Planned Giving

A couple of weeks ago, I posted this link to an article from the folks at ideas42. Here’s the key point:

On average, survey respondents indicated that people should give 6.1% of their income to charity. This recommended level of donation is more than double the amount that people in the U.S. actually give…

…One factor stems from the fact that people are rarely, if ever, prompted to think about how much they currently give or how much they want to give overall. As a result, people often end up donating by happenstance or in response to direct appeals, sometimes giving much less (or more) than they’d actually like to. It’s similar to saving money. Unless you are prompted to set a savings goal or are enrolled to automatically save a percentage of your income each month, you may end up saving less for your future than you want to.

In other words, people think that they should be giving more to charity than they are. And a big reason that people don’t give as much as they think they should is because we don’t plan. We don’t think about how much we are giving, how much we’d like to give, and how we bring those amounts closer together.

I’m sure this is true in my own life. I don’t know what my family used to give, but since we started doing our budgeting in You Need a Budget (we use the free version 4), I know that we average around nine percent of our spending going to charity. And the biggest contributing factor to that percentage is that we budget for giving. We maintain a few different charitable line items. We put money in them every month. We give out of them regularly.

When fundraising professionals talk about planned giving, we usually mean gifts in the form of bequests or complex financial instruments. But all of us can benefit from planning our giving. All of us can benefit from thinking about how much we want to give and setting that aside as we make our budgets. All of us can benefit from saying, “This month I will give this much.”

I urge you to try it. You’ll make a different in your own life. You’ll make a difference in other lives.