10 Ways to Give More to Charity in 2018

Ever heard of the “James Bond of philanthropy,” otherwise known as Chuck Feeney? He made it his life’s mission to give away his entire $7.5 billion fortune while he was still living.

At the end of 2016 he gave away his last $7 million to Cornell University, leaving him only $2 million to live on for the rest of his life. Over his lifetime his contributions totaled 420,000% of his net worth.

He was the founder of The Atlantic Philanthropies, which supported education, science, healthcare, and civil-rights causes around the world.

And you thought it was challenging giving 10% to charity!

The average American that makes $1 to $2 million only contributes about 3.2% to charity. Seems low compared to Chuck, doesn’t it?

I've never given much over 10%. Partly because I'm selfish, and partly because that's the standard that's sort of been held out there for me as a Protestant. That's what's expected of me by my peers. I'm getting better at giving, but I wasn't great at it early in my life and career, even though my first job out of college made me wealthy in worldly standards. Jesus was impressed by a giver once. I have never given like that.

What would it take to give 30%? Well, making more money would certainly help. But that's not necessarily a guarantee. Anecdotally, there are plenty of examples of high-income earners who blow their money on things and stuff versus using it to help people. And the stats above even show that the wealthiest among us aren't very giving on average.

There are also examples of people from meager means that give extraordinary amounts over their lifetime. Take for example…

John White, who lived until he was 96 in Somerset, England. He never had children or married. He left £40,000 (which equates to $53,764) to his nephews and the remainder of his £2,000,000 ($2,688,200) fortune to various churches, schools, and organizations around the area. None of these organizations had ever heard of him. He spent his entire life building his estate to make a lasting legacy.

So you see, it can be done. But how? What are the steps?

Well, there are two simple steps really it would seem (says Captain Obvious):

  • Live below your means to a level that makes giving 30% possible.
  • Actually give the money.

The steps don't really need to happen in that order. In fact, some would say you need to give first, and then learn to live with the leftovers. I suspect this doesn't happen with most though. Giving probably tends to happen when the opportunity arises, or when facing down a tax deadline.

If you're not a natural giver and stink at giving like me, here are some ideas to help put you in front of more charitable giving opportunities and loosen your purse strings.

If you're not a natural giver and stink at giving like me, here are some ideas to help put you in front of more charitable giving opportunities and loosen your purse strings:

  1. Join a church. If you're a faithful person, join an organization that's trying to do good both locally and abroad with collective resources. You'll be encouraged to give more by the routine nature of assemblies. Pass the offering plate around!
  2. Know your tax rules. I'd be lying if I didn't say that knowing I'll pay fewer taxes if I give more doesn't encourage me to give. Glance at the simple rules regarding the charitable tax deduction, understand how much they'd help you save, and make plans to give more by Dec. 31.
  3. Seek out opportunities. Spend some time on CharityNavigator.com looking at some of the best places to give your money.
  4. Give back. This is huge. Think about the people and organizations that supported you. Reach out to them to find ways to give back. Side note: I was recently contacted by my high school football team booster club about becoming a supporter. I was thrilled at the opportunity and was kicking myself for not seeking out the opportunity sooner. It made me think of all the organizations that have supported me in the past and how I could help.
  5. Practice random giving. Check out these 7 people who gave away their money to complete strangers. Making a practice of giving regularly, regardless of expected outcome, can give you the mindset and freedom to give more than ever.
  6. Give more than money. Giving of your time, stuff, and knowledge can lead to you being a more natural monetary giver.

And if you really struggle, try automating your giving strategy. Not only will you not think about your donation leaving your wallet but it will make the process so much easier. We autopay everything else why not tithing as well?

Auto-Withdrawal (or Bank Draft)

Most Churches will sign you up for auto-withdrawal. This is where you fill out a form, which includes your bank routing and account number, your specified contribution % or amount, and an attached voided check.  The Church then hands your info over to their bank who handles the rest.

Other Online Systems

Beside the traditional auto-withdrawal method, there are online-based third-party systems that will handle it all for the Church. eGiving Systems appears to be one of the leaders in this arena. See more at eGivingSystems.org.

Online Bill Pay

Use your bank’s online bill payment system to send recurring checks to your Church. Just make sure this is a free option and that your Church will know what to do with the check. It might be a good idea to speak with them about this first.

Automated Tithing Machines

Yes, some Churches apparently have Automated Tithing Machines (“ATMs”) that allow you to use your debit/credit card to give right there in the Church lobby.

Not really automated in the sense I’m writing about, but it sure is convenient and pretty cool.

I could see myself doing this on those Sundays that I forget my checkbook, as long as the machines wouldn’t charge me a transaction fee. If your Church doesn’t have one, consider asking them to have one set up. See more at SecureGive.com. From their website:

“The Secure Give system is built around a giving kiosk that features a touchscreen monitor, a magnetic stripe reader, a receipt printer, a securely encrypted PIN pad, and an enclosure. When the donor steps up to the giving kiosk, he or she will be led through a simple menu that will enable the contributor to donate to your ministry or your non-profit organization.”

That’s pretty cool.

Would you tithe through one of these “ATMs”?

Not Ready for Auto-Tithe?

For many reasons, setting up some sort of automatic tithing might not be the right thing for you. For instance,

  1. you may have irregular income;
  2. you may want to “feel” the act of tithing by physically writing out a check or handing over cash (nothing wrong with that); or
  3. you may just not be comfortable with the whole automatic transaction thing.

If that’s the case, here’s your solution: simply leave your checkbook next to your Bible or in your car (make sure your car is garaged if you do this). You might even consider tearing a few checks out of the checkbook and placing them directly in the pages of your Bible.

No matter how you choose to give this year, commit to increasing your contributions to charity. Where there is a will there is a way. If Chuck Feeney could give away 420,000% of his income you can do at least 10%.

How do you plan on giving more this year? Where will you cut back to make sure you can give more?

Comments

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  1. Another option to giving is to give appreciated stocks or mutual funds. Or as my church says “appreciated securities or grain harvests”. This can have the benefit of avoiding paying capital gains if you want to give something anyway. It can also be a means of “weeding” ones portfolio (using whatever criteria is appropriate).

  2. Hi PT, I don’t agree on this issue. The Romney’s did not have to make a plan to give, it I was done as a tax relief~ not quite the same as us common old garden folk who really have to
    work with our income to donate.   I donate quite a lot of time, and if taken into consideration it would be about 30%, and when I get home I go straight to bed as it is so exhausting……
    This month I will only earn $1200 as I took a week’s holiday ~ no work no pay….when one
    is self-employed and I had not had a holiday in 9 years……….broke and happy and yes! still volunteering:-)

    • Philip Taylor says:

       @bidzbuzz Thanks for sharing your take. My opinion is that everyone has to plan and act to give. They could have easily chosen to spend all of their income. But they didn’t. They gave 4 million dollars away. That anyone can find fault in that astounds me. 

  3. Our “better giving” breakthrough was using a charitable gift fund.  We can donate to the fund whenever we want the tax deduction (whether or not a charity was having a fund drive).  Then we can make sure that we send a grant to the charity at a good time (when they’re having a special event or a matching-funds campaign).
     
    Another big advantage of a CGF is making anonymous grants.  Certain organizations support worthy causes but would pester us way too much for additional donations.  An anonymous grant lets us donate when it’s appropriate without subjecting ourselves to a hailstorm of phone/e-mail/snail mail solicitations.