in need of all the help they can get all the time.

Foundation Guide - donate all year round

How to Help All Year Long

Instead of only volunteering or donating to charity during Christmas time, we should use this period as a time to reflect on what we’ve done over the past year and how we can better apply our efforts in the coming year. Here are some ideas for keeping the charitable spirit flowing all year long.

  1. Get active on JustGiving

    JustGiving is an excellent platform for people who want to become actively involved in charity campaigns based on what’s close to their hearts and what they enjoy doing. You simply sign up, select a cause you want to support, and then decide how you would like to help them raise funds. Options include taking part in an event like a charity bike ride or walk, celebrating an occasion, or doing something in memory of somebody close to you. There is even a personal challenge option through which you can do something unique to raise funds like shaving your head or giving up beer.

  2. Donate blood

    By donating blood on a regular basis, you can directly help save lives. It also has a surprising range of health benefits like improving liver function and helping to reduce the risk of heart failure and cancer.

  3. Volunteer at an animal shelter

    Animal shelters are often severely short-staffed and short on funds. Everyone really can do something to help the animals who live there, even you aren’t able to adopt or foster one. You could take the dogs for walks or spend some quality cuddle time with the cats. Some shelters have charity shops where you can help out for a few hours a week. You could also assist with fundraising events or adoption drives by sharing their posts on social media.Foundation Guide - volunteer all year round

  4. Run a race for charity

    Keen to get fit and do something for a good cause at the same time? There are so many charity running programs around these days, you’ll be hard-pressed to choose! There are programs that offer training and other support like workout plans and nutritional advice as well as the option to join group runs. It gives you the amazing opportunity to connect with a network of like-minded people who all support the same cause.

  5. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen

    There is always a need for an extra pair of helping hands at homeless shelters and soup kitchens. This is also a great way to meet new people who are also interested in doing their part to make the world a better place.

  6. Set up a debit order donation or shop from socially responsible companies

    Not everyone has the time or the social ability to become actively involved with a charity in a personal capacity. The good news is that they can still help in

    Foundation Guide - make a difference

  7. some way. You could consider setting up a monthly debit order to make a regular donation or you could support companies that take an active approach to charity. For example, consider Everlane, a company that donates $5 to charity for every purchase of their Human Collection line. Or take STATE, which for every bag bought fills another bag with school supplies and donates it to a student in need.
  8. Ask for donations instead of gifts

    If you have a special occasion coming up like a birthday, engagement, or a wedding, why not ask for donations to a special cause close to your heart instead of gifts for yourself? Just like setting up a wedding registry, you could ask for specific items or cash donations for your charity.

Five Tips for How to Find the Right Charity to Support

How to Pick the Right Charity

Supporting a charity can be a rewarding way to give back. But before you start making donations, it is important to choose a charity that is in line with your objectives. There are so many different charitable organizations around these days, and some are not entirely honest about how donations are used. Sadly, there are also a lot of scams out there. While it’s not always easy to make an informed decision, these guidelines may prove helpful.

1. Choose Your Cause

Some of us feel passionate about a specific cause, like preserving the environment, helping underprivileged children, or funding research about a disease that has affected someone we love. If you don’t already have a cause that is close to your heart, start by investigating the options out there, such as the fields of medicine, education, art and culture, military veterans, and the environment. Eventually, something should resonate and you’ll realize what’s right for you.

2. Do Your Homework

Many causes have several specialized charities dedicated to them. Once you have chosen a cause that you believe in, start researching charities that support it. Unfortunately, some of the charities out there may not be legitimate. Once you have a short list of charities you are considering, do a search of each charity’s name. If any red flags come up, it may be best to avoid that particular organization. You can also use sites like GuideStar, CharityWatch, or Charity Navigator to help research the charities before committing to donations.

3. Check with the Charity Personally

The only way you will know for certain that the charity’s work is in line with your objectives is by checking in personally. Visit them, ask for a tour, call, or email them and ask important questions like:

  • Exactly how are donations used?
  • How is the effectiveness of your work evaluated?
  • What progress are you making towards your goals?
  • How is this measured?
  • What is your privacy policy?

4. Decide What to Give

Although it is probably the most common method of support, donating money is not the only option when it comes to supporting a charity. Time is valuable, too.

5. Give

  • Money – If you decide to donate money, consider setting up a regular donation you can afford. Remember that donations are often tax deductible. Make sure you check your bank account to make sure that you are only charged what you have agreed to donate and keep a record of all donations.
  • Time – Many charities need volunteers as much as they need donations. Let them know what you do for a living and what other skills you have. It can be extremely rewarding to donate your time, especially if you can provide a service at which you are particularly skilled.
  • Blood or hair – Donating blood requires just a few minutes of your time and can really help save a life. Human hair wigs can be costly so donating hair can help to drastically improve the life of somebody suffering from cancer and undergoing chemotherapy.

How to Choose a Charity? Tips for Individuals

How do donors ‘choose’ a charity? How much research do donors and sponsors do when trying to find a foundation or not-for-profit to bestow their gifts on? With a dazzling array of causes, many backed by celebrities, it can be a tough choice, especially if you want to ensure that your donation reaches those who really need it.

donating for different causesGiving USA released a report in early 2015, which totalled the value of charitable donations in the US at $358.38 billion in 2014; the largest amount of money in 60 years. The report confirmed that many people don’t spend a lot of time researching charities, foundations and not-for-profit organisations. It was considered that only around 35% of donors would spend any significant amount of time researching a foundation or organisation before donating.

How Much Bang for Your Charitable Buck?

A number of organisations have recently come under the spotlight, amid allegations of financial mismanagement and funds not reaching the people or causes that require them most urgently. Donors are also looking closer to home, within their own countries and communities as a way of ensuring that every donation is really going to a worthy recepient.

Charity Navigator, an organisation that previously listed and ranked foundations and charities based upon their financial accountability and transparency, is now rating and ranking those bodies based on their actual results. This may be a nebulous yardstick, considering some of the work involved, but performance measurement is becoming more and more important in a world with ever-increasing demands competing for donors’ attention.

Ultimately, it should be considered that, although it is reported that wealthy donors tend to give to alumni foundations, hospitals and museums — the bulk of the number over overall donations made to charitable organisations, en masse, come from lower profile individuals, and every one of their dollar should be used as wisely as possible.