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Urgh, do I really have to give?

You live in a free, rich, comfortable society. You’ve already won the lottery of life!

If you’ve got a bit of time and money to spare as well, what’s stopping you? Why not share the bounty?

While some will “give til it hurts”, it’s OK to start a little more slowly. It doesn’t have to be money that you give either – you have more than that to offer.

Why do people give to certain appeals and causes?

There are thousands of good causes all asking for donations all year round. People want to make a difference but often feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of these requests for help. Where to start??

Every person is going to have different issues or causes that impact on them, depending on their interests, lifestyle, family background, life experiences, and those of their friends and colleagues.

It can also come down to whether they were asked, or who asked them, or how.

Examining your motivation

Ask yourself why you want to give to your community. For many people these reasons are varied, by answering this question frankly will make a real difference to who you are giving to.

Tips for giving wisely

World renowned giving expert Tracy Gary has some great tips for people who want to learn about how to give wisely.

One of the first things she suggests you do is to think about developing your own giving plan – this involves creating an action plan outlining the way you want to give.

Compiling a giving plan allows you to work through in your own mind what is important to you, affording you a sense of control over the way you are giving.

Here are eight steps for creating your own giving plan.

Step 1: Why do I want to give? A good starting point is to ask yourself why you want to give to your community.

Step 2: What causes should I give to? Having worked through some of the reasons why you give, it becomes easier to work out who to give to. Another factor to think about is the location of the cause, whether it is across the street or on the other side of the globe.

Step 3: Which organisations should I give to? Once you have decided on the causes or issues you would like to give to, you need to choose the actual organisations you will support. A good starting point is to analyse your current giving.

Step 4: How much should I give? You need to plan your giving just as you would your other financial obligations. A way of thinking about how much to give is to apportion a percentage of your total income.

Step 5: How should I give? There are common issues that need to be considered no matter what level of giving you decide on. These questions can include how often you’d like to give, do you need to consult a financial planner first, or are there alternative ways of giving beyond monetary donations.

Step 6: When should I give? Planning your giving also involves deciding when to give. Giving sporadically may work for you, however, being more strategic and proactively planning your giving may ensure that you are giving to the causes that really matter to you and may give you greater satisfaction.

Step 7: Follow up. By insisting that organisations be accountable for the way they use your donations, you are doing more than reassuring yourself, you are reinforcing the integrity of charities and other not-for-profit and community organisations.

Step 8: Annual review. Giving wisely and strategically means that you need to review and update your plan on a regular basis as your passions and financial situation may change. It is a good idea to carry out your annual giving review at the same time you do your tax return each financial year.

To find out more about creating your own giving plan visit our full tips for giving wisely help sheet.