Giving to charity is a virtuous act. Most people feel better spending money on others rather than keeping it for themselves. However, consumers can’t go out or conduct business on a day-to-day basis without being asked for a donation or contribution to support some cause.
While some charitable requests may be legitimate and genuinely for a good cause, in light of today’s economic woes, consumers can’t help but to wonder if companies and individuals might be taking advantage of their generous hearts. After all, who is going to help the consumer when jobs are cut, wages are reduced, and bills are mounting and increasingly becoming past due?
And the requests for contributions are everywhere. From smaller organizations such as your local Girl Scout troop to larger organizations such as the March of Dimes, everyone is in need of donations.
When people grab a quick bite to eat at the drive-thru at McDonald’s, the cashier kindly asks, “Would you like to donate $1 to the Ronald McDonald foundation?” At the local Pet Smart, with each purchase, there is a question as to whether or not you want to donate $1 for homeless pets. And don’t forget the annual corporate employee donations to the Arts and Science Council and the United Way to support local communities and other charitable organizations.
At first, one may think, “Sure, what’s one dollar?” But when consumers are counting every penny these days, many start to wonder exactly what those funds are used for. And again, while $1 may not seem much to donate, when consumers are being asked by multiple individuals or organizations, these donations can add up very quickly.
According to Giving USA, a report compiled annually by the American Association of Fundraising Counsel, figures on American philanthropy showed that in 2007, Americans set a new record by giving $306.39 billion to their favorite causes, an estimated $11.48 billion more than they gave in 2006.
While the statistics on 2008 charitable giving has not yet been released, it is estimated that the figures will be significantly lower than those for 2007.
But consumers do not have to cease all giving to charitable organizations. Instead, manage how you give. Instead of dishing out funds to every individual and organization that asks, set a budget ahead of time and decide to which organizations you’d like to donate and what amounts. This way, you are still doing your part to give back to others, while maintaining your sanity and effectively managing your finances.
The next time an individual or organization that you haven’t planned to give to requests a donation, it is okay if you say no.