Giving to Charities

When times get tough it seems the poor, sick and homeless are the first to feel the effects. There are fewer volunteers, fewer donations to local food pantries and less room at the homeless shelters. Whether you are motivated by religious tradition, or it just makes you feel good, this is a particularly good time to remember those that can use our help.

Years ago my wife and I decided on a charitable course to donate to those that protect us, including police and fire associations and veterans groups. Two years ago we made the decision to refocus our giving, choosing a local coalition of ministries that provide food, shelter and training programs to those in need. We are thinking of switching back and forth every few years between our choices. Ideally, we would like to give to them all, and maybe someday we will be at a point financially to do that. Other opportunities over the years for us to give have included employer sponsored holiday gift giving, disaster relief, and giving to food donation drives.

The number of charities to give to might seem overwhelming, but I think developing a plan on what segment to help and then researching your options is a logical approach. To that end I found a few good websites to help you make a decision.

Charity Navigator – “evaluating the financial health of over 5,300 of America’s largest charities.”

World Vision – “a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.”

iGive – “Shop online at over 700 brand name stores and a portion of each purchase will be donated to your favorite cause.”

BBB Wise Giving Alliance – “helps donors make informed giving decisions and advances high standards of conduct among organizations that solicit contributions from the public.”

If money is really tight maybe your time could be donated. Some options include visiting the sick in a hospital, the elderly in a nursing home, serving meals at a homeless shelter and helping to organize goods at a food pantry. The Red Cross is always looking for help, too.

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